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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    251

    Safety on crazy roads

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    I had this intelligent sounding question all formed, but let's just face facts: this new rider is a bit of a wimp when it comes to the crazy roads outside my neighborhood. But the neighborhood is going to hold me for long!

    I know safety is 99% common sense, but I'd appreciate any BTDT advice on staying safe, especially when it comes to picking roads to ride on (nice wide shoulders come to mind). How often do you have to drive somewhere to ride your bike?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    Nice wide CLEAN shoulders WITHOUT rumble strips/stripes can make for a safe road, but those are usually limited to high speed, high traffic main artery roads. Those roads are generally rideable and good when you need to get from point A to point B, but difficult to turn left from, risky in terms of right hooks, and generally not very much fun.

    When I look for roads I prefer to ride, traffic volume is the #1 consideration. Sight lines and the like are largely dictated by your terrain. Traffic volume tells me how much in a hurry the drivers will tend to be, how many cars I might hold up while climbing a hill, crossing a bridge or approaching a blind curve, and just generally how often I will have to interact with traffic.

    Have a mirror and learn to use it. Understand when and why to take the lane.

    How often I have to drive somewhere - well right now, because of my injury, always - but in terms of roads, never - although I wasn't riding when we bought our house, traffic volume was definitely a consideration when we bought it. But since I prefer to ride with people and live far from the county seats, when I was healthy I would often drive to the start of a group ride. It really depends on where you live. There are some roads I would never ride on, and if I lived on one of them, I wouldn't ride from home.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    64
    I'm lucky that I can get on a bike path within a mile of my house and ride 40+ with only a few stops to cross a street. But, it's not the same as being on the road and it gets boring to see the same scenery, so I like to venture out on the roads, but I generally look for a group or organized ride and I will drive to one if I need to. Fortunately, here, you can find them year round.

    I have to say that I will reconsider one of the organized rides (100k) that I did this year, due to the heavy traffic on the rural roads northwest of Ft. Worth. No shade, brutal sun (July) and farm to market roads with big pickups (ranchers) and big trucks (oil/gas equipment being hauled). There were several times I was really scared at how fast AND CLOSE traffic came whizzing by.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Renton, Washington
    Posts
    27
    I live near Seattle in an area where I can be in the city one way and out on country roads if I go the other. I love to ride out in the country, but some of the roads are narrow and there can be lots of trucks. My love-to-hate drivers are school busses. I firmly believe you only have to be able to fog up a mirror to drive one. The double dump trucks are much more aware and professional. I wear bright stuff, always follow traffic rules and get out in the middle on narrow bridges, (unless, of course a school bus is behind me, then I head for a ditch). Seriously, common sense and riding in decent conditions goes a long way. I prefer to ride with a group when possible.
    Happy country roads!
    Stellar1
    Orbea Dama 2011

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Black Forest, CO
    Posts
    28
    If you are riding narrow roads I definitely recommend a headlight and flashing rear light. Wear bright colors and follow the rules of the road. Even on roads with proper bike lanes and wide shoulders cars will still crowd you sometimes. The more we ride, the more cars will get used to seeing us out there. I did a tour this summer from San Luis Obispo to San Diego and the best bicycling was in SLO, not because the roads were so great, but because the driver's are very used to seeing bicyclists and they share the road.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    262
    This is a tough one because it's very specific to where you live. I'm not sure what the hazards are for you on the road. I think mostly, in addition to what has been said, it's important in all situations to be aware of other traffic. It sounds like that is mostly car traffic, but if you are in town, you need to be aware of foot traffic and other non-motorized vehicles. If you are more suburban or rural, figure out when it's safe to ride in full tuck (less visibility) and when to sit up high and get seen. Know how to occupy a lane to make a turn or other traffic move. Make eye contact with drivers when interacting in traffic... and be hesitant to make a bold move unless you have done so. Always use hand signals to show what you intend to do, and at busy intersections, even indicate "I'm going straight". I ride country roads (from my door - I was a serious cyclist when I bought and being able to ride from my door was #1 on the location aspect) and my riding in a lot of traffic is quite relative, but these are some things I think about each time. HTH!
    The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world. ~ Susan B. Anthony

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    333
    I have had no problem with country roads that are frequented by other bikers and farm tractors. Though windy and narrow- drivers are accustomed to slowing down. Additionally, I have front and back blinkies and wear neon. It varies with location but all of the horrible accidents in our area have been in the city or suburbs, so I feel (probably falsely!) safe out in the farmland (other than farm dogs which is another issue!)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    186
    Make your hand signals BIG and long-lasting. It may take a moment for a driver to figure out what you are telling him. Avoid riding at dusk or later if possible. If you must absolutely light yourself up. Blinkies front and back, high-viz jersey or vest (I have the Nathan vest), I also put a headlamp on my helmet and although it really doesn't look"cool" I have dayglo-green wheel lights that outline my wheels both front and back when in motion. I make quite a spectacle of myself but have had drivers actually thank me because there was no doubt I was there. Know the traffic laws and obey them so you don't get hurt or look like another jerky spandex-wearing cyclist. Finally, recognize that even though you have the right to be on any road that isn't restricted there are just some roads you shouldn't ride on period.
    2008 Specialized Globe Sport
    2009 Specialized Sequoia Elite

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    251
    Thanks to everyone. I got the blinky back light when I bought the bike, although I have no intention of riding after the sun goes down. But it's still a good safety measure. I rode a training loop that a local cycling club uses the other day, and it was a good road - not too much was two lane, no shoulder, and that part wasn't too busy traffic wise (well, none of it was all that bad, traffic wise, honestly). I'll just load up the bike and go to places where I feel like I can do the common sense things to stay safe, and not put myself in potentially bad situations to begin with.

    This is safety related, but not necessarily crazy road related, but I've been using the app Glympse to send my whereabouts to dh if I'm going to be out riding alone for an extended period. It sends a link in an e-mail to whoever I designate, and for a certain period (or until I turn it off), that link can be used to track where I am.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Katy, Texas
    Posts
    1,828
    In addition to what everyone has said about riding safely in traffic I would like to add hold your line and stay calm. Train yourself to not react to a sudde honk by jerking the handlebars. Learn to look back signal and brake without changing your line of travel, Slow down and leave lots of safety distance ahead of you and to your side whenever possible, can't do much about behind you except be aware and look back when its safe to let them know you know they are there. Hold a steady speed and ride as evenly. Concentrate on being aware of what is going on around you by not wearing ear pods or blue tooth and finally I swear by my rear view mirror but always look back and double check before doing anything. Also continual experience helps. Like anything else, practice in baby steps by learning when the traffic periods and places are and avoiding them whenever possible.
    marni
    Katy, Texas
    Trek Madone 6.5- "Red"
    Trek Pilot 5.2- " Bebe"


    "easily outrun by a chihuahua."

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    2,051
    Quote Originally Posted by luvmyguys View Post
    I know safety is 99% common sense
    I don't agree with this. The League of American Cyclists teaches two things that are completely counter-intuitive: stay off sidewalks, and ride at least an arm's length (or more) from the edge of the road. The narrower the road, the more assertive (toward the middle) your lane position. This is based on statistics of bike wrecks. "Common sense" dictates that we ride on sidewalks and hug the edge, get as far from those cars as possible. But statistics shows that the opposite keeps us safer.

    I advise you to sign up for Traffic Skills 101, if you can find a class offered in your area. That will increase the options of roads you feel comfortable on. You might even consider using your bike to run errands, or commute. You might never have to drive to ride your bike again.
    2009 Trek 7.2FX WSD, brooks Champion Flyer S, commuter bike

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    333
    also a mirror is a must- though you often hear vehicles about the time you see them- some cars are amazingly quiet.....

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Katy, Texas
    Posts
    1,828
    Quote Originally Posted by tealtreak View Post
    also a mirror is a must- though you often hear vehicles about the time you see them- some cars are amazingly quiet.....
    especially the new electric and hybrid vehicles. They are like stealth bombers.
    marni
    Katy, Texas
    Trek Madone 6.5- "Red"
    Trek Pilot 5.2- " Bebe"


    "easily outrun by a chihuahua."

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    You know, nine times out of ten, when someone tells me how quiet my Prius is, the gas engine is running.

    The other day I was running in the middle of a quiet street, as I often do to avoid the crown. A car came up behind me, a great big American gas-only land shark. But it was following me at my jogging pace - and so the tire and wind noise, which is the great majority of noise from ANY car these days due to EPA noise regulations, was too faint for me to hear, and I didn't know they were there until they gently tapped their horn.

    That whole thing about hybrid exhaust noise is driven by people who want to put straight pipes on their motorcycles and claim it's for safety reasons. And, to a lesser extent, by people who want license to run down bicyclists in the street (even more license than they already have, that is, since they nearly have carte blanche already) because we don't make noise... and, I must admit, by pedestrians and cyclists who want to tool around just like motorists do, with their phones or iPods blasting in their ears, completely oblivious to the traffic around them. At root, it's mainly driven by people who have contempt for anyone who wants a more fuel-efficient vehicle. I can see how popular that viewpoint would be in Texas, since we have enough oil and gas extraction here for people to act that way too.

    Please don't perpetuate that myth.



    Also related to this thread is issues of visibility. See my post in the other thread about why a little bit of visibility aid is worse than none at all. Be very alert for motorists who will target fixate on you.
    Last edited by OakLeaf; 10-02-2012 at 04:44 AM.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,143
    I thought about target fixation when I was riding this morning. I know what happens to me when I am driving, like seeing the bright headlamp of a bike. I used to think "what's that," and probably fixate on it. Now, I assume it's a bike. Today, at about 5:10 AM, I saw another rider coming toward me with a huge and bright helmet light. I knew what it was, but I am betting the few drivers out did not.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

 

 

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