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  1. #1
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    Best tips for commuting?

    I was looking for a thread that had tips and rules for someone that wants to begin commuting, maybe i missed it but if you guys have some thread recommendations, or your own tips id like to hear them.

    I have a short commute to work, but its all up hill, on a very busy road full of people that do not know how to drive. Looking for whatever tips i can get for riding with traffic.

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Often, there's more than one possible route. The one you'd take by car is seldom the best for getting there by bike.

    Take a little time looking for alternative routes.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Often, there's more than one possible route. The one you'd take by car is seldom the best for getting there by bike.

    Take a little time looking for alternative routes.
    Thats a good point, i already looked and the most logical route is the one i drive to work every day.

  4. #4
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    Sometimes the shortest or most direct way is not the best either.

    An example: we are moving office in a month or two and looking at a road map there is one logical way to go. But... that includes a steep climb next to a ski slope. I don't really want to go that way and there's a more gentle uphill, through a residential area, that is a little longer but a lot easier.

    Another example: the most direct way to the place I work at now has lots of tricky intersections, and lots of traffic to watch out for. I prefer the route that is a little longer but has very little traffic.

    ---
    When riding in traffic, I don't "hide" between parked cars or skimming the curbs. I position myself so that I can be seen and, also, cannot be ignored. High visibility clothing helps too and, as soon as light is low, lights and reflectors.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  5. #5
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    For "10 Ways Not to Get Hit", try http://bicyclesafe.com/

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by mtbxplorer
    For "10 Ways Not to Get Hit", try http://bicyclesafe.com/
    Thats just what i was looking for, thanks.

    So what are the rules for running red lights? I know the stop lights wont pick up your bike so if there are no cars around the light will remain red for you, how should you treat this situation? If theres no cars then go?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by EJames1226
    So what are the rules for running red lights? I know the stop lights wont pick up your bike so if there are no cars around the light will remain red for you...
    This may or may not be true. You'll have to figure it out on your own for the lights you typically encounter. If you do a google search, you can find the optimal way to position your bike on the traffic sensors so they will detect you. I can get 4 out of 5 on my way to work to pick me up regularly.

    Quote Originally Posted by EJames1226
    ... how should you treat this situation? If theres no cars then go?

    Personally, I try to avoid running red lights. It presents a poor image of the bike commuting community to the general public. When I'm hit next time, I don't want the driver or the police thinking, "It's just another one of those reckless bikers." and writing me off.

    OTOH, there are some signals that just won't trigger, so you have to draw your own lines. Me, if I'm sitting on the sensor in a way that I know is optimal, and if the walk signal for cross traffic doesn't start counting down by around 30 seconds, I know it a'int gonna. Then I wait for my next *BIG* hole in traffic and go.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubernerd
    This may or may not be true. You'll have to figure it out on your own for the lights you typically encounter. If you do a google search, you can find the optimal way to position your bike on the traffic sensors so they will detect you. I can get 4 out of 5 on my way to work to pick me up regularly.




    Personally, I try to avoid running red lights. It presents a poor image of the bike commuting community to the general public. When I'm hit next time, I don't want the driver or the police thinking, "It's just another one of those reckless bikers." and writing me off.

    OTOH, there are some signals that just won't trigger, so you have to draw your own lines. Me, if I'm sitting on the sensor in a way that I know is optimal, and if the walk signal for cross traffic doesn't start counting down by around 30 seconds, I know it a'int gonna. Then I wait for my next *BIG* hole in traffic and go.

    Thanks, that answers my questions.

  9. #9
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    1. There is no such thing as too many lights or reflective bits on your bike. This is not a fashion show. You may look like a traffic cone on wheels, but it doesn't matter. Save looking pretty for your other bikes.

    2. No one can see you. This makes #1 even more important.

    3. People that can see you are trying to kill you at all times. Okay, probably not, but it is the mindset I ride with. Ride defensively.


