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Question from a noob (well not even that). Are recumbents safe to ride in traffic?

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Question from a noob (well not even that). Are recumbents safe to ride in traffic?

Old 12-19-08, 12:54 PM
  #1  
bryroth
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Question from a noob (well not even that). Are recumbents safe to ride in traffic?

It just seems that you're so low. I want to get one, though, but not if riding in traffic is out of the question. I apologize if this question has been asked a million times or if it is general knowledge. I know nothing about recumbents!

Thanks for a yes or no.
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Old 12-19-08, 01:05 PM
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Yes.

But as I said in a previous post I am a bit of a VC rider and will take the lane if I feel I need to, to be safe. I also use voice, bell and sometimes airzound to get attention when I need it. I can and will wait behind a queue of cars for my turn. I don't try to force myself on the right hand side at 4 way stops for instance. I get behind the car in front of me and wait my turn.

The lowest bike I ride is a trike and I can drag my hand along the ground as I ride. I have picked up road debris while riding and tossed it out of the bike lane. Just to give you an idea of how low I can go. My hi-racer is easily as high as a DF but my head is a little lower.
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Old 12-19-08, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by djwid View Post
...tossed it out of the bike lane...
Thank you for the response. Unfortunately there are no bike lanes where I live, just traffic. Would you still take your recumbent out on a street with no bike lane?
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Old 12-19-08, 01:15 PM
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You didn't write if you are riding somewhere dense and urban, or somewhere suburban? Heavy traffic, or light? Do cars respect bikes in general?

I regularly ride my bent on roads with no bike lanes here in California. Usually no problem, though I'd be lying if I pretended that it doesn't make me hate car drivers more.
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Old 12-19-08, 01:19 PM
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I guess my question should have been, are recumbent bikes more dangerous than traditional road bikes in traffic, light or heavy?
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Old 12-19-08, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bryroth View Post
I guess my question should have been, are recumbent bikes more dangerous than traditional road bikes in traffic, light or heavy?
I don't think they are, no. So long as you adjust your riding to suit it should be fine. For example, as someone mentioned above you need to be careful at junctions because the lower height of recumbents means that drivers from the crossing street can't see you over cars going in your direction.

In no traffic or light traffic, my bent is waaaaay faster than my upright bike. In heavy traffic it's probably slower, because I ride very carefully to avoid problems caused by lack of visibility. Also, my recumbent has under-seat steering and the added width makes it hard to filter past cars - I find that easier on my upright.
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Old 12-19-08, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bryroth View Post
Thank you for the response. Unfortunately there are no bike lanes where I live, just traffic. Would you still take your recumbent out on a street with no bike lane?
I ride on streets with bike lanes, without bike lanes, arterial streets with 40mph traffic and a small shoulder, I ride on MUPs, I ride on trails. It is all good.
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Old 12-19-08, 02:45 PM
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It's way too dangerous to ride bikes of any sort on roadways. That's obvious.

If you think that being "too low" is "too dangerous", then get a bent that is "not so low". I don't feel "too low" on my V-Rex.

Most lowracers and trikes are "pretty low" but some find them fine to ride in traffic. Find a bent that matches your level of comfort.
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Old 12-19-08, 04:09 PM
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no more dangerous than DF

Originally Posted by bryroth View Post
I guess my question should have been, are recumbent bikes more dangerous than traditional road bikes in traffic, light or heavy?
I'm just as apprehensive on my DF as I am on either of my recumbents. So no more dangerous.

Have we mentioned the wow factor that many believe makes us more visible?
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Old 12-19-08, 04:34 PM
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Once you get used to a bent it is no more dangerous in traffic than a DF unless your riding style emulates the traditional messenger's.
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Old 12-19-08, 11:58 PM
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I am a regular commuter on by 'bent. Well, to be honest I didn't ride this week, but I draw the line at 32 degrees F. I'm hoping to be able to get it back between Christmas and New Years.

Anyway, I ride 19 miles each way, using this route: https://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Microsoft-commute.

The ride takes me through industrial areas, two downtown areas, a college campus, and along bike/pedestrian trails. I ride to the right of the lane most of the time, but when I need to make a left turn, I get in the left turn lane with the cars. If I'm going straight through an intersection where the left and right lanes are dedicated turns, I get in line with the cars. There have been very few times when I've felt that someone wasn't aware of me, and when I did feel that, I felt they weren't aware of anybody, really.

Now, to be fair, I am lit up like a christmas tree (2 headlights, 2 taillights, and a double Down Low Glow), have a bright green AeroTrunk with a Snoopy flying his dog house attached to the top, and I'm not exactly what you might call waif-like. I also ride the same route every day so people who share this route with me will become accostomed to seeing me and know that I'm just another guy trying to get to work.
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Old 12-20-08, 12:55 AM
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even with room I don't like to go between cars on my bent.
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Old 12-20-08, 09:14 AM
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I ride a tadpole trike which is as you know is very low. I ride mine in traffic sometimes and I have never had a problem. However, there is a psychological factor involved. Some people have a fear of being low in respect to their suroundings. If you have that fear that could be a problem.
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Old 12-20-08, 05:33 PM
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I ride a trike with a 7.5" seat and extreme recline in traffic and don't find it a concern at all, cars tend to give you more room, you can brake better than a DF by a large margin and can change direction instantly, you don't have to be as concerned about the road surface as a DF and if you have a rear view mirror (you should) it is like a car one in that it is constantly visible and gives a good rear view.
I am happier in traffic on the trike than on my MTB.
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Old 12-27-08, 02:04 AM
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No, Bryroth, they are not safe. Almost every time a recumbent rider ventures out on public roads, they die. This is why there are so few people on these recumbent boards. They are people like me, who only ride on MUP trails and bike paths, the ones who haven't yet been killed.

