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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 09-17-05, 05:16 AM   #1
sydney_b
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The fear

This last week I have really been struck by the fear people have of making use of their right to the road. It came to head when I took my three boys to pick up a movie. The two younger ones have been riding with me a lot and are getting increasingly confident and conscious about road rules. The eldest, however, usually only rides when he has to. We road through a neighborhood on the street, then turned onto a more major street to complete our journey. Since it was well after rush our, the traffic was light and the middle turn lane gives motorists plenty of room to go around us. All the same, a motorcyclist headed the opposite direction hollared, "get on the sidewalk!" We just kept peddling.

When we arrived at our turn, I noticed my eldest son had taken to the sidewalk while the younger two had carefully followed as we practice. At the video store, my eldest sort of freaked out on me and said, "You should just ride the sidewalk." I responded that at the speed a bike travels, sidewalks are very unsafe, especially on roads where motorists are making lots of right turns. Moreover, sidewalks are for pedestrians, who don't want me zipping by on my bike. I then finished with the mention that by law the I have a right to the roads just like any motorist. He loudly retorted that it wasn't worth the right if a driver got mad, then said he didn't want to talk about it any more. I couldn't resist the last word, and reminded him that rights not used will disappear.

Couple of days after that, I ran into a professor wheeling his bike out of the building. I exclaimed, "cool bike, I didn't know you were a commuter." He said he had been for some time, then added, "and I never ride on the roads if I can help it, but I have problems getting here because the trail doesn't go through." I told him my route and reminded him that the roads belong to us too, but I was most struck by how much fear has been instilled and wondered how it had happened, especially to my kids.

I don't know what the real stats are, but I know I ride every day and rarely encounter a rude motorist, let alone one who might be serious about running me off the road. I know we've had some bicycle/car accidents that killed the cyclist, but we have car wreck deaths almost every day. Why aren't people scared to death to get in their cars?

Anyway, do you all have folks in your lives who either are scared to take up your bicycling ways as their own, or who fear for your safety? If so, what are some of the ways you gently put their minds at ease?
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Old 09-19-05, 09:06 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydney_b
Anyway, do you all have folks in your lives who either are scared to take up your bicycling ways as their own, or who fear for your safety? If so, what are some of the ways you gently put their minds at ease?
There are many at my office that worry about my safety. I have been on a two-month crusade to help others commute to work. I know of several people that live within 5 miles of the office building that could easily commute.

My response.....I usually show them a map of my commute and detail how I spend 80% of my commute in neighborhoods and off of major roads. I also show them how they could do it as well. My final word of caution is to show them that riding/commuting takes skills and that they may want to consider starting off by riding in their neighborhoods and practicing riding a straight line. I am doing this with my six year old son. He is really improving.

Obviously, when a motorist shouts out the window, there is little time for retort. I try and do my best talking with folks inside the store, office, etc.

Chris
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Old 09-19-05, 09:43 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by sydney_b
He loudly retorted that it wasn't worth the right if a driver got mad, then said he didn't want to talk about it any more. I couldn't resist the last word, and reminded him that rights not used will disappear.
How old is your son? Can he understand:

Cars mean oil
Oil means war
War means Draft
Draft means YOU

Wish I could make all the snickering young people that fly by hollering stuff understand this.
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Old 09-19-05, 10:02 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydney_b

Anyway, do you all have folks in your lives who either are scared to take up your bicycling ways as their own, or who fear for your safety? If so, what are some of the ways you gently put their minds at ease?
i just ride... as i have for 30yrs+.

people have slipped in the shower, banged their heads and have died... yet i shower each and everyday not living in fear of it happening to me.

its funny it should be a motorcyclist, since there are so many cars that feel as if motorcycles should not be on the same roads as them, i guess thats like almost getting doored by a car with bicycles in the rack, like what happened to me yesterday...
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Old 09-19-05, 11:01 AM   #5
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its funny it should be a motorcyclist, since there are so many cars that feel as if motorcycles should not be on the same roads as them, i guess thats like almost getting doored by a car with bicycles in the rack, like what happened to me yesterday...
I know, right.....most motorcyclists have to use the same guerilla tactics as bicyclists in hairy situations on the road; it's sad that that one rider doesn't realize how close he is to his non-motorized brother.
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Old 09-19-05, 11:36 AM   #6
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I, too, have been commuting/touring for many years. I still affects me when a motorist yells at me. I believe in what I am doing. I do it for the right cause (not to mention the health benifits).

