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New to riding on the road; some questions

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New to riding on the road; some questions

Old 12-07-12, 03:07 AM
  #1  
SecretSpectrum
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New to riding on the road; some questions

Hey,
I'm new to riding bicycles on the road, and I wanted to be sure on some things just to be safe. I already tried looking on the internet for guides, but couldn't find anything for riding on the left of the road.

1. When riding past parked cars, how far away is a good distance to not get hit by cars driving past? What do you do if you don't think there's enough space to ride around a parked car because the other cars are driving too close?

I don't feel safe riding past parked cars when there are cars going past, especially at high speeds or when there are cars going both directions on a small street.

2. At places where you have to stop or give way such as at a traffic light or roundabout, do you stop next to the car in front, or in front of it?

3. At intersections and roundabouts, when you stop in-front or next to a car and you're turning left, do you let the cars go first? I feel like I shouldn't be in front of a car or next to it when turning in the same direction because I might get hit, or the driver might get impatient at me riding slowly.4

4. How often do bike riders get hit by cars going past?

5. If you want to make a right turn, how do you move to the right lane of the street safely? I know you're meant to use a hand signal, but what if cars don't stop or move while you're moving across?

6. Any tips on looking back while keeping the bike going straight?

Just started riding recently and I'm really enjoying it. I just wanted to clear things up a bit so I feel safer (and so drivers don't yell or sound their horn at me, lol). I think that if I ride properly, it would also make the road safer for other people.

Sorry for the long post, any replies would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
SecretSpectrum.

BTW, I live in Australia so I ride on the left.

Last edited by SecretSpectrum; 12-07-12 at 03:17 AM. Reason: Adding information
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Old 12-07-12, 09:03 AM
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1. Far enough to feel safe. Just keep your eyes on the parked cars, and look for telltale signs of a potential dooring (taillights on, a passenger getting out of the other side, lights turning off)
2. I stop well ahead of the car, so I'm sure they see me.
3. I typically don't want to die, so I watch what the driver is doing. If you make eye contact, they'll probably let you go first. If you don't make eye contact, they're not paying attention to what's in front of them - do you want to chance it?
4. It's not common. However, a lot of people are scared of cars hitting them from behind, which leads to salmoning (riding against traffic; in your case, riding on the right side of the street). Of course, all bets are off if the driver WANTS to hurt you.
5. Move so you're sure the other drivers see you. Be bold; take up the whole lane. Don't do anything stupid, though.
6. Practice. It's difficult, but it primarily takes muscle control. You'll develop those muscles.

And don't be worried about yelling or anything like that; it just means they saw you (and didn't like you). Be worried when they almost hit you and DON'T yell.
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Old 12-07-12, 09:46 AM
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Try https://www.austcycle.com.au/ for information and training about riding safely on the road. If there are courses in your area, that is.
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Old 12-07-12, 09:59 AM
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1. Imagine a car door opening, and ride far enough out that you could avoid hitting it. If traffic makes you feel unsafe, wait for a gap in traffic before going around the parked cars. But remember, most drivers don't want to hit you.

2. In the US, I stop behind the car, but solidly in the middle of the lane. From the videos I've seen from the UK, it appears that bikes are supposed to filter up and be in front the car. I would never stop next to car, as you'd be in his blind spot and would be at risk if he decides to turn.

3. Behave like a car. Stay in the center of the lane until you have completed your turn, and then move over to let cars past. Don't ride next to cars in a turn.

4. I've never heard of it happening. Most accidents are either hit-from-behind or involve turns.

5. Signal your intent, but don't move until it is safe to do so. Get in the leftmost right-turn lane if one exists.

6. Get a mirror. That way you'll only need quick looks over your shoulder.

I've found that riding on the road is a better experience when you follow traffic laws and are courteous to motorists. Don't worry about slowing them down. If the road is too narrow for them to pass you, they'll just have to wait.
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Old 12-07-12, 11:39 AM
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Just keep it simple. First, find a route where traffic is moving slowly, then, take the lane. That means, riding a little to the right of the center of the lane. Then just ride as if you were driving a car.
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Old 12-07-12, 11:50 AM
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check out this online guide to bicycling on the street to get a good overview

https://www.bikexprt.com/streetsmarts/usa/
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Old 12-07-12, 11:53 AM
  #7  
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Originally Posted by SecretSpectrum View Post
Hey,
I'm new to riding bicycles on the road, and I wanted to be sure on some things just to be safe. I already tried looking on the internet for guides, but couldn't find anything for riding on the left of the road.

