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Urban riding - First accidents


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Do you know how to do a New York City bicycle turn beloved by bike messengers everywhere? 

Basically when there's the possibility of conflict, regardless of who has the right of way, you point yourself a bit behind the rear quarter panel of the car, and when you get level you then execute a sharp turn to follow the car, and thereby cross diagonally.

You should do this with all cars, without exception, because 1. drivers are not required to stop and stay stopped on right hand turns or traffic circles, and 2. the difficulty of a car going backwards, and 3. you're going about the same speed as the car behind you.

Around 2:05, although in almost every case the car would be coming from your left.

 

Finally, avoid one way street. One way street are used to increase car traffic flow speed, which means drivers will cross intersections extremely quickly.

Again, if a bicycle lane can be easily traversed by drivers, then it isn't really a bicycle lane but a trap to give you false confidence.

In my opinion, I'd take my chances with pedestrians over cars, and be very good at low speeds. Pedestrians aren't that erratic, and they usually don't just leap onto you.

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2 hours ago, travsformation said:

When I got up and he saw it was nothing serious, he got out of his car, inspected the dent in the hood and started yelling at me. At least here, drivers don't tend to admit their mistakes.

Wow. That's the point where I would have said he should calm down very quickly unless he wants my fist in his face (literally that's what I would probably say, and do). Remember, you're the one wearing wrist guards with possibly sharp edges.

As for your question, I'd ride where I feel it safest to ride, rules or not. Sounds like that is the road. That would also have the side effect in enforcing better bike lanes when all the PEVs ostentatiously don't use them.

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@LanghamP I'm not entirely sure I understand the principle or use-case scenario of the NYC bicycle turn in emergency situations. If someone pulls out in front of me from a side-street to my right, for instance, or a bicycle/pedestrian hops onto the road in front of me, my chances of evasion will greatly depend on where the cars behind, beside and in front of  me are; swerving diagonally at the wrong time seems like the perfect recipe for getting run over.

Although for general riding, sticking on the rear-side of car does make a great deal of sense (maybe I'd misunderstood you)

59 minutes ago, houseofjob said:

Seems you've discovered what most us diehard NYC EUC & esk8 guys have found out: riding with car traffic at car traffic pace is much more predictable and 'safer' than riding the poorly maintained bike lanes, which is the case in NYC as well (see Casey Neistat's NYC Bike Lane Video)

Yepp, seems like I have....the hard way. :efee612b4b:  BTW, great video! hahaha

59 minutes ago, houseofjob said:

First, I don't know what your car city speed limits are, but that V8 is a bit too slow, thus unsafe to ride amongst car traffic, at least here in NYC where cars travel 25-30mph / 40-50kph.

Speed limit here in 50 km/h in cities, so 'til I get my KS18XL, I might limit stick to bike lanes or "hog the lane" to discourage drivers from trying to share the lane with me (even if I'm going slower than the speed limit, I won't be under the minimum speed either)

59 minutes ago, houseofjob said:

Some tips out of the obvious I've learned from 3 years of NYC EUC-ing:

  • a forward-moving car in regular city traffic will never move backwards, so the safest position is to travel with or behind their rear wheel plane. I will 'jump' / accelerate from car to car so I am always back in that same relative position aside the next car.
  • at turn-able intersections, I will never pass a car on the same side as their potential turn direction, opting to cross behind said car, then pass them carefully on the other side, where I am 90% sure they are not going to turn into.
  • I never ride directly behind cars, always to the side, because cars can stop suddenly. 
  • NYC Bicycle 'Technique' for Running Red Lights: while I technically don't condone this for other cities, here in NYC, most bicycles and similar run red lights (mainly when riding main streets at intersections with a one-way street). The way they typically do this is to briefly turn 90º in the same oncoming traffic direction, then turn back again to return to their original course of direction. I will say, having this mentality helps for when a driver unexpectedly cuts you off, as you can instinctively turn with them, avoiding collision. This saved me one time when a big SUV on a two-way street, briefly parked, then without any turn signals, initiated a quick K-turn, which caught me turning with it... felt like I was in the matrix *smh.
  • Be extra cautious of all service-type cars, as they tend to be the worst at obeying traffic law (taxis, limos, delivery trucks, etc.)
  • The best time to make more aggressive passing maneuvers is when traveling on multi-lane street traffic that is either gridlocked (bumper-to-bumper) or cars have just stopped at a red light. Smaller, one-lane / one-way streets are trickier, especially when traffic is stopped, because rampant jaywalking is a thing here in NYC.

