Commuting by bike

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HawkeyePierce
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Location: Colorado

Re: Commuting by bike

Post by HawkeyePierce »

If you wear glasses I recommend picking up some rubber tips to put on the tines, those will keep them from sliding down your nose while you're riding.

A balaclava is a good recommendation. Personally I go for a Buff headwear in merino. It functions as a neck warmer, balaclava and in a pinch you can pull it over your head under your helmet for extra warmth.

https://buffusa.com/buff-products/men/m ... rey/100202
FeesR-BullNotBullish
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by FeesR-BullNotBullish »

alfaspider wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:56 am
sk2101 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:36 am
J295 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:16 pm Did anyone mention a rear fender? If you don’t already have one, you will find out you’ll need one after your first ride in the rain and finding out you have a stripe of your back.
I recommend front and rear fenders on a commuter bike. A very good set of lights (those can be expensive, I spent around $300). And if you can't bring the bike inside the office you will aslo need good locks.
I think fenders are only marginally useful to be honest. If it's really raining or snowy, you are getting wet fenders or not. They will not save you from vehicles splashing water on you from the side. Best bet is to shower/change at work and wear rain gear if there's a potential for rain or puddles.
I'm in the pro fender camp, front and rear. As a casual bike commuter, my fenders have saved me from getting filthy quite a few times. Fenders also give me cause to bike when the weather forecast might otherwise tempt me to drive the car.

An inexpensive way to increase your visibility is to wear a construction vest: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=construction ... _sb_noss_2. The drawback is that construction vests are made with materials that don't breath well.
caffeperfavore
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by caffeperfavore »

Pancho wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:22 pm Spread the word about the “Dutch Reach”:

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... vers-doors
The Dutch have this bicycle (and quality of life) thing figured out. There's a Canadian YouTuber living in Amsterdam that has a great series on cycling and life in the Netherlands: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC0intL ... G-xAvUEO-A

I highly recommend it for anyone interested in promoting better cycling and transportation infrastructure where they live.
Lalamimi
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Lalamimi »

don't see it in comments. Where will you park at work? Take bike into office? Chained on the street to bike rack or pole? Change clothes at office? I would keep spare change of clothes at office, just in case weather changes half way there...
snailderby
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by snailderby »

How do you plan to store the bike at work? Is there any danger of it getting stolen, especially if it's a $650 electric bike? A bolt cutter can make short work of a cable lock (and even many U-locks).
Onlineid3089
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Onlineid3089 »

I'd travel farther to be able to stay on bike lanes/paths or lower traffic roads vs high traffic roads or any sidewalk. Give yourself plenty of time in case anything holds you up.

Keep the rubber side down :beer
random_walker_77
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by random_walker_77 »

alfaspider wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 9:52 am Consider an anti-puncture tire such as the Continental Gatorskin to reduce the possibility of needing to fix a flat on your way to work when you are running late for a meeting. There are also anti-flat tubes that I run. They are heavy, but your commute isn't the Tour de France.
What's the current thinking on tire liners? In my student days, I never got flats after putting in tire liners. I remember pulling out a nail, which hit the tire liner and bent 80 degrees. The bending nail left a slightly bigger hole in the tire, but it kept working fine.

I forget what brand I had, but it was something like this:
https://www.amazon.com/STOP-Flats2-MTB- ... K2FM8?th=1
https://www.amazon.com/Thorn-Buster-Inn ... B00ZQV70HY
yosh99
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by yosh99 »

I commuted about 10 miles each way by bike over the summers for 40 years, but am retired now. Over the years I felt biking became increasingly unsafe primarily due to distracted and hostile drivers. The one rule that I suggest is that you never assume the drivers around you see you. Even people looking right at you may be so distracted you don't register for them.

