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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: TrMama on May 29, 2014, 09:36:23 AM

Title: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on May 29, 2014, 09:36:23 AM
Is this even possible? Any tips?

Yesterday I was riding home  from work, minding my own business when some nut job on a modified gas powered bike buzzed right past me. I've seen him before and the bike is a basic mountain bike with a small gas engine on the back rack. He doesn't pedal, just buzzes along on the shoulder. As he passed me, he was so close he was almost touching me. I yelled, "Hey!".  As a way of saying, "Give me more space you idiot."  We were on a busy main road with a narrow shoulder.

Anyway, he turned left onto the next street which was also my turnoff. As soon as I had completed my turn, he turned around and came straight for me and made as if he was going to hit me straight on. I jumped off my bike and stepped over the curb with it onto someone's lawn. He just grinned as he buzzed right over the spot I was just in and carried on back onto the main road. He scared the ever loving crap out of me and I dialed 911 to report him. I haven't heard anything back from the police and don't expect to.

This isn't the first "incident" I've had with another cyclist on my commute. I'm a woman, only 5'4" and I absolutely hate how helpless I feel when I'm riding and someone comes after me. I'll take heavy traffic and distracted drivers any day, at least they're not being malicious. I, and my husband, have also both seen this guy on our bike commutes before so there's a good chance I'll see him again. My husband said this guy has buzzed past him way too close before too.

I'm going out today to get pepper spray and a heavy frame pump to carry with me on the bike. I figure I can use the frame pump as a baton to fend someone off, plus it'll be a backup to my CO2 pump. I'm also going to take a self defense class, but I'm not sure how good it will be in a cyclist vs cyclist confrontation. Any advice?

Before anyone starts in on guns, I'm in Canada and it's illegal to carry a gun. I will not carry one.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Samsam on May 29, 2014, 09:39:11 AM
I was going to suggest pepper spray, but make sure you are wearing goggles!  Just a warning, pretty much everyone gets hit by the pepper spray. 
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Cromacster on May 29, 2014, 09:44:29 AM
I've seen some Krav Maga studios that offer Bicycle specific self defense courses.

Other than carrying a section of pipe...I've also seen people who use lengths of chains for bike locks, which could do double duty as a self defense tool.

Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: .22guy on May 29, 2014, 09:49:52 AM
This guy sounds like a lunatic and a bully and there is a good chance he will seriously injure you if you retaliate with a pepper spray or baton-like object (and it's not immediately effective).  Or he might be shocked and run off like bullies sometimes will when someone stands up to them. 

Just be careful.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Trirod on May 29, 2014, 09:58:06 AM
A helmet cam like a GoPro might be a good idea.  Then if there is ever an altercation that escalates, you'll at least have some proof to show the police, not just a "he said, she said" situation.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: BlueMR2 on May 29, 2014, 10:01:12 AM
Since a gun (my personal choice while cycling) is a non-starter, I'd have to say that martial arts training is your next best bet.  Non projectile weapons require such close proximity to someone that you're likely to just get them taken away and beat down with them.  Best weapon would be your own body.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Russ on May 29, 2014, 10:06:40 AM
www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=U-lock%20Justice

If you are being threatened by someone on foot, ride as fast as you can straight at them. you will win.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: John Everett on May 29, 2014, 10:07:38 AM
Sorry about the crazy guy, Tr.

I've only had problems with dogs off lease, never with a person.

The advice offered thus far is solid enough. I think the best thing any of us can do, particularly in daylight, in a reasonably busy area, is to keep your mobile phone handy and make sure any potential bad guy sees you calling for help. When a bully or a crook knows that a potential victim is not alone, or might be actually summoning police, their behavior is likely to change.

If things turn badly enough to actually need a weapon of some sort, given your size, consider smaller, not larger. I knew a small sized female cop who kept what she called, a "persuader" on her keychain. It was a solid plastic rod, about the diameter of your thumb and perhaps 6 inches long. The end was blunt, that is to say flat, like the bottom of a cylinder, cut off flat like the filter end of a cigarette.

Given your stature, you're probably not going to be able to swing a club with enough energy to defeat a larger person. Your best bet will be to use your lightning-fast hands with something small, light and sharpish.

But I suspect all of this is moot. This guy sounds more like a schoolyard bully. Stand your ground with 911 on speed dial. Your body language is a hundred times stronger than your body.

Best of luck!
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: GuitarStv on May 29, 2014, 10:29:38 AM
Be careful.  Pepper spray is not legal to use in Canada, it's a restricted weapon.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: golfer44 on May 29, 2014, 10:40:11 AM
Also be aware any "weapon" you attempt to use can be used on you.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on May 29, 2014, 10:43:04 AM
If you are being threatened by someone on foot, ride as fast as you can straight at them. you will win.

This is exactly what he did to me yesterday. Except he was on a heavy gas powered bike going about 50km/hr. His bike is basically a small motorcycle.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Eric on May 29, 2014, 10:45:02 AM
I love a good confrontation with a crazy person as much as the next guy, but maybe you could just adjust your bike route to avoid him?
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Kaminoge on May 29, 2014, 10:46:27 AM
The go-pro sounds like the best idea to me. If you/your husband see him regularly it won't be too hard to track him down if needed. Get some evidence.

That or collect some footage and paste it all over social media with some kind of "does anyone know this douchebag" text. Public shaming can work wonders.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on May 29, 2014, 10:47:11 AM
Also be aware any "weapon" you attempt to use can be used on you.

I understand that, that's why I won't carry anything that could be used to really hurt me, or the attacker. I just want enough time to get away.

Be careful.  Pepper spray is not legal to use in Canada, it's a restricted weapon.

I understand that too. However, I've now had enough incidents that I simply don't care. I would rather have a minor incident on my record than be the victim of an assault.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Shor on May 29, 2014, 10:47:33 AM
Sorry about crazy, rude, chirdish biker (Motorized vehicle: you'd think it needs registration, license, and to not be in the bike lane).
I looked on the internet for some way to strap a lance or pole to the frame of your bike, since this is clearly what you need.... medieval style!

for Some reason, I could find no such images.... "lance mounted on a bike" just shows me pictures of 'some guy' on a bike.. :(
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: The Money Monk on May 29, 2014, 10:52:27 AM
I would have jumped off but left the bike right in his path
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on May 29, 2014, 10:53:46 AM
Would bear bangers work? Would they potentially harm the attacker? I  don't actually want to hurt anyone, since that's likely to get me charged.

A quick search tells me MEC sells both bear spray, bear flares and bear bangers. The bangers apparently sound like a gun shot. The downside seems to be that the cartridge can't remain screwed into the pen sized launcher, so I couldn't carry it "loaded". http://www.mec.ca/product/4007-146/tru-flare-pen-launcher-kit/

I'm not sure changing my route is possible. There's really only one road in and out of the subdivision I live in. Plus, I already ride on the busiest roads. Any change in route would take me onto more isolated roads or trails in the forest.

FTR I live in Victoria, BC. If anyone has seen this wacko on his gas powered bike, I'd love to hear from you. He's a rough looking guy, wears a baseball cap under his bicycle helmet and generally looks like he's riding due to too many DUIs.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Russ on May 29, 2014, 10:58:03 AM
Sorry about crazy, rude, chirdish biker (Motorized vehicle: you'd think it needs registration, license, and to not be in the bike lane).
I looked on the internet for some way to strap a lance or pole to the frame of your bike, since this is clearly what you need.... medieval style!

for Some reason, I could find no such images.... "lance mounted on a bike" just shows me pictures of 'some guy' on a bike.. :(

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnvmNtCccpI
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrulyStashin on May 29, 2014, 11:09:32 AM
The go-pro sounds like the best idea to me. If you/your husband see him regularly it won't be too hard to track him down if needed. Get some evidence.

That or collect some footage and paste it all over social media with some kind of "does anyone know this douchebag" text. Public shaming can work wonders.

Apologies in advance, but I'm a lawyer and when I read about this kind of thing my brain goes straight to "sue the bastard."

Under U.S. law in every state (details vary), what he did was assault which is a tort/ personal injury suit.  You do not need the police to file such a suit -- all you need is to figure out who he is and where he lives or works so you can get him served with the suit. 

Assault is also a crime, for which he could be charged by the police.   Is there a local biking club?  Maybe you can raise this issue with the members to see if others have had issues with this guy.  If so, there is strength (and noise) in numbers.  The club and/ or the others who have had run ins with him can push the police to act.

All-in-all, a lousy way to have to spend your energy.  I'm sorry.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: zataks on May 29, 2014, 11:10:31 AM
http://www.uline.com/Product/Detail/S-13530/Traffic-Safety/Air-Horns?pricode=WY840&gadtype=pla&id=73106986282&gclid=CjgKEAjwtZucBRD77aiiq_v4xnASJABkAg8JwvRl77iqk4GIWM3jhNwr1LaRd57gyQmns_YMFzRyQvD_BwE

I feel like that would deter someone at least a little.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Scandium on May 29, 2014, 11:20:29 AM
(http://media.treehugger.com/assets/images/2011/10/gladiator-spikes.jpg)
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: phred on May 29, 2014, 11:26:03 AM



Under U.S. law in every state (details vary), what he did was assault which is a tort/ personal injury suit.  You do not need the police to file such a suit -- all you need is to figure out who he is and where he lives or works so you can get him served with the suit. 


Wouldn't you also need a witness?  Otherwise, it's just your word against his?
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: JoyBlogette on May 29, 2014, 11:26:42 AM
My immediate thought was to run him over with your car... but I'm not actually suggesting that.  What a jerk!  I think the Go Pro is a good idea, or take a video/photo with your phone and then go to the police station and file an official report.  911 won't do anything once the issue is "resolved" as far as I know.  You could also put up signs around the neighbourhood with the photo that you take to "warn" the neighbours.  That might help you track him down to press charges.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: msilenus on May 29, 2014, 11:31:22 AM
My immediate thought was to run him over with your car... but I'm not actually suggesting that.  What a jerk!  I think the Go Pro is a good idea, or take a video/photo with your phone and then go to the police station and file an official report.  911 won't do anything once the issue is "resolved" as far as I know.  You could also put up signs around the neighbourhood with the photo that you take to "warn" the neighbours.  That might help you track him down to press charges.

This.  I especially like the idea of putting up fliers.  Make him feel hunted.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: frugaliknowit on May 29, 2014, 11:31:43 AM
Other than trying to capture him on video, then report it, I would ignore him.  He sounds too dangerous.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: jpo on May 29, 2014, 11:34:12 AM
If things turn badly enough to actually need a weapon of some sort, given your size, consider smaller, not larger. I knew a small sized female cop who kept what she called, a "persuader" on her keychain. It was a solid plastic rod, about the diameter of your thumb and perhaps 6 inches long. The end was blunt, that is to say flat, like the bottom of a cylinder, cut off flat like the filter end of a cigarette.
That is a kubotan (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kubotan).
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: enigmaT120 on May 29, 2014, 11:49:52 AM
Be careful.  Pepper spray is not legal to use in Canada, it's a restricted weapon.

Is any form of self defense, other than flight, allowed there?

Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: GuitarStv on May 29, 2014, 12:00:29 PM
Be careful.  Pepper spray is not legal to use in Canada, it's a restricted weapon.

Is any form of self defense, other than flight, allowed there?

- Sternly worded language (within reason)
- Visible display of facial disapproval
- Eyebrows arched within acceptable limits


Seriously though, we have a pretty flexible system . . . if you can prove that you used 'reasonable force' to protect yourself then all is good.  The weapons restrictions seem to keep our numbers of mass murders and violent crimes down pretty well.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: msilenus on May 29, 2014, 12:01:34 PM
Is any form of self defense, other than flight, allowed there?

Be careful with those implications.  Running away can be an infraction in Canada if you fail to observe commonly accepted social norms for extricating yourself from a situation.  Usually, if you manage to get "I'm terribly sorry, but I've got to run!" out before your head turns away, you're fine.  However, in Quebec, you'll have to use French, as well.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on May 29, 2014, 12:11:49 PM
Be careful.  Pepper spray is not legal to use in Canada, it's a restricted weapon.

Is any form of self defense, other than flight, allowed there?


I've done a bit of reading this morning about this. Pepper spray is only restricted in that you have to show photo ID and possibly give your name when you buy it. I'm fine with that. The criminal code also allows for self defense if you feel your life is at risk, or you feel the attacker is going to injure you. Then you may defend yourself with an "appropriate" amount of force, up to and including death.

If I were to, say, go into a bank and fog everyone with pepper spray, then I'd be in big trouble. If I spray an attacker and immediately call the police to report the attack on me, then I think I'll be OK. In any case, I'd only spray someone if I felt I was in imminent danger.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Ottawa on May 29, 2014, 12:20:54 PM
Is any form of self defense, other than flight, allowed there?

Be careful with those implications.  Running away can be an infraction in Canada if you fail to observe commonly accepted social norms for extricating yourself from a situation.  Usually, if you manage to get "I'm terribly sorry, but I've got to run!" out before your head turns away, you're fine.  However, in Quebec, you'll have to use French, as well.

You my friend, take today's cake!
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: DoubleDown on May 29, 2014, 12:27:01 PM
@TrMama -- My career (before ER'ing in November) was in personal protection for "important people" and in security. Based on what you have described, I would advise that you NOT confront this individual, and find ways to avoid him unless you are with others or the police. This person is dangerous and not someone I would ever advise a 5'4" woman take on alone, even trained and armed. For all we know, he may be armed himself.

In your situation, I would ask the local police for help. I don't know how helpful (or busy) your local police are, but I would think you might get the best traction from personally visiting your local police station and persuading an officer to take a personal interest in your predicament. Perhaps they would be willing to set up some surveillance in the area for your next few rides. Be persistent if you must, get them to take an interest.

Otherwise, I would just avoid areas where he is known to frequent when you are riding. If you are interested in tracking him down (I would be and would gladly join you in the hunt if I lived there!), then I would advise doing it in your car, with your husband along for the ride. That way, you will not be vulnerable to his attacks on his motorized bike. The driver can follow him at a safe and discreet distance while the passenger calls 911 to report his location. If the police can get him, then have him charged with assault. They may even have similar complaints from others.

Carrying a kubotan all the time, in general, is a good idea, but any kind of physical confrontation with this person should be absolutely last resort, and a matter of defending your life or against serious physical harm. I'm not concerned about legal ramifications, I'm concerned about you tangling with such a potentially dangerous person. You'd be better off adding a few minutes to your commute taking a slightly different route than risking another confrontation with this person.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Jack on May 29, 2014, 12:36:20 PM
I looked on the internet for some way to strap a lance or pole to the frame of your bike, since this is clearly what you need.... medieval style!

for Some reason, I could find no such images.... "lance mounted on a bike" just shows me pictures of 'some guy' on a bike.. :(

A subtle joke; I like it.

Anyway, try this search term: "bicycle jousting"
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: DoubleDown on May 29, 2014, 12:43:12 PM
One other thing: I've mentioned in other threads that pepper spray is an inferior self defense mechanism, so I hope you'll forgo that as your preferred weapon. It's just too unreliable and difficult to use, particularly under duress. I am genuinely concerned about the false confidence carrying pepper spray gives to people, thinking they are protected, when they are not. Stick with a blunt force weapon like the kubotan, that you can take anywhere, and requires only hitting the person with all your might to be effective (especially if you hit them in the head, face, groin, lower arms, or hands).

Pepper spray requires you to get it out, properly orient in your hand, release the safety mechanism or cover, accurately aim, and depress the small button with your finger. This takes time, and it requires fine motor movements which are all but guaranteed to fail under duress. Even if you succeed in deploying it, you need to hit the person in the face with it, and hope that it works (some people aren't terribly phased by it, or are at least able to fight through it). Also, the way it is held, pointing out in front of you, makes it relatively easy for an attacker to take it away from you and then use it against you.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Ottawa on May 29, 2014, 12:44:10 PM
@TrMama -- My career (before ER'ing in November) was in personal protection for "important people" and in security. Based on what you have described, I would advise that you NOT confront this individual, and find ways to avoid him unless you are with others or the police. This person is dangerous and not someone I would ever advise a 5'4" woman take on alone, even trained and armed. For all we know, he may be armed himself.

In your situation, I would ask the local police for help. I don't know how helpful (or busy) your local police are, but I would think you might get the best traction from personally visiting your local police station and persuading an officer to take a personal interest in your predicament. Perhaps they would be willing to set up some surveillance in the area for your next few rides. Be persistent if you must, get them to take an interest.

Otherwise, I would just avoid areas where he is known to frequent when you are riding. If you are interested in tracking him down (I would be and would gladly join you in the hunt if I lived there!), then I would advise doing it in your car, with your husband along for the ride. That way, you will not be vulnerable to his attacks on his motorized bike. The driver can follow him at a safe and discreet distance while the passenger calls 911 to report his location. If the police can get him, then have him charged with assault. They may even have similar complaints from others.

Carrying a kubotan all the time, in general, is a good idea, but any kind of physical confrontation with this person should be absolutely last resort, and a matter of defending your life or against serious physical harm. I'm not concerned about legal ramifications, I'm concerned about you tangling with such a potentially dangerous person. You'd be better off adding a few minutes to your commute taking a slightly different route than risking another confrontation with this person.

A good point; some others have similarily opined.  Bottom line - avoid the confrontation.  There is no prize for winning or losing here.

I would go with the camera suggestion (I roll film as I bike - delete and repeat if nothing of interest).  I truly believe that a camera on the helmet is an excellent deterrent against stupidity, such as displayed by the motorized bike idiot. It is also video proof protection for you to take to the police if any incident should happen again. 

I pulled up to a police officer sitting in a parking lot last year (after I had a couple of incidents prior to wearing my camera commuting) and asked the procedure for submitting video of dangerous infractions/idiocy.  This was his instruction:

1) write down or speak to your camera microphone a description of the individual and the cirumstances post incident.
2) call general police number to report incident whereupon,
3) you will be contacted by a detective investigator within a week.
4) forward the video at this time by email or deliver on disc
5) if serious, get information from any witnesses.
6) person may/may not be charged as a result of the evidence.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: luigi49 on May 29, 2014, 12:45:54 PM
I love a good confrontation with a crazy person as much as the next guy, but maybe you could just adjust your bike route to avoid him?

Best option is this.  Just avoid.   Next thing you are carrying a chain, tube, gun, samurai, bazooka or hunting them with your car.

I use to know a pretty girl that carried a maze but when she had a confrontation with a male person she threw the maze at him instead of spraying
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: workathomedad on May 29, 2014, 12:47:37 PM
Pepper spray can also take take a while to hit full effectiveness after application. It's not instantaneous for most people. The assailant can get in a fair amount of assaulting before then. It's best used as a means of running from a situation (spray and run away screaming, heh) and hope you can keep out of distance long enough for it to take effect.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Beaker on May 29, 2014, 12:52:16 PM
It sounds like this guy is an habitual PITA. It wouldn't be surprising if he's breaking various traffic laws, threatening other people, etc. If you can figure out a time and place where he's likely to be you might be able to get the police to watch for him and nail him for something. Even if it's just operating an unlicensed motor vehicle, it'll let him know somebody is watching. It's also a chance for an officer to say that somebody reported him for other bad behavior and told them where he'd be.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on May 29, 2014, 01:01:22 PM
@ DoubleDown - Thank you very much for taking the time to write out a thoughtful answer. I really appreciate it.

I just received my second call from the police as a follow up to my 911 call yesterday. They want to find this guy and have asked for a written statement from me and to let them know if I see him again.

I absolutely will not go out looking for this guy. I've seen him a couple times before on my commute and he is absolutely not "right". Even before this incident I gave him a wide berth. The police are now looking for him, so there's no point in me doing that too.

@Ottawa - I think I will look into getting a helmet cam. I really don't want any confrontations and if a camera keeps the crazies away, so much the better.

The first police officer I spoke to this morning suggested some MMA training when I asked what I could do to not feel so vulnerable on the bike. Not sure how I feel about that, but I may stop in at the gym he suggested and look around.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: jasonw223 on May 29, 2014, 02:04:17 PM
Just bring one of these with you every day on your bike commute:
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4018/4689693811_0fe2588475_z.jpg)

But honestly, don't worry about it.  Don't go get a helmet cam... don't go MMA training... don't lose any sleep.  Chances are he will be run over by a bus any day now.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Ottawa on May 29, 2014, 02:19:16 PM
But honestly, don't worry about it.  Don't go get a helmet cam... don't go MMA training... don't lose any sleep.  Chances are he will be run over by a bus any day now.

You're probably in the wrong forum if you think this is funny. 

You should have left it at the picture.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Zamboni on May 29, 2014, 02:50:09 PM
TrMama, I'm sorry to read that you have been put in this situation, but it sounds like you are handling it well.

I'm glad to read that the police followed up with you.  It sounds like the officers recognize that he is a problem, and that they took your report seriously.  Please make sure that a written report gets filed if it hasn't already.

I agree that helmet cam is a better idea than pepper spray for all of the reasons noted above in addition to a tragic local story.  It seems obvious that he enjoys scaring others, so since you correctly deduce this guy is "off," then avoid him if you can while not completely altering your life.  If you or your husband inadvertently end up with footage of him buzzing by dangerously close or charging again, then forward that to police as well.  It seems likely he is doing this on a routine basis, so hopefully others will complain as well.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Emg03063 on May 29, 2014, 03:50:33 PM
I second the u lock.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: William on May 29, 2014, 05:36:01 PM
Do that thing like in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  With my motorcycle and the Nazi..

But really, I'd get a helmet cam and hornet spray.  Better than pepper spray by far (literally because it shoots like 20 feet).

Do it.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Scandium on May 30, 2014, 08:04:22 AM
One other thing: I've mentioned in other threads that pepper spray is an inferior self defense mechanism, so I hope you'll forgo that as your preferred weapon. It's just too unreliable and difficult to use, particularly under duress. I am genuinely concerned about the false confidence carrying pepper spray gives to people, thinking they are protected, when they are not. Stick with a blunt force weapon like the kubotan, that you can take anywhere, and requires only hitting the person with all your might to be effective (especially if you hit them in the head, face, groin, lower arms, or hands).

Pepper spray requires you to get it out, properly orient in your hand, release the safety mechanism or cover, accurately aim, and depress the small button with your finger. This takes time, and it requires fine motor movements which are all but guaranteed to fail under duress. Even if you succeed in deploying it, you need to hit the person in the face with it, and hope that it works (some people aren't terribly phased by it, or are at least able to fight through it). Also, the way it is held, pointing out in front of you, makes it relatively easy for an attacker to take it away from you and then use it against you.

Pepper spray is ineffective, but a 6 inch thing you have to get close enough hit someone with, hard enough is? I've seen those kubotans come up before and don't understand how in the world they can be considered viable for self-defense for regular people. I consider myself a fairly fit guy, but I don't want something that require me to get within 6 inches of an attacker! I got pepper spray that shoots out past 10 ft, that's the kind of distance I want! Or at worst a 16 inch collapsible batton (in the back of my jeans for shady craigslist shopping for example)
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Russ on May 30, 2014, 08:14:18 AM
I think the idea is that by the time you know they're attacking you and react, the attacker is probably going to be much less than 10 feet away
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: GuitarStv on May 30, 2014, 08:39:07 AM
The first police officer I spoke to this morning suggested some MMA training when I asked what I could do to not feel so vulnerable on the bike. Not sure how I feel about that, but I may stop in at the gym he suggested and look around.

I've done a variety of martial arts my whole life.  The one that has always seemed the most effective for self defense to me is Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.  You learn to defend yourself from a bigger opponent who has knocked you down to the ground and is on top of you.  It's a martial art that really should be taught to more women IMHO.  While martial arts are a hell of a lot of fun (and I'd encourage anyone who's interested to check some out), it's always best to avoid the confrontation.  No matter how well trained a person is, the attacker always has a huge advantage - they know when the attack is coming since they're starting it.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Scandium on May 30, 2014, 08:44:14 AM
I think the idea is that by the time you know they're attacking you and react, the attacker is probably going to be much less than 10 feet away
Sure, but the pepper spray works from 0 - 10 ft. The kobutan only works when the person is real close, and (more importantly) you have to strike them hard and fast enough to incapacitate. I've taken some self defense classes and is not at all confident I could do that. The pepper spray will incapacitate for you. My sister carries it in her hand in her pocket when walking home at night. It's really not that hard to use.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: DoubleDown on May 30, 2014, 10:26:54 AM
I just received my second call from the police as a follow up to my 911 call yesterday. They want to find this guy and have asked for a written statement from me and to let them know if I see him again.

Excellent! Sounds like they are definitely taking it seriously, I hope they're able to get this guy. Keep us posted! MMA training would be great overall. If you become well trained at it, it will equip you for all kinds of situations and give you lots of added peace knowing you are capable of mounting a defense if you ever had to.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on May 30, 2014, 10:49:03 AM
Thanks for all the advice and commiseration everyone. I've finally been able to put into words why I feel more vulnerable on the bike than I do on foot. On a bike, your hands aren't free (since you have to hold onto the handlebars), you can't change direction quickly like you can on foot  and you can be knocked over easily. The advice of "abandon the bike and take off on foot" feels like  Russian roulette. If you do that, the attacker can then either take your bike, destroy it or hop on and chase you down with it.

After lots of thinking yesterday I opted for a few safety measures:

- a personal alarm. It's in a little pouch on the strap of my messenger bag so it sits in the center of my chest and is easily accessible. It makes an insanely loud sound of a woman screaming.
- a kuboton on my keychain. However this will be of no use on the bike, since I don't carry my keys and when riding my hands are already occupied because I have to hold onto the handlebars.
- A frame pump that pressure fits into the frame, just below the top tube. It will do double duty as a backup to my CO2 pump and a baton
- a helmet cam as soon as I can either find the one that @Ottawa suggested locally or get it online.
- I'll also be taking some self defense classes

I opted against pepper spray. I'm pretty sure I'd get it in my own eyes and lungs. I already have asthma and the idea of my lungs closing up seems like a bigger risk. I also have two young children and I really, really don't want them to accidentally spray themselves. They won't be able to hurt themselves with any of the items I've chosen.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: DoubleDown on May 30, 2014, 10:51:05 AM
I think the idea is that by the time you know they're attacking you and react, the attacker is probably going to be much less than 10 feet away

Bingo! An attacker can close 10+ feet in one second or less. And hitting a moving target in the face is far easier said then done. And as you've said, that assumes you're aware of their attack, ready for it with pepper spray in hand and safety released, and facing them (i.e., they did not come from behind).


Sure, but the pepper spray works from 0 - 10 ft. The kobutan only works when the person is real close, and (more importantly) you have to strike them hard and fast enough to incapacitate. I've taken some self defense classes and is not at all confident I could do that.

You are certainly free to disagree, but I stand by the premise that pepper spray is vastly inferior. Just about the last thing I want in my hand when struggling with an attacker is pepper spray. Deploying it during a struggle is a recipe for disaster. As I said above, trying to keep an attacker away more than ten feet, or inside 10 feet, with pepper spray is going to be a fool's errand 9 out of 10 times. For that you'll need a firearm and lots of training/accuracy. Once they're close, you need a viable weapon for close fighting. A kubotan or the collapsible baton you mentioned are both excellent choices. Being trained to fight with your body is even better, since you always have it ready.

Pepper spray is good for crowd control and forcing compliance with unruly people who are being detained, and that's it. It is NOT a viable self defense weapon for fighting or keeping attackers away.

The pepper spray will incapacitate for you. My sister carries it in her hand in her pocket when walking home at night. It's really not that hard to use.

I don't know your sister, but I could likely approach her at night and overcome her or take that pepper spray away from her 99 out of 100 times without her landing a single drop on me, if that's the self defense method she's relying on. Even though I'm well trained, I would not like the idea of trying to overcome her while she's armed with a kubotan or baton. I'd put my odds of walking away from that fight without getting hurt pretty low.

Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: DollarBill on May 30, 2014, 11:38:50 AM
I carry pepper spay in my car but it would be one of the last things I would reach for. I've been peppered sprayed (by a guy that I confronted who was shaking his girlfriend) yes it burns but it didn't stop me at all.

This last Christmas I bought my Mom and Sister a "monkey fist" to put on their key chains. These things look colorful and harmless but believe me these little things can do some major damage with one swing. It has a 1inch steel ball in the end of it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DsCxarlpN0 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5DsCxarlpN0)

or at least add a lanyard to your keys. It will a help keep a distance between you and an attacker. Just make sure it's firmly attached.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ljifPhskIg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ljifPhskIg)

Always try to keep a barrier if approached, use your bike, bushes, trees, cars. Don't try to reason with crazies, just distance yourself and pay attention to your surroundings. I tend to see a lot of women walking/driving around and they seem to not make eye contact with others. Your eyes can tell you a lot about what someone is planning to do. This has saved me many times from getting into an accident. It also shows confidence. No offence women...men do it too.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: DoubleDown on May 30, 2014, 12:50:39 PM
Thanks for all the advice and commiseration everyone. I've finally been able to put into words why I feel more vulnerable on the bike than I do on foot. On a bike, your hands aren't free (since you have to hold onto the handlebars), you can't change direction quickly like you can on foot  and you can be knocked over easily. The advice of "abandon the bike and take off on foot" feels like  Russian roulette. If you do that, the attacker can then either take your bike, destroy it or hop on and chase you down with it.

After lots of thinking yesterday I opted for a few safety measures:

- a personal alarm. It's in a little pouch on the strap of my messenger bag so it sits in the center of my chest and is easily accessible. It makes an insanely loud sound of a woman screaming.
- a kuboton on my keychain. However this will be of no use on the bike, since I don't carry my keys and when riding my hands are already occupied because I have to hold onto the handlebars.
- A frame pump that pressure fits into the frame, just below the top tube. It will do double duty as a backup to my CO2 pump and a baton
- a helmet cam as soon as I can either find the one that @Ottawa suggested locally or get it online.
- I'll also be taking some self defense classes

I opted against pepper spray. I'm pretty sure I'd get it in my own eyes and lungs. I already have asthma and the idea of my lungs closing up seems like a bigger risk. I also have two young children and I really, really don't want them to accidentally spray themselves. They won't be able to hurt themselves with any of the items I've chosen.

Good for you TrMama on taking some active steps to be prepared! I hope you're already feeling better by having some defenses ready.

As far as being on your bike, you have both advantages and disadvantages there. It's a reasonably fast method to flee and outpace someone on foot, and when you're moving you're not a particularly easy target. But you're correct that you're vulnerable to being knocked over on it if someone surprises you. Your best defenses are to:

1. Avoid dangerous areas in the first place (less populated areas where attackers could be looking for victims, and where you are away from help if needed -- places like jogging/biking trails without a lot of traffic, emptier streets/sidewalks/alleys, far reaches of parking lots or garages, campuses, etc.).
2. Be aware of who is around you, and keep a safe distance away from anyone who is potentially threatening.
3. As mentioned by others, maintain eye contact with others near you -- just give them a brief look that says, "I see you there."
4. If you can't keep away from someone threatening you, then dismount and be ready to run to safety or fight. Don't think twice about your bike, give it up and seek safety or fight. Worry only about protecting you. Don't worry about someone taking it and chasing you down, then they'll have the same disadvantage of not being able to get you with their hands, or you knocking them off it.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Scandium on May 30, 2014, 02:09:51 PM
I don't really disagree that pepper spray can be difficult to use. I just don't think a blunt object is much better, especially not one that's 6 inches long. And if it's a big guy vs a smaller women it's even more difficult (or small guy vs huge guy...). You might just piss them off more if you hit them at all. This of course goes for all forms or resistance and certainly doesn't mean you shouldn't try everything you got. I carry a baton some times, but I don't really see my wife using it effectively..

If you're talking classes look into Krav maga.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Runge on May 30, 2014, 02:55:30 PM
I've had similar incidences with motorists, not so much motorbikes though. I've always thought carrying a paintball gun with me would be an interesting way of "retaliating" when someone threatens my life.

Although there's only been one time that I seriously felt like shooting someone while I was on my bike. Giant jacked up truck passed withing 2 feet of me going about 60 mph. He then proceeded to the exact same thing to my father who was about 50 feet in front of me. Unfortunately it all happened so fast before I could get a license plate number.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Scandium on May 30, 2014, 03:27:37 PM
I've had similar incidences with motorists, not so much motorbikes though. I've always thought carrying a paintball gun with me would be an interesting way of "retaliating" when someone threatens my life.

Although there's only been one time that I seriously felt like shooting someone while I was on my bike. Giant jacked up truck passed withing 2 feet of me going about 60 mph. He then proceeded to the exact same thing to my father who was about 50 feet in front of me. Unfortunately it all happened so fast before I could get a license plate number.
You're probably not serious, but I've played paintball competitively (yes there is such a thing) in college and advice against using one outside of a field for a number of reasons.
-don't hurt that much
-can take an eye out
-you get in serious trouble if you're caught, because of above
-you damage the image of legitimate players, which is pretty bad to begin with (you may or may not care about this)
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: libertarian4321 on May 31, 2014, 02:16:47 AM
Mossberg Maverick 88 12-gauge with the pistol grip.   Short, light weight, maneuverable.  No one will screw with you.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: GuitarStv on May 31, 2014, 07:16:11 AM
Mossberg Maverick 88 12-gauge with the pistol grip.   Short, light weight, maneuverable.  No one will screw with you.

Except the police.

In Canada we don't have a second amendment to justify mass shootings every couple months, so we regulate guns and gun use a bit more safely.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Ottawa on May 31, 2014, 07:44:08 AM
Mossberg Maverick 88 12-gauge with the pistol grip.   Short, light weight, maneuverable.  No one will screw with you.

Except the police.

In Canada we don't have a second amendment to justify mass shootings every couple months, so we regulate guns and gun use a bit more safely.

Concur fully!  Clap clap
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Cressida on May 31, 2014, 09:30:05 PM
In Canada we don't have a second amendment to justify mass shootings every couple months, so we regulate guns and gun use a bit more safely.

+1
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Thegoblinchief on June 02, 2014, 07:46:16 AM
Yikes. You're taking good steps. Does the personal alarm have any 911 and/or GPS functionality? These exist and aren't terribly expensive.

I'm a big guy, so I rarely feel as vulnerable, but even I'd be freaked out by that situation. Would caltrops be legal? Much harder for him to chase you if his tires blow out.

In addition to the kubotan, there are some catalogs I used to get that had collapsible nightsticks that extend out to about 18" but are light enough to whip with a lot of force.

BJJ is excellent. Aikido and Kempo are other disciplines that are quite effective, but with the popularity of MMA, BJJ is probably going to be the easiest to find. Learning basic techniques like proper closed fists, throwing punches, breaking common grapples (wrist, neck, waist from behind, etc) will also pay excellent dividends.

Hopefully you don't need any of that advice, though :)
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: TrMama on June 02, 2014, 12:05:47 PM
@ Thegoblinchief - A personal alarm that calls 911 is an excellent idea! Do you have any specific suggestions?

A quick Google search turned up a ton of hits for medic alert type systems and an iPhone app. Obviously, something that only works in my home isn't what I'm looking for and accessing my phone is totally impractical. By the time I get the phone out, unlock it and hit the dial 911 button, the threat has either passed or I'm in the midst of fighting for my life. Using a phone also requires you to look down at it. I think the only way to use a phone for self defense would be to throw it at the attacker and hope you hit a sensitive spot.

The alarm I bought was this one, http://www.safetygirl.com/ila-dusk-personal-alarms.html. My bike is also now equipped with one of these, http://www.mec.ca/product/4015-597/planet-bike-roadie-cycling-pump/?h=10+50002+50039+50548&f=10+50002+50551.

I had to look up what caltrops are. I don't think they'd be very effective against bikes, since the tires are so skinny. Plus, I'd never have time to deploy them. I also wouldn't want to carry them close to my body since I'm not keen on becoming a human pincushion if I crash.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: eil on June 02, 2014, 03:07:57 PM
I've never had to put up with another person's arsehole behavior when biking, but at some point I decided that I wanted to be able to defend myself to some degree while riding and without getting off the bike... So I started to kick things.

Every once in awhile when I come up to a concrete wall, light pole, tree, or particularly study sign, I'll give it a good kick.  While moving, with the bottom of my foot, as hard as I can without falling off the bike or altering my trajectory too much. It's taken quite a lot of practice but I'm pretty confident that I could knock down an aggressive cyclist or at least knock the wind out of an attacker on foot. It's a skill I hope I never have to use, and certainly carries some risk and is something I would only rely on as a last resort as opposed to simply pedalling my ass off to get out of dodge.
Title: Re: Self Defense on a Bike
Post by: Thegoblinchief on June 02, 2014, 08:47:23 PM
OK, apparently the person who told me they were affordable has very different idea of what is affordable. Sorry for passing on misinformation.

It shouldn't be THAT difficult to make.