  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryball
    3. People that can see you are trying to kill you at all times. Okay, probably not, but it is the mindset I ride with. Ride defensively.
    Yep,
    - position yourself so that you will be seen
    - see everything that goes on around you. hear everything too
    - look for escape plans, in case somebody actually tries to kill you
    - be predictable, but keep the drivers on their toes by making it look like you are unpredictable
    - when feasible, behave like a car
    - don't be too timid: assert your presence, but leave yourself a bit of slack so that you can avoid the collision if the other guy doesn't

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    -- be predictable, but keep the drivers on their toes by making it look like you are unpredictable
    - when feasible, behave like a car
    This is very true and very situational. It will become second nature. If you see a patch of gravel on the road you that you will need to wend your way through, it is best to start 'wending' as if you are in gravel before you actually get there, if you have traffic coming upon you. The drivers likely can't see what you are dodging, even if they can, unless they ride a bike the idea you need to dodge stones may not enter their minds even after they are past. So it is better not to scare them when they are alongside by giving fair warning that your path is going to be less predictable than up to that point. So in this case, it is being predictably unpredictable.

    Jeff Scott has said (and took some heat for it) that he purposefully became less predictable under some conditions. I have used that when a too fast car is approaching on a blind hill and/or curve and clearly not paying enough attention and allowing enough room. I am not a traffic cone to be barely missed. The wiggle as if you are having trouble balancing, makes the driver realize he needs to leave more room than the space the bike and you occupy and he can't 'squeeze by' inches off your bars, safely. For the truely inattentive or sociopathhic, Plan B is to head for the ditch. This of course, presumes you have a mirror and are using it.

  12. #12
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    Don't DELIBERATELY antagonize a motorist.
    A lot of motorists find it angering that cyclists pass them consistently, doing anything that's singling out a particular motorist is the equivalent of pointing at your little brother as you run past and saying "haw haw, can't catch me".

    Don't assume that because you're stopped beside the passenger window, that means the driver will see you.
    Most if not everyone with glasses has a clear field of vision in front of them, rarely can they see objects clearly that are right beside them.
    To be fair, everyone's field of vision projects forward, but people with a need for corrected vision can have a narrowed field meaning you might be completely unnoticed instead of "saw you out of the corner of my eye".
    Lots of other more people are target fixated, they're watching the lights, the back of the car in front of them, but not AROUND them.
    Basically I try to beside their right front wheel, it's pretty hard not to be noticed there.
    Lots of minor accidents happen at the lights when joe turbo guns the engine trying to make up time and his car doesn't move perfectly straight down the road.

    If there's a bike lane, stay in it.
    Don't lane split between cars thinking you're going to outsprint that suv and all the cyclists.
    It's not that you can't outsprint everyone, but the suv driver is expecting cyclists on their right (cause they've noticed there's a lane there!) so when you cut them off on their left and they jerk their truck into the bike lane to avoid you... you just got a 50 year old commuter's hip crushed and never knew it was your fault.
    If steel is real then aluminium is supercallafragiliniun!

  13. #13
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    Thanks Brian....

    Anyway best advice for commuting is just start doing it, and just keep doing it.

  14. #14
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    Something else that 'dawned' on me just yesterday after thinking about this thread.

    It is a lot easier to start commuting in a city or area that you are familiar with as a pedestrian and motorist (or at least passenger in a car). Particularly if you reconnoiter at the same time of day. My BIG problem starting again here, is that the drivers scared me in my car! They did not obey traffic rules as I learned and practiced them. Four way stops in particular, but many other situations. Knowing the local unwritten road habits is a BIG step towards safer riding, anticipation, and peace of mind. Still, I had to up the ante a lot with lights to help my neighbors see me as doing 16-25 mph, not 5, but now that they do, only the 16-18 year old males, incompetents, and intoxicated drivers are much of a problem, and they are rare or more common after HS football games, Happy Hour, 3-4 PM, etc.

