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How did you learn to cycle in traffic?

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How did you learn to cycle in traffic?

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Old 12-16-04, 06:15 PM
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How did you learn to cycle in traffic?

How did you learn to cycle in traffic?

Did you take course? Which ones?

Have you read any books on traffic cycling, commuting, transportation, etc? What were they, and what did you learn from them?

Get some trips from experienced cyclists? What?

Or did you just wing it and learn from the school of hard knocks? What did you learn?
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Old 12-16-04, 06:52 PM
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Da Tinker
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All of the above, in the reverse order that you wrote them.

Read the three Cycling Gospels According to John:
Effective Cycling - John Forrester
Street Smarts - John Allen
Cyclecraft - John Franklin

After taking the League of American Bicyclist's Road I corse, I went on to become a League Cycling Instructor.
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Old 12-16-04, 06:56 PM
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And I still can't spell.
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Old 12-16-04, 09:21 PM
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I just read up on some net pointers, and just did it...

you will be a bit paranoid at first...that eventually becomes a very aware but cool demeanor as you get used to the traffic around you.

When I was in San Jose, I was comfortable with a 10 inch clearance from my handlebars to their mirror while moving....I was so used to the drivers in my area, and how traffic there behaves to parking lot entrances, etc, that it was just second nature after a while.
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Old 12-16-04, 09:37 PM
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Da Tinker - after reading the three gospels of John, how much more were you able to learn from the LAB courses?
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Old 12-16-04, 09:41 PM
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I did research on the Internet before I got a bike. After I got a bike, I started out on trails. I don't know if I tried riding a little in the street first or if I read Effective Cycling by John Forester first, but I gradually became comfortable with cycling in some traffic. I sold my car and moved from Northern Virginia into DC. My bike became my main mode of transportation and I got a lot more comfortable with traffic.
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Old 12-16-04, 09:58 PM
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Seriously, I may not really have understood how to ride a bike in vehicular traffic until I experienced the opposite perspective: how to accommodate cyclists while I was driving around them. Be vigilant, leave options open as long as possible because unexpected situations can arise, make sure my approach and presence is observed, signal my intentions unambiguously sufficiently early to be reacted to, expect people to do dumb and/or illegal things and allow myself sufficient time/space to react.

As a rider I know motorists are supposed to follow rules of the road and treat cyclists like any other vehicle in traffic, but from observation I know the risk of serious harm is largely on cyclists so I expect I have to operate defensively, be vigilant, leave options open as long as possible because unexpected situations can arise, make sure my approach and presence is observed, signal my intentions unambiguously sufficiently early to be reacted to, expect people to do dumb and/or illegal things and allow myself sufficient time/space to react.
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Old 12-16-04, 10:33 PM
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Like others here have said: I got some tips from the net, bikeforums included. Then I bit the bullet and just tried it. Did the embarassing "first time clipless" fall. Slowly got over my paranoia and adjusted. Give it a shot, it gets easier pretty quickly.
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Old 12-16-04, 10:54 PM
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I'm not sure what there is to learn???
It's just common sense. Obey the same rules as if you were a car, and use your head to know when to back off and give cars the right of way.
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Old 12-16-04, 10:55 PM
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I used common sense, a rarity for me . Riding in traffic in the US was a doddle compared to riding on the narrower and normally busier roads in south-east england. I learnt to give myself plenty of room to manouvre and learnt not to assume that just because you're riding in the middle of a lane lit up like a christmas tree while wearing anough reflective bits and bobs to keep scotchlite in business for a year that the driver parked at the side of the road will actually see you before attempting to pull away.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Serge *******
How did you learn to cycle in traffic?

I cycle like I drive, with the exception that I ride a little farther to the right. I take the lane when I think it is too narrow for a car + me.
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Old 12-17-04, 12:20 AM
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My friend taught me the basics, safety tips. Also turned on to touring.