Great tips, thanks! :cheers:

I've been applying a few of them already  (passing cars stopped at red lights), but hadn't taken into account their potential turn direction (lucky we don't have right-hand turns on red lights here). The red light-running technique is also definitely useful (if used cautiously), especially on the V8 (gives me some time to get an advantage/some distance over the cars behind me), but I don't see myself pulling off such careless and aggressive ones as in the video @LanghamP posted; the turns he pulls off at 2:05, although very skilful, seem like an unnecessary risk, as he's dodging cars coming straight towards him, and weaving between pedestrians at what feels like an unsafe speed; one false guess (anticipate a pedestrian's trajectory, but not the possibility that they might stop, drop their bag, or turn around because they left their backpack at Startbucks, for example) and bam!, an accident he could have easily averted by not riding like such a dick. A lot of the things he does in the video remind me of driving in Barcelona, where I often find myself wishing I could run over every other scooter/moped I cross paths with: passing in between lanes and cars at 60 km/h is insane, and makes things 10 times more stressful as a driver, as I have to be twice as vigilant if I don't want to run over one of these kamikazes, not to mention they're constantly generating risks for everyone around them (I could hit someone else, who's done nothing wrong, because I have to swerve to avoid hitting one of these d*ckheads...). As an example, at 2:44 the Chicago cyclist moves into the right lane when the car in front of him clearly has his right-turn signal on, forcing the driver to brake (you can see his brake lights go on, despite the fact there's no one in front of him and he has plenty of space to move into the lane). 

Ideally, I'd like to find a balance between my own safety and not riding like a dick either; after all, it was because of a cyclist disregarding traffic rules, being overconfident and ignoring the safety of others, just like this guy, that I have a fist-sized bruise on my hip-bone. My point being...I don't feel it's coherent to complain about others' riding style and then do the same thing myself (Sorry for the rant, but I find myself cursing that damn cyclist every time I stand up or sit down and feel that nasty pain in my hip)

It's exactly the kind of "defensive riding techniques" that you listed, @houseofjob, that I'm after: things to stay safe but that don't involve being as reckless as the people that caused my accidents in the first place :)

59 minutes ago, houseofjob said:

For NYC, our roads are like 80% one-way streets unfortunately. Dunno about Barcelona.

Same here...

59 minutes ago, houseofjob said:
2 hours ago, LanghamP said:

In my opinion, I'd take my chances with pedestrians over cars, and be very good at low speeds. Pedestrians aren't that erratic, and they usually don't just leap onto you.

Unless it's like here in NYC, where we have a ton of stupid pedestrians (majority are tourists from all over) who have been known to erratically leap into you, primarily into active bike paths.

Doesn't seem feasible here either. On pedestrian-only streets it's good practice for slow riding (which I have to admit, the V8 is great for), but sidewalks are too narrow. Doesn't matter how slow you're going, all it takes is for someone to walk out of a store without looking, or turn a corner while they're looking at their phone, and even if you don't fall or hit anyone, people aren't used to EUCs here so you're sure to get a nasty look (plus, as the only rider in town, it's my responsibility to uphold our good image!) :thumbup:

Edited by travsformation
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24 minutes ago, meepmeepmayer said:

That's the point where I would have said he should calm down very quickly unless he wants my fist in his face (literally that's what I would probably say, and do). Remember, you're the one wearing wrist guards with possibly sharp edges.