.
SecretSpectrum (are you related to SecretSquirrel?)

1) Assume that every parked car is occupied and that the door is about to swing open - ride far enough away from the parked cars so that you do not have to spend too much attention worrying about them. For me, that is typically a minimum of 4' from my right (your left) handlebar the the side of the parked cars. Maintain a stable lateral line, if there is a section of the street with no parked cars, do not move closer to the curb and then swing back out towards the center of the road when approaching a parked car - approaching drivers see this as your swerving into their path.

2) If right (left in your case) turns are permitted at the light/intersection and you are going straight, stop far enough away from the curb to make it clear to turning motorists that they cannot go around you. If there are already cars stopped at the intersection when you approach, take your place in line behind the last car.

3) As far as right-of-way goes, I don't know about law in Australia, but here in the US, the rules are the same if you are on a bicycle or in a car. Since I am more vulnerable on a bicycle, if there is doubt, I will generally cede right of way to a motorist.

4) Not as often as they get hit in intersections by cars that didn't see them since they were too close to the curb.

5) In a busy urban area where there are a lot of light signals, the lights bunch the cars into packs. Plan well before the intersection, and move across between the packs of cars. If traffic is heavy, then signal and slowly move across, in heavy traffic a bicycle can generally keep up with traffic, and most motorists will allow you to slide across.

6) I use a mirror (mounted on my handlebar) to allow awareness as to what is going on behind me, which reduces the times that I have to turn my head and look over my shoulder. Practice makes perfect. Practice riding in a parking lot when it is relatively empty, ride down one of the lines, and look over your shoulder.

Most drivers are good, and will treat you with respect. Some drivers will yell, and honk their horns and otherwise try to intimidate you - this is because they are jealous. They know how much you are enjoying your ride, and they feel frustrated and trapped in their cars. Your riding safely just frustrates these people further. When someone honks or yells at you, smile and wave to them, and think of how lucky you are to be on your bike, rather than trapped in a car.
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Old 12-07-12, 11:59 AM
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Re the door zone: I imagine the largest possible door (like a Cadillac Coupe DeVille) and mentally mark the spot where its edge would be if fully opened. And then I give myself a few more inches just to be safe.
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Old 12-07-12, 12:57 PM
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Yep. The doors on some 2-door coupes can be pretty long to allow access to the rear seats. Open wide they stick out pretty far.
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Old 12-07-12, 07:27 PM
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Hey everyone,
Tthanks for all the replies, much appreciated. I'm going to ride around my neighborhood for some practice and I'll keep all your advice in mind. I enjoy riding my bike to places more than cars, and I would like to ride my bike more often. Once again, thanks everyone who replied.
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Old 12-07-12, 07:33 PM
  #11  
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A friend of mine flew off his bike when a parked car door opened. He wore a helmut and wasn't hurt too badly. He was lucky!
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Old 12-07-12, 07:50 PM
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Another idea is to ride with other cyclists that are experienced riding on the local roads. You'll learn alot just by watching them. Depending on the type of riding you want to do, you may find there are local clubs you can ride with.
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Old 12-07-12, 08:40 PM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by SecretSpectrum View Post
Hey everyone,
Tthanks for all the replies, much appreciated. I'm going to ride around my neighborhood for some practice and I'll keep all your advice in mind. I enjoy riding my bike to places more than cars, and I would like to ride my bike more often. Once again, thanks everyone who replied.
Two things:

1) "Dooring" is a real risk, but how great a risk depends on how fast you're riding. I never worried much about it when I rode a roadster round Copenhagen, but I take a lot more care now that I (again) ride quite fast.

2) "Taking the lane" may work better on relatively wide (American) roads than on narrow (British) ones. That at least seems to be one conclusion one may draw from Walker's (British) study. I don't know how your roads are, but my guess would be that they're more like the American ones. However, there may be cultural things going on, too, when it comes to how lane-taking will work.
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Old 12-07-12, 09:18 PM
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When riding past parked cars, I typically go reasonably slow (in addition to staying away from the door zone as much as possible). If you're going slower, there's hopefully a better chance of not being injured or flung into the path of traffic.
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Old 12-07-12, 09:38 PM
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I'll add the importance of route choice. You can make a dramatic difference in your stress levels and safety by sussing out the variations to what might appear to be the "obvious" route. This often results in a somewhat longer route, but in my opinion, the added distance is more than accommodated by the less stressful/risky environment.

