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Author Topic: Bicycling
Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Bicycling
on: October 6, 2018, 09:38
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This is a play-at-home game. I want you to take a moment first to answer the question, if only in your own heads. Better yet to post your response and then read the rest of my post.

I ran into a bicycle safety expert yesterday. Not literally, of course. I was printing some flyers for him. And just to make conversation (I’m also a bike enthusiast) I asked him what the top two or three practical safety tips he had that people probably most needed to hear.

This is where you stop reading and write down two or three top safety tips that either you think are logical or seem most likely to come out of the mouth of a bicycle safety expert.

Now for his answer, which I will summarize: Hog the road.. No, I’m not kidding. That’s what he said in so many words. He told me that each bicycle, as established by the Department of Transportation, had a 4-foot wide footprint. Granted, any vehicle needs a lane to drive in wider than itself. I get that. No dispute there.

His advice was that if there is not enough room on the side of the road to instead ride right in the middle of the road otherwise cars will try to pass you and perhaps create an accident.

However, it occurs to me that if you ride in the middle of the road, cars will need to pass you. By riding in the middle of the road you thus transfer the hazard from yourself to the car and to any oncoming vehicle that driver might meet as he attempts to pass you by driving in the oncoming lane.

This is the mindset of bicycle militancy. I’m not a bicycle militant. I appreciate the need for adequate bike lanes. I’m all for that. But the roads are for cars. Bicycles (being more fragile) are the ones who must give way. This is always how I’ve ridden. When necessary, I will slow way down and drive in the gravel while letting a car pass by. It depends on the conditions.

On a country road you can indeed take your life in your hands by driving on the very edge of the payment trusting to cars to see you and not run you over. Every rider is going to handle this differently. But I’ve never taken the attitude that I ought to be able to sit safely under a coconut tree because the laws of physics are unfair. I’ll either wear a good helmet or not sit underneath a coconut tree. It’s bicyclist who must give practical deference to automobiles and not the other way around….especially given how many inattentive drivers there are now because of cell phones.

Here’s are my three safety tips:

1) Make sure your bike is physically sound (the brakes work, the wheels secured, etc.). I got my bike back from the bike shop once and didn’t notice until well out on the road that they didn’t tighten down the front wheel. Gravity held it in place but it’s not a good plan overall. I’ve also lost my brakes going downhill because the were long past need of servicing. (I wasn’t going fast at the time.)

2) Watch where you’re going, particularly regarding cars and loose gravel. Car drivers can afford minor fender benders because of inattention. A bicyclist can’t.

3) Don’t go faster than road or trail conditions (or your skill) allow.

That’s just right off the top of my head. Yes, wear a helmet. Don’t over-inflate your tires. (You get terrible traction that way.) Wear bright clothing. (I don’t because I cycle mostly off-road.) But never would it occur to me to counsel people to hog the road as a safety tip.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Bicycling
on: October 6, 2018, 10:09
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Biking in the middle of the road can be a very bad idea. Walking is another matter. Going to classes at Purdue, I was reluctant to wait at every road I crossed, so I went ahead regardless of traffic (which wasn't going very fast anyway) on most of the streets. Sometimes I had cars passing both in front of and behind me. I wonder what this "safety expert" would think of that. No one ever hit me, after all.

I did some biking when young, especially going to the library when we lived at Fort Campbell. One thing I would say, from my earlier days in Greece, was that going down a hill could be very risky. I tried it once (presumably going from our house to someplace like the American Club, with its free pool (and drive-in movies, but this was in daytime). I was left with severe abrasions on one of my legs, as well as nightmares about what could have happened. (I don't recall wearing a helmet, but this was about 55 years ago.)

Your safety tips sound good, though a teen-ager isn't likely to practice them. My accident could be considered a failure of #3 -- my breaks weren't good enough for that hill, and I lost control with the increasing speed.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Bicycling
on: October 6, 2018, 11:26
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Here are my three safety tips:

1. Don't ride a bike
2. Don't ride a bike
3. Don't ride a bike.

My fourth tip is

Don't believe any idiot who advises that if there is not enough room on the side of the road to instead ride right in the middle of the road otherwise cars will try to pass you and perhaps create an accident.

This is similar to people who don't look before crossing the street simply because the flashing white figure across the road indicates they have right-of-way. The most common phrase at the funeral will be, "But he had right-of-way!"

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Bicycling
on: October 6, 2018, 11:37
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The most common phrase at the funeral will be, "But he had right-of-way!"

LOL. Yes, indeed.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Bicycling
on: October 6, 2018, 11:44
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Your safety tips sound good, though a teen-ager isn't likely to practice them.

No doubt. When you're young, the laws of physics tend to be the best teachers. After gaining experience, we then re-phrase them into sound (one hopes) human-based rules.

And although one should, of course, wear a helmet (indeed....no one did back in the days), that's not even in my top ten. The first thing to do is to avoid the accident in the first place. We can't quite take Mr. Kung's advice of not ever riding a bike — some risk comes with doing anything worthwhile. But we can take prudent precautions.

I just think it's hilarious that this guy will gladly use others as Guinea pigs for his militant bicycling ideology. (He's unlikely aware he is doing so. Self-righteousness can be blinding.) Don't get me wrong. I had a nice chat with the guy. He was very nice. I just think his policy is blindly leftist-based and thus unsound.

I'll grant too that in some urban settings where speeds are 25 mph or under and the roads are narrow, it might be best to just take the lane rather than straddle the edge. But he made no distinction to me about place or speeds. I cringe at the thought of someone riding in the middle of a lane on a country road where speeds are 45 miles per hour or more.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Bicycling
on: October 6, 2018, 13:23
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We can't quite take Mr. Kung's advice of not ever riding a bike

OK, I admit it, I have an ulterior motive for my advice. Plano, where I live, was a fairly typical Texas suburb where one would see people, mostly kids, riding bikes every now and then. These people didn't interfere with or block traffic and were not road hogs.

The SOBS in our city government got greedy (they were in cahoots with the land-development interests here) and started trying to get a lot of out-of-state companies to move here. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, and to our great disappointment, by getting Toyota USA to move their American headquarters here. Before this was announced, one started seeing funny little signs popping up around the city which pointed out various "Bicycle Routes" which where invented out of thin air. It's not like there were any such routes before or that Plano is a scenic showplace for bicycle riders. It was clear that such nonsense was required by California companies, such as Toyota,in order to sell their employees how the place was soooo progressive and livable.

In any case, we now have adults riding around the neighborhood in spandex which does not suit them. Sometimes they come out in swarms and take up the whole road, but this has stopped happening so often. I think they are getting the message that Texans in cars don't take kindly to idiots pedaling around in the middle of the road at 10-15 mph when the speed limit is 30-40 mph.

My particular beef with bike riders is that they don't they have to pay road tax if they use the public roads. I have to pay it to drive my car and I don't slow down traffic.

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