That said, biking to work is a great way to stay in shape and stay active. I used to look forward to my ride home every day and it was often the highlight of my work day.
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FiveK
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by FiveK »

alfaspider wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:13 am...sidewalks generally have very poor sight lines compared to streets, and neither drivers nor pedestrians are expecting fast moving cycling traffic on them.
That's a point on which all might agree: when a road is dangerous enough to suggest use of a parallel sidewalk, one should not expect to move at the same speed on a sidewalk as on a road.
tchoupitoulas
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by tchoupitoulas »

One thing that has been helpful for me that I haven't seen mentioned yet: take notes! I have a little document on my phone where I note the clothes that kept me comfortable in ranges of 10 degrees F. So when I wake up and see that it's in the 40s I can check my phone and know that I'll be comfortable with pants, a shirt, a windbreaker, and light gloves. This is hugely helpful because it's so easy to forget what works as the seasons change and (for me anyway) wearing the right gear is a key part of staying comfortable no matter the weather.

Don't agonize too much in advance about which route to take. If you commute regularly there will be plenty of time to experiment with different options and see what you like best.
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batpot
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by batpot »

yosh99 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 12:21 pm I commuted about 10 miles each way by bike over the summers for 40 years, but am retired now. Over the years I felt biking became increasingly unsafe primarily due to distracted and hostile drivers. The one rule that I suggest is that you never assume the drivers around you see you. Even people looking right at you may be so distracted you don't register for them.
yes, eye contact is key.
goes for pedestrians in crosswalks as well.

But I'm also lucky to live in a locale where biking is generally respected by drivers.
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

Lalamimi wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:45 am don't see it in comments. Where will you park at work? Take bike into office? Chained on the street to bike rack or pole? Change clothes at office? I would keep spare change of clothes at office, just in case weather changes half way there...
I'm lucky there big locker room and a shop to keep my bike in. I'll lock it to something in shop but it's a secure area in general. If someone did walk by it would be by accident. I can easily carry my clothes on bike
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Johm221122
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Johm221122 »

FiveK wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:53 pm
alfaspider wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:13 am...sidewalks generally have very poor sight lines compared to streets, and neither drivers nor pedestrians are expecting fast moving cycling traffic on them.
That's a point on which all might agree: when a road is dangerous enough to suggest use of a parallel sidewalk, one should not expect to move at the same speed on a sidewalk as on a road.
Definitely I'll move slowly these seven blocks and walk bike across street at 4 off them. The other 3 are very small and I'll use my judgement. Doing this it takes me 20 minutes on my old bike. Plus bad weather I'll still use public transportation/uber.
criticalmass
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by criticalmass »

When in the street or in bike lanes, be very cautious with adjacent parked cars. Doors can open suddenly and without warning in front of you. Bikers call it getting "doored" and it can be deadly, or worse.
Some states (e.g. Virginia) have now made the damages for collision the fault of whoever opens the vehicle door without looking, however that doesn't change the injury and damage effects. So use caution. I always leave plenty of space for car doors to open, even if this means not using the bike lane if someone put the bike lane so it is in the way of open car/truck doors.

In my area, bikes are allowed on the wide sidewalks, aka "multi use paths." Bikes are not supposed to be in the traditional narrower paths, aka "sidewalks." But that status can change from block to block so it gets confusing. In general, sidewalks are dangerous to ride bicycles on them. Not just because of pedestrians, but uneven surfaces, vehicles and people crossing the sidewalk without expecting anyone to be moving quickly on them, or looking at all for them. If you are moving against traffic on your side of the road, sidewalks get even more dangerous.

At night, consider fun lights that light up the frame to increase visibility from all angles, not just your front/rear lights. LED lighting is one of the biggest biking improvements in years.
Take good care of your bike. Use the right lube (I like Boeshield, but everyone has an opinion--just use a good one for your conditions) and clean the chain regularly using a chain cleaner. Only takes a few minutes, then re-lubricate.
Try not to use the bike in salty conditions and wipe parts down after a rainy ride. Salt will damage internal parts, cables, shifters, gears, hubs, and everything else.

