Author Topic: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...  (Read 17722 times)

Mesmoiselle

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Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« on: November 25, 2014, 10:08:43 AM »
When I was a teenager freshly freed from my parents in my own apartment I obviously couldn't afford a car. So bought a vintage-appearing bike from Walmart, added a basket with some help from said parent, and went about my way using it for work, which was very very close by bike, and some grocery shopping.

But then one very early 5am Saturday morning on my way to work, men, I'm guessing drunk, chased /pressured me off the road and onto the side walk. Yelled all sorts of things, and then even pulled into various drive ways to have a second and third go at me as I was biking through a surburbia like neighborhood.

Adrenaline pumping, I put some serious pumping to my pedals, swerving around their car, and I made it to work unscathed. Must admit, I had a good cry upon arrival from the experience. Between that, and my boyfriend with a car moving in with me, I never rode my bike to work again. And perhaps have never been on a bike in the decade since then.

Is this a once in a lifetime thing or something I should prepare myself for in the future? How would I do this? Is this a woman only thing or is any bike rider at risk due to the stupidity of drunk/late night party drivers and their non consensual version of fun?




KCM5

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2014, 10:29:00 AM »
I've never had an experience like this and that sounds horrible.

That said, as a woman on a bicycle, you're going to get men yelling crap at you. Once I was on my bike and I got cat called by a couple of men on a freaking cell phone tower. Its ridiculous. I'm older, wiser and fed up with that sort of crap now, but it definitely used to unnerve me when I was younger.

I'm not a man, but I get the feeling that men are less likely to get yelled at (not that it doesn't happen). I'm sure they get the typical "you're not a car" sort of thing, but a woman on a bike is going to get that, plus "hey, baby, I'll go where you're going" and such.

So, I guess I'm trying to say that I'm not sure if its once in a lifetime or not. Sometimes you just have get on your bike and ride because that's how you want to live your life.

mulescent

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2014, 10:46:10 AM »
I am sorry, that really sucks.  I bike to work every day, in a city that is relatively bike-friendly, and I have had few unpleasant encounters with cars.  Generally, they take the form of people being verbally abusive of "their" space.  Such encounters are rare (<1 a year for me), and so I count them as a cost of bike commuting and move on with my life.  In the end, assholes will be assholes whether they (or you) are in a car, on a bike or on foot. 

To prepare for car encounters of the type you had, one thing I can think of beyond the basics like being well-lit and attentive to the road is to keep your cellphone handy.  Being able to pull it out and call 911 would make me feel better.  Another potential strategy would be to arrange your work schedule so you aren't on the road when drunks are (e.g. after 6a before 9p).

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2014, 11:15:11 AM »
I am sorry, that really sucks.  I bike to work every day, in a city that is relatively bike-friendly, and I have had few unpleasant encounters with cars.  Generally, they take the form of people being verbally abusive of "their" space.  Such encounters are rare (<1 a year for me), and so I count them as a cost of bike commuting and move on with my life.  In the end, assholes will be assholes whether they (or you) are in a car, on a bike or on foot. 

To prepare for car encounters of the type you had, one thing I can think of beyond the basics like being well-lit and attentive to the road is to keep your cellphone handy.  Being able to pull it out and call 911 would make me feel better.  Another potential strategy would be to arrange your work schedule so you aren't on the road when drunks are (e.g. after 6a before 9p).

Haha with my 7 am start times every Monday, that may barely be possible. Medical places, outside of Dr's offices, tend to be a 6a-8a day shift thing.

Would you advise against headphones to increase attentiveness? Music-less bike riding sounds meh. Guess I'll have my thoughts and be safer though.

The Architect

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2014, 11:43:28 AM »
Would you advise against headphones to increase attentiveness? Music-less bike riding sounds meh. Guess I'll have my thoughts and be safer though.

Wait, you wear headphones?!? That is crazy! I believe it's also illegal for the same reasons it's illegal while driving - you can't hear traffic around you. Get a speaker or something if you *need* music while biking.

Driving on well-traveled routes may help you; though that is counter to the normal bike-rider goal of staying away from major roads. If completely off-road routes exist (trails, neighborhoods with roads that don't connect but you could cross on foot/bike), using those could also help. Finding fellow bikers to ride with you would also help, though may not be possible.

sheepstache

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2014, 11:45:10 AM »
Would you advise against headphones to increase attentiveness? Music-less bike riding sounds meh. Guess I'll have my thoughts and be safer though.

Wait, you wear headphones?!? That is crazy!

I love when the "bristles" below someone's user name can act as a verb.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2014, 12:00:42 PM »
Would you advise against headphones to increase attentiveness? Music-less bike riding sounds meh. Guess I'll have my thoughts and be safer though.

Wait, you wear headphones?!? That is crazy! I believe it's also illegal for the same reasons it's illegal while driving - you can't hear traffic around you. Get a speaker or something if you *need* music while biking.

Driving on well-traveled routes may help you; though that is counter to the normal bike-rider goal of staying away from major roads. If completely off-road routes exist (trails, neighborhoods with roads that don't connect but you could cross on foot/bike), using those could also help. Finding fellow bikers to ride with you would also help, though may not be possible.

I don't even have the bike yet, so no, I haven't been wearing head phones. Nice reminder to become educated about the bike laws however.

jamal utah

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2014, 12:06:31 PM »
I typically listen to music when I ride, but I only have the right ear bud in so I can hear whats going on around me. I also keep the volume reasonable.

However, if you don't have a bike yet, I would focus on finding a safe route before adding music to the mix.

Also, I have been on the receiving end of some harassment for cycling, but it is rare.  Moreover, the people typically doing it are obviously dumbasses so its easy to brush off.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #8 on: November 25, 2014, 12:20:00 PM »
I typically listen to music when I ride, but I only have the right ear bud in so I can hear whats going on around me. I also keep the volume reasonable.