Each day my life changes a little. Right now, I ride/commute out of choice. I have a car. I choose not to drive it.

Too bad the rude, gas sucking, trash throwing, earth destroying slobs that NEED to read this forum never do!
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Old 09-19-05, 11:42 AM   #7
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i just ride if people yell i used to get all bent and catch up to them at lights and yell, then on day i thought"this car is huge this guy could just turn and run me over" so now i just let it go. alot of the time if cars pass to close i take the lane and make them go around, they really get mad then. i like to think it teaches them a lesson.
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Old 09-19-05, 02:59 PM   #8
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He's pushing 16. Right now, I think he thinks his mom is a little overboard. I expect once he actually has a taste of driving costs and how much work that means, he might change his tune. But, I really like your point, MarkS, it's a slant I haven't given him yet, and it's one he might really listen to.
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Old 09-19-05, 08:22 PM   #9
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I know, the perceived danger of riding on the roads are much greater than the actual danger. I understand the people who are scared. It is easy to feel threatened. A small cyclist feels so vulnerable! Probably feels like he's intruding too - used to thinking that "roads are for cars". I'd probably still be a sidewalk biker had it not been for my cycling companions who educated me about proper riding.
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Old 09-30-05, 12:58 PM   #10
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Syndey, warn your eldest son right away about his rights on the road. Stress that except for a few instances, he belongs on the road, not the sidewalk. Sidwalks give a false sense of security-even for pedestians. Unless there is no driveways crossing at right angles to the sidewalk, you actually have more potentual run-ins with cars. Remember that cars tend to watch other large vehicles on the road and respect them because it is in their own best interest. Smaller, slower vehicles (bikes and wheelchairs)and pedestrians are considered simply in the way. Out on the road, you become at one with the traffic and others caged in their motor vehicles. The only time I had an major accident with a motor vehicle was when I followed my mother's advice (a woman who cannot even balanced on a bike) to stay on a sidewalk. Unless needed, I avoid the sidewalk. I live in Los Angeles where bikes are suppose to stay on some awful bike path for recreational cyclists.
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Old 09-30-05, 04:38 PM   #11
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I have recently been riding regularly with my 31 year old stepson, Jerry, who has some mild learning disabilities. At first he would not ride in the street "because the cars will get mad at us." I explained that they would not get angry if we are careful and follow the laws. Then he rode in the street, but he wanted to ride in the gutter "because I don't want to hold up traffic." I responded with the old saying, "We can't hold up traffic because we ARE traffic." This concept liberated him! He often laughs and says "We are traffic!" when we ride on very busy roads.

Now Jerry is getting pretty good at riding like a vehicle. Once in a while he wants us to "ride my way," which involves the use of alleys, "jaywalking," and lots of diagonal shortcuts. I try it his way sometimes, even though it seems scary and dangerous.
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Old 10-01-05, 01:39 AM   #12
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There's a lot of stuff you get to avoid being out of the main areas cars drive in. I don't mean up on the sidewalk, I mean, on a bike you can share the road, but you get to avoid a lot of driver-driver aggro and resulting crashes. Some motorcyclists feel they are much safer on their bikes because they have options car drivers don't - lane splitting to avoid a rear-ender, going up a driveway and around opposite traffic to avoid a pursuer etc moves are hard in a car!
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Old 10-01-05, 04:21 AM   #13
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I've been taking a lot of abuse here in recent weeks, even by the standards of this part of the world (and that's saying a lot). I wore two eggs on a ride on Wednesday night. I don't bother reacting to it at all anymore. It's reached a stage where even being hit by something thrown from a car isn't enough to interfere with my pedalling rhythm or cause my heart rate to increase even the smallest amount. It's just something you get used to after a while.

