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Old 04-09-2013, 02:33 PM   #1
luni OP
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City riding

I did a search and didn't see a topic dedicated to riding in cities. I live out in the sticks and I'm going to riding into Washington DC on a pretty regular basis. I've been riding for a couple years and I've ridden in dense areas, Long Island, Raleigh, bigger towns of 100,000+ people but never a tight packed city. I've caged in DC more times than I can remember and it's different as soon as you cross the city limits. From out of towners missing their turns and driving erratically to cabbies just making up their own rules entirely.

The question is, city guys, commuters, college kids, what are the special circumstances that make city riding different? What rules do you hold yourself to when driving in the city limits that keep you from getting in trouble? What advice would you give a new rider riding into the city the first time? I'm specifically referring to riding in the US but if people out of the county want to pitch in their 2 cents this can get general to benefit everyone cruising Perfect Line.
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I got a feeling the KTM would be like a hot girlfriend so fun to be with just not trust worthy.
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:39 PM   #2
LowInSlo
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Keep your wits about you, always have an escape route planned, manage your space when you can, expect the worst. Hey, you've driven there, you know. I rode in Boston and the area for a few years. You get good at low speed maneuvers for sure.

For me, it was all about flow, being part of the traffic flow, making sure I knew where the cars were, and being ready to move in a heart beat.

I liked it, much better than being in a car. More flexibility in moves, easier to get through jams as well. All you need is a 1/2 car width and you're off!
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Old 04-09-2013, 03:47 PM   #3
Riteris
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I live in DC but most of this would apply in most cities.

KEEP ALERT!!!















Tourists have never been to the big city, are lost and are scared they are going to die or get slipped a mickey. They don't care if you get hurt.

Immigrants (especially from the turd world) are special. They escaped the shithole where they came from and if they learned to drive in their former home, that place had different rules than us 'Mercans do. They don't care if you get hurt.


Cab drivers are morons. They will cross over three lanes or do a u-turn to get a fare. They don't care if you get hurt.

Bus drivers are stressed out by people on the bus, getting home on time and bothered by the fact that they cannot talk on the phone while driving anymore. They don't care if you get hurt.

Those drivers that drive the handicapped around town are working for job security by making new customers. They want you to get hurt.

Pedestrians NEED to get to work, get home from work, get to lunch, get to Starbucks, etc. They don't care if you get hurt.

People in cars just spent an hour getting into town from the shitburbs. It was stop and go traffic and they are late to get to work or to get home. They don't care if you get hurt.

Truck drivers need to unload their truck. They are not quite sure where they are going. They are running late because they sat in stop and go traffic and have several more stops to make. They don't care if you get hurt.

SUV drivers have bought into the advertising that it is just them in the safety of their SUV out alone in the wilderness where there are no rules. They don't care if you get hurt.

Cops are not there to support safety issues. They are there to raise revenue. They don't care if you get hurt.

Bicyclists (especially couriers) do not have to ride in a straight line, the street or the right direction.Cops are not there to support safety. They are there to raise revenue. They don't care if you get hurt.

NOBODY out there sees you. If they do, you are just one more hindrance in their every day lives. You are an inturruption to their cell phone call. You are going to take their parking space. You are going to get in their way when you stop in front of them at the red light in the right turn lane. They want to get out of their car on their schedule. The fact that you are in the lane does not matter.


Other than that, the usual stuff:


Look where drivers around you are looking, because that is where they are going to go.

Don't expect any help from other drivers in the form of courtesy or turn signals.

Stopping at red lights is optional.

Stopping at a right turn on red is asking for trouble.

When traffic flow slows or stops, things can get crazy. It becomes every man for themselves.

Other than that, have fun. I actually like riding in the city if things are going well.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:06 PM   #4
el queso
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luni View Post
What rules do you hold yourself to when driving in the city limits that keep you from getting in trouble?.
Remember that everybody is out to kill you.
Quote:
Originally Posted by luni View Post
What advice would you give a new rider riding into the city the first time?
Remember that everybody is out to kill you.

Yeah, sounds like I'm joking, but when I commute (in L.A.) I ride as if everybody was out to get me.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:07 PM   #5
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Keep your radar up, cover the brakes, stay loose, keep your distance, be prepared swerve, expect the unexpected.

And most important of all - drive slow. Towns are not for racing or being reckless. It's not just about you getting hurt - a child could run out between the cars chasing a cat or good knows what. That's not something I'm prepared to live with. Save the fast stuff for the back-roads.
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Old 04-09-2013, 04:25 PM   #6
luni OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Riteris View Post
I live in DC but most of this would apply in most cities.
Thank you! A lot of good points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by el queso View Post
Remember that everybody is out to kill you.
That's how I usually ride. I think the difference will be the frequency of those vehicular manslaughter attempts. I expect as many incidents in 10 blocks as I'm used to seeing in 10 miles.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue&Yellow View Post
And most important of all - drive slow.
This. Being ready to goose the throttle to take my place in traffic or dodge an opening door or rogue bus is not the same as lane splitting wringing out second gear.

A coworker once told me the "trick" was to go so fast that you passed everyone before they had a chance to cut you off. That was also how he got so safe that he didn't need ATGATT
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I got a feeling the KTM would be like a hot girlfriend so fun to be with just not trust worthy.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blue&Yellow View Post
And most important of all - drive slow. Towns are not for racing or being reckless. It's not just about you getting hurt - a child could run out between the cars chasing a cat or good knows what. That's not something I'm prepared to live with. Save the fast stuff for the back-roads.
Totally disagree. That's a great way to get run over.

I usually ride a little faster than the regular traffic. That way you generally only need to worry about what's in front of you.

I am NOT promoting hooligan riding here. Just a brisk pace.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:40 PM   #8
foxtrapper
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I used to live and ride in Washington DC. Did it for years. So many I became quite comfortable with city riding.

Be alert, as another said. That's it fundamentally.

To that end, my favorite piece of city gear was a shorty helmet, just like the cops wear. It doesn't interfere with my vision, and lets me hear far more. Just like walking through the city. Try walking around there in the city with a full face helmet on your head. Skip the strange looks you'll get, you'll simply find it much harder to do because of how much you don't see, and how much you don't hear.

Should you find yourself being overwhelmed by it all (it happens), pull over and rest up for a bit. Regather your wits and continue riding. Riding overwhelmed in the city is a pretty good recipe for getting hit.

Good news about getting hit in the city is that while it's painful, it's far less likely to be fatal.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:49 PM   #9
JimVonBaden
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I ride in DC pretty often. What Riteris said is good.

Jim
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:00 PM   #10
wiseblood
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Keep your head up. If a big vehicle is in front of you, try to look through his windows to see what's ahead. Be aware of "odd" changes in traffic behavior. One lane moving slow might mean an obstruction ahead you cannot yet see.

+1 for moving more swiftly that prevailing traffic. Don't blend in! Assume the guy next to you will suddenly merge into you.

Don't be at the end of a line of stopped traffic! Split traffic if you have to, but don't be a meat sandwich. Leave more room in front.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:04 PