Advertise on Bikeforums.net



User Tag List

Results 1 to 15 of 15
  1. #1
    I am not a car Map tester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    My Bikes
    '81 Takara Sport Touring, Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre
    Posts
    748
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)

    Need advice: safety concerns

    Although I am a daily bicycle commuter, I have not really done a overnight tour (except for a short overnighter to a local park via a bike path years ago). I am planning an overnighter with my 16 year old son to a campground at a nearby wildlife center (about 50 miles one-way). Yesterday afternoon we did a quick recon-style trip (by car) to the campground and to check out the route. I have had some gppd advice on the route, and it seems so avoid large suburban roads to get out of town, then the main route out into the countryside does not seem to have much truck traffic.

    My concern is mostly with riding on these rural 55mph roads with my son. We have ridden extensively in-town, but for the most part avoid ridding with traffic over 35mph by using side roads and neighborhood streets. But at least 22 miles of the trip will be on a US route with posted speeds of 45 to 55 mph. The roads are well maintained, but have little to no margin to the side.

    I know that this is probably parental concern about the safety of my son, but I feel I need to discuss this with an experienced group. How do you deal with riding for miles on two lane roads with high speed traffic? How do you mentally deal with the real or imagined 'threat' to you or your loved ones safety on these types of roads?

    I appreciate any insight you can give.
    "Bad facts make bad laws." FZ

  2. #2
    Hooked on Touring
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Posts
    2,061
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Howdy -

    I've got lots of miles - maybe 100,000 - and quite a few have been on roads with no shoulders. Finished a tour that included southern Georgia last winter/spring. Since you are not specific, I am assuming that you are in Georgia in the Atlanta area. I'm also guessing that you are planning to do this on a weekend. So, here are a few pointers -

    First, how wobbly are you and your son when you are riding with panniers/gear? If you cannot ride comfortably and confidently under weight, you should avoid doing this.

    Second, just how busy are those roads? Georgia publishes an online map with all state highways as well as county road data for traffic volumes.
    http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Docu...ficFlow_07.pdf
    http://wwwb.dot.ga.gov/DOT/plan-prog...c_counts.shtml
    AADT - Annual Average Daily Traffic - generally speaking under 1000 is good, 1000 to 2000 is O.K., 2000 to 4000 you would like a shoulder, and over 4000 is dicey without a shoulder.

    Third, are you sure you have to get on State/US highways? Here is a website that has county maps including all back roads.
    http://www.dot.state.ga.us/maps/Pages/CountyMaps.aspx

    Fourth, time of day makes a difference. Generally speaking, Saturday morning is a low traffic volume time - even on busier roads. Later in the day is tricker. Late afternoon and early evening increases the risk of drinking drivers. Sunday morning is THE quietest time of the week. Sunday afternoon can be somewhat busy with folks coming back from the weekend in a hurry.

    My experience has been that reservoirs attract a higher-speed, drinking public. Wildlife areas attract the opposite. In all my years touring, I have carefully avoided party destinations on weekends - esp. long weekends.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions - J

  3. #3
    I am not a car Map tester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    My Bikes
    '81 Takara Sport Touring, Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre
    Posts
    748
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    jamawani, thanks for the links and the advice. The route I was considering seems to have counts over 5000. I think I will look for a better route. I may have more questions later. I was also planning to leave early on Saturday to miss a lot of the traffic. The camping aspect is not a problem--we have camped and backpacked for years--and the area around the campground is mostly a wildlife viewing area.
    "Bad facts make bad laws." FZ

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    San Diego
    My Bikes
    IF steel deluxe 29er tourer
    Posts
    1,417
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    OP, your concerns are valid. I will go to great lengths to find a road with a shoulder. At least then if you have traffic bearing down on you, you can bail. The most dangerous time is when traffic (especially a truck) is coming towards you and traffic (especially a truck) is passing you. Being afraid will keep you alive.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Posts
    1,294
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    +1 on having a healthy fear of traffic. Most of the real old school cyclists I know (riders/commuters with over 10-20 years daily riding) are somewhat picky about when and were they ride.

  6. #6
    Macro Geek
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario
    My Bikes
    True North tourer (www.truenorthcycles.com), 2004; Miyata 1000, 1985
    Posts
    1,157
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I have no empirical data to back this up, but my own experience is that cars give distance to me in proportion to how visible I am. So now I wear a florescent vest whenever I cycle on roads I share with traffic.

    If the vest allows drivers an extra second to react to my presence, that's a good thing.