One thing I have noticed, however, is that the level of abuse seems to be inversely proportional to the amount of traffic around. I guess there are too many potential witnesses around during the busy times for the cowards in cars to feel "empowered". Consequently, my tactic is to ride on the busiest roads I can find. The busier the better.
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Old 10-01-05, 05:59 AM   #14
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Thank you all for your comments. I also found some really good articles At the North Carolina Coalition For Bicycle Driving
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Old 10-01-05, 07:12 AM   #15
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Just a coincidence but as I browsed this thread Bjork's 'Human Behaviour' played in the background:

Quote:
"if you ever get close to a human
and human behaviour
be ready be ready to get confused

there's definitely definitely definitely no logic
to human behaviour"
Chris L that's terrible, ever think of moving south?

I think it takes time learning to be safe on the road, I know it did for me anyway. Most importantly Sydney at least your Son's have someone to gain confidence from.
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Old 10-01-05, 07:48 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkS
How old is your son? Can he understand:

Cars mean oil
Oil means war
War means Draft
Draft means YOU

Wish I could make all the snickering young people that fly by hollering stuff understand this.

What's to understand? It's stupid. We have more cars and use more gas/oil than ever before. There hasn't been a draft since Vietnam (30 years?). And whatever you think of the current president and the Iraq conflict, we're not getting a drop of oil out of it.

Do you know someone who's been drafted recently to go to war for oil?
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Old 10-01-05, 11:22 PM   #17
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Chris L that's terrible, ever think of moving south?
I've given it some serious consideration plenty of times -- usually after bike tours down there. The only thing that holds me back is that my job and pretty much everything else I have in life is up here, and the one good thing about the Gold Coast is that it's relatively easy to get out of the city. That said, if someone offered me a job in Hobart tomorrow, I'd be there just as quickly as a plane could carry me. .
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Old 10-02-05, 03:59 AM   #18
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I also have a friend that likes riding the sidewalk more and has a fear of riding in the road. An old lady pulled out in front of him without looking and he went flying over the bonet and this has only made hime more fearfull. He stops if a car is waiting at a stop street where he doesn't have to stop and waits for the car to go and rides on the pavement and also on the wrong side of the road. I am trying to teach him the proper way to ride in the road but I find it quite hard.

I find it much safer riding properly than riding on the wrong side on things like that. I once rode on the wrong side of the road on the pavement and as I came to a turnoff I went off the pavement and a car travelling in the same dirrection as me from the other side of the road turned in right in front of me. I almost went flying over it but my quick braking saved me. The only reason this happened was that I was on the wrong side of the road and being where I was the driver wasn't looking in that area as there would normally not be any cars there to look out for. In a way I was not riding in a way that the car drivers could predict what I was going to do nevermind them even seeing me. I have learnt alot since I started riding in the road, luckily not in such a way that I have injured myself, but i have had my share of close calls.
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Old 10-02-05, 11:48 AM   #19
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My wife isn't fond of riding the streets and so we use the Springwater MUP for our commute together. On days she can't ride I always opt for the road because it's more interesting and also quicker. Very rarely do I encounter overtly aggressive motorists.

Last Friday I convinced the missus to ride the streets on the way to work, and she said she was pleasantly surprised at how quickly we made our way even with the occasional red lights. I may convert her yet.

I'll never ride the sidewalk, nor will I pass on the right as so many do here, but the magic of the bicycle is that you can become an instant pedestrian when navigating dodgy intersections and traffic compression. Striding the sidewalk with bike in tow past motorists locked in long lines of vehicles simply reinforces the positive aspects of bicycle commuting.
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Old 10-02-05, 11:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sydney_b
This last week I have really been struck by the fear people have of making use of their right to the road. It came to head when I took my three boys to pick up a movie. The two younger ones have been riding with me a lot and are getting increasingly confident and conscious about road rules. The eldest, however, usually only rides when he has to. We road through a neighborhood on the street, then turned onto a more major street to complete our journey. Since it was well after rush our, the traffic was light and the middle turn lane gives motorists plenty of room to go around us. All the same, a motorcyclist headed the opposite direction hollared, "get on the sidewalk!" We just kept peddling.

When we arrived at our turn, I noticed my eldest son had taken to the sidewalk while the younger two had carefully followed as we practice. At the video store, my eldest sort of freaked out on me and said, "You should just ride the sidewalk." I responded that at the speed a bike travels, sidewalks are very unsafe, especially on roads where motorists are making lots of right turns. Moreover, sidewalks are for pedestrians, who don't want me zipping by on my bike. I then finished with the mention that by law the I have a right to the roads just like any motorist. He loudly retorted that it wasn't worth the right if a driver got mad, then said he didn't want to talk about it any more. I couldn't resist the last word, and reminded him that rights not used will disappear.

