Author Topic: Questions about running errands by bike  (Read 2477 times)

ohsnap

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Questions about running errands by bike
« on: January 18, 2020, 03:35:03 PM »
I have grocery store, pharmacy, library, dentist, yoga studio & gym all within easy biking distance. I've actually walked to some of these places but sometimes I don't have an extra 2 hours to do the 3-miles there and 3-miles back!

A couple of questions:
1. We don't have any bike lanes.  The roads have speed limits of 40mph which means most cars are traveling 45-50 and I don't want to share the road with them.  Can I ride on the sidewalk?  It's technically illegal, but in addition to not having any cyclists in my area we don't have any pedestrians either (suburbia!) so I won't be in anyone's way.  I imagine the cops aren't looking out for these types of violations but wondering if anyone has had problems with that.. Modified to add: just googled it and in my city it's apparently legal to ride on the sidewalk!
2. There are no freakin' bike racks!  How do I secure my bike?  One store has a cart corral that would work for me to lock my bike to the far end of it so it won't be in the way of getting the carts out.  The other places have cart corrals that are made of cinderblocks.   Is it OK to lock a bike to a sign post?  Like one for handicapped parking, as long as the bike doesn't actually sit in the parking spot or block a ramp?

I need some confidence boosting.  I'm headed off by foot to the grocery store that's 1.1 miles and looking forward to your advice.
« Last Edit: January 18, 2020, 03:38:27 PM by ohsnap »

Syonyk

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2020, 04:44:51 PM »
Don't run down old ladies and nobody cares what you do on the sidewalk in most places.  If you're rocking a 35mph, 100+ lb ebike on the sidewalk, blowing past people, yeah, you're not going to have a good time.  Ride respectfully, carry a bell to let people know you're passing, and stay to... oh, 12-15mph when there's nobody around?  You are exceedingly unlikely to have any problems.  Just wear a helmet.  You're more likely to get hassled for not wearing a helmet.

And lock your bike to whatever.  Nobody cares.

sentry

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2020, 04:52:17 PM »
In my experience, police pretty much turn a blind eye to bicyclists. They have bigger fish to fry.

As far as locking bikes up, if the establishment you are visiting doesn't have a bike rack... that's on them. Lock your bike up where ever you can. Remember - you are saving them money by not utilizing a parking space. See typical scene at local walmart in attached pic.


mspym

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2020, 05:00:41 PM »
Yup, lock your bike to any handy sign or railing or tree just do so in a considerate manner so you aren't blocking footpaths/car parks.

plog

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2020, 10:09:18 PM »
Quote
I don't have an extra 2 hours to do the 3-miles there and 3-miles back!

That's how long a 6 mile trip takes walking.  Additionally it seems like everyone who is bike-curious doesn't realize you don't have to take the exact same roads to destinations on your bike as you do in your car. 

If you have all those things within that small a distance you do not live in a rural area and there are safer, alternative bikeable routes to them.  Might add a few minutes to the ride, but will be much safer.


mspym

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2020, 11:24:09 PM »
That's how long a 6 mile trip takes walking.  Additionally it seems like everyone who is bike-curious doesn't realize you don't have to take the exact same roads to destinations on your bike as you do in your car. 
Absolutely! It turns out that lots of our destinations that are horrible to get to by car are *amazing* by bike, with backroutes and quiet streets that are blocked for cars.

ohsnap

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2020, 07:01:13 AM »
Quote
I don't have an extra 2 hours to do the 3-miles there and 3-miles back!

That's how long a 6 mile trip takes walking.  Additionally it seems like everyone who is bike-curious doesn't realize you don't have to take the exact same roads to destinations on your bike as you do in your car. 

If you have all those things within that small a distance you do not live in a rural area and there are safer, alternative bikeable routes to them.  Might add a few minutes to the ride, but will be much safer.
Yes, that's what I meant about the extra 2 hours.  I don't mind doing the places that are 1-1.5 miles on foot, but not the 3 mile places.

As far as the alternative routes - my gym is on a side of town that I can get to mostly through a neighborhood that has wide multi-use paths.  It's great.  But for the other stuff - I think I'm better off on the sidewalks.  I'm a runner and am very familiar with the neighborhood streets and there just aren't ways to cut through some of the neighborhoods to end up any closer to the store - I'd end up on another main street almost as far from the store as I started.

AMandM

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2020, 09:35:05 AM »
Make sure you lock your bike to something secure. The post you lock your bike to can't be pulled out of the ground, your locked bik can't be picked up and slid off the top of the post, etc.

Aunt Petunia

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2020, 11:00:01 AM »
You could ask your gym and yoga studio to install bike racks. You might not be the first one who has asked. Otherwise you could jog to and from the gym for your warm up and cool down. That would be twice as fast as walking.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2020, 01:26:00 PM »
I've never gotten in trouble for locking my bike to something that is not a bike rack when no bike rack was provided. YMMV.

Good luck!

damyst

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2020, 08:48:02 AM »
Make sure you lock your bike to something secure. The post you lock your bike to can't be pulled out of the ground, your locked bik can't be picked up and slid off the top of the post, etc.

Second this, if your area has any bike thief activity. Many signposts are affixed to the ground with an easily-removable screw or two. I would sometimes still use them to lock my bike, but it depends on the exact location and duration.

Parking meters are an option if your lock is wide enough, and if the city doesn't mind.

caleb

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2020, 08:53:46 AM »
Good advice above for the moment.

But twice in my life I've found myself in a bike/pedestrian-hostile living situation.  Both times I moved, and both times it was a good choice.

ohsnap

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2020, 03:30:18 PM »
Thanks for all the advice.  Here's an update: 
Turns out my bike seat was broken. So at least that gave me a couple of days to scope things out better while I waited for my new one to be delivered.  I found a bike rack in the center where my gym is, and also one where my favorite grocer is. There isn't one at my yoga studio, but there's a fence just outside where the staff told me people lock bikes. I got the new seat put on the bike, and in the last 4 days, I have traveled on foot twice and by bike once, saving a total of almost 12 miles that I would have otherwise put on my car.  I'm looking forward to more!

WalkaboutStache

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2020, 04:15:59 PM »
The sidewalk is one of the most dangerous place you could ride your bike. When you are on the sidewalk, you are absolutely invisible to drivers who are turning corners.  They expect people moving at pedestrian speed to be stepping into the street when they are turning, but not at bike speed.  They will not check their mirrors for you and will not see you until you are in front of them (and perhaps not until they hit you).  You will also eventually forget that you are invisible and will come off a sidewalk to cross a street at your normal speed (slow for a bike, fast for a pedestrian) and you run the risk of being t-boned. Remember, people see what they are expecting to see

Bike lanes are nice to have, but the major factor for bike safety in any city is how common it is for people to bike so that drivers know to look for them.  Relative speed of traffic also matters, so unless lots of people cycle in the route that you are considering, that could be tricky.  If other people do ride on your proposed route, then take the lane: you want to ride on the rightmost tire tracks so that they can't try to just squeeze by you.

I think your first step should be to look into alternate routes. Chances are there are some that you are not familiar with unless you cycle regularly.  Most cities also have urban cycling collectives that can help you become more comfortable with urban riding and show you some safe riding techniques..


GreenToTheCore

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2020, 05:20:23 PM »
The sidewalk is one of the most dangerous place you could ride your bike.
Thank you WS, I was surprised this wasn't mentioned earlier.
 

There's a difference between perceived safety (comfort) and actual safety. I definitely remember the initial feeling of riding in the road, seeing the sidewalk and thinking why am I in the road. Luckily for me I had a great bicycling mentor (LAB instructor and all that). The discussion that got me to change my mind:

Master Cyclist: Why do you think bikers get hit?
Me: 'Cause drivers don't pay attention and look for me.
MC: Where is the one place that all drivers are looking, even the ones checking their phones?
Me: ...right in front of them?
MC: Exactly. Almost all close calls end with a "Sorry, I didn't see you."
Me: But won't they get angry and give me a "punishment pass"?
MC: It's this strange psychological phenomenon, almost everyone moves completely into the other lane since they know they have to pass over the paint no matter what. And if they don't move over completely, they move more than they usually do when I'm edge riding.
Me: But what if they don't know how to slow down and rear-end me?
MC: They slow down for cars turning right, for post office vehicles, for pedestrians crossing the road, for buses, ...
Me: Ok, let's try it.
Life changing experience ensues. Try it for 2 weeks, the difference is like night and day.



Funnily enough, the "primary position" is supported by every biking resource that I've found. Some places to start:

https://www.bikeleague.org/content/commuting
Always ride with the flow of traffic
Do not ride on the sidewalk
Allow yourself room to maneuver around  hazards
If the lane is too narrow or you are going the same speed as traffic, take the lane

http://www.azbikeped.org/bicycling-street-smarts-02.asp
"It may seem dangerous to make a motorist slow for you, but it's not. The usual reason that bicyclists feel unsafe on narrow roads is that they do not take control of the situation. Remember, the drivers behind you don't have room to pass you safely anyway. If you ride all the way over at the right, you're inviting them to pass you where the road is too narrow and, too often, you will get squeezed off the road. If you show clearly that it's not safe for drivers to pass you, they're unlikely to try.
Remember: don't hesitate to leave the bike lane when necessary for your safety - all the guidelines about lane position in this book apply whether or not there is a bike lane.
Many cyclists believe they are safer and more comfortable riding further to the right than this booklet recommends. They fear being passed uncomfortably close by a motorist, or feel intimidated by impatient drivers. Riding too far to the right is very dangerous for several reasons."

https://gohs.az.gov/highway-safety-programs/bicycle-safety
You may ride far enough from the road edge to stay clear of surface debris, potholes, rough pavement, drain grates, and pavement joints, as well as to avoid pedestrians, dogs, parked vehicles, and other objects.
You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist behind you.

