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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,

Well, after many threads asking advice, I finally bought a used Specialized Tarmac Comp here in Michigan. The only problem is, well, I'm having 2nd thoughts about riding on the road. You see, I've been mtbing the past 8 years, and while I will always be drawn first to it, the "40min drive, unload, ride for 1.5 hours, load, drive 40 min back" is becoming a little expensive (both time and gas $$). So, I live very close to a park so to speak (hines drive to be specific if there are any Michiganders here) - it's a winding 15-20 2 lane road with what I consider to be a very big shoulder (speed limit 40mph). I see roadies riding there all the time - even significant group rides. Plus, I can roll out my driveway ride 2 miles and be at this park. So, these are all the reasons why I though road riding would be a great way to get a ride in w/o having to drop alot of time/money (think after work / or after a few rainy days). Now, the bad part... people are crazy... I'm worried about getting hit by a car. I have a 3 mile ride to this park system through somewhat well used roads - the speed limit is only 35 on this road, so it's not a major thoroughfare of anything. Again, I see a few people making the same trip I would be to get to the park. Obviously, rush hour would be out... Besides these peak hours, it's not so bad.

In the woods, the worst I have to deal with is missing trees and rocks, and not doing anything that I don't feel comfortable with. The road is obviously different. Many things in regards to safety are left largely out of your control....

Thoughts / suggestions?
mark
 

· Formosan Cyclocross
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Man... you are living in luxury. Just get used to it.
On my short commute I have 3 intersection where cars don't stop or even slow down (they are entering an arterial) I have at least three speeding, weaving drivers and I must avoid 150-200 swarming scooters. I have about three or four cars try to take free rights at me... even though the free right is illegal. I usually have 6-7 cars pull out of parallel parking without signaling and cut me off. I get the right hook two or three times a day and I usually witness at least one accident per day. Today it was a double knock down scooter vs. Honda CRV and an unconscious woman in the street. Two days ago it was a girl lying on her face with her leg twitching after getting clipped. I don't ride home... I coast. IT CAN'T BE THAT BAD.

You get used to it and hone your senses to your environment. Ride like you are the smallest, weakest most defenseless thing out there and assume every driver is about to make the dumbest, most illogical move at any given time. Assume you are completely invisible to everyone. And most of all... when you are watching pretty girls on the side of the road... you WILL have a crash at some point.
 

· I'm workin' on it....
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I think if you just give it a try once you'll be hooked. As far as the fear of being run over by a car goes, it pretty much comes down to reducing the risks you can control, and deciding if the rest are worth taking. Those risks are real, and you can't change that. My commute is 35miles of highway; most of it has good bike lanes, but some of it does not. The few miles of MUT I get to ride are fantastic. Risk assessment is an integral part of many things we do for pleasure, and as a MTB'er you are undoubtedly familiar with that. You have to make the same assessments of the road, but to do that with all the actual data you need to make a good decision you will need to get out there and try it once first. Good luck.:)
 

· Cheese is my copilot
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The first time a car zooms by at 45mph (or more) 3 ft from your shoulder its startling and scary; the thousandth time its entirely unremarkable.

I bet the first time you went down any significantly steep descent or rode a techy rock garden on the mtb you were white knuckled the whole time. Now its just part of the ride.
 

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I agree that if you train yourself to get used to the traffic and relax yourself more, things will definitely improve.

However, I have to say it (I'm going to be "that guy"), but one thing that really increased my comfort level with riding in traffic has been a mirror. In my case, I use the Take a Look eyeglass mirror. It really helps, and in fact this morning I anticipated a right hook by using it and avoided being caught off guard.

Scott
 

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Riding on the road is dangerous. I've had two friends killed and two with broken necks-they recovered fine. Riding a road bike at high speed especially in a group is relatively dangerous even without vehicles to whack you. Take note of the number of serious crashes pro racers have. But a lot of things are dangerous. Question of risk/reward. There are lots of things you can do to improve your chances of not getting hit. But you can do everything right except being on the bike at that time and place and get taken out.
If the risk isn't worth the reward don't ride a road bike. There is not way to make it "safe", just "safer".
 

