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Need help with traffic(26 posts)

Need help with trafficJoe Nordic
Jun 4, 2003 4:05 PM
I have been riding bike paths and no-traffic roads for
2 seasons. I cannot seem to make the transition to traffic.
When I see a car approaching or hear one from behind, I
get nervous and my legs want to stop pedalling. I wind up
coasting until the car passes. Can someone offer any tips
for getting past this problem?
Meditate before riding:Alexx
Jun 4, 2003 4:15 PM
Oooooohhhmmmmmmm Maaaaannnnnniiiiii Paaaadddmmmmeeeeeeee Huuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Oooooohhhmmmmmmm Maaaaannnnnniiiiii Paaaadddmmmmeeeeeeee Huuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Oooooohhhmmmmmmm Maaaaannnnnniiiiii Paaaadddmmmmeeeeeeee Huuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Oooooohhhmmmmmmm Maaaaannnnnniiiiii Paaaadddmmmmeeeeeeee Huuuuummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

You get the idea....
You cant meditate while typing on the computerishmael
Jun 4, 2003 7:10 PM
I dont get the idea. What he needs to do is get in the middle of the lane, sprint for a bit to pick up his pace, and then ignore all the cars and act like he's a mack truck with spikes out all sides.
I havent read anyone else's advice but that's what youve got to do. I like to wear my double breasted gun holster too. I dont carry a gun, that's illegal, but just wearing the holster around works. And a cowboy hat too. The hat is strapped on the back so it doesnt fall off. It keeps the rain and the sun off. I bend the hat for best wind-wind cutting resistance. Always use a hyphen when connecting two adjectives that need each other. Never ride without your tube, co2,and five bucks for when you run out of energy and have nothing to eat. The food always tastes the best when that happends. Thicker socks work best for me too. And I think I like thin chain oil. Dont waste your time shaving your legs, It's better spent riding.
I goes....eschelon
Jun 4, 2003 4:21 PM
1. You have to accept that fact that you are more likely than most people to die or get seriously injured from an automobile related accident.

2. If you accept this without riding in fear, than you are a step ahead.

3. You must not think of you and your bike as a bicycle need to think of yourself as a motorcyclist who happens to move along a roadway much such, you need to ride to the right side of the ride as practicable.

4. Do not ride so far on the right side that you increase the risk of causing a flat tire because the closer you get to the side of the road, the more likely debri will cause a punctured tire.

5. You have to ride your bike on the roadway that won't freak out the drivers and tick them off...i.e. ride predictably...hold your line...don't be erratic.

6. Use hand signals for turning...if you don't know, you need to find out...I don't want to explain step for step on what is left and what is right. Doing this, will definitely make you stick out in front of the auto drivers and will win you some respect with the drivers because it gives them indication that you know what you are doing.

7. Many, many jerks will endlessly F##k with you...I've never had stuff thrown at me, but it's never too late for it to happen to me...most of the time, I just get yelled at or honked to startle happens. Most of the time, you'll get called a queer, homo, etc.

8. Never ride your bike on the roadway thinking that the drivers see you or will give you the right-of-way...You have to ride your bike the other day, I was cruising along at 20 mph, and this car starts pulling into the roadway...I look at the guy's face and he never even looked at me, more importantly, our eyes never met and I assumed that he was going to t-bone into I screamed at the top of my lungs for him to stop...he stopped to a screach...startled...saved me from some serious hurt...but I still wouldn't change my habits of riding the roadways.
get a fixed gearctisevn
Jun 4, 2003 4:40 PM
problem solved.
huh? how?Drone 5200
Jun 4, 2003 6:59 PM
Nonsense. I understand most of the "get a fixed gear" response to spinning, fitness, strength, etc. type questions. But how would that help here?
the fixctisevn
Jun 4, 2003 7:17 PM
the original poster said:
" I
get nervous and my legs want to stop pedalling. I wind up
coasting until the car passes. Can someone offer any tips
for getting past this problem?"

fixies dont coast.
re: Need help with trafficGuidosan
Jun 4, 2003 5:22 PM
Just like everything else make sure you keep safety in mind as you start expanding your range. Ride in residential areas, and find another cyclist that will spend time with you. Check out the League of American Bicyclists at

They have a section on riding the road, commuting .... but nothing beats experience.

