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Cyclist Beware

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Cyclist Beware

Old 04-18-24, 01:18 AM
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Originally Posted by zandoval
Can ridding a bicycle make you a better driver?

Having ridden a bicycle, could that make you more courteous to bicycle riders?

More often now I run into people who have never ridden a bicycle.

How could I ask them to understand?

They have no seat of reference...
The answer to your first question is undoubtedly YES.

Most Americans are drivers. Many ride bikes, but not much and not very aggressively.

But anyone who takes cycling seriously, they gain skills that driving and today's cars do not require. With automatic transmissions, power brakes, ABS, traction & stability control, force vectoring, and other driver aids, a driver doesn't really need to know much about driving or vehicle dynamics to drive. Today's cars are much safer and their safety features reduce injury and save lives, but they leave drivers dumber than ever.

Many drivers don't know why or how their car shifts gears. Why should they? But a cyclist quickly learns about the need to shift and utilize gear ratios. And they learn how to do it effectively.

Traction is a MUST-KNOW skill on two wheels. Losing it hurts. Understanding the limits of traction, how to maximize it and not lose it is essential for effective and safe cycling. Do it wrong and you usually crash. Do it wrong in a car and your ABS and traction control kick in. Drivers are no longer taught how to NOT lock up their brakes and skid. No need to know how to "pump the brakes" when ABS does it for you. No need to understand the difference between static and dynamic friction as the apply to your tires and traction. (Oops, got ahead of myself here, that last bit could go below under "braking.") And even if you lose traction, you don't hit the ground in a car.

Cornering. A cyclist needs to understand proper technique to ride effectively and stay upright. Apexing a turn is almost second-nature on a bike. Learning proper braking technique so as to not lose traction while cornering is paramount. Riding off road raises the challenge that much more. Anyone who rides aggressively and corners at the limit of their bike's and their ability knows WAY more about cornering than most drivers.

Braking. Most driver have no clue that their front brakes are what save their lives in a panic stop situation. This is more than obvious when a driver comes in to test ride a bike and says, "Oh I never even touch the front brake! I don't want to go over the handlebars!" So this rider has admitted they don't understand the fundamentals of braking, nor the proper technique for a panic stop. They really shouldn't be riding a bicycle at all in that case. Cyclists have to quickly master the use of front and rear brakes and their modulation of braking forces between front and rear wheels. They take what they learn about traction - since they have no ABS or traction control - and apply it to braking. The confident cyclist knows how to panic stop. They understand that in this situation, their rear wheel has almost or zero weight on it and offers no contribution to stopping. Without traction control, the rider must learn how to optimize their input to the bike in corners, on hills, and in varying conditions.

Close-quarters riding. Riding together in a group gives a cyclist good experience for what driving on a busy freeway is like. When riding in a peloton, new riders make mistakes that multiply toward the back of the group. This causes the "yo-yo," or "accordion effect" that results in riders in the back of a group constantly having to cram on their brakes and then pedal like mad to stay with the group. Little errors by everyone in the group get combined and by the time they hit the back of the pack, it's mayhem. Ride with a group of pros, and this phenomenon is totally absent. Developing smooth technique and not mistakenly over-braking is a great skill that makes them better freeway drivers.

The best way for America to make great future generations of drivers is by putting all kids on bikes to ride for fun and challenge. Racing road and off road makes youth cyclists expert drivers before they even get behind the wheel. They already understand and have mastered many or most of the fundamentals of vehicle dynamics, braking, shifting and so much else. Driving is easy in comparison to staying up on two wheels while drifting through a corner at speed!

And I've just touched on the physical aspects of driving as they pertain to cycling. There are other advantages as well. The cyclist comes to understand the transportation landscape more intimately than drivers, especially from a vulnerable user's perspective. Cyclists also perceive things more acutely. I'll never forget talking to my non-riding college roommate about the "downhill" ride home from campus. He said, "It's not downhill; it's flat!" He only drove this route and never pedaled it, so he never perceived the slight rise in the road. Obvious to any cyclist who rides it, even just one round trip would reveal the topography.

How can you expect effective transportation planning from people who have very little intimate knowledge of the landscape? Cyclists experience all the bumps, sounds, smells of the urban landscape and far more than the driver in a fully insulated shell with all amenities at their fingertips, in a vehicle requiring little input (even more applicable today with supposed "self-driving" technology). A cyclist also threads the needle between the experience of a driver and speed as well as a pedestrian and walking. They can appreciate both worlds as they exist in both to some degree. This gives the cyclist additional knowledge of and appreciation for sensible transportation planning and infrastructure.
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Old 04-21-24, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Troul
if hearing isn't that great due to health/handicap/environment reasons, a radar can be helpful by its alert to determine how to react with the upcoming sewer grate, pothole, oncoming runner, & curbside road debris. repetitive rubber necking may bring about other issues & squinting at a mirror may not be for everyone.
IMO The biggest drawback to a radar with light is the battery runtime life. If configured at the highest settings it could operate for no less than eight hours, then it'd be hard to not have one... IDK of any rechargeable 350 lumens rear tail light that can meet that runtime criteria.
Could always connect it to a portable battery tucked under your seat. The bike seat, not yours, just to be clear. I have gotten into the habit of charging it after two rides - and luckily I still can track all the way up to two too.

Having traveled a fair amount in the European countries with beautiful separated bike lanes - usually by green growing matter, there is zero doubt in my mind where I would prefer to cycle. Having road cycled with my wife in Italy on their country roads, I have never experienced such care a courtesy by drivers. Cycling downtown Milan is a whole other matter.
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Old 04-21-24, 11:06 PM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
......Cycling downtown Milan is a whole other matter.
So is driving in Milan. And that's from a New Yorker.
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Old 04-21-24, 11:22 PM
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I'm astonished that 93,000 commute to work by bicycle in Los Angeles. That's a lot, especially without dedicated bike infrastructure, unless there's more than I know, I'm not a resident.
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Old 04-21-24, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Duragrouch
I'm astonished that 93,000 commute to work by bicycle in Los Angeles. That's a lot, especially without dedicated bike infrastructure, unless there's more than I know, I'm not a resident.
the 93k number must be a CSA, or at least MSA number. or maybe LA county. i canít easily find it anywhere - the more commonly referenced figure from the census is 1% of commuters within the city limits, 4.0M population, 20k bike commuters. (only about half of people have a commute.)

this data is about 10 years old now:

and it comes from here

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Old 04-21-24, 11:56 PM
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(above) Ah, thanks. No surprise on the high percentage cities.
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