Your description is actually pretty close to what happened...Had he been more civil, he probably wouldn't have a black eye, or a smashed headlight to fix... ;)

BTW, good point about riding on the road having "the side effect in enforcing better bike lanes when all the PEVs ostentatiously don't use them. "

 

Edited by travsformation
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To quote a famous English rugby coach "get your retaliation in first"  What do I mean?  See a cyclist riding right at you? punch them right in the face.  Yes, you'll crash too (which was going to happen anyway), but at least they can't ride away unscathed, as they often do.  And possibly they wont ride so recklessly after that. :D  I was knocked off my EUC by a cyclist while I was on a zebra crossing, doing about 3mph.  He refused to stop and kept veering his path in front of me causing a continual collision course.  If he had simply veered behind me, we wouldn't be talking about it now. There was no other traffic of any kind, just me and him coming around a corner and presumably without good brakes.  Looking back I wish I had pushed him off his bike as I fell of my EUC, that way he wouldn't be able to ride away unscathed.  BTW That was in Castellefel (your neck of the woods).

Your situation is tough.  I don't ride in traffic, and avoid crowded or narrow side walks. Other than punching cyclists.  I can't add anything.

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1 hour ago, travsformation said:

Speed limit here in 50 km/h in cities, so 'til I get my KS18XL, I might limit stick to bike lanes or "hog the lane" to discourage drivers from trying to share the lane with me (even if I'm going slower than the speed limit, I won't be under the minimum speed either)

Don't drive faster than you would if nobody else was there. Don't let yourself be distracted or pressured by others. Everything else just leads to crashes. 50 is crazy fast even if you don't have to look out for traffic.

That's why I'm for going in the middle of a lane (or at least no too far to the side), they can't riskily overtake you if they can't even think of overtaking you, or they will be forced to slow down and acknowledge you at least instead of trying to sneak by.

1 hour ago, travsformation said:

Your description is actually pretty close to what happened...

Good:efef015fe0: I always wondered how well a car windshield would fare against my heavy and compact ACM. I hope I'll never find out.

8 minutes ago, Smoother said:

To quote a famous English rugby coach "get your retaliation in first"  What do I mean?

...

Sadly, this is a real point.

The #1 safety improvement would be a wearable, visible device that expensively auto-damages a car whenever it hits a pedestrian/bike/EUC/etc. Maybe some liquid pouches that are harmless to everything but car paint or car glass.

Bees have black and yellow stripes, what do we have?

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@travsformation, what I call the NYC bicycle turn @houseofjob calls NYC method of running red lights. Ironically, when I use it it's the car running the red light by making a right turn on red.

The methods are exactly the same, and has kept me more out of harm than anything else. Occasionally when I am too lazy or too trusting to not use it, I'll me forcibly reminded of it when a driver rolls through a stop sign.

Use the NYC turn method, always, because drivers cannot be trusted to stop or yield at all times.

 

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5 hours ago, travsformation said:

<snip>

What do you guys think? Any experienced city riders have any advice for a wheeler just starting to experiment with urban riding? (aside from gearing up, being extremely aware of one's surroundings, and not trusting anyone not to do something completely random at any given time)

 

Fun times :wacko:

Besides thinking that I'm glad I don't have to ride in the city, I think my only input is that I don't think the V8 is a good wheel to ride how you are planning to ride. In that case I think you would be better served by a powerful performance wheel that can old it's own in traffic and has the speed to power thru some potentially tough situations.

Edited by Marty Backe
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19 hours ago, travsformation said:

What do you guys think? Any experienced city riders have any advice for a wheeler just starting to experiment with urban riding? (aside from gearing up, being extremely aware of one's surroundings, and not trusting anyone not to do something completely random at any given time)

Looks like you covered a lot of what you need to do. I'm in DC. There is no safe place to ride in DC. I ride the streets with the attitude that I am always in danger; because I am. @Ruslan just reported his near miss with a bus in Washington. Thank god he is not hurt, but his wheel was killed in the incident. 

