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Spring is coming, and with it new riders

Spring rush is almost here. I'm betting that once again it will seem like more riders than ever are out on the streets, and I couldn't be more excited. I just want to remind everyone to stay positive: I've had a fair number of "cycle curious" people ask me about biking recently, and I always try to highlight how fun it is, along with the more serious benefits of exercise, saving money, polluting less, etc. We all like to complain on this board when the times call for it, but I truly believe that cycling is getting much easier in Pittsburgh every year. Besides new infrastructure, more bikers on the road has meant that I've felt comfortable in many situations I might not have a few years ago because vehicles generally treat me more respectfully. I also want to remind everyone that this is a critical period for helping to set the tone of safe cycling behavior. A couple months ago I end up riding home with somebody who had just moved here from San Fransisco. At every stop sign, he blithely pedaled through after a quick check, while I stopped at each one, sprinting to catch up with him in the next block. People who are new to cycling around here should be having these kinds of culture clashes if they're cycling improperly, and we can maintain the generally good cycling behavior I've observed by acting as an example for newer riders.
2014-03-28 10:04:29
[cycnicism warning] Oh joy, the rusty-chained, dork-disc'd, salmon are about to spring upon us. I can't wait. [end cynicism] In all seriousness, I do look forward to seeing new riders, I just hate all the bad ones that initially show up. It's like being a gym rat in January.
2014-03-28 10:17:30
I never started riding. I actually just have done it forever since the dawn of time.
2014-03-28 11:18:18
Checked the forecast for next week, looks pretty nice for a change. Woo-hoo! I really like to see is the slow, slightly wobbly riding of out of shape first-timers. Means people don't feel like they have to be superman to try it out. Aside: I find I have a tendency to go faster, legally and not, when visibility and traction are better. Classic risk/reward right time v danger? More breeze = less accumulating sweat? Or maybe the warm weather just makes me more relaxed and my unconscious desire to just zing around and have fun takes over? Dunno, anyone else notice the same thing in their riding habits? Just curious. Anyways, setting the tone for new riders, that's a good thing to keep that in mind... to do less of the truly egregious stuff at least.
2014-03-28 11:21:16
Can we still go through stop signs without stopping if we look both ways and can clearly see there's no cars in or approaching the intersection?
2014-03-28 11:40:18
Can we still go through stop signs without stopping [...] No. You should at least make a pretense of stopping/slowing, even if you then pedal on through. It's a good example (and a good habit).
2014-03-28 11:49:06
I forgot to add that I do generally slow down when looking both ways. There aren't many occasions I can go through them at full speed
2014-03-28 11:53:37
I'm slow, wobbly, and out of shape.
2014-03-28 12:08:41
@Ted - a good message. This morning I was riding near a rather longlegged young woman near the Terminal building, who was riding with her seat about a foot too low. I really wanted to tell her she would be more comfortable with it raised, but I didn't, since I didn't want to freak her the hell out. Point of the story, I guess look for kind, gentle, and non-threatening opportunities to give helpful comments.
2014-03-28 12:22:28
I treat stop signs as yield signs. I stop when a) traffic is present, b) visibility is limited, and c)it's not a four way stop. Otherwise, I slow down a good bit and pedal backwards to show that I'm "idling." But, I don't always stop nor do I see a reason to. I understand that legally, a full stop is a full stop. I just don't see the point when I'm traveling <5mph on a ~200# bike/rider. Traveling at 15mph plus and slowing down to >5mph is a different scenario entirely (in my mind).
2014-03-28 12:33:20
Everyone sets their bar some place different, but I think very few would call slowing down and looking both ways, but not stopping at a stop, egregious. The egregious stuff I had in mind was like, say, what I did this morning on 5th coming down through the birmingham bridge/kirkpatrick street area. Filtered between the two lanes, slowed, cut in just behind the last left turner (a Pittsburgh left, of course) from the bridge, sprinted to use it as a lateral screen from traffic entering from Kirkpatrick (which already had the green), riding to its left, the slotting just behind after a quick check. It was and generally is an effective as a way to keep the speed up, reduce stress on the little rise on 5th before the gentle descent into town, and to hit the green wave on all of that even if you've got a headwind... I've done it more times than I will admit to in a public forum. But it's the sort of thing I shouldn't be doing at all, and the fact that I'd be making an example of it to some new riders, too... well, maybe that'll be enough to get me to stop... maybe.
2014-03-28 12:58:08
I put some of that high school Drama class to good use, miming, making it look like I'm struggling to get back up to speed after a stop sign that I sloweddownawholelotfor. Said acting lesson is incompatible with flying through it at speed, but to the casual observer, I Must Have Stopped.