I ride with my three boys and there ages are from 8 - 13 and they are learning how to traffic jam and are pretty safe on the roads. One thing I keep reminding them is that you never assume a driver will see you. Be safe, have fun and hook up with another rider!
i got this map from my lbsFrith
Jun 4, 2003 5:38 PM
It basically details bicycle routes. It shows roads with dedicated bike lanes and MUTs but that's not where the real value is. The real value is that it shows which roads and routes are safest regardless of a dedicated lane. It has been instrumental in helping me plan routes I am often able to avoid huge chunks of dangerous roads. It's taken me to some beautiful perts of the city that I had no idea existed. Check your LBS it may be advertised as a bike path map but believe me its far more than that.
re: Need help with trafficjamesau
Jun 4, 2003 5:57 PM
Here's a good link:
Ride with a mirrorDCP
Jun 4, 2003 6:49 PM
Take A Look attached to glasses works well
knew someone who always wore the mirror inside sunglasses nmishmael
Jun 4, 2003 7:11 PM
Second the mirror suggestion...biknben
Jun 5, 2003 4:23 AM
I got one for my helmet because I was commuting on some horrendous roads during rush hour. Some of the roads were originally intended for light traffic and farming equipment. Now they have become major theroughfares (sp?) as people use them to avoid other roads that get backed up with traffic. Basically, a car can't pass me if another is coming in the other direction. At times there could be a line of cars on the other side of the road AND a bunch of cars waiting behind me as I'm riding. Every car behind me is getting impatient and itching to gun it around me when they get a chance. OH, and the edge of the road is falling apart from the overuse. IMO, that is stressful.

The mirror allows me to see what is going on behind me without having to turn my head and get twitchy on the bike. I can see the size of the vehicle and exactly how close someone is following me.

Rides are so much less stressful with a mirror in my opinion.
Is this a troll?filtersweep
Jun 4, 2003 7:42 PM
Just curious... never seen the poster before.
Is this a troll? - NoJoe Nordic
Jun 5, 2003 3:15 AM
No, I am not a troll. I started riding at age 49, and have
had to overcome a lot of obstacles that younger riders may
not have had to deal with. Riding in traffic has proven to
be the hardest one for me. Thanks to those who have
posted their ideas. I wonder if rollers in the off-season
would help?
No, THIS is a troll:Alexx
Jun 5, 2003 3:27 AM
re: Need help with traffic - know where the trouble isTurtle Boy
Jun 4, 2003 7:50 PM
I'm just getting into bike commuting in a very metro area. Its not as fun as crusin' down a quiet street, but I'm getting used to it. I happened to go to a bike commuting site and learned that 80% of bike / car accidents happen when you are changing lanes in traffic - followed by crossing and intersection. Being hit while in a bike lane or the side of the road is a much lower risk. So be aware of the high risk areas - be alert in the bike lane ... but there's no need to be in permanent freak-out mode.

And finally you need to ride a fine line between riding too close to the side of the road where you might be in danger - and too far out so vehicles can't get by without going way over into the on coming traffic. And lastly be courteous - give a thank you wave when someone sees you and gives you a break or the right away. At the same time be a little assertive as you have rights to be on the road surface too.

Be careful out there ..
re: Need help with traffical0
Jun 5, 2003 3:24 AM
Just ride. You fear would go away with time. I was in absolutely the same situation last autumns. Now I hardly notice the traffic around me and drive in it "automatically". One important remark - I live in Germany now and here drivers as a rule are respectful to cyclists.
re: Need help with traffictarwheel
Jun 5, 2003 4:22 AM
Ok, I'll give it a try. Here are some things that have helped me riding in traffic:
1. Always wear brightly colored jerseys and helmet, preferably red, yellow and orange.
2. Use a mirror. Mine mounts on the end of handlebar, left dropoout. Call me a Fred, but at least I'm not dead.
3. Take some of the lane. Don't ride so far to the left that you impede traffic, but far enough from the edge of the road where you are more visible and don't ride through debris. However, if there's a wide, paved shoulder, I ride to the right of the white line.
4. Ride with groups. You're much more visible and presumably safer riding in a group, assuming one of the other riders doesn't cause a wreck.
5. Search out riding routes on lightly traveled roads. All of the group rides in my area leave from a county park on the edge of the city, and we head away from the city on rides. Even though there are more than 1 million people living in my metro area, there are lots of lightly traveled roads -- you've just got to find them. My local bike club posts cue sheets on its web site with directions for dozens or routes on backroads.
6. Accept the fact that some roads just aren't safe to ride on. One of the best routes from my neighborhood has become off limits in recent years. It's a beautiful road that drops down into a valley below the dam of a large lake, then climbs back out and heads into the countryside from there. Unfortunately, a developer put in a huge housing complex a couple years ago and the traffic on that road has just become too heavy. It's a narrow, winding road and just not safe anymore so I stay off it.

