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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Posts
    3

    A hello and question in one

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    Hi everyone,

    I've been lurking around this board for some time now and I thought I'd introduce myself. It's been great reading all the posts - very inspiring! I'm new to riding, a college student, and currently living in southeast Michigan. My baby is a Giant OCR 1 (WSD) and I've been riding about 100-120 miles a week. Mostly I ride with my boyfriend who got me into this cycling thing after I found out that my sport of choice (cross country skiing) isn't as available here as it was in my home state of Minnesota.

    My question is about my fear of cars. Once I get out of town, I'm riding on 2 lane roads with a speed limit around 50 MPH. There's usually a small paved shoulder to the right of the white line. I tend to stay to the right of that line out of fear and recognition that most drivers will think that I *should* be on the shoulder and thus will not move over for me. This part is often pretty gravelly and pot-holey, too. Part of me thinks I should be more assertive and make my presence known by staying on the far right side of the lane (but still to the left of the line) and *make* the drivers move over/slow down for me. However, I also don't want to get hit. It makes me nervous to ride by myself (my reasoning:it's easier to see two cyclists than one). But, sometimes I just have to ditch the boyfriend and ride solo! Do any of you have suggestions on how to deal with cars?

    Thanks for reading this!

    ~Allison

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Sweetwater, Texas
    Posts
    171
    You know, I wish I had some words of advice. The hardest thing for me when I went from mountain biking to road cycling was traffic. It scared me so badly that I rode my new bike 23 miles and put it up for a year! Some of the prettiest roads we could ride on are the most dangerous for us as they are so narrow with a speed limit of 70 mph and the people around here act like they've never seen a cyclist....even when they pass us they act like they didn't see us. I never assume they do, either. We always wear very bright, loud jerseys, in hopes that that helps. I've only had one near hit. What we have ended up using is the interstate access road, because oddly enough, it is rarely traveled. We always ride with the traffic and not against. I am hard of hearing so it is very unnerving for me to have a vehicle fly past me from behind that I didn't know was coming, ever now and then one will slip up on us. For the most part, when cars come up past us they will pull into the other lane, but there is always that odd one that a)didn't see us or b)doesn't think cyclists should share the road.

    I don't think it will ever be safe, but I have gotten to the point where I do the best I can safety wise and just say to heck with it and ride anyways. As my Dad would say, "Suck it up and do it anyway!" (Thanks Dad! )

    One lady I know who cycles in our area can't figure out why we would choose the interstate access road over circling the lake. The lake road is pretty but winding, hilly, and loads of trees. In a car you can't see what is around each bend, so it would be very easy to be up and over a cyclist before you knew they were there.

    Not that any of this is helpful to you, just know that many of us here have felt and do feel your fear.

    And welcome to the board! I've learned a ton of stuff here and love the people who post.
    Ever notice that 'what the hell' always seems to be the best decision?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    3,099
    Welcome to the board Quail! do you have a mirror? type the word Mirror in the search box and you'll find some threads regarding their use and the different types. It might help you some if you can see the cars coming behind you. I rode on the shoulder of a state highway a few weeks ago and was glad I did because it helped me to overcome my fear of being on the road......not my caution, but my fear. I just keep telling myself to be sure and hold my line, not make any sudden moves that the drivers can't anticpate and - as someone here suggested - use hand signals for any moves I may make ie: a storm drain ahead I just signal I'm moving slightly left so the driver knows I'm going to move over in the lane some, or when I reach a turn lane but I want to go straight, I signal that I'm staying in the thru lane so the cars know what I"m doing. I gotta tell ya, NM has the Worst drivers of any state I've ever lived or driven in but they tend to behave very well with cyclists. I would suggest you stay to the left of the line but as far right as possible, it sounds like the right of the line is just too messy for a bike which could result in more troubles than the cars!

    PS: is you get a chance, there's a thread under the open forum entitled "getting to know you", tells you about us and - if you're so inclined - tell us about you!!
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: "Yeah Baby! What a Ride!"