2014-03-28 13:27:22
Drewbacca wrote:I treat stop signs as yield signs. I stop when a) traffic is present, b) visibility is limited, and c)it’s not a four way stop. Otherwise, I slow down a good bit and pedal backwards to show that I’m “idling.” But, I don’t always stop nor do I see a reason to. I understand that legally, a full stop is a full stop. I just don’t see the point when I’m traveling <5mph on a ~200# bike/rider. Traveling at 15mph plus and slowing down to >5mph is a different scenario entirely (in my mind).
Idaho surprising has some of the best bike laws. Bikes are to just yield at stop signs if nobody is there, but stop if somebody is. This is very logical and is the way I ride. However, I stop at every red light. I feel drivers treat one better when they obey the laws. I even notice when I have to jump out of the bike lane such as the awful Liberty avenue one that drivers will most likely always let me merge in since I am doing the speed and cycle legally and properly. But man. I can't stand waiting properly at a red light and then some guy rumbles through a red light without even looking and most likely no helmet. It is cyclist like this that cause more animosity from drives to cyclist.
2014-03-28 14:03:07
ShooFlyPie wrote:Idaho surprising has some of the best bike laws.
Idaho also allows the yielding of stop lights by cyclists. It's really an incredible state, from the point of view of their bike laws.
2014-03-28 15:58:05
I always stop at red lights. Depending on the light, I will either treat it as a red light or sometimes a stop sign (when it is clear it won't be changing for me).
2014-03-28 18:05:59
Next aspect of n00b riders: Riding on the sidewalk. It's safer for everyone if they'd just get out in traffic, but it's a learned art. How best to approach them about it?
2014-03-28 19:02:09
StuInMcCandless wrote:Next aspect of n00b riders: Riding on the sidewalk. It’s safer for everyone if they’d just get out in traffic, but it’s a learned art. How best to approach them about it?
I think it's mostly a matter of leading by example. If I say anything to such a person, it's just to make sure that they know that they have a legal right to use the road.
2014-03-28 20:38:37
I would also say that it's a matter of picking your battles, too. If they're riding on a little-used stretch of sidewalk why bother? But if they're riding on a busy sidewalk and dodging pedestrians left and right read 'em the riot act.
2014-03-28 22:28:26
Ugghhhh sidewalk cyclist annoy the hell out of me! I walk my toddler son around Squirrel Hill all the time and had a few incidents with sidewalk cyclist. Learn how to hit the road and maneuver with traffic. Edit-I will use the sidewalk in very limited circumstances. One is going up the hill of Federal. One great climb, but unfortunately for some reason I always get passed very close on this street even though there is plenty of room to pass me safely. Since I am going so slow I will hit the sidewalk for a portion of the uphill battle, but this sidewalk is never used.
2014-03-29 09:26:20
I was thinking of downtown, near Forbes and Grant. I have to cross the diagonal (Frick Building to City-County) daily, and at least 2-3 times out of 10, someone's on the sidewalk. That's busy there, and clearly a business district. Federal has a sidewalk? Oh, you must be talking about the "level" area near the library. I just take the f'ing lane, at least six feet or more to the left of the string of parked cars, and don't give an inch. Above Henderson, if there's a sidewalk, it's unusable by people, let alone bikes.
2014-03-29 17:44:25
Coming out of the central North Side past Henderson St on Federal there isn't a sidewalk for a while. Starting at what would be the 1900 block up to Lafayette St. there is a sidewalk. I get back on the street at Lafayette. This is still on a very steep section, and one of my favorite hills to climb. This is probably the only place I ever hit a sidewalk and that is only after having one or two close passes. No, I would never take the sidewalk on the level section. That is a busy section.
2014-03-29 19:06:54
Veering back somewhat to "new riders", I think the best practice might be modeling good behaviors (whatever that means for you), being welcoming and positive, offering assistance if needed, and answering questions if asked. I'm not so sure the noobs need high-experience folks coming over and telling them what they should be doing. They're going to have a learning curve and that's OK. The joy of cycling will sell biking. Instead of frowning at them or rolling eyes at them (which nobody has suggested), we could be smiling/waving, saying Hello. If they're pulled over, asking if they need anything. Generally, letting them know they are welcome. I would think that approaching people with a fast tutorial on Idaho laws, taking the lane, sidewalks, critical mass, and types of clipless-with-clips shoes might be a less-than-optimal support pattern. We're just happy they're out there and want them to build a new habit.
2014-03-30 08:15:29
Vannevar wrote:I’m not so sure the noobs need high-experience folks coming over and telling them what they should be doing. They’re going to have a learning curve and that’s OK. The joy of cycling will sell biking.