  7. #7
    Banned
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    5,117
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I think pickiness has a lot to do with the fun factor. I had friends from the UK visiting me in Canada, and took them canoeing on our suburban bay. They asked how often we did it and I said hardly ever. If I go canoeing I try to go to a new place I haven't previously seen. Your first trip will be an adventure no mater where you go, after that you will likely get progressively picky.

    The only thing that would worry me (I have three kids) is the ability of your kid to enjoy the trip, stay in line, and not get spooked in those conditions. The real chance of being nailed if you don't do something unpredictable is pretty near zero. If you get hit by a car doing 35 MPH in your regular cycling, granted the energy level is much lower, but it isn't something you would enjoy, or likely survive. There are less distractions on country roads, and people know a deer can appear at any moment, and they don't want their cars hit by a 200 pound object moving at 55 either (you and your bike). You and the car are in this together. Is it safer than skateboarding in a skatepark, probably.

    Local culture can have an effect, the Easy Rider factor. If you think your area isn't bike friendly, you might consider something placating like a support the troops decal. My main experience in hick areas has been excess courtesy. People moving out of the lane entirely. It does make me wonder how confident they will feel squeezing by me if they encounter a logging truck coming the other way. Bike touring is essentially safe, given average conditions. That said, if you can find off-road snowmobile trails ( ), horse trails, atv trails, that you could do the whole tour on somewhere, all the better.

    Develop a bottom line attitude. What is the worst that can happen and what do you do then. Don't develop the attitude that if a car comes too close you can't hop into a ditch, or position yourself out a little to slow traffic for your kid, etc... I wonder how many normal car accidents occur because someone is holding a cup of coffee and doesn't want to ruin their suit by dropping the cup and taking full evasive action. Always strategize your out. Harder to draw kids into it though.

    There is also the practice vs. performance thing. A lot of people try to do something before they get the practice in. I don't actually think cycle touring needs practice for some people, but others may find handling gear weight on the bike, or in your case riding in higher speed traffic is something they need to try first. Presumably you haven't done it because it concerns you, but you are going to have to do it for this trip and there will be other dynamics and factors in play then. You should consider going out for a test bike ride yourself, then going out with your kid for one. Then doing some riding with loaded bikes, and so forth. Rather than having a potentially dangerous situation on a trip when you try half a dozen new experiences all at once.

    I was experienced in bike touring when I tried out my then new bike a few years back. At one point I had to cross the road to go to a store, and I hovered track start style, then wheeled out into the road to catch a short break in the traffic. That was when I discovered I had toe overlap with the front wheel and almost landed sprawling in the traffic. No real problem, but I would not want to see that video in my head for one of my kids because I didn't do my homework. How we prepare is part of the lesson we teach our kids. End of sermonette.

    One thing people like are those handlebar mirrors, or helmet mirrors, so they can keep an eye on traffic coming from behind. I'm not a fan, but you might like them. One thing I do for fun is ride the line on the edge of the road. On some surfaces it rolls a lot better, and like riding rollers, you learn to keep the bike really on line. This would be good practice for your kid before go out there. Learning to keep a very straight line is a good safety skill. I'm not sure i could do it while checking traffic in a helmet mirror.

  8. #8
    Macro Geek
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario
    My Bikes
    True North tourer (www.truenorthcycles.com), 2004; Miyata 1000, 1985
    Posts
    1,157
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Peterpan1 View Post
    One thing people like are those handlebar mirrors, or helmet mirrors, so they can keep an eye on traffic coming from behind....

    Learning to keep a very straight line is a good safety skill. I'm not sure i could do it while checking traffic in a helmet mirror.
    No problem riding in a straight line while checking a mirror. The operative word is "checking," not staring. In most cases, a glance lasting a fraction of a second ascertains what is happening behind. It's a very valuable skill to master.

  9. #9
    bragi bragi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    seattle, WA
    My Bikes
    LHT
    Posts
    2,779
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Map tester View Post
    Although I am a daily bicycle commuter, I have not really done a overnight tour (except for a short overnighter to a local park via a bike path years ago). I am planning an overnighter with my 16 year old son to a campground at a nearby wildlife center (about 50 miles one-way). Yesterday afternoon we did a quick recon-style trip (by car) to the campground and to check out the route. I have had some gppd advice on the route, and it seems so avoid large suburban roads to get out of town, then the main route out into the countryside does not seem to have much truck traffic.

