Welcome guest, is this your first visit? Click the "Create Account" button now to join.

To disable ads, please log-in.

Shop at TeamEstrogen.com for women's cycling apparel.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    4

    Commuting through unsavory areas?

    To disable ads, please log-in.

    Hi all!

    I'm new to bikes, and thus new to commuting (as in...no commute as of yet!). I like in upstate NY and we are closing in on WINTER (ICK!) fast. I am bound and determined to try and get a few commutes to work before I throw in the towel for the year.

    Unfortunately, my city is not at all bike friendly and it's an overall challenge finding acceptable routes. Even more unfortunately for me: while my husband and I live in a nice suburb, my commute would be directly through the ghetto....with no way around (at least not one that involves a 40 mile detour). Biking would actually shave 3 miles off my commute...currently it's 8 miles in the car, but quite quick and I hop on the interstate bypass and am work in no time. Going through the city makes it just about 5 miles, which isn't bad at all. Oh, but those neighborhoods!!

    I would be going in the early morning (leaving probably around 5:30). I don't imagine too many unsavory characters are up at this time....but then again it's also almost pitch black (which I guess brings up the topics of biking in the dark on your commute). I'd be coming home around 4.

    I guess I'd like to hear through other people that might have rough commutes...what do you do? A coworker said he's never take his road bike on a commute to our workplace. When he lived closer, he'd always ride his cheap hybrid (at least cheap compared to his Madone). I guess I could do that too, but then again, I kind of feel like the defeats the purpose of me buying a decent bike in the first place!

    I feel like there are so many logistics! It's almost overwhelming....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    1,063
    My underlying theme on my commute is: there are good people in bad neighborhoods and bad people in good neighborhoods. No place is 100% bad or good.

    I commute through a neighborhood that is questionable. Perhaps not the toughest area of town, but it comes a close second. I ride through at 5:30AM and again on the way home.

    To be honest, I've had *way* fewer issues in the bad neighborhood during my commute than the "good" area. In the "bad" area, at the time I go through, people are going to/coming from work. When they see a bike, they give me room. In the "good" area, cars come too close and turn in front of me. Many days I prefer the "bad" neighborhood.

    Don't get me wrong, I have had issues in the rouger end of town. A couple of late teen/twenty somethings thought it would be fun to try to scare the biker; there was the morning with the guy in the middle of the road; etc. But, overall, I rarely feel uncomfortable. And, you know, in the "bad" neighborhood, there are actually people out on bus corners, so you are never really alone.

    Now, if I were going through at 10PM, I'd probably feel differently, but during commute time....you're just another commuter. And, there are other neighborhoods I wouldn't go through at noon. Each is different. You need to consider your city and evaluate.
    2009 Waterford RS-14 S&S Couplers - Brooks B68-Anatomica - Traveller
    2008 Waterford RS-33 - Brooks B68-Anatomica - Go Fast
    2012 Waterford Commuter - Brooks B68-Anatomica - 3.5-Season/Commuter
    2011 Surly Troll - Brooks B68 Imperial - Snow Beast

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    central NY
    Posts
    406
    Since we determined on your other thread that we live in the same area, you can PM me and maybe we can discuss this. I don't live in fear, but there are definitely some neighborhoods that I don't even like driving through in the daytime. It's so sad and disappointing. But, similar to what Thorn said, there seem to be fewer cars in the area, whereas in nicer areas the danger lies in big SUV's and drivers on phones. Different poisons.

    I may not be able to answer tonight (I really should get off this computer), but maybe tomorrow. Stay warm and dry!
    Last edited by IBrakeforPastry; 09-28-2012 at 04:15 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,981
    IBrake...I have earned a middle-class income....and have lived in neighbourhoods with some drug dealing, etc.

    I think the greater concern is whether or not at that time of the early morning cars expect a cyclist at all. It might surprise them...so make sure equip yourself well with lights on your bike, high visitiblity jacket, etc.

    Ride confidently and don't ride a flashy /expensive bike...and you will be fine. Choose routes that aren't too isolated, with street lighting, and where people wouldn't hang out at corners..instead of waiting for a traffic light to change. What I would not do, is stop if a stranger calls out to me for something....and they don't look in distress at all. Cold, but my own personal safety needs to come first.