Bike lanes in DC are not safe because they are not separated from traffic, they are crowded, pedestrians walk in them or step out onto the street in front of oncoming traffic without a concern or even a glance.

Many lanes are next to parking lanes so cars pull out of spaces, or doors swing open in front of you, and people step out of vehicles. 

I witnessed a woman on her bike get smacked this way a few months ago. people travel on them in both directions even when they shouldn't. You can take your chances with riding with the traffic, but I don't recommend this at all outside of necessity. The bike lanes are still the safest and at least drivers are accustomed to driving home hyper-alert to multiple potential hazards

I'm only dusting the loose frost off the sheet of ice. There is more,  but you get the gist. Don't even get me started on bike couriers/messengers, taxis, rideshare,  emergency vehicles, etc. 

I would say do everything you have already mentioned and ride like you know that you are always in danger.

I love riding in my city because there is always so much to see. I ride slow and frequently blend sidewalk riding with bike lanes. I use alleys and side streets when I can to avoid pedestrian and traffic hazards. Sometimes I ride faster and more aggressively when traffic is flowing to prevents being the obstacle or Hazard. It's urban riding. It is what it is and probably going to be for a long time yet until the USA catches up to Denmark. That's all I have. Hope it helps you some. 

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16 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

You have to meet up with him, looks like he has found the coolest EUC playground.

Cool! Perfect EUC playground! (And deserted too!) The trick in Spain is to go riding when there's a football (soccer) match. I'm pretty sure you could rob a bank during a Barça-Madrid match and no one would notice :efee612b4b:  (Pro advise: avoid being in public spaces AFTER the match. Nothing good ever comes from that, regardless of who wins the match...) :efefa6edcf:

17 hours ago, houseofjob said:

(wow, Barcelona riding sounds a lot like NYC, hopefully I'll get a chance to ride there some day!)

Forgot to say: Definitely, let me know if you pop by some day! Maybe my skills will be good enough to keep up with you by then!

BTW, @LanghamP & @houseofjob, when I mentioned that the guy in the Chicago bike courier video was riding like a dick, I just meant to say there are safe and useful ways of applying certain techniques, and ways that seem unnecessarily risky; I wasn't dismissing your advice or implying that either of you ride like that. I know this clarification is probably unnecessary, just wanted to highlight that I'm grateful for your suggestions and my criticism was directed at (those damn!) bike couriers, not you two fine gentlemen! ;)

@Smoother , as they say, "a good offence is the best defence". I'm pretty sure the car driver will remember that there are bike crossings (and be mindful of them) for a long time to come (nothing better to create associations than to bash them straight into the old noggin). I can't say I'd apply the same principle to the middle-aged female cyclist, but I'm sure in the future I can find creative ways to fall towards people, or grab on to them for "balance"... ;)

Yeah, Castelldefels is about 30km from my place. Great, long seafront promenade for riding; the town itself...not so good...How long ago was your visit to Spain?

15 hours ago, meepmeepmayer said:

Don't drive faster than you would if nobody else was there. Don't let yourself be distracted or pressured by others. Everything else just leads to crashes. 50 is crazy fast even if you don't have to look out for traffic.

That's why I'm for going in the middle of a lane (or at least no too far to the side), they can't riskily overtake you if they can't even think of overtaking you, or they will be forced to slow down and acknowledge you at least instead of trying to sneak by. 

Good advice, cheers! I definitely subscribe to the "ride in the middle-ish of the lane" tactic too (what I call hogging the lane), and not feeling pressured is good advice no matter what kind of vehicle you're in/on (something I learned when I bought my 1988 motorhome)

As to speed, I don't think I'd ride faster than I'm comfortable just because I have a faster wheel, but I do see the advantage of having more power for certain scenarios where I need to accelerate quickly to overtake an obstacle; doing that with the V8 could easily result in a faceplant. As @Marty Backe suggested, having that extra speed can come in handy when in traffic (extra safety margin against faceplants too).

