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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST,jeff BS: Bicycles on the sidewalk (401* d) RE: BS: Bicycles on the sidewalk 04 Jul 13


Have been cycling most of my life. Recreationally in my youth and practically in my adulthood. Started cycle-commuting in 1987 in Chicago 10 years before they had a cycle-friendly mayor. Have done 2 tours of the UK/Ireland and countless week or two mixed camping/credit card tours in the US. My background in dealing w/hazzards of ALL varieties is extensive. So, I came to this realization many years ago. ANY collision w/a vehicle, pedestrian, parking meter, roadsign or pothole is THE FAULT OF THE CYCLIST. PERIOD. Why?

If one has a collision w/a car, regardless if the auto operator right or left hooks you, hits you from behind or is blind running drunk. If one is going to cycle in traffic one has to realize a bike is 200-225 lbs max and a car is 2-4 tons. The odds are NOT in your favor, so YOU must be constantly aware of your surroundings and anticipate that EVERYTHING is a potential hazzard. A rearward mirror in traffic is a MUST. When one gets used to functioning in THAT realization commuting, utility cycling and touring is a challenge and a JOY.

If one collides with a pedestrian even if they cross against a light or the middle of the block one should be in contol of one's bike to the extent that you either swerve and miss or be able to brake hard enough to come to a halt. Without doing an over-the-handlebars somersault. Shift your weight rearward and hold BOTH brakes firmly. Lay it down if you have to, but do everything in one's power to avoid hitting a pedestrian. They're helpless and vulnerable even if clearly in the wrong. You're not. It requires SKILL and needs to be practiced. Just like a musical instrument.

One needs to understand a bicycle is a mode of transportation where the rider is the motor AND operator and NOT a toy. NEVER take risks in dealing w/traffic, pedestrians, etc. Obey all traffic laws and be courteous to ALL drivers even if they are rude to you. If you notice a build-up of autos behind you signal and pull into the next driveway and let them pass. They WILL appreciate it, I can assure you. It isn't a game and shouldn't be treated as such. That being said it is FUN to be part of the traffic flow and keeps one's reflexes sharp. They HAVE to be sharp. Your safety and well being depends on it. Practice memorizing license plate numers in anticipation of dealing with harrassment. YOU WILL BE HARRASSED IF CYCLING LONG ENOUGH. Can't stress that point enough. Report it. Better yet mount an unobtrusive camera to one's helmet as video is invaluable to LEOs. A California doctor is serving aa lengthy hardtime sentence as I post this for attempted vehicular homicide when running over several cyclists climbing a hill to 'teach them a lesson'. One of the cyclists had a camera mounted to his helmet and it was THE main piece of evidence as he said those very words when asked by one of the cyclists why he did what he did.

ALWAYS have a white light on blink mode in the front along w/at least a 150 lumens steady light in the front for night riding. They're plentiful and cheap. The technology in bike lights has improved dramatically in the last 5 years. Rearward have as many red lights of AT LEAST 5 watts on blinking mode as one wishes to have. I have a Cygolite Hotshot which is 2 watts that I use in daytime as it is clearly visible in full sunlight. Wear bright clothing that is BIKE SPECIFIC as they will often contain refective material visible even in full daylight. Rearward lighting needs to be both low and high, so clipping 'blinkies' to one's helmet AND shirt or backpack are to one's advantage in safely negotiating traffic. ALWAYS have one low...maybe under the saddle as cars are mostly at that height.

Ok, dogs. One rarely encounters a dog in an urban setting, but if one does DO NOT try to outrun it. Dogs can do 30-35 mph in short bursts and have enough mass to knock one off one's bike if large and aggressive enough. Get off and keep your bike between you and the dog and don't try to ride off until it loses interest. Walk and give a commanding NO! if it moves towards you. Keep them in your peripheral vision as a direct eye to eye is considered a challenge and may result in an attack, especially 'guard' breeds. They're primordial instinct is to chase and render prey(which you are like it or not)weak by disabling the tendons in the rear legs. If necessary use one's bike like a set of antlers to keep the dog at bay and hollar for help. Back up while keeping your bike between you and the dog. Usually someone is within earshot and knows the dog by name. That can help alot in diffusing a given situation. All of that being said keep a can of wasp spray on one's bike as it shoots a narrow stream at least 20-30 ft, can temporarily blind a dog and smells really bad. Forget papper spray, Mace, Doggone, etc. Those products have too broad and short of a spray pattern. They can very well end up on YOU given the right wind conditions. Take the benefit of my experience. Been there. Done that and have road rash scars to prove it.

Now rural dogs. Get a Crosman C31 CO2 pistol and keep it mounted to your steering tube in a holster. SPRAY PAINT IT ORANGE! One doesn't want a LEO to mistake it for a real firearm. Again been there. Done that. Believe me, you wont have time in many circumstances to have it anywhere else on your bike. This particular model shoots a BB @ 485 fps and that velocity REALLY stings, but is not anywhere close to being lethal. It's got an 18 shot magazine. All dog owners can be confrontational when one shoots their precious, but it's legal when they hit the pavement and there are leash laws in my state. I keep the Sheriff's department on speed dial in my cell phone. Anyone who thinks this is harsh is either naive, a fool or both. A dog can easily knock one from their bike and if there's more than one a swam isn't likely it's a reality. Again take the benefit of my experience. I was bitten several times before the dogs' owner was able to calm them.

Sorry to have run on for so long or been guilty of thread drift, but this is a subject with which I'm well aquainted and very passionate about. Feel free to be offended or disagree w/any or all of this post. I could care less. One more thing: STAY OFF THE FREAKING SIDEWALKS WHILE CYCLING!! WALK IT!!

Sincerely, Guest Jeff in rural Tennessee, USA


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