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    North Andover, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    1,643
    Allison -
    Welcome!

    In my experience, if you're in the driving lane (to the left of the line), the drivers should realize that they need to pull around you. If you're in the nasty shoulder area they won't, and may pass closer than they should. In addition, that somewhat paved area (with holes and debris) is not the ideal surface for riding. That said, there are roads with a wide paved shoulder where it makes sense to ride on the shoulder. I live in the Boston area, and most of the roads that I ride are two lanes and very narrow. I ride to the right side, but in the driving lane, and I find that most drivers treat me with respect. Based on my road experience, I think your thought "Part of me thinks I should be more assertive and make my presence known by staying on the far right side of the lane (but still to the left of the line) and *make* the drivers move over/slow down for me." makes sense and is the best approach. Also - you should always signal your intended direction changes, and stop at lights & stop signs. I've found in many cases that if I signal my turns and stop that drivers will often stop and let me through.

    It's funny - I was on a supported tour a long time ago, and some of the other riders were complaining about the drivers. I had just ridden that same stretch of road and at about the same time - so the same set of cars / drivers had passed all of us. I had no problems with the drivers. I think it may be because I acted like I belonged in the road...

    In case you're interested, the vehicle code in all 50 states treats bicycles as vehicles. Here's a link for laws pertaining to bicyclists in all states and many of the provinces in Canada: http://www.massbike.org/bikelaw/bikelaw.htm

    --- Denise
    www.denisegoldberg.com

    • Click here for links to journals and photo galleries from my travels on two wheels and two feet.
    • Random thoughts and experiences in my blog at denisegoldberg.blogspot.com


    "To truly find yourself you should play hide and seek alone."
    (quote courtesy of an unknown fortune cookie writer)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    217

    Hello from Michigan

    Hi Allison.
    It is always good to see another Michigan biker on the forum. It is always unnerving riding in traffic. Left turns are especially hard for me. I sometimes whimp out and get off the bike and cross the road like a pedestrian for those! I find that a mirror is a must for me when I ride. It makes me more confident to be able to see what is coming from behind. I have the Take -a-Look one that fits on my sunglasses.
    I'm sure you read the news today about the biker up our way that was killed by a motorist last night while riding in the passing lane of the I475 express way. A tragedy for sure, but I can't imagin what the biker was doing on that road, in that lane and after dark.
    All any of us can do is be as careful as possible, wear our helmets, bright colors, and make our intentions as clear as possible to drivers. If all else fails, we are very lucky in Michigan to have some great paved rail trails.
    Ride safe,
    Sandy
    "It's not how old you are, it's how you are old."
    SandyLS TeamTE BIANCHISTA

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Spokane, WA
    Posts
    818

    Traffic Issues

    I do most all of my riding on city streets. My daily ride includes everything from the State Hwy to quiet residencial streets. My mirror is my best friend! I tend to stay just to the left of the line but always try, if possible, to move over when a car is coming from behind. I also choose my routes with care and avoid roads with little or no shoulder. I generally ride alone and prefer that to riding with another person. I recently attatched a flashing red light to the back of my bike rack and hope that helps with being more visible. bikerHen

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Posts
    3
    Thank you! This is some great advice!. I knew this place was awesome.

    I think I will look into the mirror which some of you suggested, and make myself get a little over that white line. Of course, caution and safety are always the most important (I'm not going to win any chicken games here) but being consistently in the lane is probably safer overall than riding crazy-like on the shoulder. Every time I ride I get a little more confident that not all drivers are horrible and out to get me. Every nice person who lets me make a left turn makes up for a gravel truck that blew me off the road...right?

    Thanks again!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Spokane, WA
    Posts
    818
    Quote Originally Posted by Quail
    Every time I ride I get a little more confident that not all drivers are horrible and out to get me. Every nice person who lets me make a left turn makes up for a gravel truck that blew me off the road...right?
    I always try to wave or nod a thank you to drivers who make the effort to stop and/or wait for me to pass. I want them to continue to be nice to cyclists. I won't say what I do/yell at the ones who cut me off! bikerHen

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Dallas, TX
    Posts
    2,716
    Quote Originally Posted by Quail
    Thank you! This is some great advice!. I knew this place was awesome.

    I think I will look into the mirror which some of you suggested, and make myself get a little over that white line. Of course, caution and safety are always the most important (I'm not going to win any chicken games here) but being consistently in the lane is probably safer overall than riding crazy-like on the shoulder. Every time I ride I get a little more confident that not all drivers are horrible and out to get me. Every nice person who lets me make a left turn makes up for a gravel truck that blew me off the road...right?

    Thanks again!
    I may have read what you wrote wrong... but are you saying that opt to ride on a really dangerous part of the road (potholes, gravel, etc... dangerous for a bike with skinny tires)... in order to get out of the cars way?

    What comes to my mind is this... if you slip on that gravel... and a car is passing... you will be hit if you fall into the lane of traffic.

    You are putting yourself in a potentionally (? spelling) dangerous situation by riding on a portion of the road that may cause you to fall.

    Ride where it is safe, while giving the car room to pass on the left side of you. If they hit you, the *hope* at that point, is that you will fall off of the road into the sholder (? spelling).

    Now, here are the rules that I learned:

    1) When you are on a road that is more than 1 lane... hold your ground in the right hand lane. DO NOT ride close to the side, because cars will try to pass you in your lane, which is very dangerous. Instead, hold your place and make them pass in the left lane, because they have one!

    2) When you are on a 1 lane road... go as far over the right (that is safe), and allow the car the ability to pass you on your left.


    Finally... this is for EVERYONE... and something I learned from a friend many years ago... if you are going to ride alone... HAVE ID ON YOU! I will even go as far to say to have your insurance card on you as well.

    My friend fell on a road... he was knocked out... and if hadn't had ID on him, it would have been a bit until someone figured out who he was and who to call.

    Think about it... IF you were to get knocked out while riding alone... will someone know who to call.... or if you have insurance?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Spokane, WA
    Posts
    818

    Loaded with ID

    Quote Originally Posted by KSH
    Think about it... IF you were to get knocked out while riding alone... will someone know who to call.... or if you have insurance?
    I always have ID, cell phone, money etc... I think my DH would also have me microchiped with a GPS finder if he could. I always let someone know my route for that day and DH calls if I don't call him when I get home or to work. It's nice to be worried about. bikerHen

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Posts
    8
    Here is something I observed this week.

    I have only been riding for about 4 months and I do ride on a busy highway.

    I have my mirror on my helmit and I always wear bright colors.

    And I always slink as far off the road as I can.

    I am always trying to stay as far to the right as possible even when the gravel makes it dangerous. I think, "I don't belong out here. Everyone knows it and I need to make way for the people in cars who do belong out here"...

    In my head I thought this was perfectly rational behavior.

    And then yesterday...two bikers....who looked like they belonged on the road...racing bikes, matching outfits, passed me and waved hello.

    I watched them ahead of me as we rode up a rather steep hill and you know what....they did exactly what the previous writer stated...they rode with confidence...when a car came zipping up behind them they stood their ground. They weren't cocky or unsafe they just didn't shrink over to the side and you know what...the car that had just dangerously passed me on a curve slowed down and didn't attempt to pass them.