    I have lived in nice neighbourhoods where there is drug dealing (well, professionals have money....and some of them indulge) and in a building where we lived, a nice one, there was a marajuana grow-op!

    I've lived in cities over 1 million over the past 30 years. And I am living in one now.

    I actually feel alot safer on a bike in any neighbourhood when it's quiet or dark..compared to walking in such areas. I always have.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 09-28-2012 at 06:25 PM.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,051
    Biking the dark is fun. More lights is better. Redundant lighting is good because if a battery runs out on one light you have others as backup. I love my reelights because a) no batteries and b) I don't have to remember to turn them off.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    So Cal.
    Posts
    508
    It is kinda like walking through such a neighborhood, with the obvious difference being that you are on the street (please nobody ride on the sidewalk-it's much more dangerous for cyclists than the street) and moving faster. What I mean is, that the same basic things apply; ride (or walk) with purpose, know where you are going and go in a straight line at a good clip. Keep your head UP and keep aware of the surroundings, both to track traffic and any characters that look out-of-place or unduly interested in you. You see something that doesn't look or feel right, guess what, it probably isn't right so make sure you know the area and how to get out of that spot (don't turn on to another street to THEN discover it is a dead end or turns in the wrong direction.) Keep the expensive road bike at home and take a hybrid or commuter. Wear sweatpants and a tee shirt, and no visible expensive jewelery/watch. You might want to keep a pepper spray on the handlebar, if allowed in your state or city. Maybe take the car through this neighborhood at the time you intend to ride it, look around and see if it looks quiet, or if there are gangs hanging out or a lot of traffic.

    Keep your visibility UP, I know nothing bugs me more when I am in the car, than a cyclist with a death wish, wearing dark clothing and with no lights or reflectors, cutting across the street in front of me at 6am like a drunken sailor. Bright lights, front and back, that have some side spillage, reflectors on the bike and you, and a light on the helmet if possible. I bought reflective tape by 'NATHAN' that is just awesome and put it all over my helmet. I then got some red and yellow reflective tape and put it on the chainstays and fork, and 'lightweights' reflective tape and put it on all the spokes. A Nightrider 600 lumen front light, Magicshine and Dinotte taillights, NATHAN reflective vest and reflective leg bands, red blinker on the downtube and L&M Stella 150 on the helmet turn me into Disneyland on wheels. If someone misses seeing me they are blind. No, the stuff was not cheap; I could have bought a bike for what I spent on lights and reflectors, but when I leave home now it is DARK. There are no street lights for the first mile of my ride, and while the rest is well lit, that just means my lights have to be brighter and the reflectors of better quality, to compete with the storefronts and streetlights. Frankly, it looks kinda funny but that's ok. Cars give me room. Pedestrians at the lights have mentioned I was very visible from blocks away. I would venture a guess that more cyclists are injured by cars that did not see them, than by unsavory characters.
    Tzvia- rollin' slow...
    Specialized Ruby Expert/mens Bontrager Inform RXL
    Specialized SWorks Safire/mens Bontrager Inform RL
    Giant Anthem-W XT-XTR/mens Bontrager Inform RXL
    Fuji Newest 3 commuter/mens Bontrager Inform RL
    Novara E.T.A commuter/mens Bontrager Inform RL

