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Commuting Too Dangerous?

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Commuting Too Dangerous?

Old 07-14-07, 04:20 PM
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Tickledivory
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Commuting Too Dangerous?

Have you ever had to deal with traffic that was so dangerous you gave up bicycle commuting and went back to driving?. Part of my 18 mile trip to work involves 10 miles of two lane road rated at 55 MPH. Few people drive under 65 MPH and there is no paved shoulder to ride on.

I ride with the flow of traffic and don't even mind the people whizzing by so much. They usually give me a lot of room when they pass. The problem is the oncoming traffic. These people are going to work when I'm going home, and they use my lane as a passing lane. Every day I have to get off the road to allow these people to pass each other with out nailing me head on.

The road is straight and I should be very visible. But its still dangerous. Are any of you so gung ho that you let nothing stop you?
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Old 07-14-07, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Tickledivory
Have you ever had to deal with traffic that was so dangerous you gave up bicycle commuting and went back to driving?. Part of my 18 mile trip to work involves 10 miles of two lane road rated at 55 MPH. Few people drive under 65 MPH and there is no paved shoulder to ride on.

I ride with the flow of traffic and don't even mind the people whizzing by so much. They usually give me a lot of room when they pass. The problem is the oncoming traffic. These people are going to work when I'm going home, and they use my lane as a passing lane. Every day I have to get off the road to allow these people to pass each other with out nailing me head on.

The road is straight and I should be very visible. But its still dangerous. Are any of you so gung ho that you let nothing stop you?
That sounds like a horrible road to ride on...is there no alternative route? I wouldn't want to drive, motorcycle, or otherwise travel on a road like that.
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Old 07-14-07, 05:14 PM
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Where is your commute? One of the rings of hell?

Seriously though, give us the coordinates, I'm nearly sure there's an alternate to that 10 mile section. Might be add 5 miles, but heck, that's only 20 mins.
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Old 07-14-07, 05:32 PM
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Well the op does commute in the Mojave Desert, where the temperature is frequently quite hellish.

I have a short stretch of pretty much the same type of road mentioned in the op (less than a mile). I have been nearly run off the road several times by unsafe passers (usually one person passing another coming towards me, sometimes people heading the same direction as me trying to pass in the face of an oncoming vehicle in the other lane). All the other possible routes would be the same road design, and this is the shortest distance, so I just go as fast as I can and look out for the crazy people.

I am eventually planning on upgrading to an HID or very high powered LED headlight since I have to ride home on this road at night (no street lights). Once I get a super bright headlight I will probably use it during the day on the ride to work to increase my visibility to oncoming vehicles (I already wear a high-vis ANSI lime vest and that seems to work well).
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Old 07-14-07, 05:41 PM
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I have a section of road like that between me and work. I drive in just past it and ride the rest of the way from there. That type of road in Texas is the deadliest that there is according to the highway department stats, especially during commute times.
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Old 07-14-07, 05:46 PM
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Most of my weekend rides are on two lane roads rated for 55mph where people drive around 70. However, none of my commuting routes have roads like this. I'm not sure what I would do if they did. I know that is no help.
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Old 07-14-07, 06:00 PM
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If it makes you feel any better (since I have no advice), know that your willingness to endure such conditions is pretty inspirational. When I feel whiny about my commute, I can just think, "Well, if Tickledivory can do it, I can too." Though I hope you find some less murderous route soon.
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Old 07-14-07, 06:15 PM
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Rule, what road in Wylie is that? 78? I just cross it on my way in at night.

Tickle, I don't know if this will help or not. But you might think about what JeffB said about getting a killer light. Even during the day, a super bright flashing light may get someone's attention. I think the problem is that the cars are so intent on getting around the guy in front of them that they don't see you until they're already out there. If you can catch their eye earlier it may get them to wait before pulling around. Just a thought.

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Old 07-14-07, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
Where is your commute? One of the rings of hell?

Seriously though, give us the coordinates, I'm nearly sure there's an alternate to that 10 mile section. Might be add 5 miles, but heck, that's only 20 mins.
I work at the Hyundai test track in California City, CA. Its in the Mojave Desert north of Lancaster and near the town of Mojave. I could bypass the problem road, California City Blvd, on a sandy dirt road that goes in the same direction. I tried to take it with my fat-tired comfort bike, but wound up having to walk it through the sand. As it is it takes me an hour and forty minutes to get to work because of the afternoon winds. The dirt road would take longer--even with a good cross country bike.

So, my choices really are to either take the car to work and save the bike for the weekends, or give up my night shift--with its cool (but dangerous) ride and extra pay. I used to be on day shift. At least with that shift I'd miss most of the dangerous traffic as I'd be on that road between 3:00 and 3:30 for my trip home. The wind is in my favor too.

