Riding in the street.

Sofa <Sofa.1l33m@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote in
news:Sofa.1l33m@timelimit.unicyclist.com:

I’ve read in the bicycle newsgroups about how you shouldn’t ride on the
sidewalk and you should “establish” yourself as a vehicle that belongs in
the roadway. Sometimes I’ll ride the sidewalk on my bike if I’m pulling a
hill and can’t hold a good speed. These drivers around here are crazy,
passing cyclists 3 inches away. I’m more than happy to cooperate if the
cars will, but I don’t see that happening. People just don’t have the
reasoning skills to get to that point. I know a guy who got his handlebars
clipped by a pickup truck mirror… People say “get the plate number” but
it’s damn near impossible when you’re suddenly flipped upside down and
trying to figure out how you’re going to land, and then trying to get out
of the road before some other idiot runs you over. One time some guy in a
Jeep Cherokee almost clipped me, and cut me off. We were on a 2-lane road
with no vehicles within half a mile. He didn’t have to turn right away.
He just wanted to be a dick. Even while still rolling, I would have had a
hard time getting his plate because of the speed at which he passed me.
I read a post from a guy on one of the bicycle newsgroups about how he
broke his collarbone and some ribs from some yahoo in a big SUV pulling a
trailer that was wider than the SUV. SUV clears the bike, trailer doesn’t.
Front end of the trailer nails the bike. Bike rider goes to hospital.

I’d like to know how it’s statistically more dangerous to ride on the
sidewalk. The biggest danger I can think of would be someone in a car
coming out of a cross-street and the cycle hitting the car broadside.
I’m not saying it’s safer, I just would like to know more about what people
have seen and heard on the subject. I personally have found that during
heavy traffic, and/or when I can’t hold a good speed, I find it safer on
the sidewalk. If traffic is pretty light, and I can hold a decent speed,
I’ll get on the street. In residential areas I always ride the street.
People can talk about “establishing” themselves, but once you’re hit,
you’re the one that loses. I’d like to know ways to help prevent accidents
like that. In Texas, a bicycle can legally take up a full 8-foot wide
lane. An 8-year-old boy had to die on his bicycle from getting hit by a
car for that to happen. Even so, people don’t know that, and even if they
did, I honestly doubt they would give a shit.

Give me your thoughts and opinions, please.

John

>
> Thanks man, that about covers everything, doesn’t it?
>
> If you get a summons to court, it’s because I used your name when
> telling the cop why I was riding in the middle of the highway! “But I’m
> NOT a slow moving vehicle, officer!”
>
>
> –
> Sofa
>
> “No, this doesn’t hurt my balls!”
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Sofa’s Profile: http://www.unicyclist.com/profile/706
> View this thread: http://www.unicyclist.com/thread/16910
>
>

Here’s my thought:

As a cyclist on the road, in theory, you are wearing protective gear. I know this isn’t gonna stop your collarbone from snapping, but you will get hit only by an idiot, and more traffic passes you safely then runs into you.

As a pedestrian, you’re gonna come around a corner, and get whacked by a rider, thinking it’s safer for him to ride on the sidewalk. The pedestrian isn’t going to have gear on, and is maybe holding a child’s hand. They are just as suseptable (sp?)
to life threatening injuries from 250 pounds smashing into them.

All in all, you’re on a vehicle. Sure it sucks (for the rider), but the sidewalk is just too crowded for bicycle use. If it’s not crowded, you’ll just eventually start riding faster, then hit someone who comes out of a store.

My 2 cents

Re: Riding in the street.

Sofa wrote:
> All in all, you’re on a vehicle. Sure it sucks (for the rider), but the
> sidewalk is just too crowded for bicycle use.

OT? I get the impression you’re thinking more about bikes than yikes. And
most experienced cyclists know that they’re safer riding on the road than on
the pavement (US - sidewalk).

One Canadian study of cycling commuters found that cyclists using the
pavement/sidewalk were 6 times as likely to be injured as cyclists using the
road. One of the commonest problems was hitting other cyclists, not
expecting them to be there!

See http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/aultman.html


Danny Colyer (remove safety to reply) ( http://www.juggler.net/danny )
The joys of parenthood - www.speedy5.freeserve.co.uk/jenny/scream.html
“Sleep - what’s that?” “Pardon?”
B4/5v c(+) rv d m(+) w++ q+ k e+ t+ (s) g+ f - http://www.lpbk.net/jc/

Re: Riding in the street.