    In a nutshell, you need to ride your commute with a lot of thought (before and during) as most drivers are not thinking enough. But as the 4-H motto goes: learn to do by doing. So do it. Just add to that to try to do it better every day in every way. Keeps it fresh and safe.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    Yep,
    - position yourself so that you will be seen
    - see everything that goes on around you. hear everything too
    - look for escape plans, in case somebody actually tries to kill you
    - be predictable, but keep the drivers on their toes by making it look like you are unpredictable
    - when feasible, behave like a car
    - don't be too timid: assert your presence, but leave yourself a bit of slack so that you can avoid the collision if the other guy doesn't
    I've got disagree with the one about looking unpredictable. The way to get respect is to show an air of competence. Show you belong on the road. Motorists are just looking for an excuse to ridicule bikes on the road. Don't give them the ammo. If in an accident the last thing you need is witnesses saying you were wobbly, indecisive, used the wrong signals, you get the point. Drivers don't like unpredictable, it's like waving the red flag at a bull (which by the way is a myth, bulls are color blind). It will rationalize to them that you don't belong on the road and it's okay to treat you poorly with their 2-ton vehicle.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gotmilk?
    I've got disagree with the one about looking unpredictable. ...
    ...
    ... If in an accident the last thing you need is witnesses saying you were wobbly, indecisive, used the wrong signals, you get the point.
    I guess it needs to be more subtle than that, if you apply that strategy at all.

    BrianMC gave an example where it could actually be useful:
    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc
    If you see a patch of gravel on the road you that you will need to wend your way through, it is best to start 'wending' as if you are in gravel before you actually get there, ...
    ...
    ... giving fair warning that your path is going to be less predictable than up to that point. So in this case, it is being predictably unpredictable.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by gotmilk?
    I've got disagree with the one about looking unpredictable. The way to get respect is to show an air of competence. .
    I agree with you for the majority or the time. I am not suggesting to ride all the time like a drunken sailor, nor every time you are overtaken by a motorist. Smooth and predicatble IS ideal.

    BUT there are important exceptions.

    Also, I am not suggesting you ride like a 5 year old on his first ride without training wheels. Tha upsets me as a motorist, too. Just a little variation in path so that the motorist is allerted to give you more than the 2 foot of your body's width in the lane and recognize you need a bit more room in the lane than previously. They did not pass the three foot clearance rule in this state and many others, and I have had truck mirrors I had to dodge or be grazed by. A lot of drivers don't seem to know where the right side of their vehicle is.

    I listed two situations where I use a bit of weaving to good effect. Let me clarify each:

    The first is you can see a spill of loose gravel (or potholes or any other road surface situation similar). You are allowed by law to pick the safest path. You can be sure that 99% of motorists approaching either don't know that rule that you have right to the entire lane and can choose a safe path, or if they do, they will not see your need in time to understand why you suddenly became less predictable. If you are riding looking far enough ahead, most of the time you know you will be dodging through a patch. IT IS dangerous to suddenly start darting about with a car almost to you. They have no time to respond. It is better to signal the need early enough for the driver to recognize your recent smooth line will not be continuing for a bit. Predictably unpredictable. You know you will be dodging once you are on top of the problem, unless you really enjoy a face plant then being run over, so why not let the motorists behind know sooner? Nothing says incompetence like an OTB while riding in a straight line and nothing gets you run over like lying on the pavement. Loose gravel is at almost every lane entrance on my main route. So I begin weaving a foot either way a bit early 20-50 feet before depending, if I have overtaking traffic to signal to. I am on the shoulder, but still I don't want to scare them into the traffic in the next lane and have them bounced after collision, into me. Communication and safety trump what the driver thinks of me as a cyclist.

    The second, is the case of a motorist approaching who appears distracted and is setting up a dangerous situation on a blind hill or corner where you might have to get two cars and a bike in the space for two cars on very short notice. Almost ANYTHING that attracts the driver's attention and avoids you getting hit is fair play. Wave a red flag if you have one. Getting off the road may be the best option (Plan B, I listed). Any witnesses can testify you were riding smoothly until just before the approach of this car and their illegal overtaking (classified here as reckless driving).

    As to judicious use of the technique increasing the likelihood of accidents: all my close calls and my only car-bike and only person-bike accident in 50 years of riding were when I was riding very predictably (99+% of the time) including the mirror near-hits.

