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Wanting to Commute but scared sh*tless

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Wanting to Commute but scared sh*tless

Old 07-12-08, 09:10 AM
  #1  
Skytoproberts
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Wanting to Commute but scared sh*tless

Lol so yeah, with the cost of gas and owning a suv, I need to do something to about saving my gas and I can't afford a to replace it so I am stuck with it. I would like to ride my bike to work its only about 8.6 miles but quite frankly i'm scared sh*tless. There is only one up hill which i figured after time I would get use to. but the majority of the trek is 4 lane major road and sub roots are just as busy with out sidewalks or shoulders. To boot there really isn't anyone I could bike with. I own a KHS alite 500 hardtail Mtn Bike w/ nubby tires so I was thinking about going out and getting a pair of semi slicks. But I somehow still have to get over my fear of looking like the dear on the side of the road. anyone have a similar story or advice. Fortunantly I am only going to be living here in PA till the the mid of august then I will be headed up to VT to continue school, then hopefully I can give up my Blazer or at least let it collect a foot of snow or 2.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:14 AM
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You aren't planning a cross continent unsupported tour so just load up one morning and see how it goes. You can always turn back and take your SUV.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:16 AM
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Most people who start thinki9ng of commuting, pick routes they would take with their car. Is there no side streets that cars find too inconvenient/slow that you could use? I add a few miles and another 400 ft of climbing in order to take a less busy route.

You mention sidewalks....avoid them if you can. Learn to ride a bit more aggressively in the road and not get forced onto the sidewalk. Where I live, its against the law to ride on the sidewalk, even though many do.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:16 AM
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two words.... man up
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Old 07-12-08, 09:27 AM
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Give us your starting and ending points, and mabey we can help with a different route?
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Old 07-12-08, 09:30 AM
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Take some time on the weekend, ride to work, explore different side streets on the way there and back, odds are you'll find a more bike-friendly route and even if you don't you'll probably find out your other route isn't as bad as you thought. This'll give you a good idea of how much time it's going to take you too.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:31 AM
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You might try starting out by biking part of the way and driving the rest then slowly reduce the distance driven.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by wez312 View Post
Take some time on the weekend, ride to work, explore different side streets on the way there and back, odds are you'll find a more bike-friendly route and even if you don't you'll probably find out your other route isn't as bad as you thought. This'll give you a good idea of how much time it's going to take you too.
That's what I did.
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Old 07-12-08, 09:46 AM
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Google Maps
Google Pedometer
Google Earth

These are great ways to explore different routes before actually trying them out. Google Pedometer has an altitude graph that you might find helpful. You may be able to find a route that has a more gradual slope.

The satellite function allows you to actually see the roads (though the pictures might be a couple of years old). Look for features like wide shoulders, which can keep you out of the main travel lanes.

When bicycle commuting, the shortest way isn't always the best way. Look for residential or side streets that parallel your main route in to work. Sometimes a longer distance ride on a bike can be less time than a shorter distance by car during rush hour traffic.

Good luck!
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Old 07-12-08, 09:54 AM
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1. Get slicks (not semi-slicks). The more tread you have on the road, the less traction you will have. Slicks put more of the tire's surface on the road and conform better to the irregularities in the road.

2. Never ride a route if you are scared. Being scared is your subconscious mind (or maybe your conscious mind) telling you that this is something you can't handle. This will likely change as you get more experience riding in traffic - but for now, listen to what your mind is telling you.

3. Look for an alternate, less busy route and ride this. Even very experienced commuters often prefer residential roads because it is much more relaxing.

4. Consider getting a mirror. I like the mirracycle(tm) bike mounted mirror; others like helmet mounted mirrors (and some people don't like mirrors at all). But for me, having a mirror greatly increases situational awareness because I can see at a glance what is behind me; this makes me more confident in traffic.

But it's not a substitute for looking behind me when I change lanes!
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Old 07-12-08, 10:00 AM
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+1 on the mirror. I commute on a mountain bike, with a handelbar mounted mirror on the left side. I can now see what's coming up behind me so much easier. It made me more confident in traffic. Now I have an extra second or two to head for the ditch!
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Old 07-12-08, 10:49 AM
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Just keep in mind, people might honk and give you hassles, but they aren't ACTUALLY trying to kill you. They might do dangerous things though. The thing is, most car drivers have no idea how they're actually supposed to act around bicycles. An experienced bicyclist can actually control the traffic around him/her to some extent.