https://www.azleg.gov/viewdocument/?docName=https://www.azleg.gov/ars/28/00815.htm 
Arizona, USA specific but most states'/western country's laws are very similar and easy to look up.
ARS 28-815
A person riding a bicycle on a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except under any of the following situations:
If reasonably necessary to avoid conditions, including fixed or moving objects, parked or moving vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals or surface hazards.
If the lane in which the person is operating the bicycle is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
...



tl;dr  Here's some quick resources:

https://cyclingsavvy.org/road-cycling/
https://floridabicycle.org/for-motorists/
https://www.bikeleague.org/ridesmart


Anyways, that was much longer that I intended. So much great info that we're never taught or shown.
Happy riding!
« Last Edit: January 24, 2020, 10:02:48 PM by GreenToTheCore »

tawyer

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #15 on: January 24, 2020, 09:47:39 PM »
Veteran cycle commuter here. This thread has some awesome definitive advice on cycling; love the graphics. Please don't cycle on the sidewalk.

I recommend a rear view mirror, attached to glasses. Being able to see over my shoulder gives me piece of mind that the vehicular traffic approaching me from behind is actually slowing down or moving over.

dabighen

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #16 on: January 25, 2020, 01:24:15 PM »
Regarding bike racks.  Usually you are one of the few cyclists around and people sometimes respect you for grocery shopping with a bike and trailer.  Ask management if you can bring the bike inside and leave in the front of the store.  When I go to Aldi I usually bring by bike trailer inside and use it as my shopping cart.

TomTX

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #17 on: January 26, 2020, 07:19:18 AM »
Regarding bike racks.  Usually you are one of the few cyclists around and people sometimes respect you for grocery shopping with a bike and trailer.  Ask management if you can bring the bike inside and leave in the front of the store.  When I go to Aldi I usually bring by bike trailer inside and use it as my shopping cart.

I bring my bike inside at Home Depot and leave it up front. They don't have anywhere reasonable to lock it up outside.

ministashy

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #18 on: January 28, 2020, 02:42:34 AM »
Adding my two cents on the sidewalk vs. road bicycling debate--

There are good points made above.  BUT, from my personal experience, there can be locations and roads that are just too risky to ride on.  In my area, there are several main drags (and no practical side roads) where even if I take the lane, there are cars whipping past me at 40-50 mph, and a lot of the time, they're not moving entirely over into the other lane.  Add to that the intimidation factor from the asshole element (this seems to be more prevalent the more suburban/rural the area is)--that percentage of drivers who will honk and try to scare you, flip you off, try to crowd you off the road (I've had metro buses do this to me!), or worst, actively threaten you at the next stop light/sign--and sometimes personal safety is better served by riding on the sidewalk, IMHO.

That said, if you are riding on the sidewalk, be aware of all the risks mentioned above.  Make sure you check every single driveway for oncoming cars before crossing, have lots of lights/wear bright clothing, and triple check for turning cars at intersections! 

It sucks, but as a cyclist, sometimes you just have to pick the safest of two bad options.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #19 on: January 28, 2020, 02:14:54 PM »
I have very occasionally cycled on sidewalks, but I slow down as if I am walking when crossing streets. Agree that some streets are 100% non-bikeable, especially for less athletic bikers like myself.

The advice to ride in the middle of the lane is good. It feels weird, but it also feels safer once you get used to it.

Mrsweisass

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #20 on: January 28, 2020, 03:57:59 PM »
Adding my two cents on the sidewalk vs. road bicycling debate--

There are good points made above.  BUT, from my personal experience, there can be locations and roads that are just too risky to ride on.  In my area, there are several main drags (and no practical side roads) where even if I take the lane, there are cars whipping past me at 40-50 mph, and a lot of the time, they're not moving entirely over into the other lane.  Add to that the intimidation factor from the asshole element (this seems to be more prevalent the more suburban/rural the area is)--that percentage of drivers who will honk and try to scare you, flip you off, try to crowd you off the road (I've had metro buses do this to me!), or worst, actively threaten you at the next stop light/sign--and sometimes personal safety is better served by riding on the sidewalk, IMHO.

That said, if you are riding on the sidewalk, be aware of all the risks mentioned above.  Make sure you check every single driveway for oncoming cars before crossing, have lots of lights/wear bright clothing, and triple check for turning cars at intersections! 

It sucks, but as a cyclist, sometimes you just have to pick the safest of two bad options.

Iíve found that some pre planning on these routes often reveals much safer, more pleasant alternative routes that are minimally inconveniencing.

meghan88

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Re: Questions about running errands by bike
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2020, 04:38:41 PM »
Re. locking your bike up at your destination:  Do you ride a beater bike - something that no one would want to steal if it's a hassle? 

When I do errands with my beater, I use a really good U-lock to lock the front wheel to the frame, and lean the bike out of the way against a wall near the entrance.  So far, so good (knock on wood).