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  1. #1
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    Does Cycling Make You a Better Driver?

    On a recent trip out of the city we're on a highway that is heavily travelled by both vehicles and cyclists. We're in a long line of traffic following 'an old man with a hat' who's driving a honking big motorhome. And then the inevitable happens....he wheels into the shoulder like it's his own personal lane to let the faster traffic pass. I cringe everytime I see some idiot do this....and it's always on an uphill or approaching a corner.

    So this gets me to thinking....if the driver of the motorhome had ever been a cyclist, he would never have contemplated driving in the shoulder. Or would he?

    Does being a cyclist make you a better driver?

  2. #2
    WallaWalla! Rotifer's Avatar
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    Until recently I had a little sports car that I couldn't resist driving hard. It cam to me one day, as I took a highway curve far beyond the recommended speed, that the skills needed for riding a bicycle fast (xc, dh and road) are similar. Quick reflexes, thinking well ahead, braking, peripheral vision --- ahhhhh... can't wait to go on a ride tonight.
    Jeff

  3. #3
    Skin-Pounder Bikes-N-Drums's Avatar
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    I used to think so but then I started looking for my helmet mirror to see behind me and began taking bunches of back roads. Sometimes I'll try to bunnyhop my car over a pothole. It's a good thing cars can't "pop a wheelie".
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  4. #4
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    Originally posted by Rotifer
    It came to me one day, as I took a highway curve far beyond the recommended speed, that the skills needed for riding a bicycle fast (xc, dh and road) are similar. Quick reflexes, thinking well ahead, braking, peripheral vision
    I agree. But next time you're in traffic take a good look at other's driving skills or lack thereof. You can almost always pick out the non-cyclists. They're the ones that jump the green light without looking to make sure no one is running a red light. Or throw their doors open into traffic without looking. I wonder how many bad driving habits could be nipped in the bud by making cycling a mandatory component of getting one's driver's licence?

  5. #5
    WallaWalla! Rotifer's Avatar
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    They're the ones that jump the green light without looking to make sure no one is running a red light.
    Good point. Another thing I have learned to do is make eye contact with other drives to ascertain their next move.
    Jeff

  6. #6
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Rotifer
    Good point. Another thing I have learned to do is make eye contact with other drives to ascertain their next move.
    Doesn't always work. There are some real psychos around here. Another problem is the trying to figure out someone's intentions when they themselves have no idea.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  7. #7
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    Better driver? I think so. Better with respect to bikers' needs, definitely.

  8. #8
    WallaWalla! Rotifer's Avatar
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    Another problem is the trying to figure out someone's intentions when they themselves have no idea.
    That is when I force my will on them with a mesmerizing stare.
    Jeff

  9. #9
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Better driver? Sure. I think every driver's licence should include 2 weeks of mandatory cycling in all kinds of road conditions. It WILL change the way you pay attention in traffic.

    --J
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

    Who is this General Failure anyway, and why is he reading my drive?


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  10. #10
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Juha
    It WILL change the way you pay attention in traffic.

    --J
    Agreed. I certainly notice cyclists more now.

    Carl
    Just Peddlin' Around

  11. #11
    floor sleeper
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    I think you're certainly more aware of your surroundings... Just the other day I drove through Cambridge on Mass Ave (I'm waiting for some parts for my commuter, and the kronan and me just were not up for a 10 mile ride each way on a 97 degree day)... anyway, on Mass Ave in Central Sq. and some nimrod decided the bike lane was an ample driving lane for his Kia (until he hit all the cars that use it as a parking lane that are left un-ticketed even when the local police walk/ride past) ... i grew very upset and tried to catch the blockhead - needless to say i could not, he had the ignorant-advantage. Anyway, I think more than a weekend casual cycler makes you at the very least much more aware and courteous of the other users - at least it does me.


