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Perpetually Intermediate
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I just started commuting two weeks ago, and I have noticed a few things to watch for right away. Doors opening on parked cars is an obvious one (watch for heads in the seats of the parked cars to start with), as are the white lights of a car backing up...that sort of thing. Trust no automobile seems like good advice overall I guess.

But maybe somebody could post a sticky at the top chock full of these sort of common and not so common things to watch for, or even just tips for safety and fun?!? Just a thought.
 

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Bedwards Of The West
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When a deer is feeding on the shoulder of the road, make some noise before you are right on top of it, becuase when it hears you it will swing it's head up before it bolts, and it just might have a big fat set of antlers attached. You can generally breeze right by a doe in this situation, but those antlers require some quick reaction time. I give 'em a "tsk tsk" as I approach, like I'm talking to a horse.
 

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Boy scout motto is always good for commuting. Be Prepared. That goes for equipment. I always have a spare tube because when commuting "to" work I might not have time to track down a puncture and patch it. Traffic is always an issue. I ride an extra mile on a 15 mile route to get some more bike specific path and be safer. Mirrors are worthless. making an emphatic look back is a way to inform other drivers you are there and about to do something. and staying out of the gutter and actually in the lane is a big help to.

The best thing I do to help my commuting is to pack up my bike the night before. I head out at 5am so waking up knowing I am ready to roll is a big help. I am not really awake until I get about 3 miles in.

Watch for dogs to. I altered my route again just to avoid a pair of very fast and mean junkyard patrollers. It is near the end of the route, so having to drop the hammer and outrun them is a physical drain.

Keep up the good example. :thumbsup:
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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Occupy an expected vehicle position when you get to an intersection. You can't get right-hooked if you're directly behind or in front of a car making the turn.

Be willing to take the lane any other time you feel a bike lane or the shoulder is not safe. Take the lane in anticipation of a left turn. Take the lane if staying in the bike lane will get you boxed out behind a line of parked cars (they changed that intersection, but I still do it because the new bike lane there still isn't safe enough for me.) After that... try to be courteous. I bend traffic laws pretty frequently, but I try never to jump someone else's right-of-way. It would certainly piss me off if I was the one driving, which is fairly frequent. It also puts you into a position where a driver doesn't expect another vehicle, which is always a dangerous position. On that note - stay off the sidewalk! People blowing onto cross-walks or through driveways because they're operating a vehicle on a crosswalk and going much faster than the users drivers know to look for are a frequent accident victim.

Good lights, front and rear. If you ride at dusk or at night at all regularly, something intended for enduro racing is much, much better. I once got left-hooked and I think part of it was that I was using a little "be seen" light, not my big one.
 

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BMW 2002, Dodge A100, etc
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Watch for the eyes of of the driver getting ready to pull out. If you don't make eye contact, they don't see you. I try to wave alot to show that I have right of way.
 

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TheoDog said:
Mirrors are worthless. making an emphatic look back is a way to inform other drivers you are there and about to do something.
Agree with a lot of points so far by everyone. I would modify the "Mirrors are useless" to "mirrors are useless for your changes: always look back first" I have found mine indispensible for:

1. Seeing large wide loads where it is safer for me to go to the extreme edge of the shoulder or pull over entirely.

2. Seeing someone who is attempting to pass on a blind rise (barely a hill at 30 feet or so change) with a stop sign at the top and oncoming traffic they can't see (four times less than one mile from home). Falls under be prepared. Hard to keep looking back climbing your guts out at the end of 25-30 miles.

3. Just to know what's back there when a turn of the head might make them think you are headed left.

4. Dolts who look like they are going to croud you. A look back often helps them reconsider, and I find a mirror helps with that.

5. Being able to look forward and back without the time of a head turn.

YMMV. DON"T depend on it. That I agree with entirely.

Learn (if you don't know them) and use hand signals. A lot of drivers don't know them anymore, but they are pretty self evident, or at least indicate to them you are trying to tell them something. The fact you are trying counts with most motorists. Cede right of way when that is easier/safer. Take it if they cede it to you (unless that is obviously less safe).

Don't even trust eye contact. They may be looking right through you. I totalled a bike once like that. Once, believe me, is too many times.
 

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I got nothin'
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When it's wet out, watch out for anything steel like manhole covers, water valve covers, rail tracks. They get very slippery and you will go down if you don't cross them with your bike upright.
 

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M8 M12 M15 deez nuts
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• nails
• screws
• broken glass
• potholes
• women in SUVs talking on cellphones
• hipster fixie riders (they are always completely confused about right-of-way, safety, riding etiquette, and of course common sense)
• people in cars who don’t understand the vehicle code
 

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AndrwSwitch said:
Be willing to take the lane any other time you feel a bike lane or the shoulder is not safe.
This is especially true in construction zones. It's often easy just to take the lane than to be pushed off to the side.

