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Old 08-05-08, 07:30 PM   #1
Fairmont
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How do you guys stay safe riding the roads in the Southeast???

I'm not talking Florida as much, because they seem to have wider roads and some bike lanes, but Georgia has these tiny two-lane roads going through the countryside that would be great to ride, but HUGE trucks are going down them at high speeds.

Do you guys actually ride those little country roads? If so, do you just assume that cars will see you and be able to avoid you?

I ride in Peachtree City, commuting mostly with a few fun rides, but never long distance. We have a paved bikepath system that rarely takes us on the roads, and the roads we do ride are just residential, not highways. However, I would like to do some rides outside my town and was wondering what most people do to stay safe.

It just seems to me that riding across the state would be a situation in which tons of cars and trucks pass by at high rates of speed and that it would be easy to get hit.

Am I missing something? Is it a safety in numbers thing that riders do?

Thanks for any replies to such a newbie question.
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Old 08-05-08, 07:56 PM   #2
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Safety in numbers does help. And this is the Bible Belt. Pray.

and try to select lower traffic roads for the majority of your ride; but sometimes you still can't avoid traffic. Scout some routes in your car at the times you want to ride to get an idea of the traffic.
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Old 08-05-08, 08:45 PM   #3
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At the end of our "old country two lane back road" there is always this large cycling event every year with around a hundred riders. Its road racing and cyclocross and I've never heard of anyone ever getting hit. This is outside of Athens, GA in Oglethorpe County. A lot of cyclists will use this event as a warm up for the Tour de Georgia.
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Old 08-06-08, 06:22 AM   #4
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Here's a great country roads type ride for you, sort of down your way.
http://www.bikesbl.org/modules.php?o...810&ride_id=84

You can also try group ride in the PC area. Try Bicycles Unlimited for info.

As others have said, safety in numbers, if there is no rideable shoulder.
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Old 08-06-08, 09:40 AM   #5
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I ride back roads all the time here in Tennessee. It hasn't been a big deal. 99.5% of the drivers seem to be civil - courteous. Most of the few problems I have had is when someone just isn't aware that I might be going 25 mph and they shouldn't try to pass me on that particular curve. More ignorance than intent to harm.

That said, I try to be as visible as possible. If I am riding in lower light conditions (like just before dawn as I have been) I make sure to put my blinky light on the back so they can see me from way off. I try to position myself on the road where if it is unsafe for a car to pass (like on a curve in the road) that the car cannot get around me without going into the other lane (sometimes the soccer mom in the SUV will do it anyway - just about witnessed a head on on one corner as she passed me). I could still be taken out by some idiot texting while they drive. Of course, I was just about taken out in my car on the interstate by some ditz teenage girl texting too.

I find that if I stay aware of my surrondings and stay visible and enforce my position on the road (when it makes sense) I'm in pretty good shape.
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Old 08-06-08, 12:24 PM   #6
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And this is the Bible Belt. Pray.
That's what I was going to say.

Most of the drivers are fine. To some degree you can get used to sharing the road with the other ones.
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Old 08-06-08, 04:37 PM   #7
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"safe", that's a relative term. riding in TN & MS I've had some close calls, some of them on purpose & know of some who have been hit. I've had stuff thrown at me, been spit on, yelled at, threatened, etc etc--even had a guy who used to run me off the road coming from the other way (never quite got his tag #)--some of it by people obviously on the way to church. i try to stay away from "busy" country roads to the max. extent; if I can't ride in & around the local state park, i try to stay in town, the streets are wider, the sight lines are better & the speeds are lower.

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Old 08-07-08, 12:33 PM   #8
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I live in GA, but I do most of my long distance riding across the river in SC. Believe it or not, South Carolina has better roads, with wider paved shoulders, than the much larger (pop, budget) state of Georgia. North Augusta, SC also has a very nice paved Greenway that can actually be used for commuting... Here on my side of the river, we have a "punctuated" bike path, that runs from almost where I live... to almost where I want to go. Half the time, there's county maintenance trucks parked on it, and there used to be a fire hydrant IN THE MIDDLE OF IT, at the bottom of a hill with poor sightlines.
That got moved, finally. You still have to dodge utility poles and minefields of broken beer bottles.

Once I cross the Hwy 28 bridge into SC, I can enjoy got broad shoulders and sparse traffic all the way to McCormick. I can play around the county backroads that wind through the Sumter Forest all morning and make a century of the ride. They even have a hill or two... 6% for 2.5 miles, how cool is that?

Long ago, I used to ride to Lincolnton, on the GA side of the river, as my long ride destination. They must've moved the Georgia Pulpwood Truck Driver's Hall of Fame up there, though, because it's a steady stream of fragrant pine chip filled trailers making their way to & fro. You can bet the drivers are all cranked up on Red Bull and No Doze... I got grazed... "love tapped" one time too many, so now I take the road less travelled.

Plus, SC just passed several laws protecting cyclists from acts of aggression and harassment.

