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Safety - Have you experienced any changes?

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Safety - Have you experienced any changes?

Old 07-11-20, 04:59 PM
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Danhedonia
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Safety - Have you experienced any changes?

Not a frequent poster, and saw the horrible post about Peter Cotsis/PCAD's death. It hit home hugely, because after 40+ years of off/on road cycling, I've become frightened lately. I'd like to hear from others.

I bike a small number of "milk horse" routes in the greater Albuquerque area. By far my favorite route is the (lovely, scenic) MUP. I like it because there is no traffic. ABQ is fairly bike-friendly, and there are bike lanes and a reasonable 'general understanding' among the local drivers. There are, of course, always exceptions, and New Mexico has some grim stats on bike fatalities.

Recently I've had a couple of incidents on established routes that made me frightened. Both cases were cars passing too close. Not the purposeful, "Ah'm gon' show this cyclist" crap, but just oblivious to the need to provide 3-5 feet clearance (state law AND clearly posted on multiple signs on the roads in question).

Somehow, I feel like the category of "oblivious" drivers (not just those texting on their phones) has increased. Or perhaps I'm just getting old and nervous, I've no idea.

Would anyone else like to share their thoughts?
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Old 07-11-20, 08:22 PM
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I dont think twice about being on roads in the overall region where I live, but when I ride alone(which is most of the time), I ride 70% gravel and 30% paved. Car traffic just isn't a concern, given where is predominantly ride. And most of the paved roads i ride are in town 2 lane roads so anyone wanting to pass me can simply change lanes and there is no anger/frustration over the slower cyclist.

I save MUPs and bike trails for rides with any/all of my family as they are slower speed.

My biggest fear, in all seriousness(coincidentally I told one of my kids this today while we mountainbiked) is that when I am riding on gravel or songletrack in the woods, a deer crosses my path and impaled me with his antlers.
Its a crazy fear, due to how absurdly long the odds are of it happening, yet i am quite aware of it for a brief second or so on many rides.
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Old 07-11-20, 08:30 PM
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I'm in the same boat as the OP. Going out tomorrow for my third ride in three weeks. I will likely stay off the road I usually ride, and go with a smaller, chipseal one instead. It's an odd thing, to feel fear of riding a bike.
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Old 07-11-20, 08:47 PM
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Yes, a lot of us feel it now. More distracted drivers now, plenty of road rage and carelessness. The best I can suggest is to choose your route carefully.
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Old 07-11-20, 08:47 PM
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MUPs around here got real crowded with newbies. Both walkers and cyclist. Roads were empty till about a month and a half ago. So staying on the road then made more sense.

MUP has gotten a little less crowded now. Roads back to normal traffic levels. So it's a toss up which is better to use. Haven't seen any real nuts except for cars running red lights are worse than ever.
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Old 07-12-20, 02:41 AM
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I have a few safe routes that I stick too when I'm either training hard -- intervals or FTP work -- or just want a relaxing ride, so I don't need to worry as much about traffic. Mostly access roads with good pavement and very little traffic. One is a five mile loop, the other a three mile loop, roller coaster terrain with a couple of decent flat sprint zones and at least one half-mile 3% climb. Add the connecting route between those loops and I have a decent 20 mile workout. Scenery isn't bad, so I don't get bored.

I didn't realize how much I ride those routes until Strava recently added that "local legend" silliness and flagged me as the "local legend" on those loops. I'd rather not be recognized for being the middling fast old dude who rides the same loops all the time, thanks.

If I want a longer ride on other routes I'll wait until nighttime. Hardly any traffic. I just run extra lights, front and rear, USB battery, etc. No problem. Routes that would be deadly in daytime are practically deserted after midnight. Suits me. The few drivers who are out tend to be more careful. Most of my 50 mile or longer rides are at night.

When I'm feeling more energetic and have enough reserves for occasional impromptu sprints, there are some riskier routes I'll ride. Yup, almost invariably at least one vehicle does a brush-by pass (almost always the cliched white pickup, usually a crew cab dually that's never seen a day's work). I usually shrug it off. Cops here won't get involved unless you're hit and injured or killed. Many vehicles don't even carry front license tags and it's too much work to investigate every rude driver. I have front and rear video cameras and told family and friends to have the cops check my videos so they'll know who killed me when it happens.

The one ride I didn't run video was the day a driver hit me two years ago. Took a year to physically recover from that, and longer to cool down my road rage toward every rude driver. Having grown up in NY I was accustomed to being very vocal about stuff like that and insults could be exchanged without physically fighting. But back in my native Texas I had to re-learn that Suthuner's are passive-aggressive, can dish out the trash talk but can't take any return volleys without getting their delicate feelings hurt, and regard every insult as a killing offense.

In my area everyone is packing heat and in some neighborhoods there's at least one murder a week, including one a few nights ago about 400 yards down the block near the notorious late night convenience store parking lot hangout. I doubt those people are having any more fun than I am en route to the grave.