What woke me up and freeked me a little about this ride was a lady pulled her car alongside me on my trip home on friday and told me I'd be killed If I kept riding on this road. I need the input from other riders because I usually just tough my way through difficult situations. But you can't tough your way through a speeding car.
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Old 07-14-07, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Tickledivory
...
The problem is the oncoming traffic. These people are going to work when I'm going home, and they use my lane as a passing lane. Every day I have to get off the road to allow these people to pass each other with out nailing me head on.
That's pretty damn scary. I don't think I'd commute in your situation.
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Old 07-14-07, 08:33 PM
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That's so damn frigging idiotic. Why do cars want to pass other cars? It's not like anyone is going slower than the speed limit in a car... Sheesh...

Good luck with finding another route. If I had to get off the road every day to save your life, I'd sure as hell be looking for an alternative...
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Old 07-14-07, 09:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tickledivory
I need the input from other riders because I usually just tough my way through difficult situations. But you can't tough your way through a speeding car.
In the end, you may make the personal choice to stop bike commuting, and if so, no one would blame you. However, I'm wondering if you've equipped yourself with the standard active and passive lighting/visibility equipment. Are you riding with one of those (admittedly dorky) ANSI orange/yellow vests or bought road worker shirts to wear on the commute? Do you have a super-duper lighting set-up that increases your visibility even in the daylight? Do you have the high-visibility truck tape on key locations of your bike?

I know there are some members who regularly post here who have some pretty dangerous/hair-raising stretches on their commute routes. I'm hoping they will find this thread and share their experiences with you.
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Old 07-14-07, 10:11 PM
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THAT is one intimidating sounding commute. like, worst case scenario...

I ride a lot of two lane highways, during the week, and face a fair amount of oncoming traffic. I find me on a bike does NOT discourage people from passing.

got to maximize forward visibilty. I don't know if that will prevents drivers from passing while oncoming, but it won't hurt. combine this with a wider profile and visibility from the back with a slow motion flag set off to the side on a spoke or a pannier. Add a planet bike superflash.

A 1 watt Luxeon front headlight (or better), set on FLASH. (Nightrider MAX is a sixty dollar, AA powered headlight that strobes) Even better, a Dinotte headlight, set on flash.

ANSI traffic safety vest.

I'd even consider a Marine safety Strobe, set somewhere its' not going to blind YOU. A mast mounted Marine strobe.

boy, and there's absolutely NO shoulder? just a crumbling fog line? and unpaved, loose shoulder?

If there's even six inches of pavement to the right of the white stripe, there's relative safety in the shoulder. with a wide profile from the rear, a rider can ride even a skinny shoulder in relative safety, with a wide profile behind and good vis there...

I'd be giving some serious thought to alternate routes, a bike that can handle shoulder riding, wider virtual profile, ANSI vest, slow motion triangle, flashing headlight and tailight, and a mast mounted marine strobe

Last edited by Bekologist; 07-14-07 at 10:19 PM.
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Old 07-14-07, 10:16 PM
  #14  
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Much respect especially considering you ride that at night.

The first time I cycled to work, I took a 4-lane 45 MPH highway with absolutely no shoulder. Of course, the drivers average about 60 MPH. Never again. I took that route admittedly because it was the route I was familiar with (driving), and didn't take the time to find a safer route. I'm kicking myself now for not sooner taking the time to find my current, much safer route, and it's shorter (if a bit slower)!

As others have suggested I would definitely go all out with the visibility and lighting.

Last edited by kmcrawford111; 07-14-07 at 10:27 PM.
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Old 07-14-07, 10:41 PM
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Jeff, Donna, and Bek have said most of what I was going to say about high-powered headlights and good visibility gear (if you haven't already got all that stuff). One more note, though: a helmet-mounted light might be best for the situation you describe. When an oncoming car starts to pull into your lane, looking straight at them with a helmet-mounted HID might get their attention and remind them you're there.

One other thing you could consider -- especially if it turns out to be the same set of idiots each night trying to pass unsafely -- is mounting a video camera to catch their plates and to show the cops exactly what they did. If your local police department takes their jobs seriously, then you might be able to rein in the worst repeat offenders.

Since no practical alternate route exists, it sounds like you're stuck with that road. I hope the extra lights help make it a manageable commute. It sounds as if switching to a car might still leave you in just as much danger...are there many motor vehicle accidents on that stretch? (There is one and only one road near where I live that I would never advise riding on despite its being bike-legal...and it's a notoriously dangerous road in a car as well.)
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Old 07-14-07, 11:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Tickledivory
I work at the Hyundai test track in California City, CA.
Why does a POS builder like Hyundai even bother with a test track?
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Old 07-15-07, 12:23 AM
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Sounds just like a few of the rural roads around Vancouver, Wa.! Between Battleground, Hockinson, and the freeways there are a few leftover farm roads which serve as high speed arterials.
I used to live out there. I moved.
Do you have some place to bail out? These roads out here don't, I'd end up going headfirst into deep mud at the bottom of a potentially canyonesque ditch! In that case, I'd go many miles out of the way for a detour. Some heavy duty illumination turned on at all times, day or night, would help. But people get crazy and make a run for it anyway, so be ready to bail out! Is there room on those roads for a truck to pass you while another truck is passing in the oncoming lane? If not, you'll have to bail out for overtaking traffic sooner or later as well.

