Friday, October 31, 2008

Cyclist View

I have to admit that when it comes to riding in traffic, not the occassional car on a quiet residential street, but real traffic, I panic. Maybe panic is too strong of a word but I'm definately very uncomfortable. I've been riding for about 22 years but most of my riding has been on mountain bike trails or in the perceived safety of a pack of roadies. I say the perceived safety of a pack as I'm sure we've all seen the photo of a car crashing into a group of roadies on a century ride in Mexico. Even the road rides that I used to do I would drive to the start location with my bike in the back seat of my car. I've rarely exposed myself to traffic. I guess it doesn't help that due to my career I've personnally witnessed the grotesque end results of collisions between motorized vehicles and a human body many many times. It wasn't until last year that I started my bike rides from my front door. I've gotten to the point where I'm riding a mix of 40% bike trails and 60% low traffic city streets.

PM Summer, the author of Cycle*Dallas sent me a link to the video below. This was a subtle response to one of my recent rides where I was forced to venture off the bike trail and into real traffic.

The video is from the Cyclist View web site. This site has a bunch of videos and traffic diagrams explaining the basics of riding in traffic. In the short time that I've spent going through these videos it looks like one of the main strategies for riding in traffic is to take up the right lane when there isn't much room on the right and force following traffic to deal with you like they would a slow moving car. They've also have some pretty good links including an article from the Florida Bicycle Association called "Freedom from Fear".

I am going to work on my traffic riding skills. Am I going to jump up on Bryant Irvin Road on a Friday afternoon and practice? Probably not but I definately don't want to limit my rides to areas that can only be reached by a bike lane or empty neighborhood street.


  1. I have been riding for over 35 years in all situations. IMHO traffic has become worse, the drivers less attentive and even more distracted. Roads are carrying more automobile volume than ever before.

    There are roads I rode on 25 years ago on a daily basis that I don't even want to drive on today. Sometimes discertion is a part of survival. Each individual has a tolerance level they will find acceptable.

    Good Luck on your attempts.


  2. Thanks Aaron. I want to do a cross country tour one day so I guess I better learn how to deal with traffic.

    You had mentioned that you were restoring a travel trailer. What are you working on? I was really interested in vintage travel trailers at one time.

  3. There is only ONE vintage travel trailer ;-)(not really) But mine happens to be a 1975 Airstream. I also have an '81 but it is in pretty sad shape, and currently being used to store the bits and pieces out of the '75 while I fix floor and sub frames.