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,099
    I agree with Tzvia. Although I don't commute through "unsavory" areas, I do ride at 5-6:30 AM, mostly in places with no streetlights. And I drive in a lot of bad areas for my job, and I have thought about how I would ride there. Sometimes I think it's overkill, but generally, I have my very bright front light and 2 blinkies in the back, as well as a blinking ankle band. I also wear a Nathan reflective vest when the ride is in total darkness, like at this time of the year. Sometimes I put another blinkie on my back, clipped to my vest or jacket. Last week I rode to the gym and I have to cross a highway at about 5 AM; my bike does not trigger the signal and there are rarely any other cars going my way. There is a walk signal at both the curb and again the median; when it was light or even semi light, I could ride across the highway to the median, as there's rarely any traffic going that way, and then I press the button to get across the second half. Well, it was pitch dark and I realized I needed to really press the signal for the first half, as I felt uncomfortable. But, the pole/signal was on the sidewalk and I already had my bike sort of parallel to the highway, by the cross walk. Because I was so lit up, a car, far away, actually stopped to let me get across, although he didn't have to. I *know* he saw me.
    I won't put reflective tape on my road bikes, for the obvious reasons, but I have worn my hiking headlight (not a huge one) on my helmet. It really doesn't help me see, but I think it lets others see me. There isn't a lot of traffic or hardly any cars when I first go out, but by the time I return, there is a steady stream of people heading to work. And delivery trucks unloading at the stores/restaurants in the town center. Once in awhile I feel like I'd like some side visibility, but I haven't found a solution that's not permanent or a lot of money. At one point I had a blinkie on the side and now I'm wondering why I took it off.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    So Cal.
    Posts
    508
    Yes the light on the head is my 'aggressive' be seen light. 150 lumens in your eyes if I think you don't see me. I tilt my head in your direction, like I am just 'looking' at you and oh so sorry I got that light in your eyes... Awake now? Good, put down that smart phone and pay attention.

    I'm on the beat-em-up commuter (an REI steel Novara) so I don't mind the reflective tape on the frame. All the better it makes the bike look really cheesy even though it was not cheap and I like it (it does ride nice and has a wheelset I had made for it and has SRAM parts). It got it's first "dark morning" checkup and wash today. Deep charge (instead of the top off charges at work) for all the rechargeable lights, new AA and AAA for the frame lights, replace the old looking reflective tape, scrub of drivetrain and lube chain, wash, adjust and inspect including for foreign object in the tires, check the repair kit and replenish the patch kit. So I guess regular maintenance should also be included- don't want to be stuck broken down in a less than comfy neighborhood. Sometimes it can't be helped, but having a frayed shift cable break instead of noticing it and replacing it, or having a tube puncture from something that worked it's way in just sucks, as it is totally avoidable.

    Oh, and it does not hurt to know of 'safe areas' along the route. Well lit busy areas that are close by, like a 24 hr minimart, police station or firehouse.
    Tzvia- rollin' slow...
    Specialized Ruby Expert/mens Bontrager Inform RXL
    Specialized SWorks Safire/mens Bontrager Inform RL
    Giant Anthem-W XT-XTR/mens Bontrager Inform RXL
    Fuji Newest 3 commuter/mens Bontrager Inform RL
    Novara E.T.A commuter/mens Bontrager Inform RL

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Posts
    4
    Thanks for the hints. I'm well in tune (unfortunately) with the amount of crime that happens in the neighborhoods I would meander through. There is one area I could go around to that is slightly more industrial that overall has less crime issues than other areas, but being less populated I'm not sure if that would necessarily be a good idea either. And really I'm not worried about middle class areas that might have on the side drug dealers...that's not the type of crime I'm worried about....but rather the areas where violent crime (whether drug related or not) is common.

    I'll definitely be looking into the lights and reflective strips! And the advice on the replair kits and double checking everything before you leave is great too, thanks!

    I was also thinking the days I commute I'd only have my scan card for work and my cell phone in one of those "passport holders" that straps under your clothing and leave the wallet at home.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    I'd just add one more comment about visibility: IMO, none is better than a little. I think a lot of cyclists are unaware of target fixation because (1) we ride with our backs to traffic and (2) most of us haven't taken a traffic skills course in a long time. Running (and personal experience with target fixation on the moto ) has taught me that probably nine times out of ten, when a motorist buzzes me on the bike - and when a pedestrian or cyclist actually gets creamed by a car - it's because of target fixation. What I've learned running is that drivers need between one and two tenths of a mile to recover from target fixation. IOW, if your visibility aids mean that someone first sees you at 1/10 mile instead of at 100 feet, you're more likely to get hit, because when they first see you they'll steer toward you, and they won't have had time to recover and veer away.

    What I mean is, there's no such thing as overkill when it comes to visibility, but "underkill" is a serious problem.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    333
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post
    I'd just add one more comment about visibility: IMO, none is better than a little. I think a lot of cyclists are unaware of target fixation because (1) we ride with our backs to traffic and (2) most of us haven't taken a traffic skills course in a long time. Running (and personal experience with target fixation on the moto ) has taught me that probably nine times out of ten, when a motorist buzzes me on the bike - and when a pedestrian or cyclist actually gets creamed by a car - it's because of target fixation. What I've learned running is that drivers need between one and two tenths of a mile to recover from target fixation. IOW, if your visibility aids mean that someone first sees you at 1/10 mile instead of at 100 feet, you're more likely to get hit, because when they first see you they'll steer toward you, and they won't have had time to recover and veer away.

