For those that commute or go into moderately crowded public areas

Do you guys ever accidentally hit pedestrians or parked cars (UPDs,etc) and is it often? Sidewalks and street ride.

Especially those of you that are still learning, like you know how to balance, but it’s not perfect? I mean it does take time to get real good and I can’t spend months going in circles in an empty lot, gotta get out there and actually experience it.

What do you do about it? Does a normal “sorry about that” work?

Because with bikes you can just have one foot out and just sit still, but a unicycle you have to either dismount and even idling requires moving back and forth, not to mention the brake factor, many unicycles don’t have brakes as most bikes do have brakes.

I’ve been trying to go into the street but I’m still wobbly, which I also have a question about it at the end of this post. Anyhow, fortunately I haven’t bumped any cars or haven’t gone into crowded areas yet, but there were a few times where I almost lost my balance and almost did bump into the cars…

Okay, about the question: I know you guys say put your weight on the seat but I’ve been having issues with that, especially when it comes to bumps on the street. Those bumps that get you unexpectedly. That’s one of the things that keep me “on my feet” or rather I say on my knees. I have my weight on the seat and then suddenly I hit a bump and the seat buckles beneath me and I quickly try to keep the unicycle underneath me. That makes me very uneasy and it kills the relaxing nature of the ride.

I haven’t mastered the one hand unicycle ride either but I just want to ride with both arms to the side, very relaxed (eventually get to this point). The bumps always cause me to look at the ground a lot instead of the scenery around me.

Does practicing make dealing with those bumps A LOT better? Bumps on a bike doesn’t make me lose balance, it’s just uncomfortable. But with a unicycle it has thrown me off a few times.

I’ve never hit anyone, except my one friend once or twice who comes cycling/skateboarding with me. He forgave me, but an unknown member of public might not… I usually just yell out ‘SCUSE ME’ When coming up behind someone and they give me a wide birth :smiley: As for cars, I either stand on the spot for a second and hope they pass (I can’t idle properly yet) Or jump off and onto the pavement (Dangerous I know, but if the road is that dangerous then I don’t ride it anyway!) The only other advice I can give is, try to keep away from really crowded spots until you’re a bit more comfortable riding (Which I know is a bit chicken-egg… You need to get comfortable riding in public but can’t ride in public 'till you’re comfortable) - Going out with friends (Whether they uni or not) Is helpful here, go anywhere, ask them if they want a walk to the shop and just uni along, that way you end up doing stuff without noticing!

And don’t worry about brakes for now. Stopping pedalling stops you fast enough!

It comes with practice! :smiley: Keep the weight on the seat when possible, but really it’s OK to stand up for a second to go over a bump or climb a stubborn hill, but just keep going and going, you’ll figure out on your own how much you need to raise off the seat for different obstacles :slight_smile:

What size uni and tyre do you have?
I have the Nimbus II 20" with 1.95 kenda tyre which is fat enough to allow me to drop the pressure a bit and ride over bumps to a degree.

If you are riding with a high pressure, the uni can throw you off at the slightest bump if you are a novice like me.

By law I’m a pedestrian, but if I hit another pedestrian it in deed results in screaming people, while that never would have happen if I wasn’t on the unicycle.
I simply don’t bother anymore. And most of the time go on the cyclepath anyway, where there’s bicycle bells not to alert for danger, but more is a sign that somebody behind you was too late to ride on the spot you’re on.

Yeah I was thinking about trying to drop the pressure down quite a bit and see how it feels (unfortunately torker is broken so I’ll have to wait a bit more).

I had the pressure a bit lower when I first started riding, it was by accident. I quickly pumped it back up because of the minimum psi number on the side of the kenda tire that said 40 (it was 30) and I just recently found out that I didn’t have to worry about that number. The other reason was because it made turn and riding a bit harder since I was new, the knobby tire. I was mostly riding on flat cement, but sometimes had to deal with uneven asphalt roads.

Most of the time when riding on the street, I ride with one hand on the handle to steady myself against unexpected bumps. My weight is off the seat and more on the pedals when riding bumpy asphalt.

You’re right in that it detracts from the “dreaminess” of the ride and it’s harder to look at the surrounding scenery when you’re tensed up anticipating bumps. But when riding on the street, I also have to be alert for traffic, so I can’t daydream anyways.

