Riding in Traffic - Best Practices

  • Newbie here - still figuring things out - still not completely in control, but getting there. I live in the country - lots of two-lane backroads with little traffic, but no sidewalks or bike lanes.

    Last weekend, I attempted a 9 mile trek to visit the kids. The 2nd road (about 2 miles in to the ride) on the route is more traveled. After the 3rd car went around me, I decided to turn around and head back home. The cars were just freaking me out.

    So, what are the rules of the road? I’m very interested to hear everyone’s best practices for riding in traffic.

    With traffic or against traffic?

    If “with traffic”, is riding goofy better for seeing the traffic around you?

    A bicycle mirror on my helmet definitely would have helped.

  • @mtntrails I prefer to ride against traffic so I can see what's approaching, I would think from a legal stand point like bicycle traffic you get the shoulder of the roadway riding with the direction of traffic. But I would rather be able to see the idiot texting and driving that's about to smoke me so at least I might get the chance to dive out of the way?

  • http://bikeeasy.org/blog/archives/1385/

    With traffic. Almost always.

    Cars aren't looking for you if you approach the wrong way. And if you do collide going the wrong way, your speeds are much higher (if you're going 15 mph, and the car is going 35 mph, you're choosing a 50 mph collision vs a 20 mph collision, F=mv^2 so that's a hit of over 4 times the force).

    I ride in the city. Stay in bicycle lanes (or where bikes would be on the road). Keep your head on a swivel.

    As far as goofy vs regular... ride whichever you're most comfortable. If you are truly ambipedal, riding goofy with traffic is probably best. But not enough to compromise your control.

  • I ride in Berkeley, CA, where the speed limit is 30mph and people are smashing 50mph consistently on a two lane road each way. We have a technical bike lane, but its really just an extra foot or so of lane, with no line. Always ride WITH traffic, never against. Only idiots and hobos on stolen bikes think riding against traffic is safer. My father gave me some advice as he's an experienced road cyclist and said to stay ALL the way in the lane. Fuck the cars, they go around you. Don't stay close to the curb, don't stay close to parked cars. Sit in the MIDDLE of the lane. You have right of way. Once I started doing that, I felt much safer, and haven't had a car get too close to me since.

  • I ride San Francisco and Oakland on a daily basis, stay in the bike line 60-75% of the time, if sidewalks are clear I take them when I can. Car's hate me when I'm in the bike lane, pedestrians hate me on the sidewalk, I try to put my safety first. So just go with your gut and as @RedDog said, keep your head on a swivel, I ride like I drive. Always checking my blind spots, watching for pot holes, and watching two-three car lengths ahead of me. OWN THE BIKE LANE when you are in it. Don't be intimidated by cars, they can slow down, and ******* wait. You have the right away in the bike lane.

  • hmmm.. I think the biggest thing is confidence. If you aren't confident than you risk freaking out and having an accident. I see the pro and cons of both directions. I typically look at the road and see what side has the most space and the clearest path (with the least amount of obstacles).

    unless you are really skilled and confident I would highly suggest you avoid traffic. By contrast, even if you are a great rider don't get cocky. I was going across an intersection and some moron on their phone wasn't paying attention, almost hit me as he took at left turn across the interaction (I along with the other cars, where totally in the right). Being in the right doesn't matter if you get hit. Gotta be careful and always anticipate what people will do. I took a motorcycle course along time ago and they had this acronym SIPD

    Scan- look around
    Identify- look for any risks or issues
    Predict- try and guess where the person will go
    Decide- make a call and do it.

    you need your head to be on a swivel.

    kind of like mt biking everybody says "its so dangerous". you may fall in the woods but there are no soccer mom's with giant SUVs, eating fast food, yelling at kids, while they are posting to Instagram in the woods.

    Be safe,

  • A long time ago I bicycled across the U.S., and I came across a guy who rode his bike with a pink skirt and blond "pony tails" attached to his helmet (pony tails were not terribly convincing close up, but from a car, they looked "real"). He said motorists would give him considerably more room. I briefly considered doing the same but was too lazy. Also I had this crazy idea that I was a guy back then. :)

    Also came a across another couple from Germany. They rigged these detachable, small triangular red flags to their bikes that poked out into traffic maybe a foot and a half. They also said motorists gave them considerably more room.

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