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  1. #1
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    Invisible Cyclists

    Got the December 2005 issue of Bicycling magazine and read the articles on "invisible cyclists". Had a lot of mixed emotions and feelings but overall I am inspired and impressed by them. Anyone else read this yet?

  2. #2
    Alien lifeform
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    I was just reading this article and checking the forums to see if anyone had mentioned this yet. This is a GREAT article, much, much better than the regular Bicycling fare. If you don't subscribe to this rag, it's worth stopping by your favorite bookstore to pick up this issue just for this article.

    It certainly put things in a different perspective. Next time you meet a "wrong way, Huffy riding" cyclist you probably won't be quite as judgemental.

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    Could someone give a brief summary of the article?

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    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jakemoffatt
    Could someone give a brief summary of the article?
    This is a different article (written about 2 years ago) but I think it's the general gist of "invisible cyclist"

    What happened Sunday to more than a dozen cyclists who were mowed down by an errant driver in St. Petersburg ought to remind anybody with eyes open that people on bikes have a right to be on the highway.

    The lesson is largely missed in the bay area. Year after year, the ranking doesn't change. We are consistently among the most dangerous places in the country to ride a bike.

    Yet some of us still ride.

    There are the clubs, like the two represented in Sunday's accident - the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club and the St. Pete Mad Dog Triathlon Club. These are the people who ride, mostly on weekends, for recreation and pleasure, for challenge and competition.

    They ride expensive bikes and wear bright outfights and, almost always, helmets.

    And then there are the anonymous others, who ride bikes from Wal-Mart or the Salvation Army, who can't afford helmets, let alone the bike shorts with the padded seats. They use their bikes the way the rest of us use our cars.

    Gena Torres, a Hillsborough County planner, keeps track of bike crashes. Accidents like Sunday's, involving the Lycra crowd, get the attention. But Torres says most crashes involve the others, a group she likes to call "the invisible cyclists."

    Last summer, she spent her workday mornings for a month stopping bicyclists on the street in Tampa. She asked them where they were going, what they were doing. "They were going to work. They were trying to get to their families," she said. "They were trying to get to the store. It was a commute type of trip."

    And they were doing it on roads the rest of us commuters pack with automobiles.

    These are the streets where the crashes occur, Torres said. Most occur during the day.

    The invisible cyclists ride bikes because they have no car. They are too poor. Or they have lost their driver's licenses.

    Often, though, they ride their bikes improperly.

    They ride without a helmet. Or against traffic. Or while wearing headsets. Or while wearing dark clothing at night. Or without lights. Or they ride drunk.

    In other words, sometimes they are asking for trouble.

    Sure enough, said Torres, these riders, not the weekend warriors, are the ones most often hurt and killed.

    Yet they're not the ones who get the attention. Their deaths are noted only briefly in the paper.

    Torres is stumped over how to reach these invisible others, how to teach them the tools of safe biking that people in bike clubs learn from the get-go. She dreams of being able to give away bike helmets and bike lights.

    She also wishes she could reach politicians and road engineers, and get them to keep these other, invisible bicyclists in mind.

    "If I could give them anything, it would be bike lanes," Torres said.

    You name the road. Nebraska Avenue. Florida Avenue. Even Dale Mabry Highway. Torres is all for narrowing traffic lanes to create bike lanes to take these cyclists-by-necessity where they need to go.

    Torres interviewed 100 city cyclists last summer. She put their stories together in a package and has twice presented it to officials.

    She spoke up to illustrate how out of touch those officials were with the transportation needs of city residents, most poor. They would be lost without their bikes. They must get around one way or another, whether the roads are safe or unsafe.

    Torres said she's not very popular with some county engineers now.

    It doesn't bother her. "I wanted them to see what I was seeing," she said.


  5. #5
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Almost every cyclist around here is an "inisible cyclist." Some call them "folk cyclists." There have been recent threads on other sub-forums. I do wish that these cyclists would learn how to ride a little more safely, for their own sake.

    Does anybody here think of themselves as a folk cyclist?


    "Think Outside the Cage"

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    Quote Originally Posted by thomj513
    Got the December 2005 issue of Bicycling magazine and read the articles on "invisible cyclists". Had a lot of mixed emotions and feelings but overall I am inspired and impressed by them. Anyone else read this yet?
    I like the article but haven't finished reading all of it yet. The invisible cyclists are generally undocumented Mexicans who ride bikes because they're poor. Without question, they are car free and are probably a good portion of the bike commuters in any urban center.

    I didn't know these men go thought many bikes a year. They have to save up for months to buy a new bicycle and we're talking Walmart type not Trek. It's a real sad story about car-free individuals living right on the edge. It goes to show you another side of society that uses bicycles because even public tranportation is too expensive due to their low wages.

    On another subject, the article also reviewed the Magna Excitor XP3000 which was the wrong choice of department store bike that should be used by undocumented immigrants. Once again, Bicycling choose the wrong bike which makes me wonder about their other choices of "Bikes that are Right" for cycling.