Above all, enjoy the commute!! And the fresh air with exercise.
FrugalFed
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by FrugalFed »

tomsense76 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:48 am
peseta wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:50 pm Along the lines of some of these comments . . . how much does commuting primarily on dedicated bike trail(s) improve the safety of bike commuting? As a dad to small kids, the safety aspect has been a major impediment to taking up bike commuting, but I can do my current post-pandemic commute primarily on a dedicated bike facility (W&OD trail for those in Northern Virginia that are familiar). Thanks!
I knew a few folks that biked on the trails on their work commute in that area. Don't recall them having any issues.

Would recommend Bluemont Junction Trail. There's always a few runners and bikers on that trail. Goes through a quiet neighborhood. It does cross George Mason and Wilson at the beginning nearer to Ballston though there are walk signals there. Alternatively could also drive and park at Bluemont Park and ride bikes down Bluemont Junction Trail, W&OD, or Four Mile Run from there if you wanted to do that. Usually there are families in that area having picnics or people playing tennis at the courts. During the summer bugs may be more of an issue, but shouldn't be a problem this time of the year.
Thanks! Great suggestions.
criticalmass
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by criticalmass »

tomsense76 wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 1:48 am
peseta wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 10:50 pm Along the lines of some of these comments . . . how much does commuting primarily on dedicated bike trail(s) improve the safety of bike commuting? As a dad to small kids, the safety aspect has been a major impediment to taking up bike commuting, but I can do my current post-pandemic commute primarily on a dedicated bike facility (W&OD trail for those in Northern Virginia that are familiar). Thanks!
I knew a few folks that biked on the trails on their work commute in that area. Don't recall them having any issues.

Would recommend Bluemont Junction Trail. There's always a few runners and bikers on that trail. Goes through a quiet neighborhood. It does cross George Mason and Wilson at the beginning nearer to Ballston though there are walk signals there. Alternatively could also drive and park at Bluemont Park and ride bikes down Bluemont Junction Trail, W&OD, or Four Mile Run from there if you wanted to do that. Usually there are families in that area having picnics or people playing tennis at the courts. During the summer bugs may be more of an issue, but shouldn't be a problem this time of the year.
Popular bike rail-trails like W&OD (Virginia), Capital Crescent (Maryland), and Minuteman Commuter Bikeway (Massachusetts) are some of the busiest bike paths in the country. (I think W&OD and Minuteman "compete" for #1 spot each year). This year, everything is even more bonkers, as people are staying close to home but want to get outside. As such, the biggest issue is other bikers and pedestrians on the trail. Slow down, announce, and pass carefully. Be especially careful at at-grade crossings. Be kind.
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black jack
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by black jack »

Long-time year-round commuter in DC (once, and future, I hope, working from home now).

A helmet protects your head from the asphalt if/when you fall. Please wear one.

High visibility clothing is a must. It needn't be expensive: I use a vest like those worn by construction workers that cost about $6 on Amazon. You can wear it over whatever you're wearing year-round (as opposed to a nice high-viz jacket that you would only use four months a year in Memphis).

Good lights, as others have said.

I love my mirror.

A rack and pannier combo is much more comfortable than carrying stuff in a backpack (and the backpack would cover up your high-viz clothing from being seen by drivers overtaking you).

Your bike has tires that are 2+ inches wide. Unless you're regularly riding through construction areas, you might well go years between flats. I would not prioritize carrying stuff for a flat, but if you want to, just carry a spare tube and a pump.

You're fit, so could probably ride 15+mph comfortably. Going one extra mile to avoid the busy street/sidewalk would only add 4 minutes to your trip, and sounds like it would be much more pleasant.

Dress for how you'll feel after ten minutes of riding. In the winter, that means you should feel a little cold at the start; otherwise you'll be dripping sweat after ten minutes, which is not pleasant when the air is cold.

Stay three feet away from cars parked along your route; someday one of those doors will open right in front of you.

Enjoy! Exercise makes you healthier and happier.
We cannot absolutely prove [that they are wrong who say] that we have seen our best days. But so said all who came before us, and with just as much apparent reason. | -T. B. Macaulay (1800-1859)
dcabler
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by dcabler »

Pre-Covid I was bike commuting to work ~3x per week about 10 miles each way. I'm now riding 20 miles a day for exercise + 50-60 on Saturdays.

