Adventures in Urban Bicycling – Adjusting Equipment

till learning all the ins and outs of riding the city vs. the country.  There is one piece of equipment on my bike that I have to remind myself to use.

My mirror.

Riding in the country, traffic overtaking you is relatively infrequent.  Plus, the overall noise level there is lower.  I usually heard the cars/trucks coming.  None of which is true in the city.  Someone is constantly overtaking you.  There are more things that require your attention and the noise level is both higher and nearly constant.

Don’t even get me started on hybrid/electric vehicles.  Damn sneaky, they are.

With all of that, my mirror is a highly important part of my defensive riding.  Or it would be if I remembered to look at it.  It’s just not a habit right now.  Consequently, I spend way too much time repeating some variant of “Crap!  Where did you come from?”

I’m also fascinated by the folks who don’t believe bicycles have to obey traffic laws.  Particularly lights at intersections.  Now I will admit that I do not routinely come to a full and complete stop at stop signs.  I slow way down, and carefully check in all relevant directions.  It’s a hassle to stop, disengage my foot from the pedal, and teeter virtually en pointe.  If there is traffic, I always give them the right of way.  I understood that much of my physics courses.

But I come to a complete stop at a red light, and I wait till it turns green.  Turns out I’m one of the minority of riders who do so.  Every time I ride in the city, I see some take a quick glance and then sail through on the red.  They act as if that light doesn’t concern them at all.  I will note that a very high percentage of them are riding without a helmet too, which another form of stupidity IMHO.  I can only assume that their own safety is not concern #1.  Last week I came to a relatively busy intersection near the VCU campus and caught the red light.  I stopped and waited, as did the pickup truck going the opposite direction.  Suddenly, a rider appeared and sailed blithely through.  The light went green as I was still shaking my head in disgust.  As I and the truck passed each other, the driver leaned out the window and commented that rolling through lights like that struck him as a pretty good way to get killed.  I couldn’t agree more.

Experience tells me that there are plenty of folks out there who do not like sharing the road with bicycles.  One of the reasons is that riders don’t always behave in predictable ways.  Following traffic regulations may or may not be the law here in Virginia (but I’m betting it is).  It strikes me that it should be simple, common sense.  Behave consistently with the rest of traffic.  Live to ride another day.

Oh, and remember to check your mirror.

May was a very good riding month with 7 rides, including several stretch rides on the Cap2Cap.  My butt is getting used to the saddle and I hope to do my first RVA to Williamsburg ride in the next couple weeks.  Right now, I’m sidelined!  The straps on my bike carrier for the car have rotted and are getting replaced.

I track my riding using MapMyRide.

Ride Total – 11

Mileage Total – 134.56

Let’s roll.


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