RIP bro
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Old 12-17-04, 12:37 AM
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Went out and did it, then read up on it for more pointers. I started gradually, with non-busy one ways to a local bike path. Then I got more confident, checked out bike forums, read some cycling guides. Every day is a learning experience.
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Old 12-17-04, 01:53 AM
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Reading is for nerds
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Old 12-17-04, 05:01 AM
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Its only common sense if eveybody does it. Looking after a horse used to be common sense and still is in Mongolia. I wouldnt know which end to put the what.
I first started riding on the road at about 8, usually in the local neighbourhood with friends. I got my first new bike at 10 and did a cycling proficiency course at school, then started riding independantly to school, friends and anywhere else I wanted to go. I rode at night and in winter in a small market town but don't ever recall having any problems.
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Old 12-17-04, 05:52 AM
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Common sense and experience on the job. When I was young and learning to ride a bike, my Dad taught me to signal, look behind and get into the correct position on the road for turns. After that it is a case of building confidence by riding, not by reading books about it (with the exception of the highway code/rules).

Cheers,

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Old 12-17-04, 06:43 AM
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This is funny reading for a european. I don't know anybody over here who have ever taken a special course in how to ride in traffic! What would they teach you?
"Get on the bike, grab the handlebar here, pedal on the pedals and make pling-pling sounds on this pling-pling-thingy here. That over there is a road, ride on it, this here is a curb - you should run into it..."

But I've been to the US of A and I know that all your roads are made exclusivly(sp?) for cars. You have lanes wide as your asses and no sidewalks.

I don't know it just sound hillarious.

/jens
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Old 12-17-04, 06:45 AM
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I took an Effective Cycling (BikeEd) class in Oct 2000. Started commuting in 2001 when I got a job. Liked it so much I became an LAB certified cycling instructor in 2003. Now I'm the EC/BikeEd program coordinator for Atlanta Bicycle Campaign.
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Old 12-17-04, 06:59 AM
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Well I first raced BMX as a child and then MTBs in HS. Bikes at speed in packs teaches you to control your bike in close quarters pretty well. Then as an adult on the commute I just ride and have an attitude that I have the right to be there.
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Old 12-17-04, 07:31 AM
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Originally Posted by ijens
This is funny reading for a european. I don't know anybody over here who have ever taken a special course in how to ride in traffic! What would they teach you?
"Get on the bike, grab the handlebar here, pedal on the pedals and make pling-pling sounds on this pling-pling-thingy here. That over there is a road, ride on it, this here is a curb - you should run into it..."

But I've been to the US of A and I know that all your roads are made exclusivly(sp?) for cars. You have lanes wide as your asses and no sidewalks.

I don't know it just sound hillarious.

/jens
There you go... the classic "I don't need to do a course because I know how to ride a bike" attitude that prevails.

You know, jens, you let yourself down when you talked about no sidewalks. You don't need a sidewalk to ride a bike. Oh, unless you are a wheeled pedestrian, which a lot of Northern Europeans seem to consider themselves to be.

I have had five people do a course over the past week. They all were "forced" to do the course -- they are required to cycle-commute a certain distance over the next year and then they receive the bike they are given as their own.

Some of the comments on the second evening related to their workmates: "What do you need to do a course for. EVERYONE knows how to ride a bike. What the hell could you have leanred". By the third night, I think EVERYONE started to realise they knew diddly-squat about riding a bike...
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Old 12-17-04, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
There you go... the classic "I don't need to do a course because I know how to ride a bike" attitude that prevails.

You know, jens, you let yourself down when you talked about no sidewalks. You don't need a sidewalk to ride a bike. Oh, unless you are a wheeled pedestrian, which a lot of Northern Europeans seem to consider themselves to be.

I have had five people do a course over the past week. They all were "forced" to do the course -- they are required to cycle-commute a certain distance over the next year and then they receive the bike they are given as their own.

Some of the comments on the second evening related to their workmates: "What do you need to do a course for. EVERYONE knows how to ride a bike. What the hell could you have leanred". By the third night, I think EVERYONE started to realise they knew diddly-squat about riding a bike...
The no sidewalks note was just to point out how car-centered that big country in west is. I ride on the street, no worries there mate!
Im still curious about what you teach your pupils about riding a bicycle. My point being that there is not that much to it. You just ride. Like take my mum for example, she is not a Lance Armstrong on the bike, she swings from side to side but she knows it and rides slow and out of the way... Soo... what could she and I learn except the obvious of normal traffic laws and avoiding getting hit by cars????