However, if you don't have a bike yet, I would focus on finding a safe route before adding music to the mix.

Also, I have been on the receiving end of some harassment for cycling, but it is rare.  Moreover, the people typically doing it are obviously dumbasses so its easy to brush off.

Does one take much different routes from that of the main side streets? Making a two mile trip into a three for safety's sake?

TrMama

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #9 on: November 25, 2014, 12:32:17 PM »
When I was a teenager freshly freed from my parents in my own apartment I obviously couldn't afford a car. So bought a vintage-appearing bike from Walmart, added a basket with some help from said parent, and went about my way using it for work, which was very very close by bike, and some grocery shopping.

But then one very early 5am Saturday morning on my way to work, men, I'm guessing drunk, chased /pressured me off the road and onto the side walk. Yelled all sorts of things, and then even pulled into various drive ways to have a second and third go at me as I was biking through a surburbia like neighborhood.

Adrenaline pumping, I put some serious pumping to my pedals, swerving around their car, and I made it to work unscathed. Must admit, I had a good cry upon arrival from the experience. Between that, and my boyfriend with a car moving in with me, I never rode my bike to work again. And perhaps have never been on a bike in the decade since then.

Is this a once in a lifetime thing or something I should prepare myself for in the future? How would I do this? Is this a woman only thing or is any bike rider at risk due to the stupidity of drunk/late night party drivers and their non consensual version of fun?

That sounds terrifying. I'm a long time female cyclist. I had an incident last spring where a crazy guy threatened to run me over with his gas powered bicycle. From that incident (and some previous more minor ones) I learned a few things:

1. No headphones. For goodness sake, you may as well wear a target on your back.

2. Stay very alert. Always remain further than arms length away from any other cyclists or pedestrians. Make eye contact with anyone sketchy so they know you see them and you can describe them later if necessary.

3. Pick a route where other people are around. Stay away from trails at night or anywhere isolated. In the winter when it's dark, I avoid the multi-use trail (where assaults sometimes happen) and ride on the highway shoulder. I've decided I'd rather be hit by a car than assaulted in the bushes.

4. Take some martial arts classes to learn not just self-defense, but offense. I haven't done this yet, but it was recommended by the police officer who took my statement about the crazy guy.

5. Get a personal alarm. I have this one, https://www.thegrommet.com/ila-security-dusk-personal-alarms. Make sure you can reach it while riding (aka don't keep it in the bottom of your purse).

6. If you're really worried, get a helmet cam. People are apparently more likely to leave you alone if they can see they'll be filmed. Footage could also be forwarded to police if something happens.

jamal utah

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2014, 12:33:53 PM »
I typically listen to music when I ride, but I only have the right ear bud in so I can hear whats going on around me. I also keep the volume reasonable.

However, if you don't have a bike yet, I would focus on finding a safe route before adding music to the mix.

Also, I have been on the receiving end of some harassment for cycling, but it is rare.  Moreover, the people typically doing it are obviously dumbasses so its easy to brush off.


Does one take much different routes from that of the main side streets? Making a two mile trip into a three for safety's sake?

The route I take to and from work is not the most direct route, but it is has a bigger shoulder, few lights, and fewer places where cars enter the road.  If you have a safer route that only adds a half mile, I would choose the safer route every time.    I choose my routes primarily based on the width of the shoulder.

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #11 on: November 25, 2014, 12:36:22 PM »
I've had a similar experience. but luckily the drunks chasing me were on foot so I easily lost them.

1) I think it is a women's only problem, yes
2) I've been biking to work for my entire career (10+ years) and biked to college before that, and I've exactly 1 incident like you describe above, so I'd say it is a once in a lifetime thing.

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #12 on: November 25, 2014, 12:51:45 PM »
I've had a similar experience. but luckily the drunks chasing me were on foot so I easily lost them.

1) I think it is a women's only problem, yes
2) I've been biking to work for my entire career (10+ years) and biked to college before that, and I've exactly 1 incident like you describe above, so I'd say it is a once in a lifetime thing.

That's a relief. I spoke of it to a non biking friend and she swapped a story about how she was walking in the park one day and a car driver threw a milk shake at a biker up ahead. That strengthened my aversion to biking but I kept reading MMM and then Kroger screwed me on discount gas with their "fine print" so I'm gung ho at the moment to get one.

Gin1984

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #13 on: November 25, 2014, 12:59:07 PM »
I've had a similar experience. but luckily the drunks chasing me were on foot so I easily lost them.

1) I think it is a women's only problem, yes
2) I've been biking to work for my entire career (10+ years) and biked to college before that, and I've exactly 1 incident like you describe above, so I'd say it is a once in a lifetime thing.
You've been lucky.  I only biked for about 3 years and had at least two.  And then coming to buffalo and walking I've gotten many, many more.

sol

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2014, 01:01:52 PM »
I've certainly been harassed on my bike before.  People have yelled obscenities, people have thrown trash at me, people have swerved in front of me to try to force me off the roads.  It happens to me probably once or twice a year, and I bike multiple times per week.  It's much more common in the bad neighborhoods of town.

Having said that, I would not be surprised to learn that female bikers deal with additional problems that I don't have to put up with. 

The correct response to the horrifying situation you described is to whip our your phone and immediately call 911 to report an assault in progress.  The police exist explicitly to protect you from this kind of thing.  Report your location, read the operator their plate number and describe the dudes.  Walk right up to the window to get a good look at them.  Be sure they can hear you when you report that a car full of drunk dudes just ran you off the road on your bicycle, and is now chasing you down and you're in danger and you need a patrol car there immediately.  If you're in a major city, you should be able to hear sirens in about 30 seconds.