Chris
 

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Be careful when riding east during when the sun is rising and west when the sun is setting. Drivers who are blinded by the sun (or glare from their windshield) often will use the white line as a guide for their driving.

Chris
 

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Pimpride said:
Watch for the eyes of of the driver getting ready to pull out. If you don't make eye contact, they don't see you. I try to wave alot to show that I have right of way.
Even if they do make eye contact, don't assume they've seen you.
I've been there, it cost me a written off bike & a broken arm.
 

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Anyone on a cellphone is a hazard, be it a driver or pedestrian. It turns them into squirrels-they become most unpredictable.

Peds with earbuds are another problem. They can't hear your voice or a bell.

A-holes come out after a rain; They're just waiting for a chance to drown you. They are often found in pick-ups wearing caps with the bill curled up like a dead leaf.
 

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I like the taking the lane speech. I ride through a high traffic area (Wal-Mart metropolis in an industrial area off a major interstate) at rush hour. I take the lane and act like a car between trash trucks, semis, escalades, motorcycles. and usually make it through the 1/2 mile strip-mall-opolis next to the same vehicle the whole time.
 

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hydrogeek said:
When it's wet out, watch out for anything steel like manhole covers, water valve covers, rail tracks. They get very slippery and you will go down if you don't cross them with your bike upright.
And even road paint (the white line, lane arrows, etc) are slick when wet.
 

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Ovaries on the Outside
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I'm trying to think of additions....

Obviously, cover your brakes whenever you can. Right hooks and doors are the most common way to get taken out by a car. For right hooks, never be on the right side of a vehicle if there is a street, shopping entrance and the like. That is where I have seen a couple of my friends almost get hit.

For doors, someone said look for heads in the car. Great advice.

Know traffic patterns. There are corners where drivers are used to stopping in the bike lane because a bush blocks their view before, or places where your bike lane randomly ends and the like where you can learn to keep an eye out.

The legal bicycle accommodations aren't always the safest.

I've been commuting in my area(s) for about 6 years almost exclusively on bicycle or motorcycle and what seems to keep me out of dangerous situations is always assuming the worst. While I prefer to go all out on my commutes, I do a lot of brake checking. Kills my speed, but there have been so many times where this has prevented an accident or close call.
 

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Here in Germany we don't have nearly as much trouble with right-hooks, car-doors and the like...

However, I will say that for the short portions of my commute where I have to share the lane with cars (probably 3km of 23km route) I hug the right side of the lane for one stretch where there is a nice easy flat shoulder to panic into if I need to, and plenty of room on the left for passing (even without switching lanes). The other section I take up the entire lane, but this is in a downtown area and for the most part I'm able to keep pace wioth traffic so nobody's behind me trying to skinny past... Mor often than not, I have to make sure I'm attentive to the car inf front of me, so I don't rear end them when they stop or slow suddenly.

Also, the poster mentioning the white street paint is dead on.... always hit it straight on.... That stuff feels like it has grab until it gives on you... and when it gives, it gives TOTALLY and without any warning and it's like a hockey puck on ice.
 

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M8 M12 M15 deez nuts
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Jonesy33 said:
Here in Germany we don't have nearly as much trouble with right-hooks, car-doors and the like...
Well everyone knows that Europeans are safer drivers than us dumb NASCAR-watching inbred hokies.
 

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Leopold Porkstacker said:
Well everyone knows that Europeans are safer drivers than us dumb NASCAR-watching inbred hokies.
hmmm... safer drivers might be a stretch... Some of the Jackasses on the autobahns here make Dale Earnhart look like Morgan Freeman in Driving Miss Daisy....

But more aware of bicycles... that they are!
 

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On my ride yestrerday crossing an oblique set of tracks, reminded me of one of these 'common things' that become habit, so not mentioned so far in this thread.

It is best to cross tracks especially if they are wet or snowy as close to right angles as possible, this is true of paint lines, arrows and the like, too. If you are taking the lane then appropriate checks are needed on traffic behind you, as most drivers will think you are letting them by, or are turning left depending which way you need to go in the lane. I use the wide shoulder at the tracks that are the worst for this that I commonly encounter. Using the whole shoulder width, I still am maybe 15 degrees from a right angle and need to really watch this crossing when it's wet. A front wheel into the gap at a rail is usually a broken arm, collar bone and facial damage not to mention a toasted front wheel and maybe fork. Then there is the chance of being run over. Some tracks are so bad that they are best crossed dismounted. For most of us, jumping tracks with a loaded commuter bike is not a good plan.
 
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