Author Topic: General Bicycle Questions  (Read 3135 times)

Joe Collins

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General Bicycle Questions
« on: July 19, 2013, 02:51:34 PM »
Hello MMM Forum,

I have just taken the plunge, and started biking today.  I biked to the library, 4 mile round trip, utilizing the knowledge gained from the FBA Traffic Law Guide.  The road is a two lane, 12 ft lanes, with decent traffic, and no sidewalks/bike lanes on either side, speed limit 45 mph.  On the way there, I was honked at from behind once, about 30 seconds before reaching a bike lane.  Upon reaching the bike lane, the passenger rolled down their window and cursed me out, and they both flicked me off.  I held course the whole way, behaving like a vehicle; only got honked at once on the way back.  I was not afraid to get hit from behind, so much as I felt unwelcome. 

That being said, this is just a trial to see for myself if biking really is a viable option.  (What I mean by that is I know it's a viable option based on what I've read, but I would like to experience it myself.)  I will be moving to Sarasota in a few months, which is supposed to be a bike-friendly community.  I plan to only have a bike and a trailer, no car.  I say all of this to provide context for the following questions:

1.  Do you ride on a two-lane road, and if so, what has your experience been?
2.  How do you deal with motorists' sense of entitlement to the road?
3.  What is the point of having panniers if you can't lock them?  Essentially they must be empty at all times and can only be used to bring things home, and even the panniers themselves can be stolen.
4.  Is it really legal to chain your bike to anything, provided the property owner doesn't forbid it?
5.  Do you lock your helmet to your bike or take it with you?
6.  Do you feel safe as a cyclist?
7.  What safety accessories would you recommend?
8.  Do you have any tips/things you wish you knew before using a trailer?

Will post more questions as they come.

Reepekg

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Re: General Bicycle Questions
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 03:33:26 PM »
1. I've done this enough and my experience was such to develop the habit of always planning my route ahead of time to use "back roads" cutting through developments and neighborhoods. It makes the trip twisty, but safer. Google maps bike directions and street view are my friends.

3-5. You seem concerned people are going to steal your things. In 10 years, nobody wanted my sweaty helmet, pump, etc. A lot of times I lock my back wheel so it won't rotate but don't bother chaining it to fences or whatever.

6. Yes. Most people get pretty wary around the rare cyclist and give a wide berth if there's not a lot of traffic.

Spudd

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Re: General Bicycle Questions
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 04:10:21 PM »
1.  Do you ride on a two-lane road, and if so, what has your experience been?
I'm not sure what you mean by 2-lane road. 2 lanes either direction? If so, yes. It can be a little unsettling, depending on the road. I prefer to avoid major roads when possible, but with some practice, you do get used to riding on the majors. I use Google Maps bike directions to suss out alternate routes. Most of our major roads have slower speed limits than 45mph though, that seems pretty fast.

2.  How do you deal with motorists' sense of entitlement to the road?
Just ignore them.

3.  What is the point of having panniers if you can't lock them?  Essentially they must be empty at all times and can only be used to bring things home, and even the panniers themselves can be stolen.
I have one crappy pannier that I zip-tied to my rack and it lives on the bike. If someone wants to steal it, then OK. But it's crappy so a) they probably won't want to, and b) I won't miss it much. My good office pannier has a shoulder strap so I take it with me when I park the bike. I keep my wallet and cellphone in there, so there's no way I'm leaving it on the bike unattended. Anyways, basically, panniers for the most part are used to carry things from one place to another. I rarely have a need to leave my panniers with stuff in them unattended in public. The few times this has been necessary, it's been fine. But usually it doesn't happen (except when i went on a bike tour... then it happened all the time... and was always fine).

4.  Is it really legal to chain your bike to anything, provided the property owner doesn't forbid it?
This undoubtedly depends on your jurisdiction. I try to use bike racks where available, but if they're not, a handy tree or fence works.

5.  Do you lock your helmet to your bike or take it with you?
It varies. I lock it to the bike if I'm going someplace it would be inconvenient to have it with me. I just wear it if I'm popping into the grocery store or something.

6.  Do you feel safe as a cyclist?
Yes.

7.  What safety accessories would you recommend?
Lights (front and rear). Bell or horn (make noise as you pass parked cars that might turn out in front of you, or pedestrians if you're on a multi-use path). Reflective tape on the bike is cheap and helps at night.

8.  Do you have any tips/things you wish you knew before using a trailer?
Not really, we bought a cheap kiddie trailer and use that for our grocery runs. It's straight-forward. The only thing is, it's obviously more effort than just biking on your own and it can kind of pull at you a bit, making the ride feel a bit jerky.

Sparafusile

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Re: General Bicycle Questions
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 04:15:47 PM »
1. Yes. My experience has been nothing like yours. My route takes me on country roads and highways. I feel safer on the country roads even though I'm probably not. I get caught up in trying to keep up with traffic when I'm on highways. I've never been honked at at or cursed yet. Then again I'm in the Midwest so people don't do that often anyway.

2. Some people like to get too close and buzz me. I keep aware of the situation as they approach from behind and just keep on keeping on after they've passed. Some people are ignorant, but I think they'll get a clue once more cyclists start using the same road.

3-4. I have no experience there. I take my bike into the building when I reach work.

5. I would take it with me even if I had to lock my bike up. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't.

6. I feel safe because I'm aware of what's going on around me. Even more-so than when I drive. If my route was genuinely unsafe I wouldn't ride that way.

7. Helmet. Blinky lights on the front and back if you ride when it's dark. A reflective vest or light colored clothing if you ride in the dark.

