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Riding in the 'Burbs

Old 10-15-07, 08:43 PM
  #1  
dijos
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Riding in the 'Burbs

Please note: the following comments are not meant to be inflammatory, but I am afraid that they're going to start something. This is not my intent.


I live in a smallish city, which is fairly suburban. I enjoy riding, but I have noticed that there is a huge difference between riding in the burbulars and riding in what one poster called a "real city". first, speed limits. I've been to LA, and went to the Art Students League of NY, and I call New Orleans my real home. I have lived in bigger cities than I do now.
I watch the MASH videos, or the NYC Alleycat videos, and I think that man, there's so much congestion, but everybody's driving so slow. The street one block down from my house has a 45 MPH limit, and cars are often doing 60. It's 6 lanes plus. I have to cross this street nearly every time I ride anywhere. This type of speed is not unusual at all.
Second, it seems that peds and cars will sometimes actually stop for you. This does not happen here. if you pulled out in front of a car, esp. that had the right of way, they would totally run you down. could be from the soccer mom on the cell, could be from blind old people, could be from stupid tuner drivers, it doesn't matter. Sometimes, I've practically been chased down. Other times, I've had drivers back up to confront me. Luckily, I've managed to avoid fights or get intentionally run down.
Third, Fixed seems like a real limitation when a short jaunt is 5 miles each way. I've read a lot of posts joking about riding down the street to the bar, and 5 or 6 miles in a city can take you to what is effectively the other end of the earth, so do folks really ride short short distances?

Any other people have similar experiences in the burbs vs. riding in the city?
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Old 10-15-07, 08:47 PM
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I live in a big city and I ride 5.5 miles each way for work on a brakeless fixed gear, and yes I will also ride 1 block to 7-11 because I'll use any excuse I can to get my bike on the street
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Old 10-15-07, 08:47 PM
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I guess this is on topic- I've noticed some of the least observant drivers
are those exiting their own driveways (this would be in the burbs)
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Old 10-15-07, 08:54 PM
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Yeah I live in one suburban part of New Orleans [westbank] and the drivers are not as observant and forgiving as in the city. One reason could be that in the suburbs, people are normally going somewhere like the store or work and they want to get there fast. Traffic is going much faster in the suburbs than the city. I'd take the city over the suburbs any day.
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Old 10-15-07, 08:55 PM
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i don't have too much experince riding in the burbs, since i live just outside of downtown, but from what i've done it's been scary. no one really expects bikes to be out on the road. downtown though, everyone knows bikes are everywhere, so they just deal with it.

i ride my bike everywhere since it's my only mode of transport. be it a trip to the store up the block, or across town to visit friends. i haven't found it to be a limitation at all, but i develop a better rhythm on longer rides.
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Old 10-15-07, 09:12 PM
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Hah, the only problem in my burbs are the hills, Baltimore Pike cools down at about 10 and I can be seen riding the turning lane with a grin on my face.

Occaisionally I get ******* suburbian drivers who want to get at me about safety and how they think they have the right of way though. I had a dude who threatened to run me down because I used a turning lane to *gasp* turn!
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Old 10-15-07, 09:25 PM
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I get honked at more on the .25 mile ride between my apartment and class everyday than I ever did on any given stretch of a 15 mile alleycat.

Peoria, Illinois can suck my giant penis.
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Old 10-15-07, 09:29 PM
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some burbs are nice: mups and big bike lanes

