Scared of riding in traffic.

open topic, for anything cycling related.

Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Howzat » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:18 pm

rangersac wrote: You will cop sh*ite when commuting, although it's by far the minority of road users.

Yep. This is basically the same experience as when you're driving a car, of course. Most drivers, at least here in Canberra, are very respectful of cyclists as road users when given the chance to see you.
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by BNA » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:48 pm

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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby MattyK » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:48 pm

nuttzo32 wrote:My biggest fear is obviously getting hit by a car from behind

This is largely irrational - just because you're not looking behind you, doesn't mean that the driver approaching you from behind can't see you. In fact quite the opposite, typically he will have had plenty of time to observe you before you even hear him coming.

As said, the vast majority of car/bike collisions are at intersections, from the side. Bikes have a nasty habit of being invisible until they pop out unexpectedly into a driver's field of view.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Xplora » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:56 pm

I would add that being aggressive on the bike is a VERY helpful signal to drivers that you belong there. High cadence (105-110) and 30-35kmh is enough to say "I'm here" and most drivers will see you're putting the effort in to make it happen. I don't notice much of this "cars overtaking me to turn left" at all on my routes, but then again I'm clearly VERY hardcore and they don't start anything because I think deep down they know I will be able to catch them if they did anything. If someone IS a droob, I will blast them at the next stop. You'll be on ratruns most of the time, and these are faster than main roads because there are fewer queues. You can EASILY catch up to these princesses :)

Another thing to be careful of is rear ending cars. I've noticed that I can get to 55kmh on the flat when drafting a car from lights. It's not a good policy to draft because your brakes aren't as good as a car.

BE AGGRESSIVE. The cars are. You are just as important as a car, but if you're a sook and won't do the body language to show you are important, you will make a lot of "OMGosh they were mean to me" posts online.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby uglybob » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:09 pm

AndyTheMan wrote: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).


blasphemy! traitor! :shock: :o haha

man, i'd love to have some MTB trails that close to home!
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Lizzy » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:56 pm

nuttzo32 wrote:I am just looking for a few tips preferably from people who have started out scared but gotten used to it.


I am part of the way along that continuum, when I started riding to work regularly I'd barely been off a shared path, now I'm quite happy on most minor roads, although being slower than many I still tend to steer clear of highways and/or speed zones above 60 without a marked bike lane (& I understand the reasons why these are a double-edged sword at best, but I've never been abused while riding in one).

Yes, the one thing that made all the difference was a mirror, it removes the element of surprise re what is coming up behind you - before I got it, I used to freeze up and panic if I heard anything big-sounding coming up behind me. Also, +1 to all the above advice about making yourself visible and claiming the lane at roundabouts. Good luck!
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby high_tea » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:06 pm

Xplora wrote:I would add that being aggressive on the bike is a VERY helpful signal to drivers that you belong there. High cadence (105-110) and 30-35kmh is enough to say "I'm here" and most drivers will see you're putting the effort in to make it happen. I don't notice much of this "cars overtaking me to turn left" at all on my routes, but then again I'm clearly VERY hardcore and they don't start anything because I think deep down they know I will be able to catch them if they did anything. If someone IS a droob, I will blast them at the next stop. You'll be on ratruns most of the time, and these are faster than main roads because there are fewer queues. You can EASILY catch up to these princesses :)

Another thing to be careful of is rear ending cars. I've noticed that I can get to 55kmh on the flat when drafting a car from lights. It's not a good policy to draft because your brakes aren't as good as a car.

BE AGGRESSIVE. The cars are. You are just as important as a car, but if you're a sook and won't do the body language to show you are important, you will make a lot of "OMGosh they were mean to me" posts online.


First, the good: not drafting cars is excellent advice.

Now the bad. The rest of this advice is pretty sketchy. Assertive good, aggressive bad. You don't need to ride fast, there's no point catching up to people and berating them and there's absolutely no need to be "hardcore", whatever that means. I, and others, carry kids around on bikes, in traffic. I certainly don't do it by being "hardcore", and I don't ride fast or aggressively. I do make sure I'm predictable, visible and assertive. All of which has been said earlier on and all of which I totally agree with.

Oh, and you totally need to be able to see what's going on behind you. The alternative to using a mirror is turning your head, but if you're not 100% confident in your ability to do that and hold your line (harder than it might seem), just go the mirror.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Addictr3 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:09 pm

Just be safe, if you can.. ride early or late. If you have to ride during peak hours, its not as bad as you think, cars are usually stopped or doing 15kph..