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I got a mirror that attaches to my helmet and it has really helped me on the road. I am much more aware of the cars coming up on me and don't get many surprises. I think it cost about $14 and was worth every penny of it.
 

· RoadBikeRider
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Maybe drive the bike to the "Park" a few times and ride there to get the feel of the new bike. After you feel you have mastered it you will be ready to ride with the traffic. I remember when I started riding in traffic, it could be very intimidating at times. Don't sweat the drivers that honk or yell at you for no reason, just wave or ignore them...they will go away. Definitely ride predictably as already mentioned and there you go. Nothing is a sure bet, you could be killed driving your car to the park on your way to a bike ride. The alternative is sitting in your bomb shelter and not having any fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
andulong said:
The alternative is sitting in your bomb shelter and not having any fun.

So true... Very true... This is the story of my life.

Anyway, I appreciate all of the encouragement. Truthfully, reading about the "silent ride", and accidents in the local area don't do much for my confidence. I appreciate everyones suggestions though. They close the park down on the weekend for a few hours specifically for bike / pedestrian traffic. I'll take a ride down there early in the morning and ride a few miles.
 

· Formosan Cyclocross
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Accidents happen everywhere. I just happen to live in an Asian city of 1 million people with no real traffic enforcement or drivers training. If I can survive here... you can easily survive there. I dream about what it must be like to ride in an American city where the streets are wide and cars stop at intersections...and people use turn signals. Common sense is all you need. Look at your environment and understand where there might be danger...use your eyes and your head. Despite the daily anarchy on my streets... I can't wait to get back on my bike after work and go through it again.:thumbsup:
 

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I am speculating here, but my guess is that statistically rush hour is not more dangerous than other times. It may even be safer.

I had similar concerns after switching to mountain biking exclusively for 5 years. However, although the risk of death may be greater on the road, I was injurying myself quite a bit on the dirt. Broke some ribs, too many stitches, lots of crashes, etc. I have had no injuries since getting the road bike.
 

· waterproof*
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Don't let the statistics get to you. Even though it's hard to get good data, the evidence seems to say that for "real roadies" it's the basically same risk as driving in a car. Just because you're in the "bike community" you hear the tragedies; but think about how many horrible car wrecks happen every day that barely make the news.

Just ride.
Don't let fear run your life.
 

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Is there no alternative route to the park? Only this semi-well used street you would be riding on? Find that a bit difficult to imagine.

Take some back roads, you'll get more mileage and ease yourself into riding with traffic.
 

· still shedding season
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krisdrum said:
Is there no alternative route to the park? Only this semi-well used street you would be riding on? Find that a bit difficult to imagine.

Take some back roads, you'll get more mileage and ease yourself into riding with traffic.
Exactly. Plan your route very carefully. Usually the best route by bike is not the one you'd first think of if driving a car. I use Google Earth and the big Delorme map books (about 100 pages per state, a lot of places sell them) to get ideas.
 

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But be careful on some "back roads," too. In my 10 weeks of commuting, I've tried all kind of routes to and from work, including going through residential sections to avoid major intersections. I've been pulled out in front of a few times in the residential areas, with virtually no problems so far on the major thorofares (albeit those with good bike lanes/shoulders). Driveways, unmarked intersections, stop signs being run by cars who don't see me, ect pose threats. I've had the best luck on fairly major roads w/ good shoulders -- no problems on those so far.

Like has been said, route planning is essential, both for safety and to make the ride better -- nothing like trying to negotiate a multi-lane road, trying to get across to turn left, no bike lanes in rush hour traffic, ect. One thing I find myself doing now when I have to drive a car is constantly evaluating the roads for "bikeability" for future reference.
 

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Most bicycle injuries are probably not from getting hit by a car. Most injuries are from hitting obstacles in the road (e.g., rocks, potholes), or from hitting other bikes (if you ride with others). This type of accident is primarily what the helmet is for.

The car/bike accident people are most scared of is getting hit from behind. However, this is one of the least frequent types of car/bike accidents. The most dangerous places are intersections and driveways. Be especially on the alert there.

There is a surprisingly lot to learn about bike safety, and being timid is not always the best approach. Your objective is to live through the learning process.
 
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