    The right deparment store bike would be a beach cruiser! I've seen beach crusiers in Walmart and they are rock solid. Sure they weight a ton but the frame is solid with no suspension, no gears to fiddle and coaster brake for simplicity. These bikes are practically bomb proof and this is the type of bike needed by those improvished. Not the Magna Excitor XP3000!
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 10-27-05 at 12:44 PM.

  7. #7
    beginner budster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody
    Almost every cyclist around here is an "invisible cyclist." Some call them "folk cyclists." There have been recent threads on other sub-forums. I do wish that these cyclists would learn how to ride a little more safely, for their own sake.

    Does anybody here think of themselves as a folk cyclist?
    I started that way, and I guess I'm still about 25% folkie.

    When I was a kid, I went everywhere by bike, starting about age 8. Little league, corner store, all my friends' houses. Parents did not have time for any of that crap. If I wanted to go, I got myself there. Always on the sidewalk. The world ended where the sidewalk ended.

    I started using the streets at age 14, when I got a paper route. 150 newspapers (250 by the time I hung it up) on a Schwinn Typhoon, every afternoon, rain, snow or shine, six days a week for the next three years. And I biked everywhere. To the store. To the arcade. Seven miles out to the country to see some girl.

    Then I got a car and didn't bike so much for a couple of years. Sort of rediscovered it when I went to college. Again, biked everywhere. Saw spandex for the first time and wanted to hurl, especially when I saw how badly so many yuppie cyclists biked. Lived car free for several years. I prided myself on being part of a dirtbag underground.

    I still do.

    I have a nice car, but I use it sparingly. With an elderly, non-driving Mom needing frequent medical visits, in a town with no public trans, that still means driving several times a week. But I bike whenever and wherever I can, and I always reach out to the wrong-way and sidewalk warriors I see every day.

    Even though I now --
    • wear a helmet
    • ride a nice, well-maintained bike
    • use lights
    • practice VC when I feel it's in my best interest

    -- I still consider myself much closer to invisible folkie than day-glo poseur. I wouldn't be caught dead in spandex. No offense. I have no qualms about hopping the sidewalk, or about turning off my lights/hiding my helmet in dangerous neighborhoods. As soon as I can get off my lazy ass, I'm going to paint my bike flat black for the sheer folkie, dirtbag stealthiliciousness of it.

    Power to the people. [clenched fist salute]
    Path of Abundance: Be Kind, be Generous, be Content, be Honest and be Aware.

    The first great gift we can bestow on others is a good example. -Thomas Morell
    A thimble of patience is worth more than a bushel of brains. -Dutch Proverb
    Never pass up the chance to keep your mouth shut. -Anonymous Cowboy

  8. #8
    Senior Member Thor29's Avatar
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    Of course, every one of these guys that is riding a bike now because he is poor will buy a car as soon as he gets a toe-hold in America. So few people in the USA consider bikes as legitimate means of transport and the car is practically an object of religious worship.

    The thing that has always bugged me about cheap bikes like the Magna, and even relatively cheap bikes at the LBS is that marketing and perception are so much more important than reality. Instead of a bunch of useless bedsprings masquerading as suspension and drivetrains that can barely shift when new, why not a fully rigid single speed mountain bike? Less stuff to break, easy to maintain. Oh yeah, I keep forgetting, if people ever start being logical I'll know for sure that I've been teleported to a different planet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by budster
    I have no qualms about hopping the sidewalk, or about turning off my lights/hiding my helmet in dangerous neighborhoods.
    You're the first person I met who does the same things I do regarding lights and helmet. When entering a bad neighborhood, I'll turn off my lights but there's not much I can do about my helmet. I wish there was a helment manufacturer who made one that looked like a ball cap! Then you could really ride stealth in the slums.

    I ride sidewalks too but at 5 mph and only for cruising the downtown shopping district.

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    The difference between me and the "invisible" cyclists is only that of education. I own about 10 cycling books on repair or safe riding. Even one called divorce your car, even that 10 pound effective cycling monstrosity.

    A used single speed huffy or beach cruiser can be had for 50 bucks with some effort, many times with fenders. A cheap led light set can be had for 20 bucks, patches and a pump, a lock, in theory 100 bucks can set u up as an expert commuter-- if you shop and are well informed.

    But who is well informed out there? Certainly not even the drivers where I live. Indifference is the key, people just don't care.

  11. #11
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    My friend Tony told me that I would get my butt kicked riding with a helmet in our neighborhood. "They'll think you're a mushroom head dork."

    So far, no problems. I feel safer in the inner city, with street lights and manageable traffic, than I do on those high speed suburban roads at night. It gets dark out there!


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  12. #12
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    I understand the turning off the lights to be stealth thing.. but why remove the helmet?

    Lets say I'm riding through cracktown (mere blocks from my flat) and some junkies/thugs step to me because I've stopped too long at the wrong intersection and they like the look of my sled...

    I would rather be wearing my helmet during whatever is going to happen next.