As the above; be clear about what your intentions are.. but NEVER assume what another driver will do, always think the worst (in a good way..) i mean if someone doesnt indicate dont assume they wont turn in front, just be ready.. and in all that HAVE FUN.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby lammy » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:19 pm

1. Get some good flashing front and rear lights, keep em on day and night!
2. Expect every car to pull out in front of you.
3. Quick Look behind when overtaking parked cars and cycling past intersections. (The exagerated motion of moving your head indicates to drivers your aware of them. I dont rate mirrors)
4. Use hand signals.
5. Be ultra assertive of your road conditions, vehicles, pedestrians & surroundings
6. Try and enjoy your ride now if you can.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby greyhoundtom » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:20 pm

+1 for having a mirror.

While they can be a little fiddly to set up, these are excellent for road bikes.

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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby human909 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:54 pm

Do you fear roundabouts in the car? They really are no different on a bicycle. Claim the appropriate lane and ride through the roundabout the same way as you would drive.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby DentedHead » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:38 pm

3. Quick Look behind when overtaking parked cars and cycling past intersections. (The exaggerated motion of moving your head indicates to drivers your aware of them. I don't rate mirrors)


I found a mirror invaluable on my trike, but I have trouble twisting round to see behind. That said, I still "sit up and head-check" even if I already know, for the same reason. I know they're there, but I want them to "know that I know".
Lucky for me, I live in sunny Ballarat, and sharing the road with cyclists is about the only thing Ballarat drivers do well ;)

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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby AJ_ » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:46 pm

TDC wrote:
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:


This is making me laugh very much so!!
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby il padrone » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:48 pm

My son once came a cropper - careering down a slope on a giant boulder...... straight into Moonee Ponds Creek :wink: :lol: :lol:
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 bradman » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:46 pm

Just like in the poem Mulga Bill's Bicycle... :D
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby AndyTheMan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:30 pm

Lucky for me, I live in sunny Ballarat, and sharing the road with cyclists is about the only thing Ballarat drivers do well ;)

Dent.



They have cars in Ballarat now?!?!
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Xplora » Thu Nov 08, 2012 8:55 am

high_tea wrote:Now the bad. The rest of this advice is pretty sketchy. Assertive good, aggressive bad. You don't need to ride fast, there's no point catching up to people and berating them and there's absolutely no need to be "hardcore", whatever that means. I, and others, carry kids around on bikes, in traffic. I certainly don't do it by being "hardcore", and I don't ride fast or aggressively. I do make sure I'm predictable, visible and assertive. All of which has been said earlier on and all of which I totally agree with.

Oh, and you totally need to be able to see what's going on behind you. The alternative to using a mirror is turning your head, but if you're not 100% confident in your ability to do that and hold your line (harder than it might seem), just go the mirror.

A first timer's aggressive is simply assertive for the old timer. I am 100% convinced that il padrone is an absolute beast on the bike despite calm assertive nature. He will look like a nutter to all but the seasoned road rider. Aggression puts you in the right starting place for road riding, because you just can't be a sook about claiming a lane, getting up to speed, presenting your case for lane changes. I note that I cop nasty driving every time I want to bludge with a recovery ride. Your posture on the bike defines your treatment. I ride through some pretty quick rat runs in western Sydney. They will wait for 32-35kmh, they won't for 22-25kmh. It's weird but that's the facts.

Riding with kids in traffic sends a whole bunch of different signals to drivers. Children get different treatment to adults. :idea:

Catching up to people and blasting them is about establishing a presence on the road. The cowards wouldn't try that crap with another car because they are afraid of damage to their car. If they still don't get it after you give them a couple of choice words, you present the keys to decorate the car. Or better yet, the camera. Few bogans are that stupid to continue. These people are too stupid to realise that their car was a bad investment and that a fit rider can easily average a higher speed than them in peak hour, and they risk a hospitalisation with their poor behaviour. I won't accept that treatment in a car, I won't accept it on the bike.

I see that as assertive behaviour - but many would consider it aggression. You must be a badass if you don't want to get chopped up. When I'm a badass, I don't get chopped up. 8)
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby boss » Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:54 am

Xplora wrote:
high_tea wrote:Now the bad. The rest of this advice is pretty sketchy. Assertive good, aggressive bad. You don't need to ride fast, there's no point catching up to people and berating them and there's absolutely no need to be "hardcore", whatever that means. I, and others, carry kids around on bikes, in traffic. I certainly don't do it by being "hardcore", and I don't ride fast or aggressively. I do make sure I'm predictable, visible and assertive. All of which has been said earlier on and all of which I totally agree with.

Oh, and you totally need to be able to see what's going on behind you. The alternative to using a mirror is turning your head, but if you're not 100% confident in your ability to do that and hold your line (harder than it might seem), just go the mirror.