My favorite detours around these kind of roads involve somewhat narrower roads, with bumpy pavement, they're twisty, a bit hilly, they've got a few stop signs and I have to make a couple of doglegs to put my route together. Which means no one drives there unless they absolutely have to! They're driving half an hour at least just to get anywhere, so they take the fastest roads to get it over with. This turns a ten mile drive to my parent's house into a fifteen or sixteen mile ride, but it's just me and a few residents on those roads.
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Old 07-15-07, 01:39 AM
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OMG Man, I grew up in Lancaster and know that area...you couldn't get me out there on a bike if you told me it would lead to a pot of gold!!!! You must have brass...ummm...apparatus going on down there...

To the others: there really is no alternative route except to ride through the desert...
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Old 07-15-07, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by kmcrawford111
Much respect especially considering you ride that at night.

The first time I cycled to work, I took a 4-lane 45 MPH highway with absolutely no shoulder. Of course, the drivers average about 60 MPH. Never again. I took that route admittedly because it was the route I was familiar with (driving), and didn't take the time to find a safer route. I'm kicking myself now for not sooner taking the time to find my current, much safer route, and it's shorter (if a bit slower)!

As others have suggested I would definitely go all out with the visibility and lighting.
Actually, my night shift ends at 6:30 am. So, I'm on hell road between 7:15 and 7:45 am. That's when much of the working population of California City heads past me to Edwards Air Force Base. The truth is that it's dangerous for drivers too at that time. I am 52 years old--and would like to get older--and have lived in Southern California my whole life. But I've never seen daily, reckless passing like this before.

As far as lighting is concerned, it can't hurt. But, last week, I nearly lost control of my truck swerving out of the way of a guy who pulled in front of me to pass a guy in front of him. And I had my lights on!

I'm going to get some knobby tires for my comfort bike--a Walmart beater--and really see how that alternate, dirt road is for a commute. If its at all practical, then I'll have an exuse to buy a cross country bike, and get away from all the nuts on California City Blvd.
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Old 07-15-07, 07:28 AM
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i use a headlamp (in addition to my bike lights) with a 50 watt pinpoint spot bulb in it, i keep it off until i need it and then i look right at the drivers eyes and pulse the light on/off. VERY EFFECTIVE in waking them up.
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Old 07-15-07, 07:44 AM
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You might be better off not commuting by bike and using the time to actually ride later on on roads of your choosing.
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Old 07-15-07, 07:55 AM
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After reading the subsequent posts in this thread I can say that there is no way in hell I would do this commute. Cycling is supposed to be fun and this road would kill the enjoyment. At most I would ride a motorcycle but more likely drive. Kudos to you if you continue but it is no harm if you throw the towel in. You still have recreational rides.
To me cycling is about manageable risk. This one is not manageable to me.
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Old 07-15-07, 08:37 AM
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I think it's a good choice to try the dirt road with a mountain bike. no way would I ride that road.
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Old 07-15-07, 08:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Tickledivory
Have you ever had to deal with traffic that was so dangerous you gave up bicycle commuting and went back to driving?. Part of my 18 mile trip to work involves 10 miles of two lane road rated at 55 MPH. Few people drive under 65 MPH and there is no paved shoulder to ride on.

I ride with the flow of traffic and don't even mind the people whizzing by so much. They usually give me a lot of room when they pass. The problem is the oncoming traffic. These people are going to work when I'm going home, and they use my lane as a passing lane. Every day I have to get off the road to allow these people to pass each other with out nailing me head on.

The road is straight and I should be very visible. But its still dangerous. Are any of you so gung ho that you let nothing stop you?
I wouldn't want to ride on any road with no shoulder, on a bike or even in a car. If the traffic speeds at 65 mph, that is even worse. I have driven roads like that across Florida and elsewhere, and it can be nerve wracking.

Bicycle commuting is a nice idea, but it should not be imperative over safety. If part of the ride could be safely ridden and there was a safe and reasonable place to leave a car for the day, I might split a commute, but otherwise I would be resigned to drive.

Last edited by CHenry; 07-15-07 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 07-15-07, 08:50 AM
  #25  
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If the bike lane were wide enough on Tickle's road, I'd feel far safer on the bike . If it's narrow and your inches away from cars- guess that is a problem. There is no other alternative routes. I'd add another 5-6 miles and go around this sort of bottle neck over give up on my bike commuting.
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