The pandemic kumbaya honeymoon is over, that period of a few weeks in March-April when things were quiet and most folks seemed to have a sense of community. Now it's crazy paranoia and self destructive behavior, far worse than usual judging from the police blotter and scanner reports. From my access road cycling routes I have a clear view of the highways and the driving is far more reckless and hostile than before the pandemic. Some cars traveling way too fast for conditions, weaving around heavy traffic, revving and honking. Gunshots from cars a couple of times. Lots more fatality wrecks from reckless driving, including a young guy who did a high speed head-on into an overpass pillar and pancaked himself and his truck a couple of minutes before I passed nearby on my bike. No reason for it other than lack of self discipline and personal responsibility.

So I'm avoiding some areas for now. Possibly for a long time, depending on the mood. Hard to say how things will go over the next year, but whatever affects cage ragers affects us too.
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Old 07-12-20, 07:28 AM
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Thanks for the responses - it helps, even to know I'm not alone. I have two on-road local routes that are both designated 'bike routes' in a community that is generally supportive (greater Albuquerque) if not entirely sophisticated. Our MUP is also overrun with newbs on weekends, but one reason I love Albuquerque is that there really aren't that many people here, and weekday rides on the MUPs (we have many) are gloriously traffic free.

What makes me nervous is the demographic change in the nearby 'village' I have ridden for 12 years. Recently 'discovered' by rich, coastal retirees (and I'm one, so I think I can go there), it now has many drivers in pricey 'country cars' (the Lexus SUVs) who drive impatiently and obliviously. They bought their way into a 'cute' town, then lean on the horn behind tractors and ride a foot or two from cyclists. The town is five miles long; what on earth is the hurry? I'm used to angry idiots playing dumb games (who isn't, who has spent time on roads) but NOT people in $50k+ cars weaving in and out of marked bike lanes and rolling through stop signs without looking.

I'm frustrated, and scared.

Anyhow, thanks again, it's good to realize I'm not the only one. Off to do my Sunday ride on the MUP - I will be looking out for newbs and fams.
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Old 07-12-20, 07:44 AM
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The last couple of years I have seen a definite improvement in driver courtesy.
However during our lockdown everyone forgot how to drive and since lockdown ended everyone seems to be in a big hurry. It's not pretty out on the roads right now.
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Old 07-12-20, 10:10 AM
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I haven't noticed that so much as the huge increase the number of cyclists. No matter when I ride, at times when I used to encounter very few, they're (we're?) everywhere. A lot of them have limited skills, especially maintaining their line, and some folks still want to ride two-up, but maintain social distance. This necessitates swinging wide to pass, which is obviously a riskier move.

Mostly I see cars giving cyclists a wide berth, though, yeah, now I think about it there were two SUVs that crowded me a bit the other day. I was on a fast downhill with a righthand sweeper at the bottom, where it transitions from a wide bike lane to no real bike lane. I was going 38 mph, and they JUST HAD TO pass me right at the bottom before the turn. They weren't all that close, but if a bike is going nearly 40 mph, maybe give him some space? The amount of room you need increases with speed.
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Old 07-12-20, 01:48 PM
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The last ride on the road I did I had a woman who was waiting to turn left into my lane, waited for me to pass, got behind me only to pass me closely and cut me off right as we got to a stop sign. She didn't have anywhere near the appropriate room to pass another road user safely. She didn't care...didn't care I was cursing up a storm behind me.

Generally, most of my riding is now done on mtb trails, gravel roads, or the trainer now and the main reason for that is how drivers have become more and more aggressive against cyclists. I just made the decision to stay off the road as much as possible.

I've also changed tactics when I ride my motorcycle on the road. I used to stay closer to the left side of the road because that was taught in safety school, but now I stay on the right side of the lane. I've had too many texter/phone distracted drivers weave across the double yellow line at me and I figure a few extra feet to avoid that is worth it. I generally don't ride in traffic anymore either.
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Old 07-12-20, 02:05 PM
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Haven't seen any change on the roads I ride. The vast majority are very good and I can't say I've seen a percentage change in the number of clueless dolts. They fortunately remain few and far between.
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Old 07-12-20, 02:14 PM
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No its the same for me. Have I had idiots in cages come by too close when they had room or yell their stupidity out windows???? Yes. But it has been very few times in 20 years of riding.

I ride routes that are in the country and while you can get hit or injured anywhere, I try to wear very bright jerseys and I utilize a Vya blinking taillight which is very visible.

You take a chance each time you go out.......honestly without making this a religion post, I pray to God before I go out and pray along my route for Him to keep me safe. I will not leave this earth until God is ready for me and I have that going for me.
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Old 07-12-20, 02:31 PM
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I’ve been a roadie since I was a teenager in the mid1970s and I don’t see that changing. I did buy a MTB not too long ago and do some gravel and XC rides but am not into single track technical stuff. I like the gravel, especially since they’re usually big groups and have a real social aspect to them but they can’t replace the sensation of riding a quality road bike on a good road.