A first timer's aggressive is simply assertive for the old timer. I am 100% convinced that il padrone is an absolute beast on the bike despite calm assertive nature. He will look like a nutter to all but the seasoned road rider. Aggression puts you in the right starting place for road riding, because you just can't be a sook about claiming a lane, getting up to speed, presenting your case for lane changes. I note that I cop nasty driving every time I want to bludge with a recovery ride. Your posture on the bike defines your treatment. I ride through some pretty quick rat runs in western Sydney. They will wait for 32-35kmh, they won't for 22-25kmh. It's weird but that's the facts.

Riding with kids in traffic sends a whole bunch of different signals to drivers. Children get different treatment to adults. :idea:

Catching up to people and blasting them is about establishing a presence on the road. The cowards wouldn't try that crap with another car because they are afraid of damage to their car. If they still don't get it after you give them a couple of choice words, you present the keys to decorate the car. Or better yet, the camera. Few bogans are that stupid to continue. These people are too stupid to realise that their car was a bad investment and that a fit rider can easily average a higher speed than them in peak hour, and they risk a hospitalisation with their poor behaviour. I won't accept that treatment in a car, I won't accept it on the bike.

I see that as assertive behaviour - but many would consider it aggression. You must be a badass if you don't want to get chopped up. When I'm a badass, I don't get chopped up. 8)


This is off topic but...

I am a fairly aggressive rider, I'm comfortable on my bike and know how to handle it.

So that's set the scene, but not the point.

The other day I saw a guy riding pretty much the way I ride, except he had a kid on his back.

I'm not a father, but when there comes a time that I take the kids out for a ride strapped to my back I most certainly won't be riding aggressively.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby human909 » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:05 pm

All depends on what somebody means by "aggressive" riding. I agree with xplora, the one person's assertiveness is another person's aggressiveness. Riding down Gratten today I took the whole left lane, most cyclists seem to hide next to the parked cars while cars close pass them. I was going 25-30kph, traffic was going 45kph on my right. Funnily enough though I kept managing to catch the car in front at the next lights. Either way I was safe and in control with no chance of being left hooked or clipped by a close pass.

I don't know what the people stuck behind me thought. Maybe they were annoyed, maybe they recognised that I really wasn't slowing them down. I don't know because nobody yelled at me or beeped their horn. The more common that drivers see such behaviour the more they'll get used to it and people like me won't have to worry about being abused.

The only yelling today was from me. At the person who cut across the cycle lane from stopped traffic on Flemington Rd. I saw it coming so I wasn't endangered, I did brake hard and stop though. I don't think the elderly driver noticed my WT? gesturing in his rear mirror. I tried my voice but the driver seemed like she was on another planet.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Xplora » Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:17 pm

jimboss wrote:The other day I saw a guy riding pretty much the way I ride, except he had a kid on his back.

I'm not a father, but when there comes a time that I take the kids out for a ride strapped to my back I most certainly won't be riding aggressively.

Riding with a kid is unnerving... it really is. I can't physically ride hard with Zac in tow. Really opens you up to some risky situations. I can tuck and roll if I get hit. Zac can't. Trailer is different though. You just take up so much damn space you HAVE to take the lane.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby boss » Thu Nov 08, 2012 2:30 pm

Xplora wrote:
jimboss wrote:The other day I saw a guy riding pretty much the way I ride, except he had a kid on his back.

I'm not a father, but when there comes a time that I take the kids out for a ride strapped to my back I most certainly won't be riding aggressively.

Riding with a kid is unnerving... it really is. I can't physically ride hard with Zac in tow. Really opens you up to some risky situations. I can tuck and roll if I get hit. Zac can't. Trailer is different though. You just take up so much damn space you HAVE to take the lane.


This dude was weaving through traffic etc, picking out gaps that most riders wouldn't take, running very amber slash slightly red lights and otherwise riding aggressively... all with an infant strapped to his bag.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby high_tea » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:12 pm

Xplora wrote:
high_tea wrote:Now the bad. The rest of this advice is pretty sketchy. Assertive good, aggressive bad. You don't need to ride fast, there's no point catching up to people and berating them and there's absolutely no need to be "hardcore", whatever that means. I, and others, carry kids around on bikes, in traffic. I certainly don't do it by being "hardcore", and I don't ride fast or aggressively. I do make sure I'm predictable, visible and assertive. All of which has been said earlier on and all of which I totally agree with.

Oh, and you totally need to be able to see what's going on behind you. The alternative to using a mirror is turning your head, but if you're not 100% confident in your ability to do that and hold your line (harder than it might seem), just go the mirror.

