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Old 10-13-09, 12:25 AM   #1
CornyBum
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A Situation in which the Sidewalk Seems Safer

I practiced riding in traffic for the first time today. What an experience. I am determined to ride according to the laws and practice vehicular cycling. However, there's one part of my possible future commute route in which the sidewalk seems safer than the road.

It's a hill with two lanes in each direction. The speed limit is 40 MPH. The rightmost lane is almost certainly too narrow to accommodate both a bicycle and an automobile. Normally, what I've learned of vehicular cycling and the law would urge me to take the whole lane. However, I'm concerned that as I roll over the top of the hill and begin my descent, there will be cars quickly approaching from behind. In such a situation, I'd be in the middle of the rightmost lane, going slower than traffic. The automobile in question is quickly climbing the hill, unable to see me on the other side. As the automobile passes the crest of the hill and increases speed in the descent, I may be riding my bicycle very close in front and suddenly rise into view. There's a sidewalk running alongside this situation. If I take the sidewalk just for this situation, a driveway will allow me to quickly turn into vehicular traffic after the hill.

What do you guys recommend?
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Old 10-13-09, 12:36 AM   #2
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I recommend you learning how to bunny hop onto & off curbs. Why do you need a driveway to get back on the road?

I don't follow your logic. You say the road is 40mph. If you're riding on the right lane, taking the lane, I'm assuming you'll be traveling less han 15mph (going up hill)??? That means, you'll have a bunch of cars slowing down behind you.

Once you crest the hill, those cars will still be behind you. Why would they run you over? If they're patient enough to be stuck behind you going up the hill, I'm sure they'll be glad you're descending the hill at a quicker pace, no?
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Old 10-13-09, 02:50 PM   #3
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Thanks for your reply. I understand your question about cars behind me noticing me and having to slow down anyways, but my concern was mostly to prepare for cars that quickly approached the hill after I'd gone over the other side and slipped out of view. There's a neighborhood exit and freeway exit close to the foot of that hill that can allow such a thing. I may not have traffic behind me either. I was trying to prepare for such an uncommon but possibly dangerous situation.

By the way, jumping onto and off curbs sounds like it can be dangerous (though I can try to learn) and bad for my tubes. Is it safe for me and my tubes? Oh, and it's the same maneuver performed as described at the bottom of this page, right?
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Old 10-13-09, 03:13 PM   #4
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Ahhh, I see. It's not a very heavy traffic road. If that's the case, I would ride on the sidewalk until it is safe to get back on the road.

As for hopping onto & off curbs, it is best to practice with a bike with wider tires. I personally bunny hop. It's A LOT easier if you are riding clipless pedals.

Hopping from the sidewalk back to the road is pretty easy. I just lean back to put my weight back and let the front wheel drop. Once it drops, put your weight forward and off you go.

Hopping onto a 4" curb is tougher. It's much easier if you use a clipless setup.

With a clipless set up, load down the bike by compressing your legs & arms. You bring your body as low & as forward as possible. This puts your private area right on the top tube. As you're approaching the curb, spring upwards hard and yank the handlebars. You will easily get a few inches of air. Of course you should practice this with a soda can on the street before attempting to do it on a curb.

If you ride with platform pedals, make sure they are grippy. You go through the same motion as above. The only thing you do differently is:
- when you spring up, use your legs to push the bike down, back & pull up (with your toes pointing to the ground).

It can definitely be done with 700x23 tires. You're not landing a 2ft jump. You're only going airborne 6" at most. It will not hurt your wheels or tires or tubes unless you're a relatively heavy rider.

Here's a video that shows the correction motions of a bunny hop. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAem3L7Rlpk
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Old 10-14-09, 02:18 AM   #5
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Ahhh, I see. It's not a very heavy traffic road. If that's the case, I would ride on the sidewalk until it is safe to get back on the road.
Thanks.

As for bunny hopping, I'm glad to hear that it'll be safe on my tires. By the way, my tires are 700C X 38mm. Since you said it's possible with 700x23 tires and better to practice on wider tires, I hope that my commuter hybrid bicycle's tires will be safe for bunny hopping. I have basic platform pedals that the bicycle came with. I was wondering if it's safe to perform bunny hopping onto and off curbs at an obtuse angle that's performed when riding nearly parallel to the curb. It seems like there would be less of a jump required, since the back wheel needs less airtime to make it onto the curb. However, the angle makes it seem very dangerous, since my rear tire may get caught and twisted sideways. If I use bunny hopping at all, it almost never will be to perform tricks for their own sake but a tool for quickly moving from vehicular cycling to the sidewalk (and vice versa) as safety demands. Is that angle safe?