Couple of days after that, I ran into a professor wheeling his bike out of the building. I exclaimed, "cool bike, I didn't know you were a commuter." He said he had been for some time, then added, "and I never ride on the roads if I can help it, but I have problems getting here because the trail doesn't go through." I told him my route and reminded him that the roads belong to us too, but I was most struck by how much fear has been instilled and wondered how it had happened, especially to my kids.

I don't know what the real stats are, but I know I ride every day and rarely encounter a rude motorist, let alone one who might be serious about running me off the road. I know we've had some bicycle/car accidents that killed the cyclist, but we have car wreck deaths almost every day. Why aren't people scared to death to get in their cars?

Anyway, do you all have folks in your lives who either are scared to take up your bicycling ways as their own, or who fear for your safety? If so, what are some of the ways you gently put their minds at ease?
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Education and well.... guts. Thats what makes this forum so important. There are no commercials, there is no media image, there is no support or infrastructure, and it is debateable that bicycle commuters exist over 1% in most communities. There is no profit in car-free people. If you think about it, it resembles a cult. If everybody went car-free the nation would be in a freefall. One-third of all jobs depend on automobiles, The American Dream is a suburb in a cul-de-sac with a 2 car garage. Most zoning boards, city councils, and government have automobile ties. Your neighborhood was designed for cars. Your son's are normal in a car dominated cuture- all their friends parents have cars, as do most people. I repeat, read and learn about cars and people and the result. Don't worry about your son's totally understandable reaction, but learn why 49% of cities are crossed with dangerous high speed path's.
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Old 10-04-05, 04:35 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carless
Education and well.... guts. Thats what makes this forum so important. There are no commercials, there is no media image, there is no support or infrastructure, and it is debateable that bicycle commuters exist over 1% in most communities. There is no profit in car-free people. If you think about it, it resembles a cult. If everybody went car-free the nation would be in a freefall. One-third of all jobs depend on automobiles, The American Dream is a suburb in a cul-de-sac with a 2 car garage. Most zoning boards, city councils, and government have automobile ties. Your neighborhood was designed for cars. Your son's are normal in a car dominated cuture- all their friends parents have cars, as do most people. I repeat, read and learn about cars and people and the result. Don't worry about your son's totally understandable reaction, but learn why 49% of cities are crossed with dangerous high speed path's.
You make it sound like being carfree is a struggle. For me, it's a fun and interesting way to get around the city (and countryside), especially when bikes are involved.
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Old 10-04-05, 09:07 PM   #22
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My girlfriend just got hit by a car while riding on the sidewalk. It's just not safe. I ride confidently in the lane and as far right as is safe. If people are yelling and honking at me, that means they see me. That's good enough for me.

"every lane is a bike lane"

I like that
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Old 10-05-05, 07:12 PM   #23
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I agree with carless on that last post. Living car free does take some guts because everyone think's your crazy, at first. And biking in adverse conditions and on busy roads takes getting used to, but I love riding in the rain, I don't wear rain gear because I love getting soaked (my bike has fenders). I love riding in cool-cold weather because you don't overheat as fast so you can push harder.
For people used to an automobile existance going car free can be a strugle. Remember that we are cyclists in a car's world. It does take guts to be a commited car free person. But it is very very very much worth it.
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Old 10-05-05, 10:09 PM   #24
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I don't know about everywhere else but in Colorado it is actualy against the law to ride on the sidewalk Ordinance 54-576 prohibits bicycling on sidewalks except "....where the sidewalk is part of a designated bicycle route." When a sidewalk is part of a designated bicycle route, bike route signs are posted.
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Old 10-08-05, 10:54 AM   #25
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Fear of bicycling is irrational and while we on this forum know it, we still have to deal with it, either ingrained or from others.

I have mixed feelings about John Forester's book "Effective Cycling," but the section that details the Bicycle Inferiority Complex is worthwhile reading--it explains where some of this fear comes from, and why it is so prevalent. I think it's (partially) online as well...SydneyB, you might find it useful or interesting.

regards

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