Friday, October 29, 2010

Traffic Tecnique

This is a follow-up to a post of two days ago where I ranted about the bus system and mentioned I wanted to ride my bike to work but was a little concerned about one dangerous stretch on an otherwise congenial route.

Eh, today I did it.  It was way too hot, because at 44F you really need warmth downhill, but really bake in whatever you're using to get that warmth going uphill, and it's pretty miserable trying to go fast uphill when it's dangerous biking and you're cooking in your own personal oven and have been so for the past 2 miles. It is also awesome; the hard workout and feeling when you're done, that nice little exposure to outside when one is otherwise stuck in an office.

That stretch of road isn't as dangerous as I thought.  I forget that when you are biking you have one huge advantage you forget about when you are driving:  you don't have blind spots* and you can hear cars coming from far off.  Thus all I had to do was wait at a pullout at the base of The Narrows until I couldn't see or hear any cars, then start up it at top speed, staying toward the middle of the lane instead of hugging the curb as one usually does, just to make sure any cars that start coming would see me.  They did, and it was no problem.

There's a lot to learn about safe and assertive traffic-integrated biking, and I would call that a pretty advanced technique.  I've found there are other situations when a biker should, for the better safety of both himself and motor vehicles, take to the middle of the lane, One is in slow-moving downtown type traffic, in spots where there are many consecutive red lights and where parallel parked cars along the side of the road can be a hazard.  In those situations, cars won't be able to drive any faster than you can bike before you'll both have to stop at a light again, and it is more dangerous for both of you to deal with the car trying to pass when you should both be focusing on pedestrians, car doors, and fast-changing traffic signals.

*You have a better field of view, however, looking over one's shoulder should be done with great care. 

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