Anyway, get a quality helmet.
Light your bike up like a Christmas tree! You want to be seen.
Headlight.
Rear red blinking light.
I also have a bright red blinking light I mount to the back of my helmet.
The above are all recharged via USB
Quality glasses.
Neck gaiter that can be used in the summer to keep the sun off your neck, as a balaclava in the winter, etc.
I recommend bibs instead of bike shorts - they can be had cheaply from amazon.
Long legged bibs for winter, jacket/windbreaker.
Panniers for your clothes, work supplies, etc.
Hope you have showers at work - your co-workers will thank you! (keep shower sandals, soap, shampoo, etc at work)
A good commuter or hybrid bike - I ride an REI cty bike

Cheers.
hightower
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by hightower »

Johm221122 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:18 pm I'm going to start commuting by bike because of problems with public transportation ( funding issues, budget cuts/ covid issue with passenger limits).Any pointers?

I just bought a 2021 Townie Path 9D Step-Over and I'm going to do a 5 mile ride each way. It's three quarters bike lane ride on a road with little traffic and one fourth busy street ( that I'll use sidewalks, sidewalk is barley used).

I'm in fine shape and I've done it a couple times before on a cheap bike, looking for any tips or suggestions?
I commuted by bike to work for many years during residency and the first 6-7 years of practice. I rode 4-5 miles each way through downtown and a close up-town neighborhood. It's so good for you to do that consistently everyday. I greatly miss it. But, it's definitely dangerous. Wear a helmet consistently every day no matter what is number one. Second, invest in several high powered, very bright flashing lights for the front and rear of your bike and keep them on at all times (mind were so bright I actually had people in cars pull up next to me at traffic lights and complain that they were too bright). I told them, they're working as intended. Third, always assume you are completely invisible to everyone else on the road. Use hand signals to turn or change lanes. Stop at intersections. Be incredibly aware of your surroundings at all times. Even then, there's nothing stopping someone from falling asleep at the wheel or driving under the influence. Hence why rule number 1 is so important
criticalmass
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by criticalmass »

hightower wrote: Sat Nov 14, 2020 11:39 am
Johm221122 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:18 pm I'm going to start commuting by bike because of problems with public transportation ( funding issues, budget cuts/ covid issue with passenger limits).Any pointers?

I just bought a 2021 Townie Path 9D Step-Over and I'm going to do a 5 mile ride each way. It's three quarters bike lane ride on a road with little traffic and one fourth busy street ( that I'll use sidewalks, sidewalk is barley used).

I'm in fine shape and I've done it a couple times before on a cheap bike, looking for any tips or suggestions?
I commuted by bike to work for many years during residency and the first 6-7 years of practice. I rode 4-5 miles each way through downtown and a close up-town neighborhood. It's so good for you to do that consistently everyday. I greatly miss it. But, it's definitely dangerous. Wear a helmet consistently every day no matter what is number one. Second, invest in several high powered, very bright flashing lights for the front and rear of your bike and keep them on at all times (mind were so bright I actually had people in cars pull up next to me at traffic lights and complain that they were too bright). I told them, they're working as intended. Third, always assume you are completely invisible to everyone else on the road. Use hand signals to turn or change lanes. Stop at intersections. Be incredibly aware of your surroundings at all times. Even then, there's nothing stopping someone from falling asleep at the wheel or driving under the influence. Hence why rule number 1 is so important
The light brightness is a safety issue as well. LEDs put out an amazing amount of high intensity light using tiny amounts of power, but the ability to blind runners, bikers, and drivers does mean courtesy is needed, for your safety and everyone else's safety. Aim the lights to minimize blinding folks and dim the light when other people are around in front of you.

Would you drive around and turn the high beam lights on in other people's eyes? Of course not. Same issue with those intensely bright lights on a bicycle. Some lights can be easily dimmed with a button, but it can be easier to temporarily cover the light until you pass someone.