My preferred (albeit juvenile) response, especially if they pulled into a driveway to confront me, would be to confront them right back.  Get off your bike, walk over there, and then kick off their passenger side mirror.  I'm so sick of forgiving drivers for their transgressions that I've started reciprocating their behavior instead. 


KCM5

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #15 on: November 25, 2014, 01:23:47 PM »
My preferred (albeit juvenile) response, especially if they pulled into a driveway to confront me, would be to confront them right back.  Get off your bike, walk over there, and then kick off their passenger side mirror.  I'm so sick of forgiving drivers for their transgressions that I've started reciprocating their behavior instead.

I see where you're coming from here. I have started giving people the finger instead of ignoring them for this very reason. But at 5 am, a woman alone, a bunch of drunk guys? No.

Also, I second (third? fourth?) - don't wear headphones. Both for personal safety and traffic awareness reasons.

TrMama

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #16 on: November 25, 2014, 01:35:15 PM »

Having said that, I would not be surprised to learn that female bikers deal with additional problems that I don't have to put up with. 

The correct response to the horrifying situation you described is to whip our your phone and immediately call 911 to report an assault in progress.  The police exist explicitly to protect you from this kind of thing.  Report your location, read the operator their plate number and describe the dudes.  Walk right up to the window to get a good look at them.  Be sure they can hear you when you report that a car full of drunk dudes just ran you off the road on your bicycle, and is now chasing you down and you're in danger and you need a patrol car there immediately.  If you're in a major city, you should be able to hear sirens in about 30 seconds.

My preferred (albeit juvenile) response, especially if they pulled into a driveway to confront me, would be to confront them right back.  Get off your bike, walk over there, and then kick off their passenger side mirror.  I'm so sick of forgiving drivers for their transgressions that I've started reciprocating their behavior instead.

This is a terrible idea. Step 1 is to get away from them. Step 2 is to call the police. You cannot either run away or defend yourself while talking on the phone.  I have also learned the hard way to never, ever confront or antagonize people like this. Regardless of whether it's a regular run of the mill road rage driver or a crazy drunk bent on assaulting you. Especially as a woman who is smaller, slower and weaker than the aggressor.

Most women understand this instinctively. Many men never, ever understand this concept no matter how many times you explain it to them.

Wolf_Stache

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #17 on: November 25, 2014, 01:47:21 PM »
I've had a similar experience. but luckily the drunks chasing me were on foot so I easily lost them.

1) I think it is a women's only problem, yes
2) I've been biking to work for my entire career (10+ years) and biked to college before that, and I've exactly 1 incident like you describe above, so I'd say it is a once in a lifetime thing.
You've been lucky.  I only biked for about 3 years and had at least two.  And then coming to buffalo and walking I've gotten many, many more.

Yike. The one incident I had was near downtown Seattle at about 2 am. For the record all my experience is from biking around Seattle and Salt Lake, which might just be safer places to be a biker.

Note also I'm not including incidents where people yelled at me for just being a biker or threw trash at me. The incident I mention above is the only one where they targeted me for being a women not for being a biker.

sol

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #18 on: November 25, 2014, 01:48:28 PM »
I see where you're coming from here. I have started giving people the finger instead of ignoring them for this very reason. But at 5 am, a woman alone, a bunch of drunk guys? No.

No, of course not.  Which is why I only mentioned it afterwards, as something I might do.  But I'm Large-And-In-Charge and sometimes reckless with my personal safety.

Villanelle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #19 on: November 25, 2014, 01:53:21 PM »
I think there are some gender issues at play that most of the men just aren't going to get.  All bikers may face some harassment.  Women face gender-specific harassment on top of that.

That said, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Granted, my biking experience is pretty much limited to countries where this kind of cultural harassment of women just isn't done (Germany and Japan).  I've also never been catcalled here, unlike the US.  But I would try to put it out of your mind, and if it happens again or you are simply uncomfortable, a self-defense class in which you learn how to use pepper spray (don't just carry it without training) and or a helmet or bike camera couldn't hurt. 

Raay

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #20 on: November 25, 2014, 02:04:01 PM »
Holy shit, those are some real horror stories...

I've been biking for 10+ years and I've never had any incidents like that. The worst that has happened is that some car did not yield or honked on me without reason. However, in the city where I live (Germany) almost everyone rides a bike and we have plenty of bike paths everywhere. Certainly more people ride bikes here than drive cars, so the environment may be a bit different. 99% of drivers quietly yield to bike traffic. In the midst of winter you see resolute grandmas riding bikes through snow and ice (no kidding, I was surprised when I moved here, but now it's just business as usual).

I suppose drunk and crazy people aren't engaging specifically with cyclists when bicycles are everywhere and not a "novelty" which tickles some idiot's imagination.

Villanelle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #21 on: November 25, 2014, 02:09:35 PM »
Holy shit, those are some real horror stories...

I've been biking for 10+ years and I've never had any incidents like that. The worst that has happened is that some car did not yield or honked on me without reason. However, in the city where I live (Germany) almost everyone rides a bike and we have plenty of bike paths everywhere. Certainly more people ride bikes here than drive cars, so the environment may be a bit different. 99% of drivers quietly yield to bike traffic. In the midst of winter you see resolute grandmas riding bikes through snow and ice (no kidding, I was surprised when I moved here, but now it's just business as usual).

I suppose drunk and crazy people aren't engaging specifically with cyclists when bicycles are everywhere and not a "novelty" which tickles some idiot's imagination.

