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Riding in the urban jungle - your thoughts


Jonathan Tolhurst
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This is a rather philosophical question, there are probably several different schools of thought -

If you live/lived in an urban area do you think that the benefits of wearing visible safety gear when riding outweigh the risk that in some eyes you may look like more of a target if wearing lots of visible safety gear?

Personally, I think that you do have to take into consideration how other groups in your environment may perceive you and "blending in" is an important part of being street smart.

Other than ankle/shin guards I don't normally wear protection when riding (which normally takes place in parks/skateparks), and this was also the case when I used to Skateboard. I would say that I am pretty competent in understanding the limits of my wheel (which I check regularly and do preventative maintenance on) and don't tend to ride faster than I am prepared to fall at; I am also good at bailing. I do wear a helmet when I go off-road (which is normally outside of urban areas) or when riding my bike and will also wear one when I start teaching my toddler to ride a scooter.

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Maybe I'm lucky, I ride a lot in urban and suburban areas with quite a few people around and haven't encountered any aggressive people. I usually just wear a helmet and gloves but otherwise street clothes. If I were regularly off-roading at high speeds where the terrain is more unpredictable I would wear more protection. 

When approaching people facing you on the sidewalk, they often don't know what they should do. I usually slow down a lot but occasionally they decide to move in some random direction as if they're not sure if it's "safe" to let me pass so close. If there were more EUCs I think pedestrians would have a better idea what to do, similar to the ways pedestrians and bicycles interact in cities like Amsterdam. There's an unwritten choreography between the two that keeps the roads relatively safe if you act predictably.

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I don't understand why would wearing protective gear make you "more of a target" for anyone? You mean like having lots of protective gear could make you larger potential threat in the eyes of other people?

I live in urban area (1+ million citizens) and never go out on my wheel without helmet and wrist guards. Wheel itself as relatively unusual transportation device definitely does attract more attention, but protective gear is a regular equipment among bicycle, skateboard and roller-blade riders in my city. 

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3 hours ago, JimB said:

Jonathan, I think you're under the false impression that visible safety gear would make you stand out more than you already do.  Remember, you're riding an electric unicycle.

Assume you were cruising downtown and happened to pass a giraffe.  Would the giraffe stand our any more if it was wearing a pink shirt?

Yes, yes it would.  That would be a site to see :lol:

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10 hours ago, JimB said:

Jonathan, I think you're under the false impression that visible safety gear would make you stand out more than you already do.  Remember, you're riding an electric unicycle.

Assume you were cruising downtown and happened to pass a giraffe.  Would the giraffe stand our any more if it was wearing a pink shirt?

I'm suggesting that wearing a lot of visible safety gear may give off the impression that the wearer may be a good target to rob or harass.
Rightly or wrongly, to some people wearing lots of visible safety gear may suggest that a rider is either inexperienced, scared of getting hurt, or just a "dork". Most robberies/muggings are opportunist - the aggressors will choose targets that they perceive to be the easiest targets I.e less likely to resist.  A pack of lions is more likely to target what they deem to be easier prey. This may be a giraffe who is smaller, unfit, injured or wearing a pink t-shirt and so unable to blend into their surroundings :D

Edited by Jonathan Tolhurst
Grammar
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I agree with @dmethvin.

I usually cruise over longer distances, mostly near my EUC's maxspeed (except offroad of course, where it depends on the ground), and I nearly always wear helmet, gloves and elbow protectors. But in Austria this is usual, and e.g. wearing a helmet on a bicycle is even law (you can get fined by police, if they find you riding a bicycle without a helmet).

And although it is not law, but it is public consent that one wears gloves at biking, so I would say at least 2/3 of bicyclists wear gloves.

Nobody thinks about that, or feels overprotected, or is seen by others as "dork". It is just usual and normal.

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On 9/2/2017 at 11:11 AM, dmethvin said:

Maybe I'm lucky, I ride a lot in urban and suburban areas with quite a few people around and haven't encountered any aggressive people. I usually just wear a helmet and gloves but otherwise street clothes. If I were regularly off-roading at high speeds where the terrain is more unpredictable I would wear more protection. 

When approaching people facing you on the sidewalk, they often don't know what they should do. I usually slow down a lot but occasionally they decide to move in some random direction as if they're not sure if it's "safe" to let me pass so close. If there were more EUCs I think pedestrians would have a better idea what to do, similar to the ways pedestrians and bicycles interact in cities like Amsterdam. There's an unwritten choreography between the two that keeps the roads relatively safe if you act predictably.

Yes, acting predictably has been working for me.

I, now, always hand signal pointing the direction that I'm heading.

People understand this as they view what I'm riding and notice a finger direction.  Works well if done often and as much ahead as possible.  I thought of even buying a blinking glove, but found what I do effective.