    As to adding ammunition to the 'ban the bikes' croud: I for one, am not laying down my life and be made one with the pavement and literally be 'on the road' in the effort to convince prejudiced motorists that cyclists belong on the road.

    As to witnesses: you have the right to seek a safe path in the lane. I doubt most witnesses would be able to state that there was nothing in the lane to dodge around. (Didn't you see the squirrel?) If they are that observant, they will have seen you rode smoothly until the dangerous motorist got close enough for you to see they were not allowing room.

    As the master of your bike, you have the right to use whatever tools, and are free to ignore this one.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubernerd
    Personally, I try to avoid running red lights. It presents a poor image of the bike commuting community to the general public. When I'm hit next time, I don't want the driver or the police thinking, "It's just another one of those reckless bikers." and writing me off.
    Yes! Please think of the example you are setting when you run red lights...a few times after seeing a cyclist/pedestrain run a red light my little daughter has asked me why she can't do it, if they can. Children are so easily influenced by these things and that is something we should think about...

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by MTB1ker29
    Yes! Please think of the example you are setting when you run red lights...a few times after seeing a cyclist/pedestrain run a red light my little daughter has asked me why she can't do it, if they can. Children are so easily influenced by these things and that is something we should think about...
    I am with you there. That's why learning to trip the light is essential. I can't stand there waiting 20 minutes for the next car to come up and trip it. Now if I can get the idiots I saw yesterday to ride with, rather than against traffic!. Correct lane use and my bright clothing, lights and reflectors, singles me out from the unsafe cycling crowd.

  20. #20
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    Arm yourself. I have been attacked several times while commuting in Anchorage, AK. In the winter the motorists are very dangerous and people are pissed because they're already late for work and some stupid biker is holding them up.

  21. #21
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    I really like this idea:
    Last edited by cda 455; 12-01-2010 at 08:12 AM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by ubernerd
    Personally, I try to avoid running red lights. It presents a poor image of the bike commuting community to the general public. When I'm hit next time, I don't want the driver or the police thinking, "It's just another one of those reckless bikers." and writing me off.

    OTOH, there are some signals that just won't trigger, so you have to draw your own lines. Me, if I'm sitting on the sensor in a way that I know is optimal, and if the walk signal for cross traffic doesn't start counting down by around 30 seconds, I know it a'int gonna. Then I wait for my next *BIG* hole in traffic and go.

    Here in Idaho; AFTER you've stopped at a red light, it is legal to proceed through the red light when it is safe. At a stop sign; it is legal to do a 'California Stop': To safely roll through it.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by cda 455
    Here in Idaho; AFTER you've stopped at a red light, it is legal to proceed through the red light when it is safe. At a stop sign; it is legal to do a 'California Stop': To safely roll through it.
    Yeah, they tried to get that passed here in Utah. It went down in flames.

    On the balance, I'm not sure I'm sad. I'm really tired of seeing idiots on bikes blast through intersections, causing problems for cars (and the rest of us bicyclists). I'm afraid passage of the "Idaho stop" law (as it was called around here) would just give them material for rationalizing their bad behavior.

    I know that the actual law does not allow for reckless crossings by bikes, and puts the onus on the bike in cases of failure to yield. Somehow, however, those "finer" points always get left out of the discussion by folks on both sides of the issue.

  24. #24
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    Post removed after image above was changed....

  25. #25
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    1. Obey the laws as they pertain to cyclists using the roads with automobiles and scary-ass SUVs.
    2. Always carry a printed hardcopy of the vehicle code as it pertains to cyclists and motorists sharing the roadway such that you can lay the intellectual smackdown to hot-headed redstaters who confront you with idle threats (see 3).
    3. Pack heat. There are loonies in this world, and they drive (mostly SUVs since it gives short people a false sense of power, kind of like making something 3" long suddenly become 11" long).
    4. Remember everyone driving an SUV will speed up and try to cut you off on right turns when you are going straight in accordance with the law.
    5. Lather.
    6. Rinse.
    7. Repeat.
    8. LOL!!!!!
    QUOTE from MTBR.COM: You have given Brewtality too much Reputation in the last 24 hours, try again later.

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