IME, it probably has more to do with German culture an attitudes about women than anything bike specific.  I have never seen a German man harass a woman with methods like cat calling. I was recently discussing this with a friend who just moved to Washignton DC, from Germany. She too was never once harassed on the streets in Germany, but says it happens at least weekly, if not daily, in DC. 

The Architect

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2014, 02:39:58 PM »
Yike. The one incident I had was near downtown Seattle at about 2 am. For the record all my experience is from biking around Seattle and Salt Lake, which might just be safer places to be a biker.

Well shoot, *I* would feel endangered biking around anywhere at 2 am; even in Seattle. Possibly especially Seattle/PNW area, with the weather we've been having lately you'd be just about guaranteed to get killed in an accident unless you're on a sidewalk. People around here can hardly drive as it is.

Light yourself up like a Christmas tree (no really, those lights are on sale now even!) if you're going to be out in the dark.

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2014, 03:20:00 PM »
I carry a 9mm.
One should always be able to defend one's self from predators.

sol

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #24 on: November 25, 2014, 03:44:02 PM »
men never, ever understand this concept no matter how many times you explain it to them.

I understand that we are each responsible for our own personal safety, and that your ideas and my ideas of how to do that are different.  Fine.

If you think running away is the best option for you, then please do that.  If SpicyMcHaggus thinks carrying a firearm is the best option, then he/she gets to do that.  Live and let live, please.

Please do NOT, however, continue to denigrate an entire gender just because you think your ideas are the only ones that are correct or worthy.  Shame on you.  How would you feel if I wrote "Most women are just weaklings who will never assume responsibility for their own safety"?  Not cool, right?  See the parallel yet?

You can learn to recognize and respond appropriately to dangerous situations.  You can also learn to curtail your own sexism before spewing it all over the internet.  I suggest you start with the latter.

mulescent

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #25 on: November 25, 2014, 05:29:47 PM »
Would you advise against headphones to increase attentiveness? Music-less bike riding sounds meh. Guess I'll have my thoughts and be safer though.

Wait, you wear headphones?!? That is crazy! I believe it's also illegal for the same reasons it's illegal while driving - you can't hear traffic around you. Get a speaker or something if you *need* music while biking.

Driving on well-traveled routes may help you; though that is counter to the normal bike-rider goal of staying away from major roads. If completely off-road routes exist (trails, neighborhoods with roads that don't connect but you could cross on foot/bike), using those could also help. Finding fellow bikers to ride with you would also help, though may not be possible.

I'd advise against headphones, yes, but I will also admit that I wear them.  If you do, get the really crappy kind that don't seal in your ear.  Those, at least, admit sounds from the outside so you have a chance of hearing what's coming.

Gin1984

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #26 on: November 25, 2014, 05:46:46 PM »
men never, ever understand this concept no matter how many times you explain it to them.

I understand that we are each responsible for our own personal safety, and that your ideas and my ideas of how to do that are different.  Fine.

If you think running away is the best option for you, then please do that.  If SpicyMcHaggus thinks carrying a firearm is the best option, then he/she gets to do that.  Live and let live, please.

Please do NOT, however, continue to denigrate an entire gender just because you think your ideas are the only ones that are correct or worthy.  Shame on you.  How would you feel if I wrote "Most women are just weaklings who will never assume responsibility for their own safety"?  Not cool, right?  See the parallel yet?

You can learn to recognize and respond appropriately to dangerous situations.  You can also learn to curtail your own sexism before spewing it all over the internet.  I suggest you start with the latter.
Sol, I understand why you are angry but you are not getting it.  Have you ever been in a situation where someone much bigger, and stronger than you and that person was willing to hurt you?  Do you know that almost every woman has? 
Being in the position of often being physically weaker does come with a set of different experiences that, if you have never experienced you won't understand at your core.  It is not saying that you as person, or men as a gender are bad, just that it is hard and unlikely to truly understand something you have never experienced. 

Beric01

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2014, 06:01:42 PM »
I have to echo an earlier comment about self-defense classes. I've been taking Krav Maga classes, which is a self-defense martial art that is oriented to be extremely practical in order to adapt to real-life situations (such as where you may be attacked by several larger and stronger attackers). The best technique is to run, but if you can't run they will teach you techniques to incapacitate your opponent to get out of there, no matter your own strength or size.

I'm male so I admit I can't fully comprehend this situation as applicable to women, though I think this kind of behavior is reprehensible. But as you can't prevent every situation, the next-best step is to prepare yourself if something does go horribly wrong. It'll also give you more confidence in your ability to stay safe as you go about your daily life.

Gin1984

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2014, 06:08:00 PM »
I have to echo an earlier comment about self-defense classes. I've been taking Krav Maga classes, which is a self-defense martial art that is oriented to be extremely practical in order to adapt to real-life situations (such as where you may be attacked by several larger and stronger attackers). The best technique is to run, but if you can't run they will teach you techniques to incapacitate your opponent to get out of there, no matter your own strength or size.

I'm male so I admit I can't fully comprehend this situation as applicable to women, though I think this kind of behavior is reprehensible. But as you can't prevent every situation, the next-best step is to prepare yourself if something does go horribly wrong. It'll also give you more confidence in your ability to stay safe as you go about your daily life.
Beric, how are those classes going for you?  Are you making friends there?

Beric01

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #29 on: November 25, 2014, 06:31:51 PM »
I have to echo an earlier comment about self-defense classes. I've been taking Krav Maga classes, which is a self-defense martial art that is oriented to be extremely practical in order to adapt to real-life situations (such as where you may be attacked by several larger and stronger attackers). The best technique is to run, but if you can't run they will teach you techniques to incapacitate your opponent to get out of there, no matter your own strength or size.

I'm male so I admit I can't fully comprehend this situation as applicable to women, though I think this kind of behavior is reprehensible. But as you can't prevent every situation, the next-best step is to prepare yourself if something does go horribly wrong. It'll also give you more confidence in your ability to stay safe as you go about your daily life.
Beric, how are those classes going for you?  Are you making friends there?

Well, not exactly friends yet, but I've had a few good conversations with people and the atmosphere is really positive (the owners and teachers are amazing!). Even just the confidence booster in becoming more physically fit is awesome (I've already seen some improvement as I work out more than just my cycling muscles). I can definitely see myself making some good friends as I continue to go.

And it can potentially save your life!

sol

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #30 on: November 25, 2014, 06:44:37 PM »
Sol, I understand why you are angry but you are not getting it.

Not angry.  Disgusted.  I expect more from this community than this kind of garbage.

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Have you ever been in a situation where someone much bigger, and stronger than you and that person was willing to hurt you?

Yes, I have.  Yes, I was hurt.  No, I did not decide to spend the rest of my life cowering in fear because of it.  Instead, I resolved to find a way to never have to repeat that experience.  Now I refuse to present myself as a victim, and that one change alone has gone a long ways towards averting future conflicts. 

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It is not saying that you as person, or men as a gender are bad, just that it is hard and unlikely to truly understand something you have never experienced.

Since when is subjugation a uniquely female experience?  Why would you assume me or anyone else wouldn't understand this?  Do you honestly think that all men have the same life experiences, none of which overlap with those of a woman?

Mesmoiselle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #31 on: November 25, 2014, 06:50:36 PM »
I'm now worried again. In this thread, I've been told to carry an alarm system and take classes regarding pepper spray and self defense...just to change my mode of transportation over to biking instead of driving. @_@

Gin1984

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #32 on: November 25, 2014, 06:54:50 PM »
Sol, I understand why you are angry but you are not getting it.

Not angry.  Disgusted.  I expect more from this community than this kind of garbage.

Quote
Have you ever been in a situation where someone much bigger, and stronger than you and that person was willing to hurt you?

Yes, I have.  Yes, I was hurt.  No, I did not decide to spend the rest of my life cowering in fear because of it.  Instead, I resolved to find a way to never have to repeat that experience.  Now I refuse to present myself as a victim, and that one change alone has gone a long ways towards averting future conflicts. 

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It is not saying that you as person, or men as a gender are bad, just that it is hard and unlikely to truly understand something you have never experienced.

Since when is subjugation a uniquely female experience?  Why would you assume me or anyone else wouldn't understand this?  Do you honestly think that all men have the same life experiences, none of which overlap with those of a woman?
Because you are not surrounded by people who are larger and stronger and more likely to harm you every fucking day.  Unless a man is midget, he won't have similar experience and even then, there is the lack of being afraid of sexual assault.  So no, men don't have the same experience women do.  And because you showed how much you don't get it when your first response is to get closer to danger.  There is no way for me, or any other woman to not repeat the experience like you can, and you don't get that.
  Do you want me to list the ways I have been told to keep myself safe, if I did them all, I could not work, I'd would never be able to go outside, be alone with man, hell basically the only thing I could do is join a convent.
Your statements show how much you don't get it.  And that is fine, you don't have same experience, but to get upset because we realize that is foolish.

Knapptyme

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #33 on: November 25, 2014, 06:59:48 PM »
As a biker or runner, when my pedestrian rights are seriously violated, and I am within arms length, I give that vehicle a good ol' slap. It sounds to them like they hit me, and it makes them think twice or stop. I've gotten both apologies and more derogatory remarks.

As for the original, unfortunate encounter, gathering information and creating a plan of action when/if it happens again is great. Regardless of tangential arguments forming, bringing up the topic in the forum seems like a great place to become educated.

johnny847

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #34 on: November 25, 2014, 07:12:48 PM »
As a biker or runner, when my pedestrian rights are seriously violated, and I am within arms length, I give that vehicle a good ol' slap. It sounds to them like they hit me, and it makes them think twice or stop. I've gotten both apologies and more derogatory remarks.
You actually get an opportunity to do this on a bike? Every time my rights as a cyclist on the road have been violated, the car is driving much faster than I am. When I am driving even remotely close to their speed, then it would not be worth the risk for me to take my hand off the handlebars for the sake of slapping a car.

I probably wouldn't do this. Escalating the situation (or at least engaging in behavior which has a reasonable chance to escalate the situation) when they have a car and can easily kill you doesn't seem like a smart move.

Villanelle

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #35 on: November 26, 2014, 03:52:49 AM »
I'm now worried again. In this thread, I've been told to carry an alarm system and take classes regarding pepper spray and self defense...just to change my mode of transportation over to biking instead of driving. @_@

But that's not what I said.  I said that if you feel uncomfortable biking, taking a class might be something to consider.  Notice the first sentence of my post, even, which says that I wouldn't worry too much about it. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #36 on: November 26, 2014, 06:29:21 AM »
Have you ever been in a situation where someone much bigger, and stronger than you and that person was willing to hurt you?

Yes, I have.  Yes, I was hurt.  No, I did not decide to spend the rest of my life cowering in fear because of it.  Instead, I resolved to find a way to never have to repeat that experience.  Now I refuse to present myself as a victim, and that one change alone has gone a long ways towards averting future conflicts. 

Gin, I think that you would be surprised by the number of men who can give a very similar response to this question.  Obviously, men do not have the same experiences that women do . . . but women don't have the same experiences that men do either.  Being physically threatened and beaten by a stronger person is not an uncommon occurrence for guys.

Knapptyme

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #37 on: November 26, 2014, 06:34:52 AM »
As a biker or runner, when my pedestrian rights are seriously violated, and I am within arms length, I give that vehicle a good ol' slap. It sounds to them like they hit me, and it makes them think twice or stop. I've gotten both apologies and more derogatory remarks.
You actually get an opportunity to do this on a bike? Every time my rights as a cyclist on the road have been violated, the car is driving much faster than I am. When I am driving even remotely close to their speed, then it would not be worth the risk for me to take my hand off the handlebars for the sake of slapping a car.

I probably wouldn't do this. Escalating the situation (or at least engaging in behavior which has a reasonable chance to escalate the situation) when they have a car and can easily kill you doesn't seem like a smart move.

The opportunity usually presents itself at intersections when the walk sign is up, and they're turning right in front of me, if you must know. Like I said, when I am within arms length, so you could've deduced that doesn't happen very often. It is a subtle, maybe silly, little way to do something rather than nothing.

Gin1984

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #38 on: November 26, 2014, 09:19:05 AM »
Have you ever been in a situation where someone much bigger, and stronger than you and that person was willing to hurt you?

Yes, I have.  Yes, I was hurt.  No, I did not decide to spend the rest of my life cowering in fear because of it.  Instead, I resolved to find a way to never have to repeat that experience.  Now I refuse to present myself as a victim, and that one change alone has gone a long ways towards averting future conflicts. 

Gin, I think that you would be surprised by the number of men who can give a very similar response to this question. Obviously, men do not have the same experiences that women do . . . but women don't have the same experiences that men do either.  Being physically threatened and beaten by a stronger person is not an uncommon occurrence for guys.
But that is the point.  His response is, yes once and "I resolved to find a way to never have to repeat that experience.".  Women don't have the luxury.  Half the population is bigger and stronger than me and based on stats 1:6 of that half is willing to assault me.  And it is not just been beaten, women get raped.  And we know that if we get attacked, rape or some form of sexual assault is likely. 
So yes, a guy has the luxury to feel safe enough to get in another guy's face.  The worst that likely will happen is you get beaten.  But since you get to pick who you go against aggressively, you at least have a chance.
Last night as I was going home, I was followed by two men.  Likelihood they did not want to hurt me, they just happened to be going to same parking area as me.  But, I was scared.  I was not going to win if they decided to attack me.  But I have to leave work.  So what is my other option?  I can get in a car with a strange man (security) and driven to my car.  Well, have you heard about the cop who raped a bunch of women?  That is no safer. 
Guys, I get that you don't understand this.  But there are areas that you can go into that are safe.  Women don't get that.  Do you know where the epicenter of rape is on college campus?  It is the dorm, so the students' home.  They should be safe there, but aren't. 
Because of the fact that there is no safe place, just differing levels of unsafe, women are more aware of their vulnerability  then men are.  That only point.  Not that you guys have never lost a fight, or that you have never been jumped.  But do me a favor one day, list out what you do on a daily to stay safe.  Then ask a female friend or spouse what they do.  Maybe that will help you understand.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2014, 04:06:11 PM by Gin1984 »

sheepstache

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #39 on: November 26, 2014, 10:54:58 AM »
That said, as a woman on a bicycle, you're going to get men yelling crap at you. Once I was on my bike and I got cat called by a couple of men on a freaking cell phone tower. Its ridiculous. I'm older, wiser and fed up with that sort of crap now, but it definitely used to unnerve me when I was younger.

I'm not a man, but I get the feeling that men are less likely to get yelled at (not that it doesn't happen). I'm sure they get the typical "you're not a car" sort of thing, but a woman on a bike is going to get that, plus "hey, baby, I'll go where you're going" and such.

So, I guess I'm trying to say that I'm not sure if its once in a lifetime or not. Sometimes you just have get on your bike and ride because that's how you want to live your life.

I think this is well-put.

Looked at in terms of mustachianism, yes, the stock market might crash for the first 10 years of your retirement, breaking the 4% rule we've been relying on. Is that small risk worth staying in your job forever?

I will also say my experience and observation has been that the younger the woman is, the more shit she gets from men. So, to the OP, your experiences now will probably be quite different from when you were a teenager.

Pet peeve time. My understanding, from the one time I looked up the numbers (and I'm fine with being corrected), is that women are not actually more likely to be victims of violent crime than men. Indeed, once we start comparing crimes outside the home committed by strangers, women are far less likely to be victims. Now, granted, this might be because women live less risky lives. But we should ask ourselves, the next time we base a decision on the idea that the world is a dangerous place for women, where we got that idea from. Odds are it's from the news media blowing the stories of a few photogenic females out of proportion.

The other thing I've noticed is that women assign too much weight to potential violence. I fully understand that being cat-called is unpleasant, but it's very different from being attacked and I really have very little patience with women who conflate not feeling safe with actually not being safe. Someone I know was commenting on that woman-walks-through-nyc-for-ten-hours video. I thought that video was interesting and made a good point about a challenge women face. But this person said it backed up their paranoid feeling about being out in public in the city. And I'm like, how in god's name did you get from A to B there? The woman walks through nyc for 10 hours, seemingly unaccompanied, and despite numerous catcalling and creepster moves, nothing bad physically happens to her. I interpreted that as proof catcalling does not equal danger.

men never, ever understand this concept no matter how many times you explain it to them.

Please do NOT, however, continue to denigrate an entire gender just because you think your ideas are the only ones that are correct or worthy.  Shame on you.  How would you feel if I wrote "Most women are just weaklings who will never assume responsibility for their own safety"?  Not cool, right?  See the parallel yet?

You can learn to recognize and respond appropriately to dangerous situations.  You can also learn to curtail your own sexism before spewing it all over the internet.  I suggest you start with the latter.

For what it's worth, I didn't interpret this at all as you did and I'm curious why you did. I didn't at all read it as a put down or that she felt that your contribution wasn't welcome. Maybe the difference is I read the two paragraphs as separate thoughts. I didn't think she was using the second one to justify her disagreement with you in the first.

And I don't think it's denigrating to suggest we can't know another's experience entirely. I wouldn't find it sexist for a guy to say women can't understand what it's like to be a guy. I once startled a woman really badly late at night. It was cold so I was wearing a big coat with the hood up and she was distracted by her phone and didn't notice me til I was almost on top of her.  I thought the experience was funny and interesting. I wouldn't conclude from that that I have a man's understanding of an entire lifetime of women in isolated situations perceiving you as a threat. Maybe I'm giving TrMama the benefit of the doubt that that was the type of idea she was trying to get across and there might have been a better way to put it.

SpicyMcHaggus

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #40 on: November 26, 2014, 11:09:20 AM »
You should read "The Gift of Fear" by Gavin DeBecker.

GreenPen

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #41 on: November 26, 2014, 11:32:55 AM »
men never, ever understand this concept no matter how many times you explain it to them.

I understand that we are each responsible for our own personal safety, and that your ideas and my ideas of how to do that are different.  Fine.

If you think running away is the best option for you, then please do that.  If SpicyMcHaggus thinks carrying a firearm is the best option, then he/she gets to do that.  Live and let live, please.

Please do NOT, however, continue to denigrate an entire gender just because you think your ideas are the only ones that are correct or worthy.  Shame on you.  How would you feel if I wrote "Most women are just weaklings who will never assume responsibility for their own safety"?  Not cool, right?  See the parallel yet?

You can learn to recognize and respond appropriately to dangerous situations.  You can also learn to curtail your own sexism before spewing it all over the internet.  I suggest you start with the latter.

I think Sol's response pretty much confirms TrMama's original comment.

It wasn't until recently that I realized how much shit my wife has to put up with while biking or running. I've been catcalled about twice in my life -- but it happens to her about twice per week. In addition, cars give her less space while passing, and are less likely to allow her to cross traffic (e.g. to get into a left-turn lane). I often take up an entire lane while biking, and rarely run into problems with this. When my wife does it, cars often tailgate/honk or still attempt to pass.

My wife still bikes everywhere, and she loves to do so. But she definitely puts up with more crap from drivers.

Raay

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #42 on: November 26, 2014, 01:18:36 PM »
Holy shit, those are some real horror stories...

I've been biking for 10+ years and I've never had any incidents like that. The worst that has happened is that some car did not yield or honked on me without reason. However, in the city where I live (Germany) almost everyone rides a bike and we have plenty of bike paths everywhere. Certainly more people ride bikes here than drive cars, so the environment may be a bit different. 99% of drivers quietly yield to bike traffic. In the midst of winter you see resolute grandmas riding bikes through snow and ice (no kidding, I was surprised when I moved here, but now it's just business as usual).

I suppose drunk and crazy people aren't engaging specifically with cyclists when bicycles are everywhere and not a "novelty" which tickles some idiot's imagination.

IME, it probably has more to do with German culture an attitudes about women than anything bike specific.  I have never seen a German man harass a woman with methods like cat calling. I was recently discussing this with a friend who just moved to Washignton DC, from Germany. She too was never once harassed on the streets in Germany, but says it happens at least weekly, if not daily, in DC.

I think you're right - I had to Google what "cat calling" is and I don't recall having seen it done a single time where I live. Everyone would take you for some sort of primitive bush redneck if you tried it here. That said, Germany is a large country with a substantial immigrant population, so I'm sure it may be happening in more "multi-cultural" bigger cities.

skunkfunk

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #43 on: November 26, 2014, 02:11:16 PM »
As a male cyclist, never been catcalled, but we still get all manner of people laying on horns, griping, complaining, bike-jacking (seriously two guys on foot tried to steal my bike, fat chance dudes) and whatnot.

I've been driving for a while since my wife broke her foot and requires a ride to work, and I'm a little scared to go back to biking next week myself. Last time out I was chased around by an old lady laying on her horn and yelling at me. I pulled into a neighborhood to let her by and she kept following and yelling. Sheesh.

Oh and the poor people around here always ride either really, really far to the right, or going the wrong way, or on the sidewalk. So the "other" poor people in the low income areas in their cars yell because they think I'm not allowed to take a lane, which I guess is better than the high-income areas where they like to drive into oncoming traffic in their brand-new BMW just to save 2 seconds in front of a stop sign.

civil

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #44 on: November 26, 2014, 03:17:55 PM »
I'm now worried again. In this thread, I've been told to carry an alarm system and take classes regarding pepper spray and self defense...just to change my mode of transportation over to biking instead of driving. @_@

That advice is probably not about biking. I think the people who recommend alarms and pepper spray would recommend those defenses in general, not just for biking. I also recommend them, along with a firearm (if allowed in your state) and self-defense classes.

Pick a combination of measures that are user-friendly, accessible, and effective for your travels. Take whatever steps you feel comfortable with, and take enough that you feel confident on your way to work - even if it is just carrying a cellphone. It's not about biking - it's about your experiences with the local crazies, and your need (right?) to feel less helpless around them. I used to carry only pepper spray on my travels, and I was happy with that; as I encountered different situations, I adopted different self defense tools and techniques.

Is your experience once-in-a-lifetime? Maybe, maybe not. Most women I know say they have never encountered a situation like you describe. I've had more than my share, but then again, I also worked in a job where death threats were normal. So I am extremely biased.

Heather in Ottawa

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #45 on: November 26, 2014, 07:43:06 PM »
I use headphones sometimes. I love listening to music while I ride. At a reasonable volume, it's still quite easy to hear engine/tire noise, or certainly to hear sirens or horns. Plus, I use a mirror, which tells me way more about what's behind me than my ears ever could. I really don't see headphones as a safety issue, especially on low-stress routes. Of course, check your local laws. 

johnny847

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #46 on: November 26, 2014, 07:49:05 PM »
I use headphones sometimes. I love listening to music while I ride. At a reasonable volume, it's still quite easy to hear engine/tire noise, or certainly to hear sirens or horns. Plus, I use a mirror, which tells me way more about what's behind me than my ears ever could. I really don't see headphones as a safety issue, especially on low-stress routes. Of course, check your local laws.
On low stress routes, it's not so bad. In a bustling city, I would never put in headphones.
And of course, as you mention, in some states it is illegal to drive with headphones. Many states regard bicycles as vehicles and are subject to all laws that vehicles are subject to (but not laws specifically to motor vehicles).

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #47 on: November 27, 2014, 07:14:09 AM »
I specifically bought a phone (HTC ONE) with really good quality speakers. I wear it on an armband, can hear the music easily, but also hear everything around me as well.

In regards to personal safety, some of the most dangerous people I've ever met were tiny old Asian dudes. Skill trumps size in the vast majority of instances, especially if you're free to go for incapacitating strikes, unlike rule-based combat.

ETA: Krav Maga was an excellent suggestion. Aikido is a personal favorite of mine.

GuitarStv

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #48 on: November 27, 2014, 07:51:36 AM »
To go a little off topic into self defense here since it was brought up . . .

In high school I was bullied pretty badly.  Up to and including being jumped by a few guys and beaten unconscious while walking to school one morning.  I have spent many years of my life since training in various martial arts (1 year Aikido, 5 years WTF Taekwondo, 3 years Muay Thai, 2 years Judo, 4 years Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) along with some boxing and wrestling.

In an actual fight/flight scenario, pretty much anything fancy that requires complicate maneuvering doesn't work.  The first thing that happens is you get scared, then when you first get hit you'll feel pain and an electric shock up and down your body.  At this point most people who are untrained tend to freeze and the attacker does what they want.  Most people who are trained lose the ability to carry out complicated movements.  You will forget everything but the most basic movements you have learned.  Skill is important, sure . . . but if someone outweighs you you are in tremendous danger no matter how much skill you've got.  (The first time you box with someone who's 60 lbs heavier you'll know exactly what I mean when you get popped with a stiff jab.)

To any woman who is looking for self defense, I'd strongly recommend classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  Most smaller people in a fight end up knocked down by the bigger guy.  Women in particular are more likely to be victims of sexual violence, which involves being knocked down on the ground.  Jiu Jitsu teaches you to escape from a larger person who is on top of you.  Most basic techniques are simple and they work without using strength.  Classes typically involve full contact sparring very early on and often in your education so you learn what techniques will work best for you.  Grappling allows you to limit the amount of pain that the bigger person can inflict on you by not giving them enough space to move.

If you carry a weapon, keep it handy and know how to use it.  Pepper spray is not going to help you if you can't get to it, or if you end up spraying yourself.  You need to drill situational usage on your bike regularly for use of the weapon to be effective.


All that said, self defense is not essential stuff for cycling!  It's up to you how/if you decide to follow any of it.  Your best defense is to run the fuck away from a dangerous situation, and on a bike you've usually got the means to do that if you keep an eye out.

Gin1984

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Re: Safety Question: I'm rage-buying a bike but...
« Reply #49 on: November 27, 2014, 08:07:59 AM »
To go a little off topic into self defense here since it was brought up . . .

In high school I was bullied pretty badly.  Up to and including being jumped by a few guys and beaten unconscious while walking to school one morning.  I have spent many years of my life since training in various martial arts (1 year Aikido, 5 years WTF Taekwondo, 3 years Muay Thai, 2 years Judo, 4 years Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) along with some boxing and wrestling.

In an actual fight/flight scenario, pretty much anything fancy that requires complicate maneuvering doesn't work.  The first thing that happens is you get scared, then when you first get hit you'll feel pain and an electric shock up and down your body.  At this point most people who are untrained tend to freeze and the attacker does what they want.  Most people who are trained lose the ability to carry out complicated movements.  You will forget everything but the most basic movements you have learned.  Skill is important, sure . . . but if someone outweighs you you are in tremendous danger no matter how much skill you've got.  (The first time you box with someone who's 60 lbs heavier you'll know exactly what I mean when you get popped with a stiff jab.)

To any woman who is looking for self defense, I'd strongly recommend classes in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Most smaller people in a fight end up knocked down by the bigger guy.  Women in particular are more likely to be victims of sexual violence, which involves being knocked down on the ground.  Jiu Jitsu teaches you to escape from a larger person who is on top of you.  Most basic techniques are simple and they work without using strength.  Classes typically involve full contact sparring very early on and often in your education so you learn what techniques will work best for you.  Grappling allows you to limit the amount of pain that the bigger person can inflict on you by not giving them enough space to move.

If you carry a weapon, keep it handy and know how to use it.  Pepper spray is not going to help you if you can't get to it, or if you end up spraying yourself.  You need to drill situational usage on your bike regularly for use of the weapon to be effective.


All that said, self defense is not essential stuff for cycling!  It's up to you how/if you decide to follow any of it.  Your best defense is to run the fuck away from a dangerous situation, and on a bike you've usually got the means to do that if you keep an eye out.
I took classes in that and found it not helpful.  Yes, it had some useful moves but often there was this attitude that you had to be able to take a punch.  Frankly at 5'2 and 100lbs I can't take a hit from an average guy.  If I do, I'm out.  And that was something the man teaching could not really get.  I learned to fight when I was twelve and yes, you need to learn differently for self-defense vs sparing and it can be hard to find a group that teaches that way.