BTW, I've been road riding for 30 years and I've never had a wreck, I've never been hit by a car and never even had what I would describe as a close call. I think safety depends a lot of you. I see a lot of cyclists wearing dark clothes (gray, black, dark blue), and they just aren't very visible. Most cyclists also seem to feel there's a stigma to using a mirror, which I think is just plain foolish, particularly if you do a lot of solo rides.
Traffic DrillsScot_Gore
Jun 5, 2003 4:26 AM
Treat it the same as you would any other biking behavior you want to develop. You likely already do this for other stuff. Want to climb hills better, faster, stronger? Start with small short hills and climb slow, then, progressivly ride longer steeper hills at a higher rate of speed. The repeation and increasing degrees of difficulty will teach you the skill.

Riding in traffic, same kind of thing.

So what's a traffic drill, two I can think of.
1) High speed traffic from behind is scary stuff. Find a > 50MPH road WITH a >=6 foot shoulder. You've got your own lane essentially. Now, ride the road at dawn multiple times, then 10:00am samething, then 3:00pm, then 5:00pm on a weekday. Your degree of confidence with high speed traffic from behind will go up.

2) Mixing with traffic is another hard but handy skill. For this one I'd find a suburban through street (2 lane each way if you've got one) with dedicated left turn lanes. Pick a block to circle with at least 2 left turns in the loop. Keep circling the loop moving across the traffic lanes into the left turn lanes, making the turn and go back around the block. Once again start this at dawn with almost no traffic around, and move the drill to progressivly busier times of day.

Jun 5, 2003 4:47 AM
Check out road riding classes that offer in your area. Just like riding cars, the more hour on bike the more experience you have in handling. So, here is my 2 cents,

handling experience + traffic know-how = confident
Your instincts are right. Avoid traffic.Continental
Jun 5, 2003 7:08 AM
I choose roads and times when traffic is very light. 5:30 am until 9:00 am Sundays. 5:30 to 6:30 on Weekdays and
Saturdays. Only lightly traveled Residential streets or bike paths other times. If you are nervous and uncomfortable in traffic, it's probably because you have the good sense to realize there is no such thing as a minor collision between a bike and a car, and it only takes a few seconds of distracted driving to kill or maim a cyclist. This board has a disproportionate number of high risk individuals who do things that most people would consider foolish. Ridng a bike in heavy traffic is one of them, in my opinion.
While you're at it....KEN2
Jun 5, 2003 7:34 AM
...better avoid traffic when you drive your car, too. Ever looked at the statistics of killed/maimed motorists? More killed each year in the US than in the entire Vietnam war!

I've bike-commuted for 20 some years, and in tens of thousands of miles I've never been hit, and had only a few close calls or scary moments. I ride sensibly but assertively, use a mirror, and plan routes carefully, but I don't "avoid" traffic. I don't consider my riding a "high-risk" activity, and statistics back that up.
Fatality rates for car-bike collisionsContinental
Jun 5, 2003 8:31 AM
If you're on your bike and get hit by a car going 20 mph, you have a 5% chance of dying. If you get hit by a car going 30 mph, you have a 50% chance of dying. Get hit at 40 mph and you die 85% of the time. Car-car collisions at less than 40 mph are rarely fatal.
Per mile bike fatality rate 10 times auto. Per trip, 3 X autoContinental
Jun 5, 2003 8:59 AM
I think that the posters giving a nervous and inexperienced cyclist advise on how to feel comfortable in traffic are giving very bad advice. If you feel nervous in traffic, stay out of traffic. If you feel comfortable in traffic and understand and accept the risk, you are free to make that choice. If you think bicycling in heavy traffic is safer than driving, you are not facing up to reality.
You can compensate when driving thoughkenyee
Jun 5, 2003 12:36 PM
Get a safer car...Volvo/MB/Saab.

Can't get a safer bike...