Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Newbie traffic terror

Old 02-04-09, 08:11 AM
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Newbie traffic terror

I live off a narrow two-lane road that has a 45mph speed limit. People speed, too. I'm terrified to try and share the road, given the narrowness of it... Any suggestions?
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Old 02-04-09, 08:13 AM
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is there a shoulder?
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Old 02-04-09, 08:18 AM
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If you're uncomfortable, and don't have room on the side, then take the lane and plan your routes to get to a safer road. You need a wider lane or a shoulder to spend much time on a road like that.

When you're in those situations, stay calm and relax your upper body. Hold your position, and be predictable. If an obstacle is coming up, very gradually move out to get around it -- don't do it in the last second.

Statistically, very few bike/car collisions happen with the car overtaking the bike (barring intersections/turn lanes). The overwhelming majority of the danger is at intersections, so if you manage what's going on there, you'll be fine.
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Old 02-04-09, 08:22 AM
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I live on a road like that. 3 foot deep trenches on either side instead of a shoulder. I just try to maintain awareness, let them see me, and turn off my road at the earliest possible time.
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Old 02-04-09, 08:24 AM
  #5  
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Hi viz. Get a high visibility yellow vest or jacket like this



put reflective tape on your bike, get lots of blinkies and run them even in daylight. If they see you, they won't hit you.

Also, be as courteous as possible under the conditions. If there is oncoming traffic, take the lane to take away the temptation to pass you. But once the oncoming traffic is clear, move to the right and wave the cars around you. Accept that teenaged boys will yell at you and ignore it.
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Old 02-04-09, 08:28 AM
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when I started I was terrified of the main roads too. I would say do not HTFU. Avoid the scary roads and first get comfortable riding with cars on slower roads. As you get used to the cars being around, you will gain the confidence to go on the scarier roads and then they will seem less scary. Only when you feel relaxed can you be predictable, and hold the lane and the other good suggestions mentioned earlier.
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Old 02-04-09, 08:34 AM
  #7  
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Try these books on how to cycle with traffic.

Cyclecraft - http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/

Effective Cycling - http://www.johnforester.com/
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Don't run red lights, wear a helmet, use hand signals, get some cycle lights(front and rear) and, FFS, don't run red lights!
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Old 02-04-09, 10:20 AM
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if it's really busy, i really want the traffic behind to see me. i put my wheels, where the cars would put their passenger side wheels. i take up a significant bit of the lane, but not enough to make it overly difficult for cars to overtake. i also ride predictably and straight.
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Old 02-04-09, 10:51 AM
  #9  
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Newbie traffic terror is not to be underestimated, and is a legit fear that you will gradually overcome with good experience and knowledge. I definitely do not agree with "HTFU" - you will just end up riding roads that are not good for cyclists, with hi-speed traffic, at the lowest point of your riding abilities, and that will be enough to scare you off cycling permanently. (This unfortunately likely happens to many new bike commuters who pick suboptimal routes during rush hour - and then we wonder why they permanently quit cycling, even on MUP bike-friendly routes.)

I strongly recommend looking for a newbie group to ride with, usually on weekend mornings. Explore new routes with them, and you'll get a much better sense of safety and route selection. You can discuss your particular route needs with the experienced more senior members as well - they'll give you great advice. This is how I started riding more seriously, and how I discovered that most of the original paths I had in mind were far, far, inferior to the great roads selected by experienced groups.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:06 AM
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Screw HTFU.
Your fear is justified and I would take agarose2000's advice.
Also, search out any alternate routes (if they exist).
I can handle 45 mph roads but they tend to have more than 2 lanes. Though my favorite training route is on a 40mph+ two lane road but I have been riding for a few years.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:28 AM
  #11  
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screw fear. fear is the mindkiller

1) get a dinotte 140L tail light

2) ride lots
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Old 02-04-09, 11:30 AM
  #12  
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How do you HTFU against a car? That hackneyed phrase just doesn't work here.

To the original post: It takes a certain amount of blind faith to ride on any road.

As stated above, don't hug the edge of the pavement because you're giving cars permission the "thread the needle". Be mindful of
... blind curves where they can't see you until they're on top of you.
... oncoming cars and where they'll meet overtaking cars.
... bad road surfaces that force you out into the lane.

And just remember that a car that misses you by inches still misses you.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:39 AM
  #13  
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Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
screw fear. fear is the mindkiller

1) get a dinotte 140L tail light

2) ride lots

Nah. Get the new 400L tail light. Wheeee!
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Old 02-04-09, 11:50 AM
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No shoulder. Just grass right up to the edge of the lanes. It really sucks.

The only solution I can figure out is to ride through my subdivision to the north entrance and then walk the hundred yards to the intersection, where there's a bike lane on the crossing road. Alternatively I could walk the bike across the grass half a block to the south, where there's a bike/walk path. It's just my stretch of road that has no provisions for bikers. Grrr.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:51 AM
  #15  
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I agree that bright colored clothing and a flashing tail light can greatly improve your safety on narrow or dark roads.

Also learn to ride in a straight line a couple of feet from the right edge of the road. Hugging the right edge forces you to swerve closer to traffic if there is debris or potholes along the edge.
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Old 02-04-09, 11:54 AM
  #16  
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
If you're uncomfortable, and don't have room on the side, then take the lane and plan your routes to get to a safer road. You need a wider lane or a shoulder to spend much time on a road like that.