8. Never used one, but as a driver if I see a cyclist using one I assume there are kids in the back and try to be extra careful. It wasn't until I came to this site that I found out what they are really used for.

pop pop!

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Re: General Bicycle Questions
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 09:59:20 PM »
1.  Do you ride on a two-lane road, and if so, what has your experience been?
-nothing like what you're talking about; I'd look for alternatives if there are any -- 45 mph seems like a pretty fast speed limit. 

2.  How do you deal with motorists' sense of entitlement to the road?
-usually just ignore jerks; they've been mercifully rare

3.  What is the point of having panniers if you can't lock them?  Essentially they must be empty at all times and can only be used to bring things home, and even the panniers themselves can be stolen.
-I take the panniers with me, like a shoulder bag; I don't leave them on the bike.  You might get a basket if you're looking for something to just hold stuff, not carry stuff.

4.  Is it really legal to chain your bike to anything, provided the property owner doesn't forbid it?
-I don't know.

5.  Do you lock your helmet to your bike or take it with you?
-depends, I don't worry too much about it when I lock it to the bike.

6.  Do you feel safe as a cyclist?
-yes, except when I do something stupid when I'm impatient. Then I feel stupid and unsafe later.

7.  What safety accessories would you recommend?
-I wear a bright yellow shirt or jacket.  I use flashing lights in front and back.  For winter biking I plan to get a brighter headlamp and those spoke lights that make you more visible from the side.

8.  Do you have any tips/things you wish you knew before using a trailer?
-don't have one; I'm still waiting for MMM's "what do you mean, you don't have a bike trailer?!?" article.

stevesteve

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Re: General Bicycle Questions
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 10:23:57 PM »
1.  Do you ride on a two-lane road, and if so, what has your experience been?
I do it but not for my regular commute.  I ride 1/3 of the way from the right of the lane.  It's a pretty good position because you can swerve right if someone is coming too close without going off the road.  It also forces the car into the opposing lane of traffic if they want to pass so they won't graze you trying to stay in the same lane.  It also makes you more visible around curves.  I'd get a mirror if I were going to be doing this daily in a 45 zone.

My experience has been fine.  When I have extra room I get over for cars.  Motorists in general love to see that you're trying to get out of their way so even when you feel rage try to be polite without ceding your right to bike there.  (Signalling that you're letting them pass, etc.)

2.  How do you deal with motorists' sense of entitlement to the road?
See above for a bit of it.  In the end just bike and ignore most of it.  Report people who endanger you (incident reports are important to keep it on police radar and sometimes they will make a note about the plate, or so they say).  Bike like you belong because you do.

3.  What is the point of having panniers if you can't lock them?  Essentially they must be empty at all times and can only be used to bring things home, and even the panniers themselves can be stolen.
I used mine for groceries mostly so it was bringing them home.  Some people are lucky enough to be able to bring them into their works.  They're also nice if you're taking a day trip and you'll never be too far from your bike or can detach them if you go inside somewhere.

4.  Is it really legal to chain your bike to anything, provided the property owner doesn't forbid it?
It really depends.  My best advice here is never chain it to trees and be respectful.  I've never had a problem locking to a public sign pole but I would never lock it to someone's private fence.

5.  Do you lock your helmet to your bike or take it with you?
Both.

6.  Do you feel safe as a cyclist?
No.  But not particularly less safe than when I walk or drive.  I feel the least safe driving in a car on an interstate in the northeast watching cars weave between lanes at 80mph when there's high volume.  Just remember that a lot of the common injuries can be easily avoided.  Don't go to the right of cars.  Don't drive in a place where cars can push you off the road.

7.  What safety accessories would you recommend?
Helmet.  I got rid of my training wheels a while back.

8.  Do you have any tips/things you wish you knew before using a trailer?
I have some tips having driven a car near someone with a lot trailer--make sure it's visible.  Also, learn how to deal with potholes since the tires are smaller.


Have fun biking!

GuitarStv

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Re: General Bicycle Questions
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2013, 06:31:09 PM »
1.  I've done it before, but have now planned my commute to avoid 2 lane roads without any shoulders.  If they are on the way while I'm biking somewhere though, just try not to hold up traffic too much.  If there isn't room to get by you, you'll get yelled at now and again.  Most are OK, but some people in cars are dicks.
2.  Drive safely  . . . no sudden changes/movements - means you have to look well ahead for obstacles so that you can anticipate most of them.  Don't be afraid to take the entire lane if you need to avoid something on the shoulder of the road, but do it with a shoulder check and lots of time in advance.
3.  My panniers clip off in about two seconds, and have a handle so I can carry them like a briefcase.  Panniers are better than backpacks because they keep weight off your hands and lower back when biking.  These areas can often get sore otherwise when you're going long distances.
4.  Pretty much, but don't be a dick.  I try not to chain to trees, private fences, or anything where I think it might make someone upset.  If your bike is chained up you're not there, so you don't want people to be upset at where your bike is locked and then have them do damage to your bike.
5.  I usually take it with me at work, but if I'm just heading into a place for a short while I'll often chain it up.
6.  Most of the time yes.  Experience has drastically helped with this.  Until you get used to biking in busy traffic it's pretty scary.
7.  I ride a lot in the winter, so very bright lights, reflective stuff, bright clothing is all essential.  My winter bike always has two different tail lights going in case one goes out, and I carry spare batteries.  Fenders are a safety accessory in the snow/rain.  They keep your eyes and face from getting sprayed on so you can pay more attention to what's going on!
8.  I use a front and rear rack with four panniers to carry groceries and stuff around.