Oh, and thanks for the video. It seems very helpful and was cool to watch.
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Old 10-14-09, 05:27 AM   #6
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One of the advantages of riding a bicycle is your ability to seamlessly move between operating as a vehicle and operating as a pedestrian.
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Old 10-14-09, 08:14 AM   #7
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One of the advantages of riding a bicycle is your ability to seamlessly move between operating as a vehicle and operating as a pedestrian.
And yet for some, the ability to occasionally operate as a pedestrian, is blasphemy.
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Old 10-14-09, 02:24 PM   #8
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And yet for some, the ability to occasionally operate as a pedestrian, is blasphemy.
And what authority do you quote to support this assertion? I certainly do not maintain your claim, although I have, on occasion, pointed out the situations in which the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
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Old 10-14-09, 11:33 PM   #9
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One of the advantages of riding a bicycle is your ability to seamlessly move between operating as a vehicle and operating as a pedestrian.
Yeah, it's a nice ability. As I suggested earlier, I plan to practice vehicular cycling as much as safely possible except in uncommon situations such as the one I asked about when starting this thread. With experience and practice, I probably will be able to safely operate as a vehicle in the mentioned situation as well.
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Old 10-15-09, 07:19 AM   #10
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Yeah, it's a nice ability. As I suggested earlier, I plan to practice vehicular cycling as much as safely possible except in uncommon situations such as the one I asked about when starting this thread. With experience and practice, I probably will be able to safely operate as a vehicle in the mentioned situation as well.
Sometimes, due to speed differentials and visibility issues like in your example, operating as a pedestrian may be safer than operating as a vehicle. An experienced cyclist operates according to the situation & environment of the moment, adapting, improvising and overcoming to ensure his/her safety, leaving the dogma for BF or Chainguard discussions
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Old 10-20-09, 04:28 PM   #11
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Hills can be a little problematic for VC. But keep in mind as you climb the hills, cars have direct line of sight to see you. For a car not to see you, they probably have to be at the bottom of the hill. So by the time they reach the crest, you are already half-way down the other side.

And of course I assume you are riding/using your mirror all the time?
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Old 10-21-09, 01:19 AM   #12
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Thanks, duke_of_hazard. When I learned a few weeks ago that I may not need a mirror and that many on these forums seem to do just fine commuting without them, I postponed a rear-view mirror for when experience showed one to be worth it. After a few times riding in traffic, though, I felt that it'd really make me more comfortable to use a rear-view mirror. I'm waiting for it to be delivered now. Of course, I'll still turn my head to look after scanning with a mirror, both as a final check and a signal to others of my intent.
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Old 12-30-09, 04:53 PM   #13
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CornyBum:

You're correct in that the appropriate measure for going up the hill is to control the lane so as to prevent an unsafe pass. Once you get to the crest and start over the other side, you may no longer be in the sight line of some motorist who comes booming up the hill at the typical speed limit + 12 mph. Once you're over the hill, move to the right edge -- giving yourself a little extra assurance that neither you nor Mr. Motorist will be unpleasantly surprised when he tops the hill and finds a slower vehicle in his path.

Once you've gotten a little breathing room, based on traffic & road conditions, and your best judgment, you once again control (or share) the lane as may be needed. Using a rear-view mirror is one of your better tools to help ward against a struck-from-behind situation like that.

This is actually one of the questions on the old Road I written exam...
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Old 12-30-09, 05:05 PM   #14
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I have a similar situation on my commute. 9 times out of 10 I take the sidewalk. If I see a pedestrian (very rare) I get off and walk. The piece of mind it buys me is worth the extra minute or two.
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Old 12-30-09, 05:43 PM   #15
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And yet for some, the ability to occasionally operate as a pedestrian, is blasphemy.
Who are the "some" in this statement?
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Old 01-06-10, 05:02 PM   #16
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By the way, jumping onto and off curbs sounds like it can be dangerous (though I can try to learn) and bad for my tubes. Is it safe for me and my tubes? Oh, and it's the same maneuver performed as described at the bottom of this page, right?
Hopping onto and off of the curb is pretty much the same as weaving in and out of the gaps between parked cars so that you can stay "as far to the right as possible," the way many people look at the far-to-the-right laws in most states. However it also makes you seem unpredictable to other drivers -- motorists and cyclists alike -- and actually increases your chances of getting hit when the following driver thinks you're going to zig, but what you really do is zag. You're also much less visible, as drivers are pretty lax and careless about watching for people on and coming off the sidewalks, you're putting yourself in a place where other drivers don't expect to see you. Take the lane -- be visible, because that's where everyone else looks for traffic; and ride a straight line -- being predictale, so people can pretty well figure out what you're going to do next, and plan for that.

Again, once you're over the crest of the hill, move to the right to avoid being hit by a careless driver just booming over the top of the hill without thought that somebody else might be up there before him/her.
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Old 01-11-10, 01:19 AM   #17
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Thanks for your contribution. I plan to begin commuting to work tomorrow and have a strategy in mind for tackling this situation, helped by this thread.
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Old 01-11-10, 11:08 AM   #18
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I use VC techniques quite a bit, but there are a few situations where I cut through parking lots, ride on the sidewalk, etc. On the one hand, I really like the concept of VC, but on the other, sometimes I just feel an alternate method would be safer and that has a higher priority to me. As for cresting a hill: Remember that the car will be trailing you as you climb, if even from a distance, so he should not be surprised when he crests the hill. Also bear in mind that once you crest the hill yourself, you'll be coasting downhill and doing a nearly car-like speed, so the closing rate will be less than what the driver perceived when you were going up the hill. I know exactly what you're referring to; I've dealt with it myself. And depending on my mood, conditions, visibility, and my horoscope that day, I'll sometimes take the lane and sometimes use the sidewalk.
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Old 01-25-10, 11:09 AM   #19
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Who are the "some" in this statement?
I'd probably be towards that end of the spectrum. I'm off that sidewalk unless it's totally necessary.

For instance, today I'll be returning home from work in >50 mph wind gusts. I'll likely be doing 8-10 mph on the sidewalks for much of the ride. No need to be blown into a car in driving windy rain. So there's a good sidewalk situation.

For others of differing skill levels, the line of absolute necessity might be in a different place.
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