others are death traps

except for leisure rides in the country i prefer the city with slower traffic so i can have the lane
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Old 10-15-07, 09:34 PM
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when i'm visiting home i ride in the 'burbs.
it's not so bad for me as my grandmother lives about two miles from valley forge national park, and the schulkyll river bike trail. i generally drive my car to get places in the 'burbs though. too much long-distance driving on highways and up huge, long hills to make it feasible.
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Old 10-15-07, 09:41 PM
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Old 10-15-07, 09:50 PM
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When I lived in Madison, I always had uglier confrontations with drivers out on the west side than I did downtown. Also, the country road bike accidents that I know about more often end fatally than those in the city.
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Old 10-15-07, 10:03 PM
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I'm from Long Island. 4 lane roads with minimal shoulder dont make for a very bike friendly atmosphere. Not many bike lanes. Having to go around parked cars is especially scary with the chance of having someone behind you doing 60 or 70 in a 40 zone. I always felt alot safer when I crossed the border into Queens.
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Old 10-15-07, 10:21 PM
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Dijos, I think you would really enjoy the book Suburban Nation. It explains what you are talking about.
-High-density areas with narrow streets, slower speeds vs. wider streets, faster speeds. I driver will drive at a speed they feel comfortable at. Dense street like NYC or Boston will make a person drive slower because they have less room for error... parked cars, jaywalkers coming from between those cars.
-There is a difference between old cities and planned cities. The northeast has a lot of messed up roads. The roads in Boston were literally created by cow paths in the 1600's and still exist as roads today with the same names. The first planned city was in savannah, ga with grid streets in the 1730's, followed by NYC. You can see this in boston when you compare downtown to the back bay. Those streets were planned and made in a grid similar to most cities now. This has evolved into a cluster**** of huge grids of one use land pieces rather than mixed use. So when one grid of land is assigned to residential, it gets made into cul-de-sac hell which will typically only have one entrance/exit. You then have to travel more than you should to get to a grocery store which may only be [as the crow flies] a hundred yards away, but you really have to travel like a half-mile or mile to get to it, because its in an area zoned specifically for retail/business. This grid designed are mistakenly thought to be efficient and straight forward, but I disagree for many reasons. I will stop this point here. not really a point.
-Intersection. Intersections of grid cities/town tend to have multi-lanes and wide turns so a car will not have to slow down to take those pesky turns. This are thought to be safe intersections, but the wider the turns, you almost double the distance it takes for a pedestrian to cross the street, creating more of a danger to them because a car is going to most likely not have ample time to stop. The safest intersections surprisingly are the confusing ones or in a high-density area because people are more likely going to drive slower for fear of an accident. If an accident does happen, the low speeds will make it at least a little bit better.
-Mathletics, a bicycle in Mass is considered a vehicle, not a motor vehicle. So when you get stopped by a cop while drunk on a bike, the laws are written specifically for motor vehicles, so remember that.

This isn't a rant or anything, I just hope this is somewhat clear, but check out that book because it will explain A LOT. I didn't major in geo/urban planning, its an interest.
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Old 10-15-07, 11:04 PM
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honestly, you have no idea how much i identify with you.
but its fairly obvious why there is such a difference.
the drivers in the large, urban centers are incredibly used to and/or wary of cyclists and pedestrians.
incredibly more so than the drivers in suburban areas. They have no idea of cyclists' rights to the road and don't understand it when cyclists happen to be taking up a lane instead of cruising along the sidewalk. They feel as if they have full ownership of the road and/or do not respect cyclists who take advantage of their rights to the road.

watch out. i often think that suburban areas are way more dangerous than large
cities all because of driver ignorance.
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Old 10-15-07, 11:37 PM
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I ride across 70% of the salt lake valley during my commute and I have made some grossly oversimplified observations. The downtown district is fairly easy to navigate, but you have to stay on your toes to stay out of trouble. Drivers in lower income areas are ok other than the occasional car full of thugs and the roads are not as well maintained. Industrial areas suck because of all the debris in the roadway and take a beating from all the big trucks. Commercial areas with lots of parking lots and stuff are nutty. Suburbia with it's high speed roads AND strip malls full of parking lots are the absolute worst. The neighborhoods between downtown and full blown suburbia that aren't bullet dodger neighborhoods are the best.
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Old 10-15-07, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Hobartlemagne View Post
I guess this is on topic- I've noticed some of the least observant drivers
are those exiting their own driveways (this would be in the burbs)