Riding past parked cars while traffic is passing on the other side is one of the more unnerving situations, for sure. Mirrors help with awareness of the traffic behind, and a keen eye on the parked cars helps to see passengers.

I highly recommend using active lighting (bright blinking lights) on the front and rear. They make a difference.

Best of luck to you, and be safe.
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Old 12-07-12, 11:12 PM
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First for me is route planning. If your commute increases by a mile to take a safer route, that is what I do.

I always ride clear of the door zone. If necessary, I look behind, signal very clearly, and if safe I take the whole lane.

I try to avoid the scenario above by following the preceding rule.

When approaching a traffic signal I stop to the left of the right turn lane. Do not think you need to move to the curb to press the walk button if there are cars stopped on the through lanes. Those cars have run over sensors that trip the same switch that the button does. Pushing it wastes motion and puts you in the way of cars turning right. They probably will not hit you, they will just get irritated that you are impeding them.

As far as riding on side walks and salmoning? I rarely do these, but some times they are just too temptingly convenient. Be real careful when doing so. I will not be specific. Your commute and situation are unique. Plan accordingly.

Be hyper alert when riding in parking lots.

Assume others, in cars and on bikes, will do stupid things.

Originally Posted by umazuki View Post

And don't be worried about yelling or anything like that; it just means they saw you (and didn't like you). Be worried when they almost hit you and DON'T yell.
+1
I approach drivers who I am not sure see me with a loud "HELLO!". After I get their attention, I follow up with "HI There!". The reaction is usually understanding.

Last edited by CommuteCommando; 12-07-12 at 11:26 PM.
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Old 12-08-12, 04:00 AM
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Hey, I just got back from a ride and have a few more questions. What do you do if there's a bus or truck parked on the side of the road, and there's not enough space to ride past without going onto the first lane?

Lol, this may sound funny, but a friend told me that some drivers like to ride as close to cyclists as possible, and some crazy, angry or drunk drivers deliberately try to hit you. Is this true?
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Old 12-08-12, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by SecretSpectrum View Post
Hey, I just got back from a ride and have a few more questions. What do you do if there's a bus or truck parked on the side of the road, and there's not enough space to ride past without going onto the first lane?

Lol, this may sound funny, but a friend told me that some drivers like to ride as close to cyclists as possible, and some crazy, angry or drunk drivers deliberately try to hit you. Is this true?
"...the first lane"?

As for ***holes and psychopaths: they are out there, but they really are rare. Think about how often you encounter them when you're driving. Personally, I've seen very few. The real danger is from the inattentive and the stupid. Those are aplenty, and are the ones who won't notice you when you're riding in the lane in front of them. I don't really think there is any other way to avoid being hit by them than being extremely visible from afar. That limits the possibility of their not noticing you. That, or riding on a reasonably usefull shoulder. "Always take the lane" is a mantra for some here, but that is just dogmatism.

And remember, most of us have survived many years of cycling, so inherently, cycling is a safe form of transportation.
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Old 12-08-12, 10:25 AM
  #19  
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Rule #1 The most important piece of safety equipment you have is between your ears

Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Anticipate possible problems. Assume that there will be drivers who don't see you, are ignorant of how to properly share the road, or just don't care. For example, if you can't see if a parked car is occupied and traffic prevents you from taking the lane to avoid the door zone, slow way down and keep your fingers over the brakes. The inconvenience and few seconds you lose are nothing compared to what you will experience in the back of an ambulance or the emergency room, and you won't have to replace your bike. Take whatever measures are necessary to ensure your safety. It really doesn't matter who had the right of way when you are bleeding out under the wheels of a delivery truck. Tons of steel vs. grams of carbon fiber, the tons of steel win every time so don't try to make a point at speed in traffic.

