Author Topic: Biking is dangerous  (Read 8030 times)

RidetheRain

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #100 on: August 29, 2017, 03:22:40 PM »
I love my bike and I love riding it. But the scariest thing I've ever done is ride my bike to work.

I live in the suburbs of Los Angeles and about half my 7-mile route has bike lanes. I use a bike path for the first mile and ride through residential for another half mile. The rest is factory back roads and a handful of major roads to get over a (dry) river and some train tracks.

My worst day was the day I decided I would never ever ride my bike to work again. Maybe I'll get my heart attack, but I won't be 25 when it hits me at least...

I was run off the road with bike lanes because a car wanted to be in the turn lane. I was nearly struck when I used the crosswalk instead of wading in to make a left turn. I had a car clip the back tire of my bike at a stop sign. Something (I'm not sure what) flew off the back of a truck and struck my arm so hard I couldn't feel it for several minutes. By the time I got to work I was bruised, tired, and jumping at the slightest unexpected thing. Biking is NOT safe everywhere.

Maybe you live in a town where drivers are more used to bikes and are more accommodating even on busy roads. But some places are not like that. I have heard angry co-workers talking about how they hate bikers and would drive closer to them so they were too scared to do it again. People I considered friendly and okay become vindictive because of the car culture. I will not put myself in danger or encourage others to ride in a place they feel is unsafe. The only other coworker I had that road her bike to work spent eight months in a hospital after being hit while entering the parking lot. Frankly, I'm surprised she's alive at all.

jmecklenborg

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #101 on: August 29, 2017, 03:43:26 PM »
I think it depends a lot on where you live

Yes the general character of every city is different and the postwar suburbs are generally less safe than the prewar city areas.  Flat cities with a significant prewar area are the easiest to bike.  I took my bike up to Detroit about 10 years ago and couldn't believe how easy it was.  Super-wide streets, no traffic, and it's totally flat.  Chicago was pretty similar, but with a lot more traffic.  I remember the street widths there being less than ideal and felt pushed up against parked cars more than most other places. 

Cities that are really unpleasant to bike in like Nashville and Knoxville suck because the major arterials suck.  You can still bike from point A to B but you will have to cut through residential neighborhoods, which is slower than simply staying on the main roads since you need to resist the temptation to roll through intersections.  Those are the two Southern cities that I have biked, and I expect that Atlanta, et al., are similarly unpleasant.  But if you live there I'd expect that you can find routes that work. 

I have not biked in Los Angeles but I am always struck by the lack of bikes when I am there.  Come on, the weather is perfect every single day! 




RidetheRain

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #102 on: August 29, 2017, 04:08:45 PM »
Super-wide streets, no traffic, and it's totally flat.  Chicago was pretty similar, but with a lot more traffic.  I remember the street widths there being less than ideal and felt pushed up against parked cars more than most other places. 

I think you've hit on the problem with Los Angeles (minus the angry attitude). Real estate is hard to come by here. Parking lots are full of compact car only spaces and roads squeeze as many lanes as possible here. There was nearly a revolt when they made bike lanes on the west side of the city. A council member got ousted from office for having the lanes repainted to allow for more bike riding space.

I lived in small towns and suburbs in the midwest and the lanes were way bigger. A four lane road I spent a lot of time on in Chicago would be a six lane here. The speed limits don't bother me. I couldn't get up to speed either place, but LA is an angry and the drivers are territorial.

meghan88

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #103 on: August 30, 2017, 12:18:38 PM »
Here in Kitchener-Waterloo, they talk about making the city a bike-friendly place:  http://www.waterloo.ca/en/gettingactive/cycling.asp and https://www.kitchener.ca/en/livinginkitchener/resources/TTR_kitchener_cmp-exec-sum_v6-2010-08-24.pdf , both of which are a real howl to read because they are just words.

They have just finished LRT construction on our main street (King) at a cost of over $1 billion for 19 kilometers of track, running from one shopping mall to another.  King used to be a normal, even wider-than-normal, 4-lane road. 

Now see what it looks like in the attached photos (not sure if the attachments will work).  What's with the concrete curbs at the left of the car lanes, not to mention the yellow lines and total lack of bike lanes?  And at the main intersection at King and Victoria, there are no bike lanes at all, but they somehow saw fit to include a buffer zone to the left of the car lanes ... definitely not for bikes.  And, further up, the car lanes and LRT tracks cross each other.  What fun!


jmecklenborg

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #104 on: August 30, 2017, 02:02:44 PM »
Super-wide streets, no traffic, and it's totally flat.  Chicago was pretty similar, but with a lot more traffic.  I remember the street widths there being less than ideal and felt pushed up against parked cars more than most other places. 