15 hours ago, meepmeepmayer said:

I always wondered how well a car windshield would fare against my heavy and compact ACM.

Actually, the smashing of the guy's headlight had nothing to do with my wheel...my leg took the hit, and if the V8 touched the car at all (not a single scratch), it was hit by the soft plastic bottom part of the bumper. The headlight was the result of my angry Jackie Chan impression (foot vs. headlight: one of the advantages of wearing mountain boots when riding) ;)

@Lutalo Same here with bike lanes; they're mostly for decoration, it would appear. I particularly appreciate the advice on "riding like you're always in danger". The best advice my driving instructor ever gave me was "drive like every other car on the load is a psychopath out to kill you, and every pedestrian a lemming hoping to be run over" :efee612b4b:

Until bike culture (and infrastructure) evolve, I guess adapting to urban riding will be a a matter of trial and error: sidewalks when ample and safer than the road, roads when sidewalks and bike lanes are not a good option, and bike lanes when they're in more secluded, pedestrian-free areas, or not on the roadside where there's heavy traffic. And as you said, choosing the best and safest route is definitely something I hope I can do soon (as soon as I've further explored the city and know which streets and areas to avoid). Then again, the only drawback is containing my excitement: once I'm on my wheel, I want to go EVERYWHERE and see EVERYTHING!!!

 

Edited by travsformation
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25 minutes ago, travsformation said:

Yeah, Castelldefels is about 30km from my place. Great, long seafront promenade for riding; the town itself...not so good...How long ago was your visit to Spain?

I was there for about a month 2 winters ago.  Actually that is where I learned to ride an EUC.  I must have gone up and down that promenade a thousand times. I was renting an apartment right across from the beach; so all I had to do to get on the promenade was cross the road. Barcelona it's self was a bit hairy because of all the tourists. La Rambla had me tearing my hair out but, I was still quite new then.  Down by the harbour and up by the castle/fort was much easier.

Edited by Smoother
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9 minutes ago, travsformation said:

Then again, the only drawback is containing my excitement: once I'm on my wheel, I want to go EVERYWHERE and see EVERYTHING!!!

I know that feeling well. Discipline is key. Enjoy riding. I don't get much of an urge to off-road because urban riding is it's own daily adventure if you commute. When I do get the urge,  the paved trails and natural parks that DC has thankfully preserved serve as a convenient escape without escaping. 

Edited by Lutalo
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10 minutes ago, travsformation said:

but I'm sure in the future I can find creative ways to fall towards people, or grab on to them for "balance"... ;)

Yes.  That's very good.  Why let them get away scott free from the accident they caused.  Grab away.  It's also perfectly defensible, in the heat of the moment, who doesn't grab for safety?

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7 hours ago, Smoother said:

I was there for about a month 2 winters ago.  Actually that is where I learned to ride an EUC.  I must have gone up and down that promenade a thousand times. I was renting an apartment right across from the beach; so all I had to do to get on the promenade was cross the road. Barcelona it's self was a bit hairy because of all the tourists. La Rambla had me tearing my hair out but, I was still quite new then.  Down by the harbour and up by the castle/fort was much easier.

Yeah, Barcelona IS a different story altogether. Montjuic and the area around the old Olympic villa are good places to ride, but the Rambla...that's stressful no matter what you do (on foot included).

7 hours ago, Lutalo said:

know that feeling well. Discipline is key. Enjoy riding. I don't get much of an urge to off-road because urban riding is it's own daily adventure if you commute. When I do get the urge,  the paved trails and natural parks that DC has thankfully preserved serve as a convenient escape without escaping. 

Yeah...I see what you mean about discipline hehe

The urban milieu has been an adventure for the past few days, now I'm happy to be back in my town in the mountains, with windy roads, steep hills and no traffic or pedestrians! Will enjoy what I've got here and wait a bit before I experiment in the city again.

7 hours ago, Smoother said:

Grab away.  It's also perfectly defensible, in the heat of the moment, who doesn't grab for safety?

Amen! :efee612b4b:

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