As a reminder, blinding someone with your light does not increase YOUR safety or theirs, so be courteous. If someone is saying your lights are blinding them, believe them--you are affecting their safety. It can take a while to get any night vision back after someone ahead of you is approaching with their bright LED light shining directly at you. On a bicycle, that is especially hazardous because you need vision at all times.
boomer_techie
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by boomer_techie »

AnEngineer wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:00 pm Riding on the sidewalk can be less safe then you think, even without pedestrians. If you're going the 'wrong' way, then approaching cars won't look in your direction and may hit you. Even going the right way, you're traveling much faster than a pedestrian and much further to the side of the road compared to cars, so approaching cars won't look in your direction. Cars approaching your road or making a left turn from the other direction are likely your biggest concerns here, but also the right hook already mentioned can also occur (although this is less excusable).
Ditto. Drivers develop "tunnel vision" - only looking a short distance to the side. When turning into a driveway or cross street, the tunnel vision is wide enough to see pedestrians moving at a walking speed. It is not wide enough to see a fast moving bicycle on a sidewalk. If a cyclist insists on riding on a sidewalk, they need to stop, dismount, and walk the bike across every driveway and cross street.

One way to combat the "right hook" is to move left and take the lane as you approach an intersection. This prevents a right turning car from overtaking you and immediately turning over you. Taking the lane also makes you more visible to turning oncoming traffic, hopefully preventing some "left crosses."

When approaching a red light, I'll filter forward and position myself five feet in front of the first car (towards the side, in the bike lane if one is present.) When the light changes, a bicycle will beat every car across the intersection (unless it is like a ten lane crossroad.) This means you will not be in the way of the first car. By the time the car has to pass you, you will be safely along the side of the road on the other side of the intersection.

Here's a "paradox": I had a choice of cycling along a major busy six lane Silicon Valley road, or riding through the "neighborhoods". It turned out the busy road is safer. On the residential streets, there are parked cars blocking the view, soccer moms backing out of driveways without looking, kids running out into the street, kids biking out into the street, dogs running into the street, streets artfully curving thus blocking the view, and many other hazards. On the busy street, nobody ventures into the lanes without carefully checking.

I've seen videos of an "advanced technique" when cycling in dense urban traffic jams: The cyclist would lane split right down the middle of the road, i.e. on the double yellow. This was far safer than the side of the road: On the side there are car doors suddenly opening and also cars turning. There's none of that in the middle. I did wonder what would happen when the cyclist encountered their doppelgänger going the other way. (Note, because of the jammed traffic, the cyclist was faster than the cars. Thus the cyclist was just following the rule of faster traffic keeping to the left.)

...

When carrying cargo, use racks and panniers. Let the bike carry the weight.
alex345
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Location: Altadena, CA

Re: Commuting by bike

Post by alex345 »

100% agree on drivers and tunnel vision as well as sidewalks being unsafe. Only bike on the sidewalk if you are puttering along at a jogging pace or less. For reference my average speed is about 15 mph.

Lane positioning and awareness is the most important thing about biking in traffic. It is always a trade-off. My default position is about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way in the lane towards the right side of the center. Approximately where the right wheels would be if you were driving a car. This positioning means you are biking in the clean part of the road, you are inside the "tunnel vision" of the cars behind you and they have to make a conscious decision on when and how to pass. You are much more visible to cars pulling out and from the opposite direction since you are in the place where other drivers are looking for other vehicles. The tiny shoulder of the road bike lanes are garbage and dangerous in many cases.

If I am going slower, I ride more right, if I am going faster I ride more toward the center. If there are parked cars or hidden intersections, peds, anything happening on the right I ride more center. When riding past parked cars on the right, look for people in them, brake lights, wheels turning toward the road, etc. Anything to indicate there is a person in that car and assume it will either door you or pull out on you. If you see any of that take more of the lane. Finally ride in a straight line as much as possible, do not take less of the lane in the gap between parked cars unless you are going slow and letting just one car pass
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

Johm221122 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:18 pm I'm going to start commuting by bike because of problems with public transportation ( funding issues, budget cuts/ covid issue with passenger limits).Any pointers?