I think you've hit on the problem with Los Angeles (minus the angry attitude). A council member got ousted from office for having the lanes repainted to allow for more bike riding space.

Streets that appear very similar can actually have very different characteristics for a bicyclist.  Unfortunately a lot of bicycle planners hardly ever ride bikes but they win awards for minimally useful bike lanes.  Those people who are used to biking around unmodified areas know how to adapt their riding block-by-block or often several ways within a block to get where they are going.  This means sometimes "taking the lane", other times taking it easy over by the curb.  Sometimes you just stop and let things clear up.  Bike lanes often do not permit an adaptation of your riding to immediate circumstances.  I often feel pinned up against the curb or forced into the door zone. 

I have met several people who have worked on bicycle infrastructure plans and individual bike lane projects and none of them are avid bicyclists.  In fact one of them got really made at me because I reminded him of "hardcore" bicyclists who came to their meetings to complain about their lane designs.  These people think they're saving the world but they are come-lately's to bicycling and often don't really get it.  I went on a ride with one of the guys and he was literally the worst bicyclist I've ever been around.  Totally winded after about 3 miles...had no idea how to get through intersections. 

infogoon

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #105 on: August 30, 2017, 02:27:04 PM »
Yeah, please excuse me if I go all whiney pants, but I just had this exchange while biking home:

Car pulls up next to me as I am biking on the narrow, two lane road about a mile from my house. I look up in surprise to see an older lady peering out her window at me. "Don't you know what you are doing is dangerous?!" Me: "It's not. Being sedent--" Her: "Yes it is! Especially on this road!" And off she drives.

I had a woman pull up next to me at a stop light and threaten to call 911 and report me for riding my bike in the street.

In my state, bicycles are legally vehicles that are required to follow all the same traffic conventions as cars. And it's illegal for adults to ride bicycles on the sidewalk in my city.

Driver's Ed needs a continuing education component for these idiots.
And for this reason, I think the point someone made above about front/ back lights for bikes is a good one.  There are certain conditions where cars are REQUIRED to have lights on for safety (fog, twilight, darkness).  Bicycles are vehicles and should have the same requirements.

Bicycles in New York are required to have lights or reflectors, as well as a noisemaking device like a bell or horn. Not that it gets enforced, but the law is on the books.

martyconlonontherun

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #106 on: August 31, 2017, 03:31:12 PM »
..had no idea how to get through intersections.
Can you clarify? Did you mean you they didnt know how to signal to turn left or are you talking about doing rolling stops at Red lights? There are 2 types of bicyclist based on how you answer.

jmecklenborg

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #107 on: August 31, 2017, 05:23:17 PM »
..had no idea how to get through intersections.
Can you clarify? Did you mean you they didnt know how to signal to turn left or are you talking about doing rolling stops at Red lights? There are 2 types of bicyclist based on how you answer.


He just couldn't make a decision on what to do.  Just couldn't really anticipate what was going on with an intersection and how he fit into it.  I guess if you're coming up to an intersection and the light has been green for as long as you have been able to see it, and you don't have much experience, I suppose that you would be nervous entering the intersection. By contrast if you come up to an intersection that turns red before you reach it, there won't be many cars, and you'll have a second to think about where to wait out the light.  Then what to do when it turns green. 

I guess that I usually get in the correct lane at least 100 feet ahead, and if I need to turn left or right and there is too much going on I try to get over to the curb and just hang out.  I do this maybe once every 5 miles.  Sometimes I turn to look left and wave traffic through to illustrate that I have no intention of biking through the intersection until all of the cars have cleared. 

I know that if I'm out in the suburbs or country and approach a really big intersection and can see that the lights won't sync with what I want to do I'll bail and hang out before I even get up to it.  Like if you see that you might be able to make it through a left turn light but risk keeping a lot of cars from being able to get through the cycle then I'll bail out until the light cycle.  Otherwise you can underestimate how much time you need to completely clear the intersection and you don't want to be out there in it with a bunch of cars in the other directions itching to move.  You really need to be more alert and approach a section with a plan if you're clipped into a road bike.  If you need to clip out you need to be in a position on the crank where you can do that and not wipe out.  And plant your foot squarely so that you don't skid on the clip...and then wipe out.  It can be more difficult to do hand signals on a road bike, especially if you're approaching an intersection on a curve.  Slip ramps to and from highways suck a bit more to cross on a road bike because cars are traveling quickly and it's tougher to crank in such a way that you can be set up for a sudden clip out.  That situation is pretty rare but is definitely dangerous.  Cars get excited and start speeding up and getting in the "highway mindset" as they approach an on-ramp.  Similarly, they're not completely back to "city" mode when they exit.           



barbaz

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #108 on: September 01, 2017, 12:43:27 AM »
I never do left turns on large intersections, instead I cross the road twice. The bike lanes in Berlin are also set up this way.

vhalros

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #109 on: September 10, 2017, 08:28:25 PM »
I can see how some one might conclude it is too dangerous to bicycle even for short trips around town. What I don't understand is why someone, upon reaching this conclusion, is not marching in the streets to demand an end to such an absurd situation :)

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #110 on: September 11, 2017, 07:44:07 AM »
I can see how some one might conclude it is too dangerous to bicycle even for short trips around town. What I don't understand is why someone, upon reaching this conclusion, is not marching in the streets to demand an end to such an absurd situation :)

You can't march in the street.  You would be run over by the drivers in this thread who would then blame you for not having enough blinking lights/fluorescent clothing/body armor to prevent the accident.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 10:55:18 AM by GuitarStv »

RidetheRain

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #111 on: September 11, 2017, 09:29:13 AM »
I can see how some one might conclude it is too dangerous to bicycle even for short trips around town. What I don't understand is why someone, upon reaching this conclusion, is not marching in the streets to demand an end to such an absurd situation :)

You can't march in the street.  You would be run over by the drivers in this who would then blame you for not having enough blinking lights/fluorescent clothing/body armor to prevent the accident.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-bike-lane-backlash-20170623-story.html

This news story is from where I live. We got bike lanes and streets painted for safer bike riding in west Los Angeles. Within two months, they took them back and reverted the lines on the road again. We can scream all we want, but there are more voices on the other side and they can yell louder.

vhalros

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #112 on: September 11, 2017, 10:08:14 AM »
This news story is from where I live. We got bike lanes and streets painted for safer bike riding in west Los Angeles. Within two months, they took them back and reverted the lines on the road again. We can scream all we want, but there are more voices on the other side and they can yell louder.

Yeah, that is what I am saying. People are like "Bicycling is too dangerous". The correct response is *to fix it* so that it is not so dangerous, as other places in the world have already shown is possible. But instead we have responses like "Oh no! Where will I park my car? This will require minor changes to my life!", in some form of collective insanity.

Although I, here in Cambridge, MA, I've got to say that people are slowly waking up. We have protected bicycle lanes coming in in a lot of locations, and while there are some complaints, lots of people show up in support of them as well.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2017, 10:26:42 AM by vhalros »

robartsd

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #113 on: September 11, 2017, 12:58:40 PM »
I live and grew up in Sacramento and have been an avid cyclist since high school. I've always realized that Sacramento's flat terrain was great for cycling, but didn't really think about how Sacramento's pre-WWII areas generally are better for cycling than most later developments until reading this thread. My commute is about 4.5 miles each way (bike commutable to downtown was an important factor in choosing our location). I've pretty much always chosen a bike as a primary commute mode for warm (or hot), daylight hours. For the last 2 years I've also chosen bike even if it is dark or cold (still choose bus when wet - mostly because I don't have good wet weather equipment).

Lights: California requires them, but does not set any standards - find the dimmest headlight you can, figure out a way to attach it to your bike pointing forward, congratulations you meet the headlight requirement! For me these are only a "be seen" item, because street lighting is adequate for me to see my path.

Sidewalks: City lifted the general sidewalk riding ban last year. I'm in favor of a sidewalk speed limit (apply to all sidewalk users with wheels; but not to joggers, runners) of about 5 MPH. I'll choose to ride slowly on a sidewalk for short stints (often to go a block or so against traffic on a one-way street). I see riding at speed as the danger on a sidewalk. I generally ride in the street at 10-15 mph.

Clothing: I generally wear light colored tee shirts while riding.

Take the lane: Part of my commute can include a 4-lane business district street with sharrows. In the morning, I'm usually early enough that traffic is light and few cars are parked. In the afternoon, I've had people in cars clearly express that they think I do not belong in this space; but the sharrows clearly indcate that the traffic planner thinks it is OK. I understand many people not wanting to bike here. I'd love to see a "complete streets" renoavation remove either a traffic lane in each direction or the on-street parking to make room for a bike lane.

GuitarStv

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #114 on: September 11, 2017, 01:20:13 PM »
If there's one thing that most road users can agree upon . . . it's that sharrows suck.  Motorists don't know what the hell they are because they're far less intuitive.  I'd rank using a road with sharrows as about equivalent to using a road with no cycling infrastructure.

vhalros

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #115 on: September 11, 2017, 01:23:33 PM »
If there's one thing that most road users can agree upon . . . it's that sharrows suck.  Motorists don't know what the hell they are because they're far less intuitive.  I'd rank using a road with sharrows as about equivalent to using a road with no cycling infrastructure.