In answer to your last question: Yes, there are drivers who will harrass cyclists. The vast majority are just jackarses who think it's funny to startle riders. There are a few who think it's funny to try to force you to swerve or to make you a target for their leftover Slurpy. Rare, but far more dangerous are the road ragers with a chip on their shoulder for cyclists. There have been incidences of riders being run down or assaulted, but these are very rare. Very, very few drivers are actually out to cause serious injury or commit a homicide. Expect a few yells, honks and rude gestures and learn to ignore them. If someone actually endangers you, try to get a plate number and report it to the local authorities (not terribly effective usually, but at least there is a record), direct confrontation is useless and potentially dangerous. You can't cure stupid.

Last edited by Myosmith; 12-08-12 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 12-08-12, 10:25 PM
  #20  
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1. Stay out of the 'door zone', and in the travel lane

2. In front of it.

3. I don't let the cars go first. But that is my preference. Because I don't want to suddenly get hooked by a driver.

4. That is subjective, to the individual cyclist's cycling skill level, and to how fast the traffic is going.

5. Go out to the yellow line and stay there, as you proceed to the intersection. If cars don't stop for you, it means they are bullies for not letting you into the travel lane.

6. Either, get a mirror, or use your peripheral vision to look behind you. The drivers will yell/honk, regardless of what do. So you have to learn to be thick-skinned and ignore it.
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Old 12-08-12, 10:30 PM
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Be visible & predictable, follow the rules of the road, and signal before changing lanes or turning across traffic.
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Old 12-09-12, 06:01 AM
  #22  
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If it's not wide enough to pass a parked vehicle in the same lane, while staying out of the 'door zone', you have two options. One is to proceed very slowly past the parked vehicle within your own lane, paying attention to signs of the door about to open. The other is to wait behind the vehicle (far enough back that you have a good line-of-sight ahead) then, when the other lane is clear, pass the vehicle, moving completely into the right-hand lane.

This is, of course, assuming a two-lane single carriageway. If There are two or more lanes in each direction, you'll be interacting with traffic coming from behind you. Do a shoulder check in good time to assess if the lane to your right is clear, then move out fully into that lane if clear. Move back in after you've passed the parked vehicle.

Regarding point 5, and any general lane-change move, the point to remember is to be assertive. By signalling, you're not asking for permission to enter the other lane, you're indicating your intention to do so. Wait for a gap in traffic, make your final 'lifesaver' check over your shoulder, signal and move. Cars will slow down to avoid hitting you.

Last edited by Monster Pete; 12-09-12 at 06:04 AM.
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Old 12-09-12, 06:19 AM
  #23  
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Originally Posted by SecretSpectrum View Post
Hey, I just got back from a ride and have a few more questions. What do you do if there's a bus or truck parked on the side of the road, and there's not enough space to ride past without going onto the first lane?
Check traffic, and if safe, take the lane, otherwise wait.

Originally Posted by SecretSpectrum View Post
Lol, this may sound funny, but a friend told me that some drivers like to ride as close to cyclists as possible, and some crazy, angry or drunk drivers deliberately try to hit you. Is this true?
Crazy/Angry will brush you, or try to force you off the road, but not actually try to hit you. Drunk won't be trying to hit you, but just might, and is a wanker for getting behind the wheel in the first place.
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Old 12-09-12, 02:20 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by SecretSpectrum View Post
Hey, I just got back from a ride and have a few more questions. What do you do if there's a bus or truck parked on the side of the road, and there's not enough space to ride past without going onto the first lane?

Lol, this may sound funny, but a friend told me that some drivers like to ride as close to cyclists as possible, and some crazy, angry or drunk drivers deliberately try to hit you. Is this true?
If a truck/bus/car/van/pickup truck/SUV is parked on the side of the road, pass it by staying out of the 'door zone'. If that means crossing the double-yellow line, do it ASAP/PDQ!

As for some drivers intentionally driving as close to cyclists' as possible, that is no laughing matter. Re-read my original answer. Because I pointed, that you should 'take the lane' on the road you described.
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Old 12-10-12, 08:17 AM
  #25  
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Originally Posted by SecretSpectrum View Post
Hey, I just got back from a ride and have a few more questions. What do you do if there's a bus or truck parked on the side of the road, and there's not enough space to ride past without going onto the first lane?

Lol, this may sound funny, but a friend told me that some drivers like to ride as close to cyclists as possible, and some crazy, angry or drunk drivers deliberately try to hit you. Is this true?

I won't mention the State I lived in, but I heard when a cyclist passed them, bottles were thrown. Hard to believe, but true.
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