I just bought a 2021 Townie Path 9D Step-Over and I'm going to do a 5 mile ride each way. It's three quarters bike lane ride on a road with little traffic and one fourth busy street ( that I'll use sidewalks, sidewalk is barley used).

I'm in fine shape and I've done it a couple times before on a cheap bike, looking for any tips or suggestions?
Sidewalks can be unsafe -- especially if they cross driveways into homes or businesses as cars pulling out and backing up don't see them. Not to mention intersections, pedestrians, etc.

I don't know the area you're biking in, but it might be worth checking out routes that avoid the busy road. For example, if I wanted to commute to work, I could take the main road (decent shoulder, but 50mph traffic) or I could bypass it by following a route a block away that has much less traffic and adds only a quarter mile onto my commute, or take the residential streets where traffic is low and there are bike lanes.
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FiveK
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by FiveK »

As is often the case, the word "sidewalk" applies to a variety of situations.

E.g., see CyclingSavvy: When Sidewalk Riding Is Your Best Option. In other words, "it depends...."
TonyDAntonio
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by TonyDAntonio »

alfaspider wrote: Fri Nov 13, 2020 10:13 am
AnEngineer wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 8:00 pm
Johm221122 wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:29 pm
FiveK wrote: Thu Nov 12, 2020 4:26 pm Riding on the sidewalk may be legally wrong but likely subject to a lower likelihood of serious injury. Riding in the road on a busy street w/o a bike lane may be legally correct but subject to a higher likelihood of serious injury.
Legal in my city and it's only 1 mile. I agree with you
Riding on the sidewalk can be less safe then you think, even without pedestrians. If you're going the 'wrong' way, then approaching cars won't look in your direction and may hit you. Even going the right way, you're traveling much faster than a pedestrian and much further to the side of the road compared to cars, so approaching cars won't look in your direction. Cars approaching your road or making a left turn from the other direction are likely your biggest concerns here, but also the right hook already mentioned can also occur (although this is less excusable).
This. In many situations, cycling on the sidewalk is considerably MORE dangerous than the road. It may seem counterintuitive, but sidewalks generally have very poor sight lines compared to streets, and neither drivers nor pedestrians are expecting fast moving cycling traffic on them. There are limited exceptions for very high speed roads with no shoulder or bike lanes that receive minimal pedestrian traffic (common in the outer suburbs), but on most urban roads, cycling on the sidewalk is a VERY bad and dangerous idea.
Don't ride on sidewalks and don't ride against traffic in the streets!!. The safest place to ride is in the street, with traffic, and far enough in the slow lane to avoid folks opening their parked car doors. Be prepared for idiots honking their horns telling you to get off the road. You have a right to the slow lane. If you can't get use to riding in the street with traffic stick to indoor cycling or off road. I don't even consider off road bike paths safe. Runners, walkers, dogs, other bikers, skaters, and the worst...paths that cross roadways so you have to almost come to a stop before crossing, make bike paths a no go for me.

50 years of bike riding experience with multiple tours including one cross country. Google all this if you don't believe me.
Lynette
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Re: Commuting by bike

Post by Lynette »

I am terrified of bikers. I am retired now and especially during the COVID times, more people (including elderly) seem to be using bikes. In my area there are narrow roads often with cars parked on both sides. If I come across a biker riding at a leisurely pace, I have to drive behind the biker for quite some time as I cannot pass them. On highways I often cannot change lanes as the traffic is heavy. My main concern is bikers riding next to one another. Yesterday, I was driving on a narrow road with cars on both sides. There were three bikers riding next to one another. I would have had to move to the other side of the road to pass them. Eventually I passed them and waited for them at the next intersection. It was a mother and two teenage daughters. She said "I know, I know" and rode on as she did not want to discuss my concerns about her and her children's safety, mine and that of potential oncoming traffic.

Enjoy biking but try to do so safely.
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