    My concern is mostly with riding on these rural 55mph roads with my son. We have ridden extensively in-town, but for the most part avoid ridding with traffic over 35mph by using side roads and neighborhood streets. But at least 22 miles of the trip will be on a US route with posted speeds of 45 to 55 mph. The roads are well maintained, but have little to no margin to the side.

    I know that this is probably parental concern about the safety of my son, but I feel I need to discuss this with an experienced group. How do you deal with riding for miles on two lane roads with high speed traffic? How do you mentally deal with the real or imagined 'threat' to you or your loved ones safety on these types of roads?

    I appreciate any insight you can give.
    I'm not sure that this applies to you, but in many areas of the US, especially older, more-populated areas, there are often side roads that are much more pleasant than major highways. (Much less traffic, slower speeds, better scenery, etc.) Choose those if you can. If you can't avoid highways, choose highways with 2-4 ft shoulders. (I went 20 miles out of my way on a recent tour to Victoria, BC just to be on a road with wide shoulders, and I'm very glad I did.) If you can't avoid narrow highways, it's still safe, but your riding skills need to be good, that is, be able to ride in a straight line and not swerve much even if you're closely passed by a big truck going 60 mph. (I always swear when this happens, but I don't swerve.) My experience has been that virtually all drivers will give you plenty of room if there is no oncoming traffic. However, if there is oncoming traffic, most drivers will not slow down, they'll just pass you anyway, even if it means missing you by less than a foot. Even then, the risk of being hit by a car is probably less than while riding in town, as long as you ride like you're on rails.

    I'm sure you'd never do this with your kid, but never, ever ride on a narrow, no-shoulder highway after dark. Make that never ride anywhere outside of town after dark. Speeds are high, visibility is limited, and some people have been drinking.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  10. #10
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Parkville, Md
    Posts
    7,250
    Mentioned
    1 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Map tester View Post
    I know that this is probably parental concern about the safety of my son, but I feel I need to discuss this with an experienced group. How do you deal with riding for miles on two lane roads with high speed traffic? How do you mentally deal with the real or imagined 'threat' to you or your loved ones safety on these types of roads?
    A lot depends on what you and your son are comfortable with. I would advise experimenting with riding similar roads without your gear in advance to get a handle on your comfort level. If you aren't comfortable either skip that type of road or build confidence on slightly more friendly ones first.

    I don't know the specific roads, but I am pretty sure that my daughter and I have ridden worse. She is older than your son though (we started touring together when she was 21).

    As far as riding techniques go... Personally I don't find a mirror all that useful. I listen to traffic and turn my head to look when necessary. My feeling is that my job is to ride as if someone is passing whenever I am not sure whether any one is or not. That means being visible and riding and holding a predictable line. I do nothing different when a car is passing than when one isn't on this type roads.

    On some slower twisty rural roads more interaction with the passing drivers may be required. In that case you can often see ahead better than the passing driver. Hand gestures telling them to wait a second and then a gesture to pass when it is clear are generally appreciated in some situations.

    Another thing that plays into this is whether you are riding in an area that drivers are used to cyclists. In cities that have lots of cyclists the drivers are more aware. In rural settings that are along major touring routes like the TA they tend to be as well.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Central Coast, CA
    My Bikes
    Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)
    Posts
    3,389
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I recommend a good rear-view mirror. When I'm on a road with no shoulder I keep a careful eye on traffic approaching from behind. If no one is approaching from the opposite direction, cars from behind will usually swing wide around me. Occasionally there's a jerk who doesn't feel like it. If I feel like he/she will come too close I pull off the road.

    I also watch who's coming from in front. If someone in the oncoming lane passes at about the same time someone passes from behind, the person behind me won't have room to swing wide. Again, if it looks dicey, I pull off the road.

    In an hour of riding on a busy road with no shoulders I may have to pull off 4 or 5 times. Sure, it slows me down, but I stay alive.

  12. #12
    I am not a car Map tester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    My Bikes
    '81 Takara Sport Touring, Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre
    Posts
    748
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    I'd like to thank everyone for their advice and suggestions.

    I always ride with my helmet mirror--acantor is correct, you just glance in the mirror to check what is coming up behind you.

    I'm not too worried about the local drivers becoming aggressive; my concern is more on the inattentive driver going 60 mph and a tight roadway with no shoulder. I think I am going to go more on my gut instinct and find a route with less traffic. My son and I have ridden together for a number of years, and the in-town traffic does not faze us at all. I am under the impression that very few areas of Georgia (outside of a few cities) regularly see cyclists, much less touring cyclists.

