Scared of riding in traffic.

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Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby nuttzo32 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:16 pm

I am looking at purchasing a entry level road bike for commuting to work but i am feeling a little uneasy about riding on the public roads. I used to have a giant boulder and rode that to work a bit but that was too heavy and i hate riding on paths.I am just looking for a few tips preferably from people who have started out scared but gotten used to it. My biggest fear is obviously getting hit by a car from behind and when i start riding i would definitely need a mirror either helmet or bike mounted for reassaurance and lights etc.Can anyone offer any more tips to help reassure me?
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by BNA » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:52 am

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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby greyhoundtom » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:52 am

Hi nuttzo 32 and welcome to the forum.

Being scared of cycling in traffic when you first get out on the road is certainly nothing unusual, and in fact a healthy fear of the vehicles around you will keep you on your toes, make you more aware of what’s happening around you, and will keep you safer.

Providing of course that it does not make you lose sight of the fact that while riding on the road you are traffic, and that you have every right to be there.

In fact the most important factor that will keep you safer on the road is to ride assertively in such a manner that the drivers around you are aware of the fact that you are there.

I have no doubt that others on here will provide tips on just how to achieve this.

For me the things that help me not only feel safer, but I believe make me safer, is to do everything I can to increase my visibility on the road.

Such as having bright flashing lights on the rear of the bike, and having them on during the day as well as during times of poor visibility. Wearing bright clothing or a reflective vest, and having a white blinking light on the front of the bike on all the time so that drivers are more aware that I’m there in situations such as intersections and roundabouts.

You may also find it helpful to first of all drive the route that you are going to take on your commute, and make yourself aware of the best way to negotiate the various areas that may present some difficulty on the bike, and or find suitable alternative routes.

Enjoy your riding. :D

Cheers,
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby bychosis » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:41 am

I'll add to ride assertively: ride consistently i.e. don't dart around etc. Ride with the traffic, hold your line, use your indicators (arms) just like you would if you were in a car. Sudden, unexpected moves frighten simple creatures.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby boss » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:50 am

bychosis wrote:I'll add to ride assertively: ride consistently i.e. don't dart around etc. Ride with the traffic, hold your line, use your indicators (arms) just like you would if you were in a car. Sudden, unexpected moves frighten simple creatures.


Plus being unpredictable makes it difficult for other cyclists.

I was riding behind a real nice fellow that was letting motorists in, in banked up traffic. This involved jamming his brakes on at fairly late notice. In damp conditions. Which involved me almost taking him out, at least the first time he did it.

Be predictable and remember that your bike doesn't have brake lights!

I think most people are uncomfortable in traffic on a bike, to start with. Just get out there, over time you'll become comfortable!
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby TDC » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:29 am

nuttzo32 wrote: I used to have a giant boulder


Like the one in Indiana Jones? you can use this to your advantage. Roll it towards the traffic and they should get out of your way. :lol:
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby bychosis » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:06 am

Should add that I have been riding for years, mostly in the bush, but enough on the road. I'm not scared anymore, but I'm still wary.

It seems that many drivers do not know how fast a bike moves, the rush to overtake, then turn left on top of you. The fact that they think they have to get past you at all costs can cause some hair raising moments. Reading the moron motorist threads seems to point to motorists not recognizing that bikes can be quick and do have a right to use the road within the same traffic laws that bikes do. This comment is not to scare you off riding on the road, but in combination with assertiveness and consistency you can ride the roads safely.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Bentnose » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:54 am

You'll also quite often find at least once a ride someone will overtake and not leave enough clearance on the LHS of their car, doesn't matter how much room they have to overtake or how far out into the lane you are, some people just don't get it.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby hannos » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:58 am

Don't ride in the gutter.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby human909 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:24 am

nuttzo32 wrote:I am looking at purchasing a entry level road bike for commuting to work but i am feeling a little uneasy about riding on the public roads. I used to have a giant boulder and rode that to work a bit but that was too heavy and i hate riding on paths.I am just looking for a few tips preferably from people who have started out scared but gotten used to it. My biggest fear is obviously getting hit by a car from behind and when i start riding i would definitely need a mirror either helmet or bike mounted for reassaurance and lights etc.Can anyone offer any more tips to help reassure me?


If you are buying a bike for commuting I suggest you get a flatbar road bike. You have much better visibility and control, particularly if you haven't spent much time on a bike.