  13. #13
    Reading Rocks!!! david.l.k's Avatar
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    I don't know about where you people live, but the crack head's definatly can't run as fast as I ride. I keep them light's blazin and keep on peddalin. I my self have a foot in both worlds. I ride a well equiped bike, carry tool's, wear a bright yellow helmet, a saftey vest, reflective pant retainer, oh and my helmet has a mirror on it. I am a bit more anarcical when it comes to the way I ride. I basically follow traffic laws that I benefit me, and I ride my bike absolutley everywhere. I don't drink alcohol because I refuse to ride drunk, I do ride stoned a bit, but I've done it enough and there is really no difference in my riding ability. I also ride more cautiosly while stoned so I'm actually safer than normal, but slower.

  14. #14
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    I never thought there was a need to stealthful in "bad" neighborhoods. I suppose tha fact that the inner city here is a far cry from North or East St. Louis, or Gary, or the ole Kabrini greens area. I've only heard horror stories about these places. wne I have had to ride thorugh some of Minneapolis' "Drug Zones" I am a lot more cautious. I also get a lot of kidding, several time a couple of the crack hoes called after me "Hey Biker Man you straight?" I just chuckled and kept riding.
    "I will remain the stranger who came from a faraway land." Lance Armstrong

    "The more you drive, the less intelligent you become." Miller "Repo Man"

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    I don't understand what is wrong with being an "opposite warrior." It is much safer for me to see the cars heading at you at 40mph+ than to be passed unexpectedly.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    The city where I live is full of these "invisible cyclists" ... they often commute to work by bicycle, rain, snow, sleet, hail, and sun. I ride in the winter, and these people put me to shame by being out on days I wouldn't consider riding.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    The right deparment store bike would be a beach cruiser! I've seen beach crusiers in Walmart and they are rock solid. Sure they weight a ton but the frame is solid with no suspension, no gears to fiddle and coaster brake for simplicity. These bikes are practically bomb proof and this is the type of bike needed by those improvished. Not the Magna Excitor XP3000!
    A beach cruiser might be appropriate for an area that is relatively flat, but not for a place with long, steep hills like Charleston, or even lots of rolling hills like Lexington, KY. Something built along the lines of a beach cruiser but with a hub gear (even a three-speed would be better than nothing, but better a seven- or eight) would be needed for hilly terrain.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by david7700 View Post
    I don't understand what is wrong with being an "opposite warrior." It is much safer for me to see the cars heading at you at 40mph+ than to be passed unexpectedly.
    Well, for one thing it is illegal ... you are violating the rules of the road.

    Secondly, from the point of view of a driver, I feel a lot more confident rolling past a cyclist riding the correct direction on the road because I figure he/she knows what he/she is doing and won't likely do anything rash. However, when I'm driving along and there's a cyclist coming toward me, I'm terrified that cyclist is going to suddenly dart across the road or do something foolish because he/she is already breaking the law, so what's one more infraction.

    Third, from the point of view of the cyclist, it makes it very difficult to follow traffic signals (lights, stop signs etc.) which are designed to be approached from a certain direction ... it makes it difficult to follow other rules of the road.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by david7700 View Post
    I don't understand what is wrong with being an "opposite warrior." It is much safer for me to see the cars heading at you at 40mph+ than to be passed unexpectedly.
    For one thing, it is illegal. The laws of all 50 states define the bicycle as a vehicle and state that they are bound by the Rules of the Road. And, in this country, that means riding on the right.

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    I suppose I should try this riding on the right, but I guess that means I'll need a mirror because otherwise I have to turn around every 10 seconds to check the approaching traffic and this seems to put me at more risk than being able to constantly look forwards. Once I get a mirror, "folk rider" or "opposite warrior" I'll be no longer!

    And I don't think anybody will be disappointed with a "beach cruiser" bike because they are great for mostly on-road riding! Much smoother than my mountain bike with less tire rolling resistance; it is probably the next best thing to an all out road bike.

  21. #21
    Senior Member murphstahoe's Avatar
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    why do you need to see the cars approaching you from behind?

  22. #22
    Thread Killer evblazer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by murphstahoe View Post
    why do you need to see the cars approaching you from behind?
    I like to see the cars approaching from behind to make sure they are moving over and not driving right over me.

  23. #23
    Super Moderator Allen's Avatar
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    Three year old thread being revisited by a troll post.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by david7700 View Post
    I suppose I should try this riding on the right, but I guess that means I'll need a mirror because otherwise I have to turn around every 10 seconds to check the approaching traffic and this seems to put me at more risk than being able to constantly look forwards. Once I get a mirror, "folk rider" or "opposite warrior" I'll be no longer!

    And I don't think anybody will be disappointed with a "beach cruiser" bike because they are great for mostly on-road riding! Much smoother than my mountain bike with less tire rolling resistance; it is probably the next best thing to an all out road bike.
    I presume, then, that you are deaf, that you can't hear the cars coming? In any case, being struck by a car from the rear is about the least common of car/bike collisions. The Door Prize, the Right Hook, and the Left Cross are all far more common.

    Beach cruisers are fine for flat, or nearly flat, terrain, but the lack of gears makes them problematic in hilly areas.

  25. #25
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
    Three year old thread being revisited by a troll post.
    Yep, a troll bump. You sure hate to see that. Probably cused the server crash this afternoon.


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