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Old 08-13-12, 07:23 PM   #1
chaadster
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Regarding traffic: totally jaded

Hey all,

I sort of surprised myself today with my decidedly non-reaction to a very close pass by a big BMW X6 moving at high velocity.

My mind said "WTF!" but my body did NOTHING. No flinch, no tensing of muscles, no adrenaline rush...nothing.

I've been riding in the road for decades; I got hit and had a compound leg fracture when I was 15, but that didn't stop me except for that year of recovery. Every year for the past 27 years since then, I've ridden the road.

So was the non-response an inevitable effect of traffic conditioning for so long? Have I become indifferent to danger? Is this a warning sign to get my head back in the game and pay real attention to real dangers?

One of my parents' neighbors, whom I knew as a kid, recently got aced by truck, and I tell you, I don't want to go out like that myself, but i wonder, would being more afraid make me ride safer?
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Old 08-13-12, 07:27 PM   #2
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So you're a roadie now.

Big deal.

Embrace your indifference and ride more.
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Old 08-13-12, 07:31 PM   #3
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And no, being afraid makes you squirrely. Nobody likes to ride with a squirrel.

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Old 08-13-12, 07:39 PM   #4
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A roadie?

Oh, that's low and hurtful.

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Old 08-13-12, 08:15 PM   #5
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I play in the street - ride on roads full of traffic - all the time. Am I a roadie, too? Who'd a thunk?

Life is dangerous.

One approach is to do like the folks who ride only on MUPs/MUTs/etc because the roads are full of danger. Sounds like No Fun.
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Old 08-13-12, 09:33 PM   #6
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I do a lot of stupid probably sometimes illegal things on my bike. Maybe I should start worrying more about safety, wear a helmet, and stop running red lights.

But then I see people riding in NYC and I feel like a complete wimp.
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Old 08-14-12, 06:59 AM   #7
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I play in the street - ride on roads full of traffic - all the time. Am I a roadie, too? Who'd a thunk?

Life is dangerous.

One approach is to do like the folks who ride only on MUPs/MUTs/etc because the roads are full of danger. Sounds like No Fun.
The few times I've ridden on MUPs I found them full of danger. Broken glass, oblivious peds and skaters, sudden really bad road surface problems. What's the point of these if you can't drop your guard?

I was on a bike path that intersected a road. The only warning was a very small "Stop" sign for the MUP on the left (this is in the States where you expect it on the right side) about 20 feet from the path and obscured by summer foliage. I was very nearly flattened by a SUV.

I'll stick to road where I know I have to pay full attention, thanks.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:08 AM   #8
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Just make sure your hand signals are correct.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:25 AM   #9
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if you don't hear them coming how can you react? if I hear a big engine coming I tend to move right. but with the fast quiet ones, there's nothing you can do. I will tell you though that since putting a PB SF strobe on my left drop bar I get more courtesy room and getting buzzed is now extremely rare.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:36 AM   #10
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..... but i wonder, would being more afraid make me ride safer?
I'd lean more towards being more aware of your surroundings, as well as making yourself as visible as possible and from the furthest distance possible, without endangering yourself or other road users.
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Old 08-14-12, 08:51 AM   #11
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Not panicking is a good thing!
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Old 08-14-12, 09:01 PM   #12
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Was it you on north bound I-5 at the Terwilliger curves about noon today? That guy wasn't even wearing a helmet. Passed him just before the construction there. Looked like fun.

For reference think about going over the River Rouge complex overpass on 1-75 on a bike.
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Old 08-15-12, 01:40 AM   #13
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Not panicking is a good thing!
+1 It seems like you did the right thing. If you know you are in your lane, is there any reason to risk going off the road for a danger that you don't know exists? It's not clear from your description how dangerous the situation was. I get nervous when I hear large vehicles coming up on me. If you had been using a mirror, would you have been able to determine you were not in danger? Or become more nervous?
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Old 08-15-12, 03:21 AM   #14
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if you don't hear them coming how can you react? if I hear a big engine coming I tend to move right. but with the fast quiet ones, there's nothing you can do. I will tell you though that since putting a PB SF strobe on my left drop bar I get more courtesy room and getting buzzed is now extremely rare.
Please tell me more about this strobe?
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Old 08-15-12, 05:50 AM   #15
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+1 It seems like you did the right thing. If you know you are in your lane, is there any reason to risk going off the road for a danger that you don't know exists? It's not clear from your description how dangerous the situation was. I get nervous when I hear large vehicles coming up on me. If you had been using a mirror, would you have been able to determine you were not in danger? Or become more nervous?
How dangerous it was is hard to say, and I think that's part of what freaked me out. I'm not sure if I was on auto-pilot or zoned out, but after the truck went by, I wasn't really sure if I'd known it was coming up, or if I was just lucky to have held my line over this rough, patchy stretch of road.