    What I mean is, there's no such thing as overkill when it comes to visibility, but "underkill" is a serious problem.
    I have not taken this class and just recently added blinkys to my road bike after a young lady was hit here in Richmond. I only ride in total daylight; am I better off with out the blinkies ? I always wear neon (and I mean day glow green or yellow - horrifies my daughter)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    I think wearing full neon is the best way to go. I don't think blinkies make much of a difference in bright sunlight, but as soon as the shadows get long, a really bright one like my Planet Bike Superflash helps a lot.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Indianapolis IN
    Posts
    328
    I havent had a chance to commute in the last 7 days or so due to the weather but I have bought some rflective clothing and I have added a bunch of lights to my commuter and also planning on buying this vest if possible...still thinking about it though. I don't care if I look like a Xmas tree. I am going to make sure these drivers see me from 3 blocks away! And I am praying for the weather to get better so I can keep commuting until I can handle the temp. Prt of my commute I go through an area that for a lot of people here in Indy is dangerous but for some reason I do not feel unsafe. But I do keep my eyes open...U never know!
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

Name:	redlight.jpg 
Views:	88 
Size:	38.1 KB 
ID:	15415   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	redbluelight.jpg 
Views:	92 
Size:	42.0 KB 
ID:	15414   Click image for larger version. 

Name:	redyellow.jpg 
Views:	99 
Size:	20.3 KB 
ID:	15413  
    Last edited by Giulianna23; 10-02-2012 at 12:27 PM.

    Love Never Fails
    2012 Giant Revel 1 -MTB
    2013 Giant Defy 5 - RB(Commute/Easy Rides) "Trooper"
    2012 Diamondback Response XE MTB (my son's)

    13' FUJI SUPREME 1.3C (Selle Italia Diva/Easton EC70 SL) "My Girl"

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Between the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake Bay
    Posts
    5,226
    Most people everywhere, including criminals in bad neighborhoods, have alot more on their minds than a passing bicyclist. If it makes you feel better, get some data on the types of crimes committed in the area you are worried about. I would bet that there's not alot of stranger crime and that most of it is between people who know each other. Besides, the more you become part of the neighborhood, the more people will start looking out for you (in a good way). I experienced that over six years as a commuter in what many people would consider unsavory areas of Washington, DC. The good people, however, far outnumbered the bad and I never had any problems except one afternoon when some kids tossed a rock into my wheels. They were not out to rob me, just being kids and being stupid--just like in every neighborhood.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Western Canada-prairies, mountain & ocean
    Posts
    6,981
    Most people everywhere, including criminals in bad neighborhoods, have alot more on their minds than a passing bicyclist.
    +1

    Just this past Sunday, a 20 yr. guy deliberately used his car to knock over an Olympic athlete who was cycling out ...in the suburbs in our city. This was mid-morning. The guy was injured in several different areas of his body to point he will need several months to recover. On a lovely road in a nice neighbourhood with homes 1-5 yrs. old, with a shockingly new, huge and expensive community centre.

    One of the local bike store owners ranted how in that area he got stuff thrown at him, cars buzzed very close to him...

    I cycled that road on a Sunday 2 months ago...with my dearie. It was a 93 km. round trip day ride from downtown where I live.

    Same road where the bee stung my eyelid while I was cycling.

    I have lived in neighbourhoods where there was shooting....a 15 min. walk away from home. Does that mean the whole neighbourhood is unsafe? No, because the majority of people who live there are....like most of us. You and me.

    Remember you are on a bike, not a woman walking nor jogging alone at night. Very different.
    Last edited by shootingstar; 10-02-2012 at 04:41 PM.
    My Personal blog on cycling & other favourite passions.
    遙知馬力日久見人心 Over a long distance, you learn about the strength of your horse; over a long period of time, you get to know whatís in a personís heart.

 

 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •