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Giving up riding on the road

Old 12-19-19, 11:27 AM
  #1  
Hiro11
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Giving up riding on the road

After about 30 years of riding on the road, I'm seriously considering giving it up. Several things have given me pause:
  • Getting hit by a car two years ago
  • Increasingly dealing with narrow misses due to oblivious / distracted driving on most rides
  • Jerks deliberately driving dangerously on most every ride
  • The availability of good alternatives: extensive limestone paths around my house, single track, gravel roads etc. I enjoy running, I enjoy swimming.
  • General responsibilities of being a father/husband/main earner.
  • I live in an area not very conducive to riding anyway: terrible weather, lots of traffic, limited route options etc

Overall, I also have a general sense that I'm "swimming upstream" by riding on the road. Drivers seem in general agreement that we have no right to be there. Police won't defend my rights to be there. Courts generally grant great leniency to drivers. Co-workers think I'm crazy. Wife has said she's terrified every time I ride on the road. Etc.

So, I think I'm done here. Anyone else feel similarly?
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Old 12-19-19, 11:37 AM
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You'd fit in perfectly with a great many recumbent trike riders I know.
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Old 12-19-19, 11:41 AM
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Nope, not my experience.

I live in a congested area - SW Nassau County on Long Island, NY, but am able to use (or am wise to choose to use) roads that have decent shoulders and time the rides to not be during rush hour. As well, I rarely have close calls, only near miss was 2 years ago when I took a different road that had a stop sign I missed, almost got nailed. That was my fault though. As I also periodically bike commute into Brooklyn, NY, I have only occasional closer encounters with cars, but NYC has a pretty good bike path and on-street bike lane network which I make use of, and I think NYC is getting better as there's a LOT of cyclists, so motorists are *maybe* getting more tolerant. I certainly have more close encounters with clueless pedestrians in NYC than motorists.

No kids, so perhaps an easier perception of my responsibilities. But I understand your concerns.
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Old 12-19-19, 12:34 PM
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I gave up riding for 25 years and returned in 2014 for similar reasons you listed. It will always be a risk but life is full of risks and I just try to mitigate as many as possible related to cycling. Due to arthritis, I can no longer hike more than two miles, run, or play basketball like I once did. I cannot tolerate the impacts. So I can either be on a rower, a trainer or find relatively safe cycling routes.

One regret I have in life is giving up cycling during my prime physically fit years. I missed out on life because of fear.
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Old 12-19-19, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Anyone else feel similarly?
Not I, said the rabbit.

But maybe you should hook up with this OP:

https://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-s...ing-roads.html
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Old 12-19-19, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals View Post
You'd fit in perfectly with a great many recumbent trike riders I know.
How do you know he has a pot belly and long beard?
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Old 12-19-19, 01:03 PM
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If you can live a satisfying life without road cycling, feel safer, and are less stressed .... wait, what the problem again?
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Old 12-19-19, 01:06 PM
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I've heard it both ways.
Seeing as how I have no idea what your local roads are like, makes it hard for me to judge. Around here, there's a lot of roads I don't care to ride on, others I will, and in a lot of cases, it depends on the time of day. So maybe if I lived there, I'd be saying "Amen!"
But it's easy to get paranoid about things, too.

Based on past reading, as best I can tell, in general, cycling has about the same amount of hazard per HOUR as driving. The government has good statistics on the number of cyclists killed and on the number of bicycles sold, but doesn't have good numbers on the number of miles ridden, so working out accurate hazards per mile or per hour is not possible.
In my life, I've known of a number of cyclists killed (generally, friends-of-friends) and have known a number of drivers killed (friends, acquaintances, friends of friends). One major difference in the two is the perception. When a cyclist is killed, other people will say "Oh, that's dangerous, I wouldn't ever do that!" When a driver is killed in a car wreck, all their friends get in their own cars and drive to the funeral, it never occurs to anyone that driving is hazardous, too. They just accept driving as a necessary part of life, and whatever hazard is involved as one of the hazards of being alive.

I say this not to change your mind, but to put a bigger perspective on it. You may very well live in a place where road riding is ten times as dangerous as it is for me.

One other issue is that you're making the assumption that single-track, bike paths, and gravel roads are "safe". They may lack some of the traffic hazards, but they do involve their own hazards, so nothing is without some risk. One of our local riders gave up road riding due to the hazard, but has then had a couple of good crashes on the trail, too. Perhaps less likely to get killed that way, but still some broken bones and hospital bills involved. I've got a nice gravel route that I've never ridden due to tales of excessive dog population on it!

Come to think of it, my great-uncle was picking dandelions in the front yard when a car hopped the curb and hit him, for what that's worth.
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Old 12-19-19, 01:12 PM
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No, don't feel the same way, but I have no interest in telling you how you SHOULD feel.
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Old 12-19-19, 01:42 PM
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I try to avoid riding on the road-but sometimes do. I try to pick roads with less traffic, decent shoulder, and at times of day when less cars are traveling them. The roads outside of the development in which I live I absolutely would not ride on (50mph, curves, shadows, little to no shoulder), but I do see people riding them. Haven't heard of anyone being hit, and hope I never do. But I won't ride them-outside of my "comfort range". Plenty of other options with less risk to have to settle on riding them.
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Old 12-19-19, 01:54 PM
  #11  
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Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
Anyone else?
yes, but I'm looking at it like this: I'm "reducing" my roads rides & using extreme prejudice when choosing/planning my road rides. like you, I have many fun alternatives to the road for biking. Quiet Sunday morning used to be a safe road ride time-frame but I work Sundays now, which is OK & coincides with my other biking explorations
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Old 12-19-19, 01:59 PM
  #12  
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I can understand that. I'm not ready to give it up myself. But several friends no longer ride solo on public roads and mostly ride gravel now. They do occasionally ride with groups but even those have gravitated toward casual group rides rather than serious roadie hammerfests.

I can understand the latter in particular. One of the roadie groups I ride with occasionally has ambitions that exceed its skills. They tend to blow through intersections without slowing or even looking, don't call out hazards, and have some riders who struggle so much to hold a wheel they're wobbling around frantically.

It's not enough to dissuade me from road riding, but I'm more selective about the places, times and company. My favorite routes are usually relatively safe with little traffic, but I avoid them near morning and evening "rush" hours, where "rush" might be one car per minute. But that one guy in a beat up old SUV or pickup insists he does, in fact, own the whole entire road. Otherwise, all is generally good.

If I was still of working and family age I'd probably reconsider. But it's just me and my cats now so I'll take my chances enjoying road rides.
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Old 12-19-19, 02:55 PM
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I understand the OP's position. I think that he has come to terms with the tradeoffs of enjoyment versus risk.

My children and grown and married. My wife will be very well taken care of whether I live or die. I expect not only to die one day, but to not be able to choose the method of my own demise. Why not riding my bike?

Make your peace with all men and with your Creator...then live life without fear.
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Old 12-19-19, 03:29 PM
  #14  
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Good point about the availability of other options. IMO, the risk is not being killed but incapacitated. As a septuagenarian, I might never recover from a broken hip, for example. I might then have to live another 20 years, a burden to my wife and wasting resources. I've never been comfortable running, I'm phobic about public swimming pools and I'm not near good trails. I do have extensive low traffic rural roads virtually on my doorstep. I weigh the risk against the certainty that I would become even more demented if I didn't get outside and exercise. It is a dilemma
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Old 12-19-19, 03:48 PM
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Iím just not scared.

Maybe thereís something wrong with me.
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Old 12-19-19, 04:06 PM
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tgenec86
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I can understand your point - having lived in the Atlanta GA area and watched my beautiful, quiet rural roads become crowded and dangerous with the massive unchecked development and the advent of mobile technology. However - since moving to a much more rural area and enjoying rides where I see as few as a handful of cars in an hour, I've completely fallen in love with riding again. If you have to genuinely fear for your life where you are, trails is the best answer. Right now I'm only limited by road conditions in the winter!
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Old 12-19-19, 06:44 PM
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Giving up riding on the road
Originally Posted by Hiro11 View Post
After about 30 years of riding on the road, I'm seriously considering giving it up. Several things have given me pause:

  • Getting hit by a car two years ago
  • Increasingly dealing with narrow misses due to oblivious / distracted driving on most rides
  • Jerks deliberately driving dangerously on most every ride
  • The availability of good alternatives: extensive limestone paths around my house, single track, gravel roads etc. I enjoy running, I enjoy swimming.
  • General responsibilities of being a father/husband/main earner.
  • I live in an area not very conducive to riding anyway: terrible weather, lots of traffic, limited route options etc
Overall, I also have a general sense that I'm "swimming upstream" by riding on the road. Drivers seem in general agreement that we have no right to be there. Police won't defend my rights to be there. Courts generally grant great leniency to drivers. Co-workers think I'm crazy. Wife has said she's terrified every time I ride on the road. Etc.

So, I think I'm done here. Anyone else feel similarly?
Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Not I, said the rabbit.

But maybe you should hook up with this OP:

https://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-s...ing-roads.html
Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
No, don't feel the same way, but I have no interest in telling you how you SHOULD feel.
When I read the OP, I immediately thought of the other thread quoted by @indyfabz to which I posted about my approach to safety. Personally, I happily resumed cycling five months after a serious hit by a car, with six weeks acute and rehab hospital, and three months off work.