Also, I typically get better clearance from cars, so I was surprised--well, mentally-- by the closeness of the pass. I haven't used a mirror in probably 18 years, but your question is making me think about it again, and consider why I don't and if I should!

But like I say, I was struck by my non-response, and it made me wonder if I was subconsciously taking in all the info and therefore OK, or if I was just not paying attention, and in real jeopardy because of that. I don't know how to determine which is true. I suppose it could be that I just couldn't audibly determine the BMW's speed, and that's what caught me off guard.
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Old 08-15-12, 06:01 AM   #16
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Please tell me more about this strobe?
PB SF strobe = Planet Bike Superflash strobe. It's a blinking taillight that's typically seatpost mounted, but it sounds like this person mounted it at the end of the dropbar so it fires backward, parallel to the road surface, probably at about the same height as a seatpost mount, but outboard of the bike rather than centerline.
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Old 08-15-12, 08:30 AM   #17
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I know exactly what you mean. I have only been riding as an adult in an urban area for 5 years or so, but I feel completely confident and unfazed by traffic. I have a strong sense of how to judge speed and can instantly make decisions about when to change lanes, take the lane, etc. I ride hard and aggressively but not recklessly. This confidence goes a long way. Although I am out there every day in some pretty hairy traffic situations I very rarely get honked at, nudged out of the lane, etc. I feel like if I was hesitant and unsure of myself drivers would sense this immediately and drive all over me.
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Old 08-16-12, 12:14 AM   #18
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The trick is to not get so complacent that you stop looking for signs that someone is about to do something stupid. When I moved to California I started lane splitting on my motorcycle. At first it scared the crap out of me. But after a few years of commuting in heavy traffic, it seemed normal to squeeze between cars with inches to spare. I really felt like I was getting too comfortable with it after awhile so I had to remind myself to increase my margin of safety by slowing down and sometimes holding back rather than diving into the gap.
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Old 08-18-12, 01:28 PM   #19
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I've trained myself to remember license plate numbers as soon as I see them. If I want to I can remember a license plate number of the next car that drives by for a long time. I may not remember the make or color of the car, but I would remember its license plate.
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Old 08-18-12, 01:55 PM   #20
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By the time your realize the big SUV zooming past is zooming past, there's no point in panicking.
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Old 08-18-12, 07:42 PM   #21
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I've trained myself to remember license plate numbers as soon as I see them. If I want to I can remember a license plate number of the next car that drives by for a long time. I may not remember the make or color of the car, but I would remember its license plate.

Some people have all the right genes. For me, I do not have the ability to read or even remember a vehicle license traveling at speed, and with my having to rely on today's hi def HD video technology to do so.
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Old 08-18-12, 10:16 PM   #22
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I was doing reception at a police station for years. One situation that was tense was when people came in to sign in for probation. They often didn't have everything they needed, and the people at the front desk weren't very sympathetic. The parolees could get grouchy and might spend some time taking it out on me on the way out.

At first it was a bit of an adrenalin charge, but as it went on I got so relaxed and calm dealing with it. I just stayed low key and talked to the person. No adrenalin at all involved, and it was more efficient.

I think it's the same with your situation. There is no call for adrenalin or any reaction at all after the vehicle has gone past. Not having a reaction is more in touch with reality.
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Old 08-19-12, 05:47 AM   #23
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The few times I've ridden on MUPs I found them full of danger. Broken glass, oblivious peds and skaters, sudden really bad road surface problems. What's the point of these if you can't drop your guard?

I was on a bike path that intersected a road. The only warning was a very small "Stop" sign for the MUP on the left (this is in the States where you expect it on the right side) about 20 feet from the path and obscured by summer foliage. I was very nearly flattened by a SUV.

I'll stick to road where I know I have to pay full attention, thanks.

+1

I could not agree with you more! "Cyclists" ride on the streets comply with traffic laws and share the road, "bicyclists" ride on MUPs and pose a danger to themselves and everyone around them, as everyone around them poses a danger to them. Leave the MUPs to the "family bicyclists", dog walkers, and people walking cluelessly in a cloud of blasting MP3 tunes, and instead ride on the road where the rules are adhered more often and enforced more effectively.
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