Yeah, you read ride reports of people saying, "rode the such and such today." They are really bragging that they took their lives in their hands and made it back fairly intact.

It is a sad state of affairs for bent manufactures, also. As the riders die, their bikes (what's left of them) are passed around and stripped of the good parts to make up usable bents. With all that free hardware out their, the companies are having a tough time.

Have you noticed how many recumbent publications have gone out of business? it is tough to publish when you can only get one year out of customer. Many are trying to beat the grim reaper by getting folks to sign on for multi-year subscriptions up front.

No, recumbents are not safe, and you should pass that along to any recumbent riders that you are lucky enough to find.

Happy hunting and STAY OFF THE ROADS!.

Then again, as Donald Shimoda (Illusions) says, "everything I say could be wrong."

Tom
King of the MUPs
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Old 12-27-08, 09:17 AM
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Some will tell you there is no problem ... don't let that overcome your sense of logic. I love riding
recumbents, but it's all relative. The lower the bike the less you can be seen in traffic. Period. I run
flags, of course, but if you can't see over the hoods of cars you are severely limiting your own ability to
negotiate in traffic. I just sold my Challenge Hurricane, which I loved, simply because I felt it was only a matter of time before I became an SUV speed bump in the traffic where I ride. I still ride my Lightning Thunderbolt in traffic as it sits a bit higher than the Hurricane did; but truth be told, I feel safer on my upright bikes as I can see over vehicle hoods and gauge when and where to pull out etc.
Recumbents are a blast, but use your common sense insofar as where and when to ride them.


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Old 12-27-08, 06:24 PM
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I am comfortable on my bent, however in heavy traffic I prefer my mountain bike as it is simply more maneuverable.
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Old 12-28-08, 01:48 AM
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It depends on the model you have. In my Sun recumbent, I am highly visible. It's a big-@$$ bike, and I am seated at the same level as the driver of a sedan. Plus, you can install all kinds of flashing lights, reflectors, orange tape/triangles, etc. on the back of the chair. Ain't no way to miss this baby!

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Old 12-28-08, 01:53 AM
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Originally Posted by scarabeoguy View Post
I ride a tadpole trike which is as you know is very low. I ride mine in traffic sometimes and I have never had a problem. However, there is a psychological factor involved. Some people have a fear of being low in respect to their suroundings. If you have that fear that could be a problem.
I test-rode the tadpole, and that really freaked me out. I felt that I couldn't be seen at all, and that I could slide right under an SUV with little notice. It may be a psychological thing, but I also notice the big bikes with lots of reflectors and/or lights more quickly when I'm in a car.

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Old 12-28-08, 11:53 AM
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I ride both but don't have really low recumbents. If you are relying on cars seeing you to survive, you will be dead soon no matter what kind of bike you ride. Assume cars don't see you, gear up and ride. Lights, bright clothing, good brakes and most importantly, good sense and you will be fine (usually).
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Old 12-28-08, 12:18 PM
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Originally Posted by recumelectric View Post
I test-rode the tadpole, and that really freaked me out. I felt that I couldn't be seen at all, and that I could slide right under an SUV iwth little notice. It may be a psychological thing, but I also notice the big bikes with lots of reflectors and/or lights more quickly when I'm in a car.
I have commuted on a tadpole trike for more than 1 year. I have absolutely ZERO issues with visibility and I get a lot more space than I ever did on my Fuji Cross. I also have not gotten a drive by hate-honk or scream on the trike where I used to get that a few times per week on the Fuji Cross.
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Old 12-29-08, 12:06 PM
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Well if the drivers are on there cell phone, reading a book, drunk or just not paying attention they will run into a truck. On the other had most drivers can see a small animal cross the road 50 meters in front of them. It comes down to the drivers choice to see others and respect others. Most car cycle accidents are caused by proor judgement on the drivers part. There is a web page out there about "Riding Big" to prevent accidents. It tells you when it is appropriate to take up a whole traffic lane and other tips. I will try to find it and post it here .
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Old 12-29-08, 01:24 PM
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You are probably not going to know your comfort level until you give it a try. I have the choice of four recumbents - a Linear long wheelbase, an Haluzak Horizon short wheelbase and two recumbent trikes. The one that wins out hands down is one of the recumbent trikes, a Greenspeed GTO. It's the one I feel most comfortable and confident on. I rode it nearly 4,000 miles this year without incident. I have a close friend who owns a nearly identical GS GTO but rarely rides it on the street, preferring to ride a Lightspeed wedgie when he rides the local roads. It's the one he feels most confident (but not most comfortable) on. Go figure!
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