Perhaps I may sound devil-may-care, but I even touted to this recent thread.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
"Best cycling city in USA?"

I have posted about BostonÖ
Nonetheless, I have posted to several threads, including this recent one:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
"Hiding the stuff that happens"

Although Iím a cycle-commuting enthusiast on Bike Forums, in general Iím circumspect about bike commuting in casual conversation, other than about the weather and the neighborhoods I traverseÖ
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Frankly, I have posted that I would not be inclined to encourage, unless by example (nor discourage) someone to cycle-commute, but if they so chose, I would freely and gladly give any advice...

Public exhortations to cycle-commute, or utility cycle are well and good with no individual responsibility for bad outcomes, but I would not want the recriminations of a personal endorsement if something bad happened...

FWW, Iím not advocatiní against, just sayiní
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
On Bike Forums, we frequently and candidly post about our close calls and actual mishaps, not just to ďone-upĒ each other but most considerately to advise.

I have previously posted about discussing the dangers of cycling with non-cyclists or casual cyclists concerned with my or their own safety...

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 12-19-19 at 06:59 PM.
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Old 12-19-19, 09:17 PM
  #18  
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Those six points don't seem very different from what a pedestrian or a motorist experiences. But how many pedestrians quit walking outside for fear of being bullied by cars?
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Old 12-19-19, 10:16 PM
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I'm fortunate to have endless miles of low traffic roads at my doorstep. So I always enjoy riding. If I had to endure conditions I didn't enjoy, I consider doing something else.
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Old 12-20-19, 02:38 AM
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Originally Posted by freeranger View Post
I try to avoid riding on the road-but sometimes do. I try to pick roads with less traffic, decent shoulder, and at times of day when less cars are traveling them. The roads outside of the development in which I live I absolutely would not ride on (50mph, curves, shadows, little to no shoulder), but I do see people riding them. Haven't heard of anyone being hit, and hope I never do. But I won't ride them-outside of my "comfort range". Plenty of other options with less risk to have to settle on riding them.
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Yep! Itís getting bad out there. But I just as soon die doing something I enjoy. So be smart about it and ride. :}
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Old 12-20-19, 02:39 AM
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We're limiting our road riding now to very quiet roads. There aren't many where we live so we travel to the north of the state now and then where there are more.

One day, if all goes well, we'll move to a place with quiet country roads.
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Old 12-20-19, 04:33 AM
  #22  
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For commuting I am lucky to have different options which allow me to avoid having to ride on busy dangerous roads...For recreational riding I do gravel roads/trails, rural roads with little traffic and singletrack trails...Distracted drivers and impatient drivers are the No.1 enemy to cyclists and it has gotten worse over the last few years.
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Old 12-20-19, 05:10 AM
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I left the road (for the most part) about three years ago for all of your reasons (and a few different ones).

Overwhelmingly the sense of family based responsibility as primary income source (only while alive) was the justification. However, Leaving the road had so many upsides that the roadie experience was not missed in the least. Before cycling, I was always an outdoorsy type who was trekking down trout streams, upland bird hunting, etc. I was stunned to find I could negotiate those same trails via MTB more quickly, and falling less than when I stumbled through on foot! Enough reason right there!!

I'll still get the bikepacking whip out and make a beer run to the neighborhood store a mile away on the road, but never saddle up for a 50 mile ride. I'll spend 2-3 hours riding through the woods instead. Not at MTB race speeds, but picking my way carefully. Let me mention how that improves your cycling skills: trackstanding, bunny hopping, climbing, manuals and so forth are practiced daily; never did that as a roadie much. I run my hound attached to the bike through the woods, too. Wouldn't consider that on the road!

It's your choice. I rode solo so didn't have cycling companions to leave behind. That might be different for you, as well as other personal preferences
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Old 12-20-19, 05:27 AM
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I have a different situation/ mentality. I'm probably not a true cyclist in some peoples mind, but that's OK. My bike of choice is a non-suspension adventure bike or mountain bike. I take back roads as much as possible. Ride on side walks when necessary, yielding right of way to pedestrians. Jump a curb to get into a park and avoid a real busy road. I have my mirror so that if necessary I can jump off the road. Somehow I have made it work for me.
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Old 12-20-19, 06:20 AM
  #25  
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I loved my Roubaix, and now I miss it, because I sold it.

I did so because it was tempting me too much to go out on the road again. I gave up the road a few months ago after several very close calls when I had done everything possible to ride defensively. It was not fear or any other emotion but simply a rational risk v. reward evaluation of the road and traffic conditions in my area.

I bought a mountain bike which I ride on trails whenever the weather is dry enough but which I also ride on MUPs and rails trails. I love riding my MTB on trails and am glad I discovered that kind of cycling, but I still miss my fast and long road rides.
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