  12. #12
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Bikes-N-Drums
    I used to think so but then I started looking for my helmet mirror to see behind me...
    Once I looked in my helmet mirror to glance behind me, only to realize I had no helmet on. Nor did I have a bike. I was walking.
    No worries

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    It is my understanding that qualification to drive a London cab requires a significant amount of time on a bicycle, or at least it used to.

  14. #14
    xc AND road WoodyUpstate's Avatar
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    Yes. As a cyclist I view every other moving object as a deadly projectile, therefore I ride very defensively.

    I've noticed this mindset is with me in my automobile, too. I drive slightly slower than in the past (could it be I'm just older) and seem to be more aware of what's going on around me.

  15. #15
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    Definately. Also as a motorcyclist my observation skills have been honed. People driving me in cars hate it when I glance round when they start to change lanes though.
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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  16. #16
    DEADBEEF khuon's Avatar
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    Originally posted by WoodyUpstate
    Yes. As a cyclist I view every other moving object as a deadly projectile, therefore I ride very defensively.

    I've noticed this mindset is with me in my automobile, too. I drive slightly slower than in the past (could it be I'm just older) and seem to be more aware of what's going on around me.
    I have been known to do this as well. Regardless of what kind of vehicle I'm operating, when I'm on the road, I view the environment as almost a hostile one. Pilots call it situational awareness or SA... when I'm driving, cycling or simply being a passenger, my head's on a swivel... constantly looking around... identifying each vehicle as a potential threat and assigning them a threat value based on how they behave, their proximity, direction of travel, rate of closure, etc... I always look for and constantly adjust my exit path in the event of something bad happening. I know it sounds a bit paranoid but honestly... can you blame me? Curiously enough, this has all become second nature to me and thus does not detract highly from my overall enjoyment of riding. However, I do seem to find much greater enjoyment during heavily supported rides with escorts and such but even then my guard doesn't stay down.

  17. #17
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    I've noticed this mindset is with me in my automobile, too. I drive slightly slower than in the past (could it be I'm just older) and seem to be more aware of what's going on around me.
    i agree!

    my many years motorcycling and many many years bicycling have REALLY increased my awareness when driving a car. on a bike/motorcycle you are so much more vulnerable and the consequences of a mistake so much more severe that you really learn to watch, observe, anticipate... a car separates and isolates you from the road and the "outside world" so you often feel it's OK to go really fast, take chances, not really pay attention -- that it's just routine and safe.

    i really do wish that all people had to first ride either a bicycle, moped or motorcycle BEFORE being allowed to get a car driver's license. still require no licensing for bicycles, but in order to earn a driver's license include some kind pre-driving bicycle training (say age 13-15) with bike rules, laws and safety principles and then proof of certain number of hours and/or bike skills test BEFORE getting an auto learner's permit or taking driver's education.

    i think it would also help reduce the really high "new driver" "accident" rate...
    why drive when you can ride?
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  18. #18
    The Flying Scot chewa's Avatar
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    Originally posted by nathank


    i really do wish that all people had to first ride either a bicycle, moped or motorcycle BEFORE being allowed to get a car driver's license. still require no licensing for bicycles, but in order to earn a driver's license include some kind pre-driving bicycle training (say age 13-15) with bike rules, laws and safety principles and then proof of certain number of hours and/or bike skills test BEFORE getting an auto learner's permit or taking driver's education.

    i think it would also help reduce the really high "new driver" "accident" rate...
    I agree and seem to recall that Jackie Stewart (the greatest racing driver of all time and a Scot) when interviewed said he favoured his children getting bikes and motorbikes before cars for this very reason.
    plus je vois les hommes, plus j'admire les chiens

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  19. #19
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    Originally posted by chewa


    I agree and seem to recall that Jackie Stewart (the greatest racing driver of all time and a Scot)
    This is totally off topic, but i do have to say that Jackie Stewart is the man , he could whip shumies ass any day. (cant you tell that i don't like that german )

    Stew

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