Nervous riding on the road.

MAGA

New Member
The wife and I just started riding this past summer. We have hybrid bikes, and ride the rail trails, and other paved trails for walkers and riders. Nice rides, just not very long. Might do 12 miles or so.
Well, we just put 2 specialized road bikes in layaway, so I anticipate longer rides, meaning on the roads with cars. Indiana is not a bike friendly state. Bicycle lanes pretty much nonexistant. Going to have to research some areas to ride I guess. Just a bit nervous riding with drivers, texting and whatnot.
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
John Forester's "Effective Cycling" book might contain some useful tactics for US road riding but ignore the anti-trail/bikeway politics. (I've not read it all so I could be wrong.)

Look up the road laws of the states you'll be riding in. It's as well to know, even if they're punitive and you choose to ignore some.
 

AuroraSaab

Senior Member
I totally sympathise. I live in a really busy suburb and my biggest concern is getting knocked off the bike. I ride on the pavements a bit and use side roads where I can, but the main thing is just to keep getting out there and you will gain in confidence.
 

RegG

Über Member
Location
Nottingham
I can fully appreciate your concerns as me and my wife felt very similar when we started riding again some 4 years ago. I realise you are in the US and I am in the UK but I would simply encourage you to get out as often as you can, if possible stick to some quieter roads to begin with and don't let drivers intimidate you. If you feel nervous at, say a junction, get off the bike and walk across if necessary. I would also advise wearing brightly coloured clothing such as high vis jacket/cycling jersey and, if allowed in the US, put some decent lights on your bike that flash to bring you to the attention of other road users - I use lights regularly in daylight and, in my opinion, they do make you more visible. Others may disagree, but I am speaking from my own experiences.

The main thing is to get out on your bike and enjoy the ride, your confidence will grow quite quickly!
 

MontyVeda

a short-tempered ill-controlled small-minded troll
We've got a few CC members who reside in the USA who might be able to offer better advice (can't think of their user names at present so if anyone wants to tag them...).

I've been to the USA a couple of times and the whole layout seems far more car-centric than it is over here.

Your road-sense will develop in time... in much the same way new drivers are nervous for a while after getting their license. Keep at it and stay safe :smile:
 

Shearwater Missile

Über Member
Location
Stowmarket
Like RegG said, wear hi-viz clothing and a flashing light, at least you are doing your bit to be soon. One thing I would add is that treat all other road users as if they hav`nt seen you, I do. That way at least you should give yourself enough time to stop and avert an accident unless being hit from behind. I always have two lights on the back, one flashing and one constant, even in daylight. Often you can go from sunshine to shade and the lights may help you to be seen. Confidence should increase and you will enjoy your rides more.
 

classic33

Legendary Member
We've got a few CC members who reside in the USA who might be able to offer better advice (can't think of their user names at present so if anyone wants to tag them...).

I've been to the USA a couple of times and the whole layout seems far more car-centric than it is over here.

Your road-sense will develop in time... in much the same way new drivers are nervous for a while after getting their license. Keep at it and stay safe :smile:
@Gravity Aided, @froze are two.
 

Pat "5mph"

A kilogrammicaly challenged woman
Moderator
Location
Glasgow
Eff the lemon jackets and blinkenlights. Might as well wear a rabbit's foot. The evidence for them is much weaker than for getting some cycling skills training if anyone near you offers it.
A bit unhelpful to a new rider, imo.
Yes, correct road positioning helps immensely (in the UK at least), but I remember that when starting out I had a dozen lights on the bike and on my person.
I was so scared of being run over!
I'm still a bit scared now, but I reduced the lights to 2 good rear ones, and a powerful front one.
Whatever attire increases your confidence on the roads is good :okay:
 

mjr

Comfy armchair to one person & a plank to the next
A bit unhelpful to a new rider, imo.
If it means someone spends some time looking up cycling skills courses instead of only buying coloured clothes, it's helped IMO.

I think the "drivers shouldn't be expected to see ordinary people" idea implied by all the lights and unproven clothes suggestions is far more unhelpful - and it seems not true because unlit ninja cyclists always seem to get seen enough to generate comments on social media! ;)
 

classic33

Legendary Member
If it means someone spends some time looking up cycling skills courses instead of only buying coloured clothes, it's helped IMO.

I think the "drivers shouldn't be expected to see ordinary people" idea implied by all the lights and unproven clothes suggestions is far more unhelpful - and it seems not true because unlit ninja cyclists always seem to get seen enough to generate comments on social media! ;)
They've not said they haven't sought a training course. What such a course cannot give is what is being asked for, confidence on the roads when cycling.

As their confidence increases, they can start deciding what they want to wear whilst cycling.

There's been a few on here, who still cycle, that for one reason or another have lost the confidence to ride on the roads. Why knock someone for trying, the roads aren't for everyone, so they go off-road to cycle.

As for the cycling ninja's, it's not as they seem to lack the confidence to ride on the roads.
 

12boy

Über Member
Location
Casper WY USA
MAGA, I've commuted in the US from the 70s until 2018 when I retired for the third time. This has been done in CO, SD and WY. I have had 3 accidents I would consider serious..a broken pelvis due to carelessness, 2 cracked ribs from being hit by a car turning into the dawn sun, and a concussion caused by having a tire caught by the pavement after going on the dirt to avoid pedestrians and returning to the bike path.
These experiences have caused me to create some rules for myself.
Be visible. Lights in the dark and hi vis all the time.ppl
Obey the law as if driving a car. Signal turns, don't run lights or stop signs, and do not assume drivers will do these things.
Look out for the unexpected. Car doors, dogs , children, black ice, people on the phone or walking and talking in herds obliviously are some examples.
Discover the safest routes and learn what parts are the least safe. Learn these routes when you don't have to be somewhere.
I began riding fixed gear and later, folding bicycles, because I tend to zone out when riding, especially on a route I've ridden many times. I had to pay attention on these bikes, at least at first. Paying attention is critical and goes along with heightened situational awareness, and looking out for possible problems. To paraphrase Pogo, I have met the enemy and he is me. I don't know how many times I've had my head down, pedaling against a head wind, to look up and see a parked car in front of me, another biker or a dog when a minute ago there was nothing.
Know your bike, make sure it's working properly and develop muscle memory so as you sense a threat your hands are already on the brakes instead of fumbling for them. Learn to ride with others so no one gets hurt. More fun, too.
This stuff may seem obvious but I see people riding with ear buds, running lights, going to fast for road conditions all the time.
 
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