When you're in those situations, stay calm and relax your upper body. Hold your position, and be predictable. If an obstacle is coming up, very gradually move out to get around it -- don't do it in the last second.

Statistically, very few bike/car collisions happen with the car overtaking the bike (barring intersections/turn lanes). The overwhelming majority of the danger is at intersections, so if you manage what's going on there, you'll be fine.

That may well be true. Just like with flying small aircraft, statistically mid-air collisions account for very few fatalities. Still, the thought of being run over from behind instills a fear that's perhaps out of proportion to the risk. I think that may be because we have less control over that risk.

I wear a helmet mounted mirror. Might be "Fred", but it at least may give me a chance of seeing the car drifting towards me (as the driver fiddles with the stereo or puts on make-up). I figure the ditch, even a fence, would be better than being nailed from behind.

The good news, at least here in NV where, is that vehicles generally give bicycles a wide berth, pulling way over into the opposite lane if there's no oncoming traffic. If there is oncoming traffic, I've had cars almost stop behind me and wait until it's clear to go around so as not to squeeze through or come too close to me. That, when I'm on the shoulder and there's enough room for them if they chose to come within a couple of feet of the bike.

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Old 02-04-09, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by 3jane View Post
No shoulder. Just grass right up to the edge of the lanes. It really sucks.

The only solution I can figure out is to ride through my subdivision to the north entrance and then walk the hundred yards to the intersection, where there's a bike lane on the crossing road. Alternatively I could walk the bike across the grass half a block to the south, where there's a bike/walk path. It's just my stretch of road that has no provisions for bikers. Grrr.
If you have to walk these stretches, I suggest you walk until you gain the confidence later on to ride it. Don't ride it feeling scared. First few weeks on the bike I tended to get off and walk across major junctions with the pedestrians. Being scared and trying to clip in with fast traffic around is not a good combination.

As to lane position, keep a good distance away from the curb almost as far out as where parked cars would be. This way overtaking cars have to consider their own safety with oncoming cars in the other lane they have to go into before attempting to overtake. If you keep too close to the curb they will try to squeeze past you in the same lane thinking it is safe, but only safe for them not you.
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Old 02-04-09, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by 3jane View Post
No shoulder. Just grass right up to the edge of the lanes. It really sucks.

The only solution I can figure out is to ride through my subdivision to the north entrance and then walk the hundred yards to the intersection, where there's a bike lane on the crossing road. Alternatively I could walk the bike across the grass half a block to the south, where there's a bike/walk path. It's just my stretch of road that has no provisions for bikers. Grrr.
Where are you and how often would cars be passing you?
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Old 02-04-09, 02:50 PM
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Originally Posted by 3jane View Post
No shoulder. Just grass right up to the edge of the lanes. It really sucks.

The only solution I can figure out is to ride through my subdivision to the north entrance and then walk the hundred yards to the intersection, where there's a bike lane on the crossing road. Alternatively I could walk the bike across the grass half a block to the south, where there's a bike/walk path. It's just my stretch of road that has no provisions for bikers. Grrr.
Yes, do one of those. 50+ MPH on a single lane with no shoulder is a recipe for the emergency room.
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Old 02-04-09, 02:54 PM
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Any trails in driving distance? Check around at your LBS they may have good routes used by many cyclists in their area. No one said you had to ride your bike only on the road in front of your house .
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Old 02-04-09, 03:50 PM
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Lots of good advice but I found that cagers give a wide berth ONLY WHEN IT"S AVAILABLE for them to do so. Otherwise, that cager mentality takes over and they are more willing to risk hitting you than slowing down or inconveniencing themselves.

The one time I got HIT, it was because the car in the left lane was making a turn and the cager behind him miscalculated as he darted to the right and clipped me from behind. (and of course didn't bother to stop and check the road kill)

Use a blinking red light, and WHEN IN A NARROW LANE, take up enough lane so that a car cannot try and SQUEEZE between you and another car.
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Old 02-04-09, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by 127.0.0.1 View Post
screw fear. fear is the mindkiller

1) get a dinotte 140L tail light

2) ride lots
3) get a rearview mirror, prefeably eyeglass or helmet mounted because iMO, they are more easy to visualize the rear.

Jim's Law of the Road: No matter how lightly traveled and/or well-paved a road is, a car will likely pass you on the left as you encounter an obstacle on the right.
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Old 02-04-09, 05:38 PM
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Wear bright green, use a rear blinkie, get over as far right as you can safely, and hold your line.
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Old 02-04-09, 06:17 PM
  #24  
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cars kill cyclists. it happens.
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Old 02-04-09, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post
If you're uncomfortable, and don't have room on the side, then take the lane and plan your routes to get to a safer road. You need a wider lane or a shoulder to spend much time on a road like that.

When you're in those situations, stay calm and relax your upper body. Hold your position, and be predictable. If an obstacle is coming up, very gradually move out to get around it -- don't do it in the last second.

Statistically, very few bike/car collisions happen with the car overtaking the bike (barring intersections/turn lanes). The overwhelming majority of the danger is at intersections, so if you manage what's going on there, you'll be fine.
+1

Waterrockets is right, however, that statistically what you're describing is much "safer" than many many other environments. Thus getting your comfort level up is absolutely key. Do whatever it takes--and there are lots of good suggestions here: lights, hi viz, mirrors, etc.--for you to feel safe. HTFU is harsh, but in a less ******* way that's kinda what it's about.

I'm never 100% comfortable when I'm riding on stretches like that. But I just stay relaxed, stay visible, and ride predictably.
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