That part about people being forced to participate and then given a bike scares me.

hoodiddellidoo to you down under from up here in a cold sthlm.
/jens

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Old 12-17-04, 09:08 AM
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I have a cousin who lives in Sweden. He likes it. I hope I do when I visit him. I hear the cycling's pretty darned good there.

"Forced" means they are volunteering to become cycle-commuters for a year, with a threshhold number of kilometres per week. Their employer is making a financial contribution to this, including acquisition of the bike. As a reward, the bike they are issued with at the beginning becomes their's at the end of 12 months. A provisio of the deal is that they participate in the course we run.... part of duty of care and other things.

The course deals with all the principles of what is termed effective cycling, vehicular cycling, skilled cycling... whatever.

I understand your question about "there is not that much to it". We get it all the time. Those who participate in our courses eventually think otherwise.

Indeed, if you are riding a bike on dedicated paths, or in an environment where the speed limit is lower, and the legal onus is on a motor vehicle driver, and "wheeled pedestrians" like your mum are the norm, everything is OK.

But, the whole picture changes when we talk about suburban and city environments that require riding for more than 5km; have few or no dedicated bike facilities (and even they can be suspect); and have aggressive motor vehicle drivers.

It's at this point that knowing how to handle a bike under stress conditions becomes paramount. It starts with getting on, getting the pedals in the right position, taking off in a straight line, knowing how to brake in emergency conditions.... and a whole raft of other stuff.

Come across to Australia and enrol in a course. You WILL learn something.
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Old 12-17-04, 09:56 AM
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Originally Posted by ijens
This is funny reading for a european. I don't know anybody over here who have ever taken a special course in how to ride in traffic! What would they teach you?
"Get on the bike, grab the handlebar here, pedal on the pedals and make pling-pling sounds on this pling-pling-thingy here. That over there is a road, ride on it, this here is a curb - you should run into it..."

But I've been to the US of A and I know that all your roads are made exclusivly(sp?) for cars. You have lanes wide as your asses and no sidewalks.

I don't know it just sound hillarious.

/jens
As a Norwegian living in the US (Houston) for the last 8 years I can tell you there are lots of Europeans who could use some education on how to ride safely in traffic. Just two months ago I was home in Norway on vacation for three weeks. I saw countless people riding in the dark, wearing dark clothes, having no lights on their bikes, no reflective gear, not following traffic rules, riding on sidewalks etc. Yes, traffic moves much more slowly, roads are generally much more bike friendly, and drivers are more used to having bikes around them. But that's no excuse to be ignorant and reckless when riding a bike.

Regarding the relationship between lanes and asses in the US, I agree completely. There seem to be a strong correlation between the two.

Sverre
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Old 12-17-04, 11:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Come across to Australia and enrol in a course. You WILL learn something.
Is that a challange, promise or an invitation? Either way I'd love too go!!

I've actually been to Australia before. Went with a couple of friends to Arapalis north of Melbourne a couple of years ago climbing. Stayed three months -- great place! Great people! Loved it!

Take care and a merry christmas!
/jens
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Old 12-17-04, 11:05 AM
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I just rode. I started out riding in car parks and with my Mum playing "mother duck" on the way to school. Then I rode to middle school solo, then I got a paper round, then I got jobs. My traffic involvement gradually increased: at 11 I was avoiding roundabouts, at 12 I had mastered them, it took me to 16 to get fast on-ramps sorted. When I started riding solo, my parents bought me a copy of the Highway Code (the UK road rulebook) and made me read it.

Cycling Proficiency classes at 13 were a hindrance - they taught me to ride in the gutter. I still have to consciously work to ride outside.

Then when I got the net and read Franklin's "Roadcraft" and to a lesser extent Forrester's "Effective cycling" I tweaked my style to optimise my road use.

But ultimately, I just had a bike as a kid and rode it properly.
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