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Offline Bludy L

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Strategies for commuting in traffic
« on: September 25, 2015, 12:57:06 pm »
For the past 34 years I was living in rural Maine. The two biggest traffic jams I encountered were: 1. the school crossing in Orono that could sometimes hold me up for 5 minutes (really drove me crazy), 2. traffic around the Bangor Mall at Christmas. So no really traffic for me on the TTSE.

I recently retired and moved to Wooster, OH. The first thing I did once I retired was accept a part-time instructor at Kent State University. This requires me to commute through Akron on I-76 twice a week. I'm lucky that the one class I teach is at 12:30 pm, so I go though Akron in the late morning and return in the early afternoon. Plenty of traffic but not crazy. Still coming from my experience it's a bit harrowing.

After doing this for a month my strategy is this. I try to be one of the faster vehicles on the road and blast through to open spaces, as open as I can find, and basically just try and avoid cars. A fall back is to slow down and fall behind traffic congestion.

What do you all do?


My mother asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said "a biker". She said I'd have to choose one or the other.

Offline nervouswreck

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Re: Strategies for commuting in traffic
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2015, 02:29:15 pm »
BludyL I sort of do the same.    I try to outrun the traffic and find a nice open spot and try to stay away from others.   This can't always be done due to the amount of traffic but it works most of the time.   I can never figure out why people like to travel in groups with others they don't even know.

Offline w8d4it

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Re: Strategies for commuting in traffic
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2015, 03:18:14 pm »
When you live near a madhouse like Houston my strategy is to take a car for most city drives.  People in this city don't look when they drive and they don't care the consequences. They are the most dangerous and inconsiderate drivers I've ever encountered and I've driven on every continent except Africa and Antarctica.  There is at least one motorcycle death a week in the paper.  And accidents, even when serious injury is involved, are only considered an inconvenience.  I have nothing but disgust for Houston drivers. 

Having said that, if I have to ride through Houston, my main strategy is to make sure I'm seen by other drivers.  Cutting in and out of lanes, blasting through open spaces, etc is (at least around here) a good way to get killed.
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Offline twowheeladdict

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Re: Strategies for commuting in traffic
« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2015, 03:31:31 pm »
I add extra LED lighting to my commuting/touring bikes, and wear HI VIS gear to help those who are partially looking to actually see me.  Skenedesign lights have a flicker that gets peoples attention without being illegal. 

I will typically travel in the fast lane and will never allow myself to be boxed in.  What I mean by this is that I won't move into the blind spot of the car in the next lane unless I know for sure that I can pass through it.  I will linger back where I am safe if the cager decides to change lanes.

I also won't allow cars to tailgate me.  My rear Skenedesign lights flash when I apply the brakes and that usually sends the appropriate message to the tailgater.  If it doesn't, I either slow down so they get the hint and pass me, or I physically turn around and stare them down even though they can't see my eyes behind my face shield.

I also never tailgate the vehicles in front of me which also sends a message to those behind me. 

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Offline plgoddard

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Re: Strategies for commuting in traffic
« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2015, 03:38:43 pm »
As unpopular as it may be among cagers, blasting through open spaces and the like is actually a good way to stay seen. Pisses some cagers off, sure -- and that introduces another risk all on its own, especially in a place where so many people are packin heat. Meaning if the negligent cager won't crush you with his vehicle, perhaps he might just take you out with a bullet.

Generally, Bludy L, my strategy is to keep moving. I wish lane splitting were legal, I would do it (VERY cautiously).

You asked what others do. I like what twowheeladdict wrote and generally follow what he does about tailgating.

I take advantage of open spaces, but I'm hesitant to 'blast' through open spaces because it doesn't take much for someone else to assume it's their open space to blast through and ruin my day.

I try to stay very visible -- traffic delays (construction, accidents, etc.) introduce an increased level of distractions (e.g., cell phone usage), so I use the opportunity to weave in my lane to keep everyone (including myself!) alert. BTW, heavy traffic can sometimes be a good time to practice slow-speed balance and maneuvering -- e.g., trail your rear brake and see how slowly you can go without touching down.

I keep an eye on what's happening behind me almost as much as what's going on up front.

If I can't keep moving and it starts to get hot or uncomfortable, I "gently" zip in and out and pray no one is in a Really bad mood.  :159:

Offline Zebraranger

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Re: Strategies for commuting in traffic
« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2015, 03:49:55 pm »
At many times here in the Tampa Bay area you'd think you were in Manhattan with the bumper to bumper traffic. Many times off the interstate on roads around the city its gridlock. Trying to find open space is a serious challenge sometimes, but its always what I'm looking for. I too drive my truck most of the time in the city because of the daily accident and death rate here for riders. People are just not paying attention to the road, they're phone takes priority over everything.

Offline w8d4it

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Re: Strategies for commuting in traffic
« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2015, 06:02:31 pm »
I realize my previous comment may make me look paranoid but thus far in 2015 I have been run off the road (but managed to keep control of the bike),  one actual accident (in a car and not my fault other driver ran a stop sign) and an incident in which I had to drop the bike to avoid being hit by a person running a stop sign.   The car accident gave my 15 year old son a concussion. If we had been on a bike likely both of us would be dead.  It is one thing to be hit yourself but your perspective really changes when your child gets hurt.  After 40 years of riding it seems I spent 95% of  my time on the road worrying about the other drivers.  And the 5% I don't worry about the other drivers I worry that I should be worrying. 
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Offline Studley

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Re: Strategies for commuting in traffic
« Reply #7 on: September 25, 2015, 06:07:55 pm »
My tactics are 5 - 10 above flow of traffic. I want to face new events from the front not coming from the rear, front, & sides. Second tactic is I ride for the open spaces and I will hang in that open space until it starts to close in on me. Then I will move on to a new open space. Fast lane only for me. I want to limit the number of options they have to come get me. [A policy I adopted after an animal strike. If he is coming for me he has to cross shoulder plus however many lanes there are in between. Hopefully that extra bit of time provides me some options for evasive action.]

I am willing to pay the fine for my safety. Earlier this month coming into San Diego I passed a Homeland Security SUV with "Police" emblazoned on the back tailgate at ~85 in a 65. I was traveling with the flow and had numerous vehicles jamming me from behind until they saw the "Police" signage. To be clear he was traveling at ~ 84. After 10 minutes of being mistreated by locals I was prepared for a roadside chat, a citation and or discussion with a magistrate if necessary. Once in front of him it was clear sailing in open space for ~ 15 minutes cause no one else was prepared to pass him.

IMO Safety is primary directive and all tactics to achieve that are on the table.

Studley

 



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