A first timer's aggressive is simply assertive for the old timer. I am 100% convinced that il padrone is an absolute beast on the bike despite calm assertive nature. He will look like a nutter to all but the seasoned road rider. Aggression puts you in the right starting place for road riding, because you just can't be a sook about claiming a lane, getting up to speed, presenting your case for lane changes. I note that I cop nasty driving every time I want to bludge with a recovery ride. Your posture on the bike defines your treatment. I ride through some pretty quick rat runs in western Sydney. They will wait for 32-35kmh, they won't for 22-25kmh. It's weird but that's the facts.

Riding with kids in traffic sends a whole bunch of different signals to drivers. Children get different treatment to adults. :idea:

Catching up to people and blasting them is about establishing a presence on the road. The cowards wouldn't try that crap with another car because they are afraid of damage to their car. If they still don't get it after you give them a couple of choice words, you present the keys to decorate the car. Or better yet, the camera. Few bogans are that stupid to continue. These people are too stupid to realise that their car was a bad investment and that a fit rider can easily average a higher speed than them in peak hour, and they risk a hospitalisation with their poor behaviour. I won't accept that treatment in a car, I won't accept it on the bike.

I see that as assertive behaviour - but many would consider it aggression. You must be a badass if you don't want to get chopped up. When I'm a badass, I don't get chopped up. 8)


Yeah, sure, it's in the eye of the beholder. But both the general advice: BE AGGRESSIVE and the specific advice (ride fast, at a high cadence, abuse random people, look "hardcore") is lousy. Riding with kids is but one example of why it's lousy advice. Want another? I ride the same way on bikeshare bikes. It works just fine. Here's another: I have absolutely no doubt that my every commute is, by your lofty :roll: standards a "bludge". I'd still say I ride assertively, though. The faster you ride, the less time someone has to get impatient and do something stupid, I'll give you that, but Occam's razor tells me it's a pure numbers game, nothing to do with looking hardcore or badass or anything.

Look, some people want to ride fast on their commutes, set PBs and whatever and that's just fine. A lot of us just want to get to work and back with minimum drama and minimum risk and that, too, is just fine. Strange but true, a lot of the advice applies to both groups. Yours, insofar as it isn't just bad advice, only applies to the "hardcore" set. There's no indication that
1) the "hardcore" set is any better off than regular experienced cycle commuters; and
2) the OP is, or wants to be, part of the "hardcore" set anyway.

On reflection, aggressive(as distinct from assertive) riding has one redeeming feature: if I see an incompetent manic (which sums up most practitioners of "aggressive" riding, IME), be it on road, path or track, I leave them well alone, no matter what vehicle I'm operating. I remain unconvinced that this helps their risk profile much, on the whole. You play with fire...
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby Howzat » Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:22 pm

Most people can ride at 20-25km/h, but 30-35km/h is another matter. So we need strategies for defensive and assertive riding for the mortals among us.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby nuttzo32 » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:10 pm

Have got the new road bike now and i am starting to get a bit more confident riding in the traffic though i think it will take a while for that uneasy feeling i get when a big van/truck whooshes by to subside, thanks to everyone for their help.
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby bychosis » Wed Nov 21, 2012 6:52 am

I think the ASSERTIVE thing comes down to looking like you are meant to be there. If you are just cruising along without any pace or apparent purpose drivers expect (wrongly) that you should be on the footpath, not taking up their valuable roads. When you look like you have a purpose you fit in with the traffic. Cars are similar, the cars that are coasting along not knowing where they are going, not indicating etc are the ones that a lot of people get upset with and want them off the road.

aggressive riders are similar to the nut jobs in cars that carve up the lanes, speed, don't inidcate and generally tear about like they own the road, nobody wants them on their roads either. The motorists and cyclists that stick with the rules, look like they know what they are doing, don't frustrate others will get along fine together.

Unfortunately as a cyclist you have to determine what type of drivers are approaching, no idea, nut job or law abiding courteous driver (fortunately the last ones are the most common)
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Re: Scared of riding in traffic.

Postby wombatK » Wed Nov 21, 2012 9:07 pm

nuttzo32 wrote:Have got the new road bike now and i am starting to get a bit more confident riding in the traffic though i think it will take a while for that uneasy feeling i get when a big van/truck whooshes by to subside, thanks to everyone for their help.

Well done. Now for your next big trick once you've desensitised yourself to motoring idiots
and nutbags, you've got to work on not becoming complacent. There isn't a nutbag determined
to kill you lurking around every corner, but it's not a bad strategy to ride like there is.

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