    Glad I went riding yesterday. Imagine what I will learn tomorrow.
    Last edited by sisu_concepts; 05-18-2005 at 11:21 PM.
    Sisu is the finnish philosophy that what must be done will be done-regardless of what it takes,
    a special strength and persistent determination and resolve to continue and overcome in the moment of adversity, an almost magical quality, a combination of stamina, perseverance, courage, and determination held in reserve for hard times.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Earth- Littleton, Colorado
    Posts
    278

    Effective Cycling: 6th Edition By John Forester

    This book is very good at giving instructions and confidence for many issues of the road and dealing with traffic. Best part of book! Referred and ought it for this same reason. Traffic and communicating with those in cars....
    Holistic Health Coach and Licensed Massage Therapist
    http://mandalatree.healthcoach.integ...nutrition.com/

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    North Andover, Massachusetts USA
    Posts
    1,643
    Quote Originally Posted by KSH
    Finally... this is for EVERYONE... and something I learned from a friend many years ago... if you are going to ride alone... HAVE ID ON YOU! I will even go as far to say to have your insurance card on you as well.
    One more thing you need in addition to identification and your insurance card - and that is emergency contact information. I wear a RoadID - and the information on my ID includes my name, emergency contact name & phone numbers (I'm solo in this world, so my contact names are a friend with home & cell numbers, and family member with a home number), my health insurance company, the name & phone number of my doctor, and some health-related info (allergies, drugs OK, etc.).

    --- Denise
    www.denisegoldberg.com

    • Click here for links to journals and photo galleries from my travels on two wheels and two feet.
    • Random thoughts and experiences in my blog at denisegoldberg.blogspot.com


    "To truly find yourself you should play hide and seek alone."
    (quote courtesy of an unknown fortune cookie writer)

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Albuquerque, NM
    Posts
    3,099
    Quote Originally Posted by sisu_concepts
    Here is something I observed this week.

    I have only been riding for about 4 months and I do ride on a busy highway.

    I have my mirror on my helmit and I always wear bright colors.

    And I always slink as far off the road as I can.

    I am always trying to stay as far to the right as possible even when the gravel makes it dangerous. I think, "I don't belong out here. Everyone knows it and I need to make way for the people in cars who do belong out here"...

    In my head I thought this was perfectly rational behavior.

    And then yesterday...two bikers....who looked like they belonged on the road...racing bikes, matching outfits, passed me and waved hello.

    I watched them ahead of me as we rode up a rather steep hill and you know what....they did exactly what the previous writer stated...they rode with confidence...when a car came zipping up behind them they stood their ground. They weren't cocky or unsafe they just didn't shrink over to the side and you know what...the car that had just dangerously passed me on a curve slowed down and didn't attempt to pass them.

    Glad I went riding yesterday. Imagine what I will learn tomorrow.
    I rode on a very busy street just this Mon. It didn't have a bike lane so I rode to the left of the white line and I rode is if I was driving my truck - with assurance and the feeling that I too had a right to be there, after all a bike is a vehicle according to state laws! What surprised me most were the politeness of the drivers when I came up to stoplights. Most of them (which had passed me very politely) had moved slightly over in their lane so I would have room to bring my bike up to the line. The first time this happened I didn't think about it, but then I started noticing it was happening at every stoplight. When I told some bikie friends about my ride they all went "are you Nuts? on That road?" but ya know, I'd ride there again. I even had a big truck wait when the light turned green to give me time to get up and going before he took off from the light. I gave him a slight wave as he passed me. My belief is the road rage drivers are going to behave badly no matter what I'm riding in or on, that most of the drivers out there are very careful of cyclists - just watch for the turning cars both left And right, coz they're usually looking down the Road, not the sides.
    Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, champagne in one hand, strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming: "Yeah Baby! What a Ride!"

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Western Mass
    Posts
    78
    Moving from the rail trail to the highway <<gulp>> was really scary. Though dodging the baby carriages and 5 abreast walkers, on the rail trail, was pretty scary too!
    What I did notice is that I'm, now, much more aware of the bikers on the roads when driving in the car. Turning right, I now double check the side mirror to make sure that there are no bikers riding along side. I give a little more room to the riders on the road when I pass them. I check to make sure that, when I open the car door, I don't take out anybody. There are still some pretty aggressive drivers, out there, so just be aware of everything around you...and watch out for the roadkill!

    AG
    Normal is just a setting on the washing machine
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