Regarding getting hit from behind. Many road cyclists don't worry about this they hold their position and ride. I personally are the opposite, I don't have a mirror so I am constantly head checking. I make it my business to know EXACTLY what is approaching me from behind. Riding assertively, taking the lane will largely ensure you don't get close shaves.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby kyap » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:33 am

nuttzo32 wrote:I am looking at purchasing a entry level road bike for commuting to work but i am feeling a little uneasy about riding on the public roads. I used to have a giant boulder and rode that to work a bit but that was too heavy and i hate riding on paths.I am just looking for a few tips preferably from people who have started out scared but gotten used to it. My biggest fear is obviously getting hit by a car from behind and when i start riding i would definitely need a mirror either helmet or bike mounted for reassaurance and lights etc.Can anyone offer any more tips to help reassure me?


Don't know if this helps, when I first arrive Sydney, this is what I took...free course

http://sydneycycleways.net/courses/cycling-confidence
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby boss » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:49 am

human909 wrote:If you are buying a bike for commuting I suggest you get a flatbar road bike. You have much better visibility and control, particularly if you haven't spent much time on a bike.


On the whole I'd probably agree with the flatbar suggestion, but for different reasons. I wouldn't say there is more visibility or control compared with riding on the hoods of a roadie.

But riding a flatbar, in my opinion, feels more relaxed. Of course you can ride on the flats of a roadie but it's not wise to do so in traffic, haha!
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby AndyTheMan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:17 am

Just to add a few things that helped me.

Like you, I was a long time mountain bike rider, and then switched to road around 2 years ago.

First, you wil LOVE the road bike - its like a whole other sport and I literally haven't touched my mountain bike in 2 years, despite being close to a few decent mountain bike trails/firetrails etc (within 2 or 3km of home).

It did take me a while to get used to the road bike, and here are things I learned along the way:

As previously mentioned, be visible. I bought flashing lights front and back, wear light/bright clothing etc. Made me feel better.

Start slow. I spent an hour at a local park that has a cycle path - getting used to the new cleats, gears, brakes, and 'feel' of my road bike.

I then did a few rides just on the bike path, unclipping and stopping, turning etc as much as I could to get familiar with the new bike

I started by taking a few rides on selected roads where I knew there were well marked cycle lanes/road shoulders, not too many lights or busy roundabouts.... then each time I went out I would venture a little further.

At first I would take the back roads and residential areas, then I started taking more direct routes (which for me means crossing the highway, a couple of big multi-lane roundabouts, lights etc). There are still roads I avoid - there are better options, and its not worth the stress to cut 60 seconds off my ride.

Riding BIG is a key thing. this is something that people tell you, but it takes a while to sink in.

Essentially (depending on the road, your route etc) if you ride in the gutter, or to the very left in some places, you are simply encouraging cars to pass you without moving over. For my area, this is particularly the case at roudabouts and lights. If I stick to the gutter, cars will push up beside me and cut close/pull in front of me etc. So, I have learned to make a move to the middle (or near middle) of the lanes at appropriate places, clearly indicating my intentions, and making sure they see me as 'part' of the traffic.

Lastly, be PREDICATBLE - don't dart in and out of traffic, or swerve around pot holes, or weave onto the roadway, and then off again. Some cyclists need to concentrate on this, as when you are behind them you have NO IDEA what they are doing, where they are headed or when they might stop/turn/swerve...its dangerous!

Overall, I have had ony a few minor issues over the past 2 years on the road, and only one serious issue, which you can read about here:
http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=57551

I have found that 99% of drivers are absolutely fine, and many are completely courteous to cyclists/other road users.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby nuttzo32 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:42 am

Thanks for all the replies, the key points seem to be

1.Ride assertively
2.Claim the lane
3.Be predictable
4.Be visible
5.Use hand signals
6.Get health insurance(just in case)

Guess the only thing left to do is to suck it up and get out there.I will be scouring the lbs on the weekend for some test rides and have decided against the mirror because i feel i will have my eyes on the mirror constantly instead of whats ahead of me.I am going to go with a road bike instead of the flat bar because i know if i get the flat bar i will want the roadie within a couple of months.On my commute to work i have a fairly busy intersection with a double lane roundabout and i feel that will be the biggest challenge any tips on how to handle them?
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby boss » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:45 am

nuttzo32 wrote:I am going to go with a road bike instead of the flat bar because i know if i get the flat bar i will want the roadie within a couple of months.


Wise man.