    I plan on leaving early on a Saturday, so I am hoping we will be at our campsite by mid-afternoon. The last few miles are on quiet country roads, so I don't foresee a problem there.

    I haven't really experienced the "the Easy Rider factor" in years. Atlanta is my hometown, and I have been going camping and hiking in the countryside since a child. It is second nature to bring up that southern twang when talking with a local--as smooth as sweet tea.
    "Bad facts make bad laws." FZ

  13. #13
    I am not a car Map tester's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Decatur, GA
    My Bikes
    '81 Takara Sport Touring, Giant Revel 1, Surly Ogre
    Posts
    748
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Update. We just got back from our short trip and had a great time. We decided last night to call my wife (at home) for an 'extraction' (via car) today. The 60 mile trip yesterday was fun and we both enjoyed it, but another 60 miler today (fully loaded) would have been tough and made Monday an unhappy, sore day. I was very happily impressed by the courtesy of drivers, especially the semi-truck drivers, who would move over and give us a half-lane space clearance. Back roads are great, and google maps are great for route planning, with only one detour: too bad one county didn't place the dead-end sign at the beginning of the road, instead of the temporary end (and bottom of a steep hill, of course!).

    Next time: slightly closer destination and a lighter/warmer sleeping bag for me.
    "Bad facts make bad laws." FZ

  14. #14
    dia por dia El Pelon's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    San Diego
    My Bikes
    hand built fixie, Lightspeed Sienna D/A
    Posts
    300
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Map tester View Post
    Update. We just got back from our short trip and had a great time. We decided last night to call my wife (at home) for an 'extraction' (via car) today. The 60 mile trip yesterday was fun and we both enjoyed it, but another 60 miler today (fully loaded) would have been tough and made Monday an unhappy, sore day. I was very happily impressed by the courtesy of drivers, especially the semi-truck drivers, who would move over and give us a half-lane space clearance. Back roads are great, and google maps are great for route planning, with only one detour: too bad one county didn't place the dead-end sign at the beginning of the road, instead of the temporary end (and bottom of a steep hill, of course!).

    Next time: slightly closer destination and a lighter/warmer sleeping bag for me.
    Great thread. My first daughter won't go near a bicycle, but my second one is an addict like her pops. She has a bmx and a more road friendly bike. During the winter, she also rides a quad and a motorcycle. And she is 8. So, needless to say, I have a lot to be worried about.

    I have two blinkies on my daughter's road bike, a florescent orange whip flag, and she wears a safety vest. On busy roads, she knows to suck my wheel, and she knows to sing. (Sounds stupid, but it's a great way for me to know she is back there.) When we are on motorcycles in the desert, she always goes first, and I have a huge flag on her bike so that I can see her over the bushes, etc.

    One thing I can't say enough about is safety gear. I insist that my kids wear ALL of the safety gear available. On the road, that includes gloves, a properly fitting helmet, eye protection, and sunscreen. On the motos, it's boots, knee braces, elbow pads, back brace, chest protector, LEATT brace, properly fitting helmet, goggles, and gloves. You would be amazed at the number of kids I see riding in crappy gear, while their dads are outfitted in all the latest and the greatest.

    Two wheeled sports are inherently dangerous, but they are also inherently fun. I figure eventually they will grow up and be able to do whatever they want, so I might as well teach them to do it responsibly and safely while they are young.
    Dia por dia.

  15. #15
    bragi bragi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    seattle, WA
    My Bikes
    LHT
    Posts
    2,779
    Mentioned
    0 Post(s)
    Tagged
    0 Thread(s)
    Quote Originally Posted by Map tester View Post
    Update. We just got back from our short trip and had a great time. We decided last night to call my wife (at home) for an 'extraction' (via car) today. The 60 mile trip yesterday was fun and we both enjoyed it, but another 60 miler today (fully loaded) would have been tough and made Monday an unhappy, sore day. I was very happily impressed by the courtesy of drivers, especially the semi-truck drivers, who would move over and give us a half-lane space clearance. Back roads are great, and google maps are great for route planning, with only one detour: too bad one county didn't place the dead-end sign at the beginning of the road, instead of the temporary end (and bottom of a steep hill, of course!).

    Next time: slightly closer destination and a lighter/warmer sleeping bag for me.
    I'm glad it went well for you & your son. It was probably a wise decision to get an "extraction." A bit of a challenge get kids pumped up; a punishing experience can turn them off for life.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •