A lesson in commuting mastery...

- Baz -

Active Member
Location
Manchester
This is the second week of my commuting by bike into Manchester city centre (7 miles each way). Just one scary moment so far where I had to pull the anchors on (my fault for not regarding all drivers as potential idiots - and yes I own a car). I'm slowly gaining more confidence, but...

Tuesday morning and it's drizzling. There I am, sitting behind a bus at traffic lights, foot on kerb, glad of the opportunity of a breather and to rearrange the tackle a bit, so so speak. Traffic is stationary in two lanes. Out of nowhere, there's this guy on a bike, T-shirt, shorts, minus helmet, young and lean on a not-so-young but lean machine, doing about 10 mph between the two lines of traffic. That was the last I saw of him. Since I didn't hear the sound of a crumpled bike and rider, I can only assume that he disappeared into the distance and arrived in town a couple of light years before me.

Now I'm writing this out of admiration, not censure. To have that level of confidence and skill, to me, is awesome, and I reflected on this as I trundled on my way at a steady 15 mph average, trying my best to avoid pot holes, slippery lines and drain covers, glancing over my shoulder from time to time and remembering to change down before stopping...

I'm sure there must be many here who have the same level of ability as this guy, so, notwithstanding all the stories of near misses and collisions that I try not to think about as I set off on each journey, what is it really makes for this level of commuting mastery? Does it come with experience, or are there natural risk-takers and risk-avoiders? Or am I just getting old? :thumbsdown:

Edit: BTW, I'm 54
 

Tynan

Veteran
Location
e4
practice, as you get stronger and more experienced you can go faster

that said, there's too fast in every situation when you start to take a higher level of risk, so don;t assume that bloke was doing it safely
 

gaz

Cycle Camera TV
Location
South Croydon
Natural risk takers imo.
Over the past few weeks i've ridden with a few of my colleagues from work.
And i've noticed that compared to them, i very rarely filter through traffic. Mainly because it's either not worth it or because it's too dangerous.

Your safety is key, if you don't feel safe doing it, don't do it.
 

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
Diff'rent strokes for diff'rent folks Baz.

Do what you feel happy with. I commute into Manchester, and I'd not take chances around the busses, personally, they're dangerous enough when you ride predictably imo, without stacking the deck against yourself.
 

GFamily

Über Member
Location
North Cheshire
It can be an option - I don't like being right up against the kerb around buses - If I'm not overtaking them I tend to stay at their right rear corner; hopefully the driver will see me in his/her rear view mirror and it makes it easier to see if there are obvious obstructions ahead (you can see other cars moving out).

However, speedy passage between stationary lines of queuing traffic assumes that there won't be any pedestrians stepping out between cars, so unless all vehicles are cars that I can see above I will slow right down. Passing stationary buses is done at a very cautious pace.

And yes, sometimes it can be an excuse for a breather. :biggrin:
 

dondare

Über Member
Location
London
I did some awsome filtering today. Normally I'm a bit cautious but today it was all go-for-it. The traffic seemed to part for me like the Red Sea.
 

Moodyman

Guru
It's all about risk assessment - ask yourself is it safe? Will I gain a lot by filtering?

If the answer is yes - go ahead but be prepared for the unexpected - hands on the brakes.

If no, play safe and sit back.
 

fossyant

Ride It Like You Stole It!
Location
South Manchester
10 mph between traffic in Manchester...is that it.........?

Wasn't me - I'm not young....and he was slow........ :biggrin:

I was not in town on Tuesday, and yes, don't mess with a bus...........
 

shrew

New Member
Location
St Neots , Cambs
have to say when it comes to traffic i just judge the risk every time, if it looks mostly safe ill go for it, if not i wont, as for busses, stay away, i doubt many would notice running over a cyclist.

as for hanging by the kerb, i dont do that, i un stationary traffic i sit in the centre or to the right of the centre if im behind something big, if i cant see there mirrors then they cant see me, if im by the kerb if encourages cars to force me off the road..
 

GrasB

Veteran
Location
Nr Cambridge
Yes there are risk-takers & risk-avoiders. There will also be people who will be more comfortable doing a certain manoeuvre than you but you may well be more comfortable doing something else so your idea of risk level will be different in those circumstances.

What ever you do don't deliberately exceed your own comfort levels, there are sometimes that others won't give you an option, as when you do that you'll start to make bad decisions because you're nervous & apprehensive. It's better to arrive somewhere late than never arrive.
 
OP
- Baz -

- Baz -

Active Member
Location
Manchester
GrasB said:
Yes there are risk-takers & risk-avoiders. There will also be people who will be more comfortable doing a certain manoeuvre than you but you may well be more comfortable doing something else so your idea of risk level will be different in those circumstances.

What ever you do don't deliberately exceed your own comfort levels, there are sometimes that others won't give you an option, as when you do that you'll start to make bad decisions because you're nervous & apprehensive. It's better to arrive somewhere late than never arrive.
With the greatest respect, this is excellent advice, but goes without saying. My question was really to do with expanding comfort levels and gaining skill in reading traffic. I assume it's a bit like climbing, if you don't tackle the mountain bit by bit, including the scary bits, you're not gonna get to the top... So, there must be times when the decisions are borderline. Presumably, you successfully (or unsuccessfully, heaven forbid) take more risk until the risk all but disappears because skill and confidence increase? In other words, it's Teach Yourself time...

BTW, just wanted to make clear that, even with my limited experience, I don't mess with buses. This one was stationary waiting at lights and I wasn't about to venture into the outside lane, so I followed him meekly - at a reasonable distance - until he pulled in to a bus stop and I could overtake without changing lanes...
 

DaleB

Active Member
Location
Manchester
Like you i've just started commuting into Manchester, 8 miles there and 8 back... When it's really busy i filter, but i always stop and take extra time to judge buses and large vehicles etc...
So far my average speeds been about 15.5mph but hopefully with time it'll increase :sad:

Edit: I do much slower than that filtering though!
 

GrasB

Veteran
Location
Nr Cambridge
- Baz - said:
My question was really to do with expanding comfort levels and gaining skill in reading traffic. I assume it's a bit like climbing, if you don't tackle the mountain bit by bit, including the scary bits, you're not gonna get to the top... So, there must be times when the decisions are borderline. Presumably, you successfully (or unsuccessfully, heaven forbid) take more risk until the risk all but disappears because skill and confidence increase? In other words, it's Teach Yourself time...
I believe that was covered by the feeling comfortable bit :sad:
 

John the Monkey

Frivolous Cyclist
Location
Crewe
- Baz - said:
My question was really to do with expanding comfort levels and gaining skill in reading traffic. I assume it's a bit like climbing, if you don't tackle the mountain bit by bit, including the scary bits, you're not gonna get to the top... So, there must be times when the decisions are borderline. Presumably, you successfully (or unsuccessfully, heaven forbid) take more risk until the risk all but disappears because skill and confidence increase? In other words, it's Teach Yourself time...
As the old saying goes, the trick is to fill your bag of experience, before your bag of luck runs out ;-)

I'm a risk averse commuter, personally. I've never gained much by filtering[1] (the traffic passes you again anyway) and ime, you get as much visibility from being in the traffic lane waiting as you do from forcing your way to the front (where the ASL will only be full of bus/van/minicab anyway). I try not to bring a car attitude (must be at the front, must get to the next queue as soon as possible) to my riding, because I want to enjoy myself riding in. Breaking average times &c I leave for the weekend.

I'd argue that those borderline decisions are scary for a reason - some of the time, they won't come off, so is it worth it to save a minute or so of journey time?

[1] I'm not commuting at peak rush hour though, so ymmv.
 
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