They can be ok under some circumstances. They can remind cyclists to stay out of the door zone and maintain a good lane position, and maybe keep motorists from out of town freaking out and going "Oh my god there is a bicycle!". But you definitely can't just put them down on an otherwise unsafe road and declare the job done.

moof

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #116 on: September 11, 2017, 02:18:35 PM »
If there's one thing that most road users can agree upon . . . it's that sharrows suck.  Motorists don't know what the hell they are because they're far less intuitive.  I'd rank using a road with sharrows as about equivalent to using a road with no cycling infrastructure.
+1.  Window dressing at its finest.

My other favorite is the orange signs construction crews put up that say "Bicycles in Roadway" when they have ripped up the sidewalk and bike lane and added orange cones to block 25% of the remaining single lane.  WTF are cars or bikes supposed to do with that useless information?!

robartsd

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #117 on: September 11, 2017, 02:51:41 PM »
If there's one thing that most road users can agree upon . . . it's that sharrows suck.  Motorists don't know what the hell they are because they're far less intuitive.  I'd rank using a road with sharrows as about equivalent to using a road with no cycling infrastructure.
Slightly better that a sharrow is a green-backed sharrow. Worse than a sharrow is a bike lane that leads you to dangerous possition at the intersection, then leaves you hanging. I doubt the motorists on that particular street even notice the sharrows (the paint is rather old). If I was not a competent urban cyclist, I would not be on that street - one reason I choose to be there is so that motorists will see cyclists there. Neighbors have seen me and indicated that they don't think cycling is safe there. As far as safety goes, I have not experienced signficant problems on this street. I choose other (slightly longer) routes when I don't want to deal traffic (or just want more shade).

Most hazardous situations for urban cyclists are caused by motorists who are turning or pulling to the curb failing to look for cyclists. For me, the two most significant encounters with cars nearly injuring me to date happened on the same afternoon commute a month or so ago. First was a car that was not signaling pulling into a parking spot. I was approahing a red light on the right side of cars stopped waiting for the signal. I was near the rear corner of the car when the light turned green. The car started drifting toward the right into an empty parking space that had been just ahead of it, forcing me toward the curb in that parking space until I slapped the side of the car. Later on the same trip I was approahing a green light with no nearby cars in my direction. An oncoming sedan turning left (left turn yeild on green) seem to hurry to turn in front of me, but the distracted driver in the SUV that follwed assumed it was safe to turn because the car in front had turned (driver should have been able to scan the road ahead over the previous vehicle). Too late to stop before entering the intersection by the time I noticed the SUV was failing to yeild, I swerved right to avoid being hit. Fortunately the driver noticed me in time.

My other favorite is the orange signs construction crews put up that say "Bicycles in Roadway" when they have ripped up the sidewalk and bike lane and added orange cones to block 25% of the remaining single lane.  WTF are cars or bikes supposed to do with that useless information?!
At least that caution sign has a clear meaing. In my area the wording is "Share the Road" beneath a bike icon. I always assumed motorists read this as: "Hey bikes, get out of the way even though your sorry excuse for infrastructure has been temporarily taken away." Where possible, I ride on the wrong side of the cone line in construction zones - I've never had anyone question me on this.

facepalm

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #118 on: September 12, 2017, 12:04:09 AM »
The real problem here is the attitude of those who put a negative connotation on cycling due to its "dangerous" nature. Many things in life are "dangerous" yet people still choose to partake, usually because they enjoy the activity. You must learn to assume a certain level of risk with anything you do, regardless of the available safety measures. For example, I cycle, fly airplanes, and used to race dirt track cars. Are there dangers involved in all of these? Certainly, I could die doing any of these. And yes, I choose to wear the level of protective equipment that I deem appropriate, but this doesn't guarantee I won't be injured or killed. The real reason myself and most others do these things is because we enjoy them. I absolutely love biking to work 19 miles round trip everyday. I love flying any chance I get. And racing will always be my greatest passion. I would much rather die participating in something that brings me pure joy and improves quality of life than spending 100 years stressing about all the "dangers" of the world.

I ride a motorcycle and lane split regularly. Riding a bike on the shoulder is a safety paradise in comparison.

I also never ride without full gear and a full face helmet, and brush up on my riding skills every two years. hell, I won't ride on a day my gut tells me otherwise. I minimize the risks as much as I can. In spite of all that, I could be killed due to no fault of my own.

Someone in an earlier post mentioned hi-viz gear: It may keep bicyclists safe, but the data on motorcyclists is inconclusive.

Carless

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Re: Biking is dangerous
« Reply #119 on: September 13, 2017, 06:35:11 AM »
Our city likes to put construction signage in the bike lane.  My favourite was when the only thing obstructing the bike lane was a sign telling drivers to share the road.