Sofa <Sofa.1m75a@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote in
news:Sofa.1m75a@timelimit.unicyclist.com:

>
> All in all, you’re on a vehicle. Sure it sucks (for the rider), but the
> sidewalk is just too crowded for bicycle use. If it’s not crowded,
> you’ll just eventually start riding faster, then hit someone who comes
> out of a store.

That makes sense, and if I was in a crowded area, I would definitely give
the pedestrians all the room they need by riding on the street. I have no
problem keeping pedestrians safe and assuming my own risk in the street.
When I do ride the sidewalk, visibility is good, and I’m pulling a hill,
doing about 6-7 mph, maybe 8. I’m able to stop quickly. If I’m getting
speed up, especially on downhills, I’ll jump right into the street. I
really need to get a rearview mirror of some kind, though. There’s one
spot on my route to work that I have to turn left across a divided 6-lane
road (3 lanes each way), and it’s on a slight downhill. I’ll put the bike
in top gear and get cruising and actually ride in the left lane for 1/4
mile or so, in order to make my turn.

As for nailing the few who want to be idiots, technology has gotten to the
point where it’s probably not too unreasonable to have a camera mounted on
the bike, but once you wipe out it’s probably not pointed at the car, and
not all states have front plate requirements… What to do, what to do…

John

Re: Riding in the street.

“Danny Colyer” <danny@jugglersafety.net> wrote in
news:a7067n$kdc$1@newsg3.svr.pol.co.uk:

> One Canadian study of cycling commuters found that cyclists using the
> pavement/sidewalk were 6 times as likely to be injured as cyclists
> using the road. One of the commonest problems was hitting other
> cyclists, not expecting them to be there!

Yeah, it all does make sense to me, it has from the beginning. I don’t
want to ride on the sidewalk. It makes sense to ride on the street. What
doesn’t make sense is the gross lack of judgment some of these people have,
and the extreme injuries that can be caused unnecessarily.

On the unis I own now, I can’t go very fast. Maybe a fast jogging speed,
so I’m going to ride on the sidewalk. I feel that cars would come up on me
too suddenly, and it would end up riskier in the street. If I had a Coker,
I would ride in the street unless I could definitely get on the sidewalk
for a slow section, with good visibility and low speed. If I encounter
pedestrians, and they can’t let me by due to space constraints, I don’t
have a problem dismounting.
Does that make sense to everyone? Please let me know what you all think,
pros, cons.

>
> See http://www.magma.ca/~ocbc/aultman.html
>

Good article, thanks.

John

It seems this has been answered well, but I wanted to add my two cents as a former cyclist, and pedestrian near a college campus. I can’t even count the number of times that I have been walking down the side walk and had a cyclist zip by me inches away. To them they are going a reasonable speed and see where I am walking, but to me I don’t here them coming and what if I had taken a slight step to the left to avoid some dog mud? Then I would have been the dog mud. Moreover it’s as though the cyclist is saying that they are too afraid of the dangers of riding in the street, so they put everyone walking in danger to make themselves safe. You can’t help but think the pedestrians see you when you are riding down the sidewalk, but they don’t. They just aren’t looking for you. I’ve seen two people walking carrying on teasing each other, then one laughed and pushed the other one in jest (niether saw the sidewalk wimp flying along). The result was quite a mess.
Ironically enough it is not a safe place for cyclists either. When I was still young, I was riding to meet a friend for a ride, and there was this busy street and it was rush hour. Half way down the street, the bike lane ended, so I slowed and hopped up onto the sidewalk. There was a sidestreet / driveway that enters the street from the end of a row of bushes. A car saw a gap in the traffic and punched it… right as I was passing in front of him. Even though I was going slow, I got completely smeared. If he had popped out just 10 feet ahead of me I could have stopped, but he was looking for cars and expecting that nobody on foot would be moving fast enough to be ahead of him since his last glance. So I went over the hood and down into the street. Result: bent frame, bent crank, cuts, scrapes, and lumps and almost run over by two more cars. Funny enough, I’ve been riding in the streets of major urban areas, including Dallas for 9.5 years, and never had an accident with a car when riding in the road. Not because I am lucky, but because I know how to ride with cars. If tips on riding with cars will keep you from the lure of the empty sidewalks let me know, I’ll write some up. Alright sorry to write an epic, but it is my cross in life to keep cyclists off the sidewalks.

Re: Riding in the street.

gauss <gauss.1oaly@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote in
news:gauss.1oaly@timelimit.unicyclist.com:

>So I went over the hood and down into the street. Result: bent frame,
> bent crank, cuts, scrapes, and lumps and almost run over by two more
> cars. Funny enough, I’ve been riding in the streets of major urban
> areas, including Dallas for 9.5 years, and never had an accident with a
> car when riding in the road. Not because I am lucky, but because I know
> how to ride with cars. If tips on riding with cars will keep you from
> the lure of the empty sidewalks let me know, I’ll write some up.
> Alright sorry to write an epic, but it is my cross in life to keep
> cyclists off the sidewalks.
>

Interesting that you mention Dallas. I live in Carrollton, right on
Trinity Mills, which has become the service road for the George Bush
Turnpike. People do about 60 down it (speed limit 40), so I don’t ride it.
I go a bit south to a slightly less-traveled road, and usually I’m in the
street.

The stuff about hitting pedestrians, I completely understand. I don’t
ride on the sidewalk if there are people on it.

Please do write up tips for riding in the street more safely. I’m
definitely interested, especially how best to handle the slow hill that I
climb. In a more urban setting, like if I was in downtown Dallas riding
down Elm or Main, I would feel comfortable in the street. It’s these
suburbanite bozos that scare me. In any case, give me all the info you
can. I’ll sure appreciate it.

John

riding with cars

This may be deviating from what goes in a unicycle forum, but this sort of thing may be useful to everyone so I’ll reply here (besides, homework is beckoning and I’m running out of ways to resist).

The absolute number one thing I can tell you that has helped me is to watch the driver of each car around you as much as the car. If you can actually make eye contact that is even better. But if you see where they are looking it will let you know what they intend to do. If you see them looking over thier shoulder behind them you can tell they want to change lanes, if you see them looking down towards the right, they are jacking with thier radio. With a little practice you’d be amazed the predictions you can make about a driver with just a split second glance. You begin to automatically only focus on drivers in time, not even thier cars. I never look at turn signals, I’ve found that less than 20% of cars signal thier turns in rural areas. With all of this, although bad advice in life, it is good advice while riding, to stereotype the heck out of people. It will only make you err on the side of caution. If you see some lady with a car load of kids and she is talking, then she may not be with it enough to geiv you a wide berth. If you look back and see a chevy pickup with the windows tinted brown and a confederate flag for a license plate and a mullet flapping in the breeze, then you are probably about to have a bad day, particularly if you are wearing spandex. If you see an enormous buick with someone excessively old, keep your elbows in or they will probably be knocked of by rearview mirror as the land yacht scrapes passed you. Of course this driver watching is only effective when there is not a steady stream of cars coming from behind. If there is there are a few tricks to arm yourself with that I will mention in a little bit.

While you are watching drivers, think about what the dumbest thing they may do and assume they are going to do it. They will rarely let you down. Also look at how they will interact with other cars around. If someone is coming from behind, and some one is coming from ahead, and it is a two lane road, time your speed so that you aren’t right there as the two pass, otherwise you will never get a wide berth. If you are much slower than traffic know that if it is narrow cars may make aggressive moves to get around you if there is a lot of oncoming traffic. Watch the oncoming traffic and be prepared for their pass whe you see a break. If you see a street to turn onto, assume a car that is passing you will turn there. Watch cars speeding up and slowing down and always try to know why they are doing that, are they looking for an address, or street, are they fixing to turn, are staring at a girl on the sidewalk, are they getting ready to overtake someone? Also, I’ll interject here, if you see signs for a yard sale, be prepared for the stupidest thing a driver could do x100 all predictability is off so you might as will pull the rosary beads out of your saddle pack and begin counting down the inevitable.

You aren’t completely helpless though, aside from watching the cars, there are some things YOU yourself can do. You will hear some people say,“Ride down the center of the lane or the left side of your lane, and make the cars treat you like a car.” I strongly disagree. I believe that that only agrivates people, makes them more likely to do aggresive, unpredictable things, and to yell at you. However, I also don’t just slide along on the very right and hope for the best. I try to ride where I have the most options, but always towards the right. If a car is preparing to overtake me, you need to look at what the most amount of reasonable room they COULD give you. Leave them that and more: What you are trying to do is leave room to dodge right if they decide to come too close to you. Many motorists just don’t ride bikes. It isn’t that they want to brush your sleeve with thier car, they just don’t realive that they are so close to you. So when they begin to pass having given you six inches, you just fad right a few feet and you get a good stress free pass. There are many though that want to “teach you a lesson” for riding a bike. You kind of just have to play by ear how much room to leave yourself if you think you see one of these. This is one of the only tricks to use against the constant stream from behind.
Also, watch the right side; What happens if you get run off. Anways mentally prepare yourself to side hop a curb or bail or land in a ditch if you must.

Be prepared for “getting doored.” This horrible accident happens when cars are parked on the right side adn while you are makin tracks down the rode some bozo decides they left their coupon for chitlins’ in the house so they throw the door open as you go by. Always watch and know which cars have people in them that will suddenly pullout or get out. I try to look as many blocks ahead as I can see for this, because some people will sit for a long time (until “Margaritaville” is done on the radio) then toss open the door. Also, watch for people to pass you, then stop and throw it in revearse for some parallel parking action. You get the idea.

There will be times where you just simply have to ride on a side walk, like if you are going over a very busy uphill 45mph bridge with no shoulder a barrier and a sidewlk on the otherside, or other unusual stressful situations. If you absolutely must use a side walk, always make sure you give pedestrians tonnes of room, and make sure your presence is known before you pass them slowly. Some people say passing, I usually just sniff or cough so that they hear me far enough away to not be startled.

Then there is the ensuing dork dance of an oncoming car wanting to turn left infront of you. They slow down to let you go and you slowdown to let them go. You wait for the had waive for your ensurance, or do you just go and hope they are slowing for you, or does he want to turn or what? I find that I always wnat the car to go while I wait. People think about other things or change thier mind or what ever, I know if I let him go first I don’t get hit. You can easily spot a car that wants to turn soon by thier approach speed and accelerations and lane placement. So I either speed up and get passed the street before the dork dance of who goes first, or slow way down so they get there way first and just go, or if the dance is inevitable, I will use exagerated body language to act like “I too am turning right”, or look over my left shoulder like “I am crossing the street to go over there.” Then the car will just go ahead and then you continue straight and nobody wastes time or swaps paint. I use body language often to make a car think I am going to do something that makes them respond in a way that is what I really would like them to do. Make sure you do the language while they see you, or they might spot it too late and respond suddenly.

It seems like quite a hassle to pay attention to so much stuff, but I have always enjoyed trying to predict what people will do. It is the coolest feeling when as everyone slows for a stop light you realize, “I bet that honda prelude really wants this lane so he can pass that van when the light turns green.” so you grab brakes just as the guy whips over without seeing you and you avoided an inevitable accident and the dude in the car never even knew what you did. You are on the road with these cars that will hurt you bad as you know. They will do dumb things, and cyclists can’t play the “dead right” where they follow the laws and hope to be lucky. You have to go so much further, because it is thier mistake, but we lose. These tips may just get you started, you will learn tonnes of new rules and situations all the time. I find there are specific rules to specific sections of road that I pick up with time. You learn what turns are popular, and what cars do as they approach with the intent of turning, and where people tend to look at in certain places. I’m sure a lot of this you may know, but I hope I tossed you some new car handling techniques that will help. good luck, watch out for the rednecks, keep the rubber side down.
-Gauss

Re: Riding in the street.

gauss <gauss.1ofpa@timelimit.unicyclist.com> wrote in
news:gauss.1ofpa@timelimit.unicyclist.com:

> certain places. I’m sure a lot of this you may know, but I hope I
> tossed you some new car handling techniques that will help. good luck,
> watch out for the rednecks, keep the rubber side down.
> -Gauss
>

I actually do know and practice most of what you mentioned. I ride
motorcycles too, so I’ve got idiot-radar honed pretty well. I’m glad you
mention that exception for riding on the sidewalk. If it was crowded and I
had to encounter something along those lines, I might just walk the bike on
the sidewalk to be safe.

My scariest moments have been surprises from behind. I definitely need
to invest in a good mirror or two. Are helmet or visor-mounted mirrors any
good, or should I go with a bar-end? I figure if I can see the guy coming
from behind, I can plan ahead a bit. No other situations really worry me
quite as much.

Thanks for all the info.

John

Great tips–I ride my bike to school along busy LA streets every day and everything you said is 100% true. It’s taken me a LONG time to convince my mom that it’s safer to ride in the street than on the sidewalk.

The only thing I’d add would be–when there’s an accident (like between two cars) even the rules of idiot drivers get thrown out the window. Accidents ensue true mayhem.

And one other thing…when you ride your UNI, I’ve found (at least where I live), that YOU write the rules–to some extent.

But regardless, safety first, no matter how gay it may look.

RE: Riding in the street.

> I’d like to know how it’s statistically more dangerous to
> ride on the sidewalk.

It’s not. When on the sidewalk, you are a danger to the pedestrians and
others who are supposed to be there. As a vehicle, you are supposed to be on
the road (and cars are supposed to share it).

Make sure you’re riding on the right side, BTW. Cars coming out of driveways
and side streets expect traffic to be coming from the left. Reverse that for
the UK of course.

> People can talk about “establishing” themselves, but once you’re hit,
> you’re the one that loses.

The doctrine is that if there isn’t enough room for you to ride beside the
traffic, you have the legal right to take the lane, by riding in the middle.
This should only be until the road widens out again. But this isn’t the
problem. Usually there is plenty of room, but some people in cars think it’s
fun to “play” with cyclists. This and inattentive drivers are the two main
dangers of riding where there are cars. These dangers will unfortunately
always exists, for as long as cars are heavier and faster (carrying greater
kinetic energy) than cyclists.

Plus, you will not cure people of being jackasses in your lifetime. It is
one of the world’s inexhaustible natural resources. Watch TV shows about bad
drivers and you’ll see. These people are so stupid they don’t even know
they’re stupid. Or so drunk. Or so distracted. So on the road, it’s survival
of the fittest (or best-armored). Be smart, and be cautious.

> In Texas, a bicycle can legally take up a full
> 8-foot wide lane. An 8-year-old boy had to die
> on his bicycle from getting hit by a
> car for that to happen.

I doubt that was the sequence of events. If bikes are legally vehicles, they
could legally take the lane if needed. Unless lots of laws and sensibilities
have changed since I was a kid, no 8-year-old should be riding with traffic.
This doesn’t mean he should be dead either, but the traffic should be left
to people with a few more years and hopefully a little more training.

If I do lots of riding with traffic, I will go back to using a mirror on my
helmet as well.

Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
jfoss@unicycling.com

“How many America West maintenance personnel does it take to change a
bathroom light bulb in a 737?” Based on what I saw on the way home from
Phoenix recently, three!

Re: Riding in the street.

“John Foss” <john_foss@asinet.com> wrote in message
news:mailman.1016470040.2839.rsu@unicycling.org
> > I’d like to know how it’s statistically more dangerous to
> > ride on the sidewalk.
>
> It’s not. When on the sidewalk, you are a danger to the pedestrians and
> others who are supposed to be there. As a vehicle, you are supposed to be
on
> the road (and cars are supposed to share it).

No, it is poses more danger for you if you cycle on the sidewalk at any
speed. Danny Colyer just posted a study about that. Partly there’s the
things Danny said about collisions with other cyclists or pedestrians or
pavement obstacles when there is no set of rules governing how to avoid them
(as there are on the road), but also a very major risk is that you have to
cross over roads. Now you can just get off your yike, wait for traffic
lights and cross over and then walk over and get on at the over side, but
face it how many pavement cyclists do that, rather than just riding across?
At this point you are on the road, yet coming from somewhere cars will not
expect a vehicle to come from, so much more likely to get hit. Similarly,
cycle lanes or cycle tracks are more dangerous than road riding because they
put the cyclist in an unexpected position and hence much more danger at
junctions. The safest way to ride is on the road in full visibility of the
cars, a sensible distance out from the side of the road (a metre or so at
least on most main roads) as then you will always be in the view of car
drivers and therefore much much safer than a cyclist who comes from nowhere
off the pavement and pops across a junction.

I think the one thing to say about this is that if you are riding very slow,
ie. a 20" or something, where your speeds are similar to pedestrians, I’d
suspect you’d be better off on the pavement and you’re probably not all that
likely to hit someone if you’ve got okay skills.

> Make sure you’re riding on the right side, BTW. Cars coming out of
driveways
> and side streets expect traffic to be coming from the left. Reverse that
for
> the UK of course.

Yes, definately, the bizarre idea that cycling against the traffic was
sensible is one of the most dangerous and stupid things anyone has ever come
up with.

> have changed since I was a kid, no 8-year-old should be riding with
traffic.
> This doesn’t mean he should be dead either, but the traffic should be left
> to people with a few more years and hopefully a little more training.

I (bi)cycled on the road since I was pretty small and it didn’t do me any
harm. Although that’s in a town in the UK, with probably safer roads and
cycling is the only form of transport in our family, so we’re probably quite
good and well practiced at it.

Joe

RE: Riding in the street.

John Foss <john_foss@asinet.com> wrote in
news:mailman.1016470040.2839.rsu@unicycling.org:

>
>> In Texas, a bicycle can legally take up a full
>> 8-foot wide lane. An 8-year-old boy had to die
>> on his bicycle from getting hit by a
>> car for that to happen.
>
> I doubt that was the sequence of events. If bikes are legally
> vehicles, they could legally take the lane if needed. Unless lots of
> laws and sensibilities have changed since I was a kid, no 8-year-old
> should be riding with traffic. This doesn’t mean he should be dead
> either, but the traffic should be left to people with a few more years
> and hopefully a little more training.
>

I don’t know the exact details, but the news report went something along
the lines of “A law was passed today allowing bicycles to use an entire 8
foot lane. This was put into effect after <name of boy> was killed on his
bicycle etc etc” This was last year sometime. He was out in the country,
if I remember right. Probably some drunk redneck hit him with his 1-ton
dually that he uses to go to the beer store. Don’t mess with Texas.
Rednecks will kill you to get to their beer store.

It’s probably going to be slow at work so I’ll see if I can find an
article online about it.

John

RE: Riding in the street.

Gauss wrote an excellent set of guidelines for traffic survival:

> This may be deviating from what goes in a unicycle forum, but
> this sort of thing may be useful to everyone

For anyone who ever uses a road, this advice should be heeded and learned
from. It can affect you all, whether on a unicycle, a bike, or in a car. I
used to work for a driving school in New York, and taught motorcycle lessons
as well. Much of learning about motorcycle riding has to do with not getting
killed in traffic. Though as a motorcyclist you are heavier and faster than
on a bicycle or unicycle, you are still an insect compared to a car. You
have no armor cage, or seat belt to hold you in it. Everyone can benefit
from this advice.

> The absolute number one thing I can tell you that has helped me is to
> watch the driver of each car around you as much as the car.

Always. When you can, try to figure out what the other drivers are thinking.
Often this is easy. There are always going to be surprises, but when you can
make lots of predictions, you are going to be safer.

> With a little practice you’d be amazed the predictions you can
> make about a driver with just a split second glance.

I do this all the time when driving. You can tell who’s going to cut in
front of you, who is lost and is going to make erratic movements, and of
course, who’s holding a phone to their ear.

> I never look at turn signals, I’ve found that less
> than 20% of cars signal thier turns in rural areas.

Even when used, turn signals must be taken with a grain of salt. Is the
driver going to turn on the street I’m waiting to come out from? Or into the
gas station beyond it? Best to make sure.

> although bad advice in life, it is good advice while riding, to
> stereotype the heck out of people. It will only make you err on the
> side of caution.

You are so right. Not all drivers of 5.0 liter Mustangs are butt-holes, but
enough of them are for you to be cautious of that vehicle in general. In New
York (not Sacramento), drivers of Mercedes and Cadillacs are the actual
owners of the road; you can tell by the way they drive. Is that a tow truck
coming? Just get off the road until it goes by… :slight_smile:

> While you are watching drivers, think about what the dumbest
> thing they may do and assume they are going to do it. They
> will rarely let you down.

This is almost the exact advice I used to give my students. And if those
other drivers do “let you down,” it means nothing bad has happened. I call
it playing the “what-if” game. Hey, what if that guy coming the other way
turns left in my face? Well, there’s a ditch on my right, so I’d better slow
down so I’m not forced to choose between a rock and a hard place.

Countless times I’ve played the “what-if” game and thought of my escape
route just as the other driver did their predicted move. It has saved me
many times.

Once I made the bad-planning move of following a crowd of close-packed cars
across a railroad track that had a traffic light soon after it. Sure enough,
a car up ahead stopped suddenly, and there I was on the tracks with cars
crowded both in front of and behind me. Duh (yeah I know, mistake already
made; I haven’t repeated it since). So I’m sitting there thinking how stupid
I would look if a train came in the few seconds before the light turned
green. I wondered, what would I do? Just as I was thinking about this,
“ding-ding-ding-ding!” the gate started coming down, toward the roof of my
old Subaru. Aack. So zip, I went up next to the car in front of me,
partially on the sidewalk. The Long Island Railroad commuter train zoomed
past, with no harm done. I only died of embarrassment.

> Watch cars speeding up and slowing down and always try
> to know why they are doing that, are they looking for an
> address, or street, are they fixing to turn, are staring
> at a girl on the sidewalk, are they getting ready
> to overtake someone?

Often my high school students would ask why we have to do all the thinking
for them. Aren’t they supposed to do it themselves? If you’ve lived in the
real world beyond high school you already know it–they don’t. Especially if
you’re not protected by a car of your own, you have to know what’s happening
around you to be protected from it. The choice is yours.

> Also, I’ll interject here, if you see signs for a yard sale,
> be prepared for the stupidest thing a driver could do x100
> all predictability is off so you might as will pull the
> rosary beads out of your saddle pack and begin
> counting down the inevitable.

So funny, because it’s so true! Beware of drivers also in discount store
(K-mart, Wal Mart) parking lots, around elementary schools (parents), and
around high schools and community colleges (beginner drivers trying to show
off). I hadn’t noticed the yard sale thing, and the worse predictable
driving I’ve seen is generally done by parents around elementary schools at
the end of the day. Somehow, mom picking up her kids is vastly more
important than anyone else on earth at that moment.

> say,“Ride down the center of the lane or the left side of
> your lane, and make the cars treat you like a car.” I strongly
> disagree. I believe that that only agrivates people, makes
> them more likely to do aggresive, unpredictable things,
> and to yell at you.

The above rule is intended for short amounts of time only, such as getting
into the left lane to make a left turn, and when there is absolutely no room
for a car to safely pass a cyclist. In these situations, the majority of
drivers will understand. Just don’t make them wait unnecessarily.

The same rule applies when you’re in a car. Don’t put yourself in a
situation where you invite other drivers to share the lane with you. Don’t
pull over into a half-shoulder as you slow down to turn right. Cars behind
you will crowd past you in a space not big enough for them, increasing the
risk of you being a part of their accident. The same is true if you’re a
cyclist. There either has to be enough room for you to safely ride side by
side, or you shouldn’t be there. Or you should take over the lane, briefly,
until there is enough room.

> Be prepared for “getting doored.”

This happens all the time in New York. Lots of cars parked on the sides of
the street, and most people use the already-opened door to look back for
traffic, if they look at all. So many people just fling open their doors.

The same is true of these people when they’re leaving the side of the road.
You don’t need to worry about people who look and then start to go. What
we notice are the people who do it in the wrong order. There are so many of
them. It’s funny, because when you take your road test in New York, it
always starts with this move, and some people fail before they’ve gone three
feet because they don’t turn their heads and look. That’s what we call the
“short test.”

> There will be times where you just simply have to ride on a side walk,
> like if you are going over a very busy uphill 45mph bridge with no
> shoulder a barrier and a sidewlk on the otherside, or other unusual
> stressful situations.

Yes. On a bridge, you can’t hold up traffic the whole way by taking up a
lane. You have to get out of that lane and then share the sidewalk. The
thing to remember is to share the sidewalk, and remember you’re the one
that doesn’t belong there. As another poster mentioned, you have to expect
pedestrians to make sudden moves, to not see you, and to react, especially
to a unicycle, in unpredictable ways. If you surprise them, they will jump
directly into your path, eventually. So don’t surprise them.

> Then there is the ensuing dork dance of an oncoming car
> wanting to turn left infront of you. They slow down to
> let you go and you slowdown to let them go.

Here is where I beg to differ. If the oncoming car is slowing down to let
you go, it is because they are yielding to you your right of way. Since you
are going straight, you are not supposed to have to stop. Just don’t get
“right of way” mixed up with “reality.” Make sure that other driver is
yielding to you, and not just slowing down, before you go into their path.
If you’re unsure, better to do the dork dance than get it wrong.

> So I either speed up and get passed the street before the
> dork dance of who goes first, or slow way down so they get
> there way first and just go,

Again good advice. Thanks for all of it, and I hope everyone will take it to
heart, whether on a unicycle, a motorcycle, or in their gas-guzzling SUV on
the way to the trails.

Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
jfoss@unicycling.com

“How many America West maintenance personnel does it take to change a
bathroom light bulb in a 737?” Based on what I saw on the way home from
Phoenix recently, three!

RE: Riding in the street.

> No, it is poses more danger for you if you cycle on the
> sidewalk at any speed. Danny Colyer just posted a study
> about that.

The examples given of greater danger are of being hit by cars when on the
street. The sidwalk/pavement part is still many times safer, for obvious
kinetic energy reasons. Darting out from the sidewalk onto the road where
cars don’t expect to see you however erases any safety gains you’ve gotten
from being on the sidewalk in the first place.

> I think the one thing to say about this is that if you are
> riding very slow, ie. a 20" or something, where your speeds
> are similar to pedestrians, I’d suspect you’d be better off
> on the pavement and you’re probably not all that
> likely to hit someone if you’ve got okay skills.

I agree. If your speed is similar to pedestrians, you should probably
consider yourself to be one. This means a 20" wheel at relatively slow
speed, or a 24" or larger wheel at very slow speed.

And if you are any kind of a beginner, however, you should not ride near any
innocent bystanders until you are in very solid control of your skills. They
do not deserve to suffer from your mistakes or thoughtlessness.

> Yes, definately, the bizarre idea that cycling against the
> traffic was sensible is one of the most dangerous and stupid
> things anyone has ever come up with.

I think this comes from an accidental reversal of bikes with pedestrians. On
roads with no sidewalk, pedestrians (in the US, at least) are recommended to
walk opposite traffic. This is because pedestrian speed is relatively zero,
so there is no advantage to going in the same direction as traffic, and the
pedestrians can then watch the traffic coming toward them. But this rule
never applies to cyclists.