Don't just CONSIDER getting a mirror; get one. It should not be optional; I'd rather ride without a blinkie at night (which IS required here) than without a mirror.
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Old 07-12-08, 11:16 AM
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as everyone else has been saying, side streets are your friends. fire up Google Maps or Google Earth and you should be able to find a less busy, more safe, and more relaxing route. you may even discover parts of your town that you didn't even know were there before, I know I have.
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Old 07-12-08, 11:28 AM
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I was really scared when I first started commuting to work on my bike because I have to ride half a mile on the highway. The cars flying past me at 70 mph horrified me at first, but I got used to it in a couple of days.
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Old 07-12-08, 02:52 PM
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Expect motorists to do something stupid. That way, when it happens, you won't be as suprised. Treat riding your bike like driving your car, Watch out for yourself and everyone else around you. I was nervous at first too, but after work and on the weekends, I would go out for about 7-9 mi (about my commute) in traffic and I got accustomed to it. It does make you feel a lot better about yourself.
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Old 07-12-08, 03:01 PM
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Get a mirror, Take a ride early on a Sunday Morning and then on a Sunday Afternoon.
Stay 4 to 5 feet from the right side curb.
Watch your mirror, you will see cars moving to your left to pass you.
Get a Hi Vis Vest and Bright Tail Light. It will work for you.
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Old 07-12-08, 03:41 PM
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One good way to avoid traffic is to find a route with a lot of stop signs. Cars will avoid this road because they don't want to hit the gas, nail the brake, hit the gas, nail the brake, over and over.
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Old 07-12-08, 03:43 PM
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Perception of 'busy' is different when you're in a car and when you're on a bike. If the side roads give you more clearance, it doesn't matter if there is car traffic there vs. the 4-lane. One weekend just tool around when it's quieter and less traffic, get a feel for where you're going. Traffic is less intimidating when you're not busy trying to remember which turn to make.
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Old 07-12-08, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by 10 Wheels View Post
Get a mirror, Take a ride early on a Sunday Morning and then on a Sunday Afternoon.
Stay 4 to 5 feet from the right side curb.
Watch your mirror, you will see cars moving to your left to pass you.
Get a Hi Vis Vest and Bright Tail Light. It will work for you.
10 wheels speaks the truth. I became much more comfortable with commuting when I found a mirror I could use. But I wanted to add, when you first get a mirror, treat it like the stock market, just look at it occassionally or it will drive you nuts. Get lite, er a lot of rear lights, and I use a flasher even during the day. There really might be a safer route that just seems busy in a car. Lots of roads have traffic in clumps from being split up by stop lights. so they are not as bad as it seems in your SUV. It really is fun after you get use to it.
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Old 07-12-08, 04:24 PM
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Definitely explore the side streets and map your own route over the weekends or after work. I'm going through the same thing right now since the area I will be commuting is totally different than it was before. I've spent a lot of time on mapquest, searching for the best ways to avoid heavy traffic and get the nicest ride. Each time I go out, I'm testing a part of what looks good in theory (on the map).

Finding the best way to go is part of the adventure, but it's alot more enjoyable if you're not worried about getting to work or home on time.
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Old 07-12-08, 05:05 PM
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You can use something like https://mapmyride.com to work out an alternate route.
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Old 07-12-08, 05:34 PM
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These are great suggestions the other people are giving you. Try to find a way with side streets to get there, thats how I started out too back in the day. Now days multi lanes don't bother me. If you get scared just remember what Rambo says "Live for nothing.. or die for something"
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Old 07-12-08, 06:12 PM
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If you can't get an alternate route, consider going 45 min to an hour before traffic starts to pick up (i.e. 6:45 am) and coming home, likewise (leave earlier, or a bit later). With the extra time you have at work, you could surf internet, read mail, etc.
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Old 07-12-08, 08:37 PM
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One item no one has mentioned is a traffic safety vest. I used one when I started riding the roads until everyone got used to a bicycle actually using the road. I no longer bother with it except after dark or riding where there not used to seeing cyclists on that road. You would be surprised how much better your treated when you use one. After a few weeks you will not need it as the cagers expect to see you and know how to deal with you.
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Old 07-12-08, 08:52 PM
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Originally Posted by kwrides View Post
One good way to avoid traffic is to find a route with a lot of stop signs. Cars will avoid this road because they don't want to hit the gas, nail the brake, hit the gas, nail the brake, over and over.
That's a great idea! Just as it so happens, most of the sub-arterial roads around here are like that, but I don't think I would have ever realized that had you not pointed it out.
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