To the OP’s point though, the fact that Pcad was killed while cycling has hit home. My routes tend to have good lanes and be popular enough with the cycling community that drivers are pretty aware. I’ve been hit three times in all of those years and none were serious. My one time getting hit on a motorcycle was very different but also a completely different situation. It only takes one bad driver and we’ve had that fact forced upon us whether we’ve thought about it much before or not.
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Old 07-12-20, 08:11 PM
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For me, the vast majority of drivers have been kind, aware, and courteous. And that group of redneck harassers is sort of a fixed percentage of anti-social sad sacks. Part of me wants to stoop to using the word 'Karen,' but I should try harder (and that's overly sexist): I've seen a noticeable mushrooming of uncaring, careless drivers. And that scares me.

genejockey - I am also noticing that many newer riders don't seem minimally capable of - wait for it - steering a bike! I ... I don't even. How can one not steer? How is it even possible? I don't mean "they're shaky on descents," I mean they are going 8mph on a MUP and can. not. keep. in. their. lane.

I'm super happy to see people pick up the activity, and we all have to learn, so I work with it. I'm just basically shocked.

I've had a few tough spills on a bike (blowout on a 30mph descent; hit by an old lady rolling through a stop sign; stroller pushed in front of me at 28mph forcing me into a ditch), but somehow these days I feel much less safe on the country roads that used to feel like home.
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Old 07-12-20, 08:56 PM
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I know, right? I saw one guy today who could barely keep himself in a ginormous wide bike lane - it's at least 6 feet wide! and was wandering all over it. It's possible he'd never been on a bike before, and was overcorrecting like mad, but this road is still open to cars and the speed limit is 50. If he's really so new to it, pedaling around the neighborhood is probably safer AND he wouldn't be making other riders go halfway across the traffic lane to pass him.

The other thing, for all you folks out there who have a bit more experience - if there are a lot of other cyclists around, especially passing you, don't hug the fog line if there's a wide bike lane! I'm trying to keep my distance and you're making me ride smack in the middle of the traffic lane!
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Old 07-13-20, 07:20 PM
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I began cycling as a mountain biker, but this year I've only been on a handful of mountain bike rides. The pandemic has caused a massive uptick in trail users and I'm far too much of an introvert to want to deal with it. So I've turned to road riding and riding my mountain bike on double track. Interestingly, I feel more isolated riding in traffic than I do while passing the various hikers and bikers on the trails. It is far easier for me to zone out and focus on myself.

I wouldn't say that I've noticed more or less idiots driving, just the same people trying to remember how to drive around someone riding a bike. When I'm on my road bike, I assume that I am invisible and I ride that way unless a situation (like a roundabout) occurs, in which case I try to be a car and use the whole lane.
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Old 07-14-20, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Danhedonia View Post
Not a frequent poster, and saw the horrible post about Peter Cotsis/PCAD's death. It hit home hugely, because after 40+ years of off/on road cycling, I've become frightened lately. I'd like to hear from others.

I bike a small number of "milk horse" routes in the greater Albuquerque area. By far my favorite route is the (lovely, scenic) MUP. I like it because there is no traffic. ABQ is fairly bike-friendly, and there are bike lanes and a reasonable 'general understanding' among the local drivers. There are, of course, always exceptions, and New Mexico has some grim stats on bike fatalities.

Recently I've had a couple of incidents on established routes that made me frightened. Both cases were cars passing too close. Not the purposeful, "Ah'm gon' show this cyclist" crap, but just oblivious to the need to provide 3-5 feet clearance (state law AND clearly posted on multiple signs on the roads in question).

Somehow, I feel like the category of "oblivious" drivers (not just those texting on their phones) has increased. Or perhaps I'm just getting old and nervous, I've no idea.

Would anyone else like to share their thoughts?
changes over what period? Since COVID I’ve been solo riding, and I seem to experience at least one “close shave” incident every ride these days, certainly more than I recall from routine solo riding years ago. I don’t think these encounters are malicious - more of the “don’t give a crap“ variety. It hasn’t deterred me from riding, but it definitely dampens enthusiasm somewhat
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Old 07-14-20, 09:08 AM
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Changes since 2016-17. There was a mini-boom on 'cute' real estate, a lot of people moved into a small area, and have brought with them some really unpleasant driving habits. (I once drove a taxi in Boston, I know the problem as I once was the problem).

Emblematic moment: For decades, the town had a sign at the top end of the main street that said "Slow down and see our town. Speed up and see our judge." It was removed in 2018.
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Old 07-14-20, 09:49 AM
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I've noticed it seems like higher speeds. The police aren't stopping as many cars because of the virus and it seems like everyone took advantage to speed up. Just my feeling on the subject, no scientific analysis.
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Old 07-14-20, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Gundo View Post
I've noticed it seems like higher speeds. The police aren't stopping as many cars because of the virus and it seems like everyone took advantage to speed up. Just my feeling on the subject, no scientific analysis.
Which is funny, because on the freeway, I've slowed down a bit because there are a lot fewer other cars right now. I feel exposed. And I'm slower on the secondary roads precisely because I'm aware just how many more cyclists there are.
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