Well, I kind of slightly disagree. I think FOC does excellent job in this sense by getting noobs and shortening a learning curve. This is just a good example of setting some patterns (follow the traffic law, which lane to use, use roads, etc). And it is all while having fun.
2014-03-30 10:36:41
Hi Mikhail! I agree with you, I think FOC does a superb job of that. What I was trying to address was this notion of experienced riders just going over to noobs uninvited and setting them straight, in a sort of best-practices-evangelism. At FOC, which I love and was sorry to have missed the last ride, the participants choose to come out, get a non-burdensome briefing and learn so much, in a brief time, in a friendly way. Flock Rocks! Also, btw Mikhail, I had a chance last week to spend some time in a Russian expat community and it brought to my mind your comments about footwear!
2014-03-30 11:19:21
How about the noobs riding and trying to talk on their smartphones at the same time? Not on a bluetooth headset, mind you, but head scrunched to shoulder? Is it okay to lecture those guys, or should I just take some solace that eventually they'll just drop their phone and smash it into a million pieces? Because I've seen five of those guys today and it's taken all my self-control not to scream at them.
2014-04-03 12:02:15
I've been thinking about this a bit and I think one of the best ways to reach people and the single best way to encourage more transportation cycling is just to smile while you're out there. Generally people aren't on the fence about things much, and when they're not there's not much chance of reaching them, but if you look look approachable they may approach you! And... if people look happy while cycling, I think those who don't are a lot more likely to consider doing it than if they primarily see, say, a face of grim determination (guilty, esp while climbing).
2014-04-03 12:27:07
Mr. Destructicity wrote:How about the noobs riding and trying to talk on their smartphones at the same time?
I ride all year in rain, snow, ice, whatever, and I've certainly taken a call while riding. Some times you just don't feel like stopping I guess...and I never have my BT headset with me. My phone is maybe I'll just call some people on my way home in the rain tonight :D
2014-04-03 16:03:00
mattjackets wrote:How about the noobs riding and trying to talk on their smartphones at the same time?
Not a noob, but, oops, guilty. Mr. Bad Example (oh I think I hear the click click of a piezo flame ignitor).
2014-04-03 17:16:02
Using a mobile while biking is kinda like doing it while driving. The only difference is that it'll probably be you who gets run over. I don't answer calls on the bike, figuring that if it's really all that important the caller will probably leave a message. If later I hear the message dingy I might stop and listen to it. Unless, of course, I'm really enjoying the ride; I mean, what's could possibly be more important than that? [ Over the years I feel like I've developed sense for which cars passing by I should pay more attention to. After a while I realized that, more often than not, those drivers were on their phone: on some gut level you notice that they're not completely in control. Kind of how a lot of the people barreling through red lights are on the phone... ]
2014-04-03 18:01:54
I'll answer a call or even send a text. Bike or car (ducking)... at a light, people!
2014-04-04 07:15:27
Texting is probably legal on a bike in pennsylvania, it's only specifically banned while operating 'motor vehicles'. Not saying it's a good idea.
2014-04-04 08:45:13
I got a completely unsolicited email from one of our institutional clients today and my brain was freaking out, eyes watered up a little. I can't say which institution it is, but it is a well known and respected private school in Western PA, leaders: "As plans progress of the [new facility] it would be great if a protected area for bikes was considered. We have for the second day in a row a full bike rack plus 2 near the middle school!" !!!!
2014-04-08 05:32:42
With drivers on the phone, bike riders on the phone, and sometimes even with inattentive pedestrians, I'll point, make a "talking-on-the-phone" gesture and do my best eye roll, SMDH. In Oakland, there are plenty of young people who won't walk anywhere without a cell phone conversation going - and for South Oakland at night, this is wise. Main campus in daylight? Silly. But a lot of them are habituating themselves for awful driving habits. "Leave the house, turn on the phone. Talk until you arrive."
2014-04-08 10:54:54
Bumping, it's that time of year again. Without trying to reignite a discussion about stop signs, I'd like us to remember that a positive attitude is best for getting new people into biking.
2015-04-06 14:46:17
No helmets!
2015-04-06 15:08:15
@jonawebb: Won't somebody THINK of the CHILDREN!!!1
2015-04-06 17:50:55
I didn't read this thread. Probably should have. I thought winter was coming. I just wanted to make a game of thrones joke.
2015-04-07 19:43:29
But a little bird told me it was spring. I got a flat tire today. It was dragon glass.
2015-04-07 21:01:02
A version of this showed up on the "winter weather" thread. Right after it abruptly shut down. Coincidence?
2015-04-08 19:56:03
I'm kind of sad that ice was melted down
2015-04-08 21:09:53
Not me.
2015-04-08 21:49:45