I commute on my roadie, the drops are so good into a headwind.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby il padrone » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:08 am

nuttzo32 wrote: have decided against the mirror because i feel i will have my eyes on the mirror constantly instead of whats ahead of me.

....and there's nothing wrong with that. I find I scan the mirror frequently when in traffic, but it's just a quick look and you retain the view of the road ahead in your peripheral vision. Much as you would do when driving a car.

In fact, everything that you do in a car to stay safe will generally help keep you safe on a bike as well.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Philipthelam » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:15 am

nuttzo32 wrote:I am looking at purchasing a entry level road bike for commuting to work but i am feeling a little uneasy about riding on the public roads. I used to have a giant boulder and rode that to work a bit but that was too heavy and i hate riding on paths.I am just looking for a few tips preferably from people who have started out scared but gotten used to it. My biggest fear is obviously getting hit by a car from behind and when i start riding i would definitely need a mirror either helmet or bike mounted for reassaurance and lights etc.Can anyone offer any more tips to help reassure me?

I strongly recommend going on a bike commuting/riding in traffic course. Depends on where you are but some places hold them for free.
It really helped me when I first rode on the road
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby bychosis » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:16 am

For roundabouts depends on which way you are going and the speed of the traffic.

I have one that I avoid on my commute and will use the footpaths, ped refuges to get around it (I know, against the law). I have to turn right, there is no shoulder space and there is a rise approaching the roundabout that prevents me from maintaining 'traffic' speed. Occasionally when the lights before are at the right phase I will flow with the traffic and turn right from the right lane.

I have another t-intersection roundabout, 2lane that I always use with the traffic. I turn right, but am at traffic speed as it is on a downhill section in a 40zone. Occasionally I turn right from the centre lane to find someone has continued straight through on the left lane where I want to merge back to the shoulder, it's usually I slot in behind them, but sometimes I need to wave them on as they want to give way to me for some strange reason.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Bentnose » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:28 am

At roundabouts, always claim the lane going through them when there are cars around, cars, in particular vans and commodore's almost always clip the apex at roundabouts. If cars are coming up behind me when I'm nearing a roundabout I will indicate with my arm to the right at about 45 degrees, towards the centre of the lane, that usually works to stop them barrelling through you. I generally avoid bike lanes that go around the LHS of rounabouts due to cars clipping the apex at entry and exit and to avoid the debris that builds up in these lanes, they are occasionally worth using though, depending on the circumstances.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby clackers » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:38 am

nuttzo32 wrote:
1.Ride assertively
2.Claim the lane
3.Be predictable
4.Be visible
5.Use hand signals
6.Get health insurance(just in case)


Fear of what's behind you is natural at first, Nuttzo, but in the city, cyclists are more likely to be hit from the side.

Try to look into the windshields of cars at intersections to see if the driver knows you're there, and look for cars beside you that are trying to turn left!
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Marto » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:50 am

I second (or third) the advice to be predictable and assertive. Motorists seem to pick up when a cyclist is assertive (note this is different to aggressive) and look like they are in control, and are less likely to treat them like a push over.

When motorists see you doing head checks, they see that you are aware of them, and are reading the road situation. In that way, head checks are better than mirror checks. I think at least some motorists appreciate that you are doing something to ride safely and predictably, and therefore are more likely to treat you better.

If they see that you don't "flip the bird" etc for every small misdemeanour, they see you as someone who wants to get around, rather than a cyclist that wants to battle against the motoring world.

Of course, there might not be very much thinking going on in motorists heads at all, so all of the above might not count :|
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Howzat » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:00 am

nuttzo32 wrote:Thanks for all the replies, the key points seem to be

1.Ride assertively
2.Claim the lane
3.Be predictable
4.Be visible
5.Use hand signals
6.Get health insurance(just in case)

Put Item 4. as your number one priority. Be visible. "SMIDSY" didn't earn an acronym for being rarely heard.

There are way too many stealth cycle ninjas, cycling in black in the shadows on the black tarmac at dusk. It's not uncommon to see cyclists with a neon yellow jersey obscured by a dark backpack. :roll: Get panniers for commuting, or a refective backpack cover.

greyhoundtom wrote:bright flashing lights on the rear of the bike, and having them on during the day as well as during times of poor visibility. Wearing bright clothing or a reflective vest, and having a white blinking light on the front of the bike on all the time so that drivers are more aware that I’m there in situations such as intersections and roundabouts.

+1. Do this.

At intersections, drivers will glance your way for a fraction of a second, and they are looking for cars, not bikes. The flash of a headlight will help catch their eye in situations when you might not. And get a good rear light. I run two.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby AndyTheMan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:23 am

I am going to go with a road bike instead of the flat bar because i know if i get the flat bar i will want the roadie within a couple of months


Ummm... I don't mean to sound negative, but by owning a ROADBIKE, may mean that you want to own another one in a few months anyway....

Lets face facts, no matter what you buy, you are going to want to buy another one soon anyway :D

Lets view an example:

I bought a new mountain bike approx 4 years ago to replace my old one (with the idea that I would then have a bike, and it would stop me wanting to by another type of bike...)

I followed up that purchase with a mountain bike for the missus

followed by a new roadbike for myself

followed by a new roadbike for the missues

followed by a roadbike for my nephew

.....currently trying to decide on a new (lighter, better, more awesome - read 'expensive') road bike or perhaps a dedicated TT/tri bike...

(or maybe both)....

The moral to the story is...buying one bike of a particular type does NOT negate the desire (need) to buy more..... :)

At least that's my experience...
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby rangersac » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:24 am

Marto wrote:I second (or third) the advice to be predictable and assertive. Motorists seem to pick up when a cyclist is assertive (note this is different to aggressive) and look like they are in control, and are less likely to treat them like a push over.


+1

Marto wrote:When motorists see you doing head checks, they see that you are aware of them, and are reading the road situation. In that way, head checks are better than mirror checks. I think at least some motorists appreciate that you are doing something to ride safely and predictably, and therefore are more likely to treat you better.


+1. You will cop sh*ite when commuting, although it's by far the minority of road users. Nature of the beast I'm afraid. Just don't forget to be courteous and do your bit. Remember that you are getting fit, saving money, enjoying the fresh air, and will be far more alert when you get to work so you've got plenty on all those car commuting fools!

Bentnose wrote:Fear of what's behind you is natural at first, Nuttzo, but in the city, cyclists are more likely to be hit from the side.


Absolutely. The crash statistics show that rear end collisions are by far the minority of incidents (tend to average around 5% depending on which report(s) you look at). For this reason I suggest that if you can you pick a route that has the least incoming traffic from the side. For my commute I basically have two choices. The first is predominately on a 60kph urban road with parked cars and plenty of side streets. The other is mostly on 80 - 100kph roads that have a sealed shoulder and few side on traffic entry points. Aside from the extra noise, I've never had any problems on the faster roads, whereas the urban run has had many an evasive action taken.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Mulger bill » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:27 am

G'Day Nutzo, welcome outside. :)
A few pointers gained from 17 years experience and learning from other members.
A/ You belong there, ride that way. Skulking along in the glass lane WILL cause damage to the right elbow eventually.
B/ Think about the position of your body in relation to the road when cocooned in your smokebox, this is where most smokebox controllers are looking. Be there on the bike too.
C/ ALWAYS be plotting your escape route, ALWAYS.
D/ The first possible Sunday at 0600 should find you riding the route you have planned in GMaps, including any variations that look interesting. Learn the route when it's quiet so you can concentrate more on the traffic when it isn't.
E/ Smile and wave: It makes the decent drivers happy and usually defuses the ratbags who go you looking for you to arc up.
F/ Repeat C continuously until you arrive at journeys end.
G/ Enjoy. The commute is usually the most anticipated part of the day.

Oh yeah, mirrors are cool!

Cheers
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby burger » Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:32 am

Marto wrote:I second (or third) the advice to be predictable and assertive. Motorists seem to pick up when a cyclist is assertive (note this is different to aggressive) and look like they are in control, and are less likely to treat them like a push over.

When motorists see you doing head checks, they see that you are aware of them, and are reading the road situation. In that way, head checks are better than mirror checks. I think at least some motorists appreciate that you are doing something to ride safely and predictably, and therefore are more likely to treat you better.

If they see that you don't "flip the bird" etc for every small misdemeanour, they see you as someone who wants to get around, rather than a cyclist that wants to battle against the motoring world.

Of course, there might not be very much thinking going on in motorists heads at all, so all of the above might not count :|

+1 to this!
Lots of really good tips in here . . .

Making eye contact is one that makes a HUGE difference

I also tend to ride conservatively yet assertively and try to anticipate drivers doing the most stupid, unbelieveably dangerous thing that will cause me the most pain, then ride to minimise that risk.
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