+10 on this, i get scared every time i see someone backing out of their driveway.
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Old 10-16-07, 12:23 AM
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Likewise, I feel a hell of a lot better biking downtown or inner city than I do around the suburbs or edge of the city limits. You have to be all the way out to the side of the road and the drivers don't expect to see you there, or know how to handle you. The advantages of a fixed gear disappear when cars are doing high speeds in my opinion.
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Old 10-16-07, 12:47 AM
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if anyone's ever been to greensboro nc you know it's NOT a big city, but there is a 'downtown' and the rest is suburban.

if i want to go downtown(which i do semi-often, not regularly), it's 8 miles one way. fixed is a limitation but it's also a choice that's easy to live with... you don't coast and keep your speed constant and that's about the extent of it.


is it more dangerous? i'd say it depends entirely on your riding style. are people more negligent with their speed? possibly. does it take as much skill when there's not as much congestion? no. i think it takes less skill but your decisions are probably a little bit more important, because people feel like they can hit and run without anyone seeing or caring and they feel like everyone drives cars so bikes should stay out of the road.

downtown, this isn't the case. people are more sensible.

however, like in any place, the biggest factor is the amount of infrastructure planning. in huge sprawl, it's like training for a marathon to go anywhere. in a small town suburban environment, you'll probably be okay. any place like southern florida, DC burbs, some sprawling NE burbs, and socal, and it's going to be a long ride whenever you go anywhere that isn't the corner store/strip mall/friend's house down the street. in a slightly more controlled small town burb, you'll probably be in for a medium length ride but no longer than ten minutes or so, unless you want to go to the other end of the city.

so yes, i think there's things to be said about motorists and danger and ride style in each of these places, but i think as with anything it matters more what kind of infrastructure planning there was more than just density or urban/suburban distinctions.
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Old 10-16-07, 01:46 AM
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Downtown > Suburbs....not even just for cycling, everything is better downtown....The suburbs get the big gas face.....the only advantage the suburbs might have over the city is that you dont have to worry about Igor and his army of crackheads stealing your bike, although such an advantage is negated by bad drivers and ****** bag cookie cutter wanna be millionaires....rant over.
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Old 10-16-07, 02:00 AM
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that whole crackhead thing is pretty huge for people who can deal with suburb life.
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Old 10-16-07, 02:12 AM
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Seems like people in the burbs wouldn't be quite so used to driving next to people on a bike as they are in the city and are more often going to be a dick because 'what right does a bike have to be on the road?'
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Old 10-16-07, 02:28 AM
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zactly.
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Old 10-16-07, 07:59 AM
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High-traffic areas of the 'burbs suck, because nobody's used to seeing bikes there, and they either freak out or give you no room whatsoever.

Low-traffic (back roads) are great because everybody gives you tons of room and they are used to seeing roadies there anyways.

Every time I visit NYC, I end up putting in at least 40 miles during the day. Granted, NYC is bigger landwise than a lot of cities, what with the bridges and all, but 5 miles doesn't take you from one end of the earth to the other. It only gets you half-way up Manhattan.
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Old 10-16-07, 08:41 AM
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I frequently ride 1 or 2 blocks in the city. With lots of little errands to do (and coffees to fit in between), not walking saves tons of time in a day. The few times I've biked real distances in the 'burbs (ie. not sticking to the quiet residential streets) it's felt kind of oppressive. I'd get descriptive here, but I think it's clear enough.

And, in Montreal, bikes leaned up against restaurants or coffee shops can be quite safe. It depends on the area, but this makes it more appealing to take a bike to go 2 blocks.

But 'burbs would have a lot going for them if it wasn't for their usual inhabitants. Man, I've got to get a yard in the city--BBQ and outdoor tabletennis for the win.

Last edited by bexley; 10-16-07 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 10-16-07, 09:06 AM
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Originally Posted by cc700 View Post
that whole crackhead thing is pretty huge for people who can deal with suburb life.
That's why we live in the burbs. My wife is from a small town and she can't deal with crackheads, hommies and gangstas. The fact that I was working in the burbs when we bought our house didn't help my case for living close to downtown. Now my life sucks cause I work 20 miles from home and I have to ride 15 miles to go to an alley cat or hang out with my bikey friends and then ride 15 miles to get home at 3am after a night of drinking.
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