> I (bi)cycled on the road since I was pretty small and it
> didn’t do me any harm. Although that’s in a town in the UK,
> with probably safer roads and cycling is the only form of
> transport in our family, so we’re probably quite
> good and well practiced at it.

And surely there is something to be said for different driving cultures in
different countries. Bicycles on the road, and attitudes about road usage,
are treated very differently in some countries than others.

But many children do not have the necessary cognitive skills to deal with
traffic. I see too many kids out on the street that assume the “adults” will
bear the responsibility of seeing and reacting to them, so they just ride as
they please. Parents, where are you?

Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
jfoss@unicycling.com

“How many America West maintenance personnel does it take to change a
bathroom light bulb in a 737?” Based on what I saw on the way home from
Phoenix recently, three!

Re: Riding in the street.

On Mon, 18 Mar 2002 12:53:58 -0800, John Foss <john_foss@asinet.com>
wrote:

>And surely there is something to be said for different driving cultures in
>different countries. Bicycles on the road, and attitudes about road usage,
>are treated very differently in some countries than others.

So true. The many recent stories about car drivers misbehaving, such
as sneaking up to cyclists and then honk to scare them or even make
them fall, don’t resonate with me, a versatile Dutch road user (car,
bike, uni, feet). No offence, but it is just not part of our culture.

Klaas Bil

“To trigger/fool/saturate/overload Echelon, the following has been picked automagically from a database:”
“nkvd, NTIS, Verisign”

Re: Riding in the street.

On Mon, 18 Mar 2002 12:53:58 -0800, John Foss <john_foss@asinet.com>
wrote:

>And surely there is something to be said for different driving cultures in
>different countries. Bicycles on the road, and attitudes about road usage,
>are treated very differently in some countries than others.

So true. The many recent stories about car drivers misbehaving, such
as sneaking up to cyclists and then honk to scare them or even make
them fall, don’t resonate with me, a versatile Dutch road user (car,
bike, uni, feet). No offence, but it is just not part of our culture.

Klaas Bil

“To trigger/fool/saturate/overload Echelon, the following has been picked automagically from a database:”
“nkvd, NTIS, Verisign”

RE: Riding in the street.

John Foss <john_foss@asinet.com> wrote in
news:mailman.1016481324.4279.rsu@unicycling.org:

>
> The same rule applies when you’re in a car. Don’t put yourself in a
> situation where you invite other drivers to share the lane with you.
> Don’t pull over into a half-shoulder as you slow down to turn right.
> Cars behind you will crowd past you in a space not big enough for
> them, increasing the risk of you being a part of their accident. The
> same is true if you’re a cyclist. There either has to be enough room
> for you to safely ride side by side, or you shouldn’t be there. Or you
> should take over the lane, briefly, until there is enough room.

This is my dilemma! I never really thought about it, but there is no
room between the lane and the sidewalk on the streets around here. Maybe
8-12 inches, and uneven, with openings for drains. I end up in the lane…
I’m moving to Portland where it’s more rider-friendly.

> “How many America West maintenance personnel does it take to change a
> bathroom light bulb in a 737?” Based on what I saw on the way home
> from Phoenix recently, three!

Hey, you mentioned something about a jet with turbofans as opposed to
turbojets. What’s the difference?

John

RE: Riding in the street.

> > “How many America West maintenance personnel does it take
> to change a
> > bathroom light bulb in a 737?” Based on what I saw on the way home
> > from Phoenix recently, three!
>
> Hey, you mentioned something about a jet with turbofans as
> opposed to turbojets. What’s the difference?

(off topic)

I’m not an expert, but here’s a Web resource that is:
http://www.allstar.fiu.edu/aero/flight60.htm

I believe turbofans are more fuel-efficient. You can generally spot them on
planes because they are a lot fatter than the old turbojets. On a 737,
because the engines hang close to the ground, the turbofan version has to
have the bottom of the air intake flattened to keep it from being too close
to the ground. So on your average Southwest Airlines plane, for instance (I
think 737 is all they use), if the engine intakes look like the letter “D”,
flat side down, you’ve got a turbofan.

I think one of the reasons you don’t see many 707, 727, or L-1011 jets any
more is partially due to the less efficient engines they came with.

Thus endeth today’s off-topic lesson.

Stay on top,
JF

RE: Riding in the street.

John Foss <john_foss@asinet.com> wrote in
news:mailman.1016497581.6743.rsu@unicycling.org:
>
> Thus endeth today’s off-topic lesson.
>
> Stay on top,
> JF
>

Thank you John.

John