Meanwhile, most of the constabulary in my county don't know that cyclists are allowed to use the roads... (Me, I know every cop in the county... They blip their sirens or flash their lights when they pass. But I'd hate to be a newcommer here...)

As for dealing with the GA drivers, I've cycled on US & foreign roads since the 1960s, in some pretty hostile places. The trick is to be courteous and polite (keep that middle finger folded!) but also be assertive, aggressive, and take the lane if you need it.

It also wouldn't hurt to get yourself a PerformanceBike American Flag jersey... At least the Harley riders will be nice to you.
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Old 08-07-08, 01:25 PM   #9
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How do you guys stay safe riding the roads in the Southeast???
Cross the Potomac and ride in the Northeast.
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Old 08-09-08, 09:03 PM   #10
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one thing i always recomend is a rebel flag jersey with a tn vols (im in knoxville) logo thrown in for good measure. Might make the rednecks a bit more forgiving
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Old 08-15-08, 02:50 PM   #11
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I usually just take the lane on the country roads. Folks see you easy enough and if you get over when they're behind you, 99 percent of people are completely nice and understanding.

The other 1 percent are just hicks.
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Old 08-17-08, 02:17 AM   #12
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Here in WNC I stay safe by riding trails.
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Old 08-17-08, 08:10 AM   #13
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I usually ride the well traveled roads between 6 and 9am on weekends, and in the evening ride up on the natchez trace parkway.. not much traffic to worry about in either instance. Aside from a few hollers (2 or 3 in the past 1000 miles) I've been impressed with how courteous folks have been so far. I don't usually stray from the highways on my rides because A: I'll get lost, and B: dogs. (dogs that chase things along highways are usually short lived)
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Old 08-18-08, 07:22 AM   #14
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I ride on busy city streets frequented by immigrant and senile drivers, but were I in your situation I might try mounting a CB radio to my bike.
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Old 08-21-08, 11:24 AM   #15
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I live outside of Athens, GA in Oglethorpe Cty, and I've found people to be pretty careful. On the other hand, I ride past two markers for persons hit and killed by drivers.

One thing I've considered is getting a UGA bike jersey to ride in and hoping that no one will want to desecrate such a hallowed item.
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Old 08-23-08, 11:06 PM   #16
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I ride on busy city streets frequented by immigrant and senile drivers, but were I in your situation I might try mounting a CB radio to my bike.
I went to high school in PB County in the mid-'70's and used to ride my Sears 10-speed from Mangonia Park to North Palm. Flat roads, yes, but the sides of the roads were horrible and of course if you went off you were in sand and stickers and Pabst Blue Ribbon discards. Back then, 70% of the car drivers were either under 25 or over 60.
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Old 08-23-08, 11:17 PM   #17
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I live outside of Athens, GA in Oglethorpe Cty, and I've found people to be pretty careful. On the other hand, I ride past two markers for persons hit and killed by drivers.

One thing I've considered is getting a UGA bike jersey to ride in and hoping that no one will want to desecrate such a hallowed item.
Since graduating HS in Florida (see previous post), I've lived on and off (on for the last 20 years) in and around Athens, and my experience riding country roads (Clarke, Oconee, Madison, and Oglethorpe) has been like yours -- good. I've never been harassed and while I don't always feel safe because of the roads and speeding vehicles, I familiarize myself with my routes and make myself plenty visible to approaching traffic. Then again, a year or so ago we had a run of quite a few car vs. bike incidents, so I know luck plays a part in it too.
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Old 08-24-08, 03:32 PM   #18
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I have ridden in the Gainesville, Florida area since 1982 and logged way over 100K miles on the roads around here.

Problems with cagers now are NOTHING compared to what it was in the early 1980's. Back then I would have a bad encounter on nearly every ride and even on most daily commutes. Now it is very rare. It isn't unheard of, though, but it has been about 18 months since the last bad incident.

And it has been over 20 years since anyone has threatened me with a gun while I was riding.
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Old 08-24-08, 04:26 PM   #19
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I have ridden in the Gainesville, Florida area since 1982 and logged way over 100K miles on the roads around here.

Problems with cagers now are NOTHING compared to what it was in the early 1980's. Back then I would have a bad encounter on nearly every ride and even on most daily commutes. Now it is very rare. It isn't unheard of, though, but it has been about 18 months since the last bad incident.

And it has been over 20 years since anyone has threatened me with a gun while I was riding.
Ditto for the Atlanta area. These days motorists around here seem to at least have some inkling that cyclists are a normal part of traffic flow. I've never had the problems with harassment that many people report (or I'm so thick skinned that I don't notice them) but when I did my first round of cycle commuting during the 1970s there were a lot more shouts and blaring of horns. The last such encounter I had was over a year ago, and the issue for the guy wasn't that I was on the road, but that I didn't shift to the left to allow him a right turn at a stoplight (the lane was much too narrow for me to safely do that).

Last edited by larryfeltonj; 08-24-08 at 04:27 PM. Reason: left out a word
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