As someone else mentioned, you can try slow hopping in place or using still stands to wait for traffic/pedestrians to clear out the way before proceeding. That skill is within reach of newer riders.

We’re pedestrians on unicycles??? Seriously? I would’ve thought a unicycle would be considered a mode of transportation.

Suppose it depends where you live, I think in England they’re covered under the same laws as two-wheelers (IE. Road-going vehicles) The law even (used to) State ‘cycles with one or more wheels’ (Or words to that effect) though that’s been changed relatively recently. I guess it also depends on your wheelsize (Surely a 20" is allowed on the pavements, but I wouldn’t even want to ride a 36er near pedestrians…) And it definately depends on the cop pulling you over :smiley:

It does depend where you live. In New York City, the law is very clear on the question of how many wheels a bicycle has, so most bicycle regulations do not legally apply to unicyclists, as far as I know, but that doesn’t mean the cops won’t apply them to you anyway. I know of several unicyclists who’ve successfully challenged bicycle tickets in court, and even a guy who won some money in an out-court-settlement after being brutally arrested for not putting his giraffe away quickly enough, so theoretically the law is on your side, but do you really have time for this?

I’ve been riding NYC streets for over 30 years, and in all that time, I think I’ve bumped into someone just once, and that was just a gentle tap. That’s it. It really takes practice, and you also have to develop a sense of playing a sort of moving chess with lots of slightly unpredictable pieces.

I think you owe it to the people you’ll be riding around as well as their cars (since you mentioned them) to be able to ride amongst them without bumping into them, within reason. I say within reason because there will always be that one unexpected person that jumps in your way, and not even the greatest rider could anticipate.

I know I’d be upset if someone ran into my truck due to lack of ability (not to drag you down). You don’t have to be great at riding yet, just enough to where you ‘know’ that you won’t be running into people or cars.

Even if you don’t actually idle, the ability to idle will give you a steadiness and smoothness to cruise slowly among pedestrians carrying their groceries or walking their dogs or whatever.

I just have offdays too. Like some days I just get on the unicycle and it’s okay and some days I don’t know what’s wrong with me I can’t even freemount…

The combination of unexpected bumps, falling off, and having my unicycle flying towards a park car :astonished:

Oh yeah I was wondering about this: I was riding at a park to meet a friend. I sometimes ride really slow and enjoy the scenery and I don’t go on the bike path because I’m not specifically going anywhere and a pedestrian, this man, gets at me about how I’m stealing his path and I should be on the bike path.

But I just want to bike and look at the scenery, how am I going to do that biking all the way out in the street?

Can I argue that point? I’m planning to do the same with the unicycle. I try to be as courteous as I can…and I didn’t feel like walking…

Yeah I’m going to learn to idle, freemount 100%, one hand riding, and jumping up on curves before I start using the unicycle to commute to the bart station. Those are all on my checklists before I really starting commuting. At the moment I’m just cruising around, but I’m still a bit of a hazard to everything around me until I know how to ride better.

Absolutely. If your riding is not solid, and you’re not confident in what you’re doing, stay away from people and (other peoples’) cars. And plate glass. This includes the distance your unicycle can shoot if you have a bad dismount. Make sure you aren’t trying tricks & things where your uni might be ejected toward someone.

A good response to that would be “I should be on a bike.” Followed by, “Have a nice day!”

If he persists in whining, how about “Sorry, I didn’t know it was your path, I thought it belonged to all of us.”

ive only had one incident in my 4 or so months of uni commuting so far

had to dismount my uni into a bikes front wheel due to a group of truly ineptly guided tourists milling around on the bike cattle grids instead of moving through the pedestrian gates onto midsummer common, cambridge. Surrounded by tourists and commuters i was unable to idle and had to chose the safest direction with minimum damage to dismount.

The big mistake i made was crossing the road on a green light having passed half the group and assuming the leaders on the other side would move them somewhere safe. instead the two groups combined and even managed to block the road for several minutes

My take away advice is that a group is often as intelligent as its least intelligent member. Always assume that groups will follow the most dangerous routes and actions both to themselves and to you.

I ride my 36 frequently on bike/pedestrian walkways and I use the courtesy of saying ‘on the left’ when coming up on anyone that I will be passing close to.

But I have had two minor incidences:

  1. Sometimes people just don’t know what ‘on you left’ means or they don’t know which way is left and the panic and bolt to the left. I was passing a group of about 10 people and they all were moving to the left. I was riding slowly right next to them waiting for the last person to move while patiently saying ’ on the left’ when all the sudden somebody moved to the left out of the group. She apparently finally heard me, didn’t notice everyone else had moved the right side, and had that panic reaction. Fortunately I was able to reach out with my hand, put it on her shoulder, and stop her from running into the front of my wheel. I managed not to fall. I was amazed at that. I then heard her saying to her friends that she can ‘check off her bucket list almost getting run over by a unicyclist.’

  2. A similar thing happened on a narrow part of the path that is only three shoulder widths across. A guy on a bicycle passed me. I was kind of annoyed that he didn’t warn me with an ‘on the left’ since it is so narrow. So he got between me and two other people that were chatting and just taking up the path. I caught up to the cyclist who wasn’t saying excuse me or anything and the walkers were just oblivious that he trying to get by. Since I didn’t want to wait I said ‘on the left’ as I approached. The women on the right pretty much threw herself against the barricade on the right. The women on the left thew herself against the barricade on the left. Right in front of the cyclist who then ran into her - but gently. I went right between all three and continued on.

“On the left” works great 95% of the time. A few times it causes panic. But some people walk down the middle of the path and refuse to move even a little to the left, being annoyed that you are talking to them. For them I have a bad habit of riding a little too close. Most of the time this causes them to jump when I pass as they expect someone on a bicycle and not so high up on a 36. :slight_smile:

That’s why I just yell SCUSE ME when I’m pretty far away, that way they react in time and i can ride on whatever side they don’t jump to :smiley:

I’m fortunate in that I’ve never hit a pedestrian or car and I hope to keep it that way.

I’ll echo the sentiment that you owe it to pedestrians, vehicle owners, and yourself to get in a bit more practice before venturing out into public, especially if you aren’t feeling completely comfortable with riding yet.

Ask yourself this… do you want to be in a position where you hit someone and only then find out if a “sorry about that” is going to be enough? I sure wouldn’t.

I initially got into uni to commute around a college campus, so there was lots of foot traffic. Quite often you’ll come across a pedestrian that assumes you don’t know what you’re doing, they will:

  1. Be walking along, see you, and then completely stop like a deer in headlights until you have completely passed them. To them even a 20’ wide sidewalk wouldn’t be wide enough for them to amicably pass by a unicycle coming the opposite direction.
  2. Pull some squirrel moves in a frantic bid to get out of your way… even though their moves took them from not in your path to in your path.
  3. The fan out maneuver. Plenty of room to pass… until at the last second when that group of friends decides they are going to fan out and walk shoulder to shoulder, taking up the entire width of the sidewalk. Some shoulder to shoulder sidewalk hogs will even see you and just dare you to hit them, they WILL. NOT. MOVE. FOR. ANYTHING. OR. ANYONE. Not much you can do about those types. This is when you disappoint them by going “off-road” to get around.
  4. “Passing on your left” pedestrian moves left… or they turn around at which case their back becomes their front and they do the squirrel.

All fun things. #1 above used to drive me absolutely nuts because at the time I took it as commentary on my ability to ride. :wink: That prompted me to learn how to ride under complete control with both hands behind my back. I figured that if people saw me with both hands behind my back, riding rock solid with no waving around, then they’d know I wasn’t going to be a hazard to them. It really did help, both with my confidence and the pedestrians confidence. My encounters with type #1 went waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down.

Why not? I don’t see it as a chicken/egg thing. I’d want to at least be at some minimum level before venturing out into conditions where I would be a liability to myself or others and you can certainly learn more stable riding away from public.

Here’s my $.02.

  1. If a street intersection is populated at all, get off and walk the unicycle across. It seems like whenever I try to ride across, if there are any people present they do one of the maneuvers very accurately described above by jbtilley. Better to be safe than sorry!

  2. It seems like one of those universal laws that if the pathway narrows, that will be the exact spot where you need to pass a pedestrian, AND a bicyclist will come up to pass right there as well.

I think a good rule is to be prepared to jump off whenever there are people around. Practice controlled dismounts as much as you practice freemounts. Especially if you’re riding a big wheel.