I also talk to people.  Thank them on passing.

In Chicago, talking to people shows confidence.  Aggressors can be friended with the appropriate communications.

Then there is always flight.  Then fight.  

I haven't encountered the last two options.

Edited by Rocky Romero
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9 hours ago, Jonathan Tolhurst said:

I'm suggesting that wearing a lot of visible safety gear may give off the impression that the wearer may be a good target to rob or harass.
Rightly or wrongly, to some people wearing lots of visible safety gear may suggest that a rider is either inexperienced, scared of getting hurt, or just a "dork". Most robberies/muggings are opportunist - the aggressors will choose targets that they perceive to be the easiest targets I.e less likely to resist.  A pack of lions is more likely to target what they deem to be easier prey. This may be a giraffe who is smaller, unfit, injured or wearing a pink t-shirt and so unable to blend into their surroundings :D

I can see where you are coming from with this and had thought the same myself (maybe this is a British thing) . The EUC already attracts attention (some good, some bad) but then showing yourself to be overly concerned about your safety through an abundance of safety gear would suggest you to be a weak target willing to just hand over what they want rather than fight and risk injury. This, along with looking less dangerous to regular pedestrians and being able to walk into my office without undue attention is why I picked body armor that goes under my regular clothes. The full face helmet and wrist guards poking from my shirt sleeves still gives me away though. I also look less odd walking around the grocery store with all my gear hidden under regular clothes.

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sometimes I've ridden without a helmet, but now I always wear at least that. even if one is super-skilled you can't account for everything, i.e., some kid just running in front of you at the last second, car not paying attention, etc. but I do see what you're saying about standing out. I guess I just don't care!

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3 hours ago, WARPed1701D said:

 This, along with looking less dangerous to regular pedestrians and being able to walk into my office without undue attention is why I picked body armor that goes under my regular clothes. The full face helmet and wrist guards poking from my shirt sleeves still gives me away though. I also look less odd walking around the grocery store with all my gear hidden under regular clothes.

Clever.

Now, I'll have to find larger clothing.

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1 hour ago, radial said:

My experience is that people are LESS likely to mess with me if I'm all geared up, not more so.  The full face helmet, in particular, seems to keep people respectful and at a distance.  

Fundamentally that is sad.

Here's what I mean: The object is to interact with people.

They are not really being respectful.  They are fearful.

Wether you are geared up or not, you and I and everyone that glides has an extraordinary opportunity to connect with strangers that no other exchange permits.  More so than even walking side by side.

The casual, fleeting exchanges of comments, laughter and gratitude with strangers is unique and special.

True, I'm in a bigger city of Chicago.  It also has been a holiday weekend.  Lots of crowds in a downtown area. There are two of us gliding, my wife and I, and having fun.  No particular place to go. Just exploring. Daylight.

I have never experienced this in a car, or bus, or train, or roller blades, or bicycle, or running, or plane, or scooter, or motorcycle.  What came close was stuck on an elevator of the Willis Tower for half an hour with 20 other people making the best of it.

Only with gliding, do you and me and other gliders have a gift of a fleeting connection with another human being.

Almost eye to eye, smile to smile, hello to hello.

It's priceless.

 

Edited by Rocky Romero
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9 hours ago, MarkoMarjamaa said:

I don't wear any protection and typically ride among pedestrians slower than 10km/h.

Wearing protective gear might give pedestrians feeling that EUC is dangerous when it's not.

EUC can absolutely be/are dangerous even at slow speeds if a cutout or fall occurs.  

I worry more about my own safety now than what other people think or say about me.  After my most recent fall I will be gearing up now more so than ever.  Many of my accidents have occurred at very slow speeds.  Motorcycles are not dangerous either until someone cuts you off or runs you over.  

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1 hour ago, Acturbo said:

EUC can absolutely be/are dangerous even at slow speeds if a cutout or fall occurs.  

I worry more about my own safety now than what other people think or say about me.  After my most recent fall I will be gearing up now more so than ever.  Many of my accidents have occurred at very slow speeds.  Motorcycles are not dangerous either until someone cuts you off or runs you over.  

Having recently found my shoe laces tangled while walking resulting in a 3mph faceplant like fall on to concrete and subsequent wrist and hand xrays etc I can confirm you can badly injure yourself at slow speed. 3 weeks on my little/pinky finger still hurts.

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13 hours ago, Rocky Romero said:

Fundamentally that is sad.

Here's what I mean: The object is to interact with people.

They are not really being respectful.  They are fearful.

Wether you are geared up or not, you and I and everyone that glides has an extraordinary opportunity to connect with strangers that no other exchange permits.  More so than even walking side by side.

The casual, fleeting exchanges of comments, laughter and gratitude with strangers is unique and special.

True, I'm in a bigger city of Chicago.  It also has been a holiday weekend.  Lots of crowds in a downtown area. There are two of us gliding, my wife and I, and having fun.  No particular place to go. Just exploring. Daylight.

I have never experienced this in a car, or bus, or train, or roller blades, or bicycle, or running, or plane, or scooter, or motorcycle.  What came close was stuck on an elevator of the Willis Tower for half an hour with 20 other people making the best of it.

Only with gliding, do you and me and other gliders have a gift of a fleeting connection with another human being.

Almost eye to eye, smile to smile, hello to hello.

It's priceless.

 

I'm with you in spirit, @Rocky Romero .  My positive interactions with other folks on the streets and pathways where I ride are fun.  But communing with other folks isn't the only reason I'm out there riding my wheel, or even the most important one.  

I mostly ride because I enjoy the practically effortless and unrestricted sensation of motion involved with this form of transportation.  I could walk, cycle or drive from home to work, but I would rather cover those five miles on the wheel whenever I can.  

When I doing my commute, my first priority is safety.  I do what's necessary to keep myself safe and to minimize the chances of being a threat to anyone else's personal safety or property.  I have enough experience now that I know for me this involves wearing protective gear.  I don't think my getup terrifies anyone, but it probably does reinforce the idea that these machines aren't just harmless toys.  It's not going to be a good idea to dart out in front of me to ask a question like I can instantly decelerate from 15 mph to a dead stop.  Or to feel like it's okay to high-five me like I was just another firmly planted pedestrian.  Personally, I'm okay with that even if it seems a little unfriendly.  

Anyway, we all make up our own minds about this stuff.  There aren't any objectively right or wrong answers.  Vive la différence!

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The idea that wearing safety gear - either for visibility or protection - somehow "makes me a target" strikes me as absurd. Maybe it's a regional/cultural thing, but here in California, there is nothing the least bit odd about a bicyclist, motorcycle rider, or skater wearing protection and visibility gear.  Aside from that, there's nothing about looking the least bit odd (or a lot odd) that would attract aggression or opportunistic criminal attention here. People here generally don't have a problem with odd, and it's not taken as a sign of weakness.

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3 hours ago, WARPed1701D said:

Having recently found my shoe laces tangled while walking resulting in a 3mph faceplant like fall on to concrete and subsequent wrist and hand xrays etc I can confirm you can badly injure yourself at slow speed. 3 weeks on my little/pinky finger still hurts.

Yup same thing happened to me.  I ride my EUC to MCdonalds down the street from my work everyday, usually without any safety gear just due to how close it is.

Anyhow, went and grabbed a soda a couple weeks ago and upon leaving my feet got tangled in the EUC somehow and I face planted, catching myself with my hands.  My hand is still sore three weeks later and could have easily been broken.

These things are absolutely dangerous, more so than many other forms of transportation.  If your on a motorcycle and have engine trouble you coast to a stop.  If you have engine trouble on a EUC you hit the ground.  Same thing with a scooter etc.  EUC is the only form of motorized transportation that I'm aware of that throws you to the ground if there is a problem.............................................  

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23 minutes ago, kasenutty said:

The object of my ride is not interacting with people, Rocky, it's having a ride.

Same here.

It starts out with just having a fun ride.

I'm usually going sidewalk speed, which depends on the number of people.  Usually slow or almost to a crawl.

I now feel comfortable and safe in my ability to ride.  I have headgear only, sometimes gloves and lights blinking.

Once all that occurs, interacting with people is a magical experience.  Fleeting connections happen.  I may never see those people again and that's ok.

It seems to occur more frequently on weekends when people are more relaxed.

I bring it up as an experience unique to EUC and Segways.  Something that doesn't happen with any other form of transport that I have experienced.

It's also an attitude of being a gracious rider, simply because of towering over people, relaxing in a potentially confusing situation and willingness to first speak out and greet others.

Hope this lasts for me.

Edited by Rocky Romero
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48 minutes ago, Acturbo said:

EUC is the only form of motorized transportation that I'm aware of that throws you to the ground if there is a problem

Let's make you aware of a motorbike getting a flat tire at, say, 190km/h or in a tight turn, or rupture of the chain, or...

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2 hours ago, Shemp said:

The idea that wearing safety gear - either for visibility or protection - somehow "makes me a target" strikes me as absurd. Maybe it's a regional/cultural thing, but here in California, there is nothing the least bit odd about a bicyclist, motorcycle rider, or skater wearing protection and visibility gear.  Aside from that, there's nothing about looking the least bit odd (or a lot odd) that would attract aggression or opportunistic criminal attention here. People here generally don't have a problem with odd, and it's not taken as a sign of weakness.

I think it depends on the neighborhood, certain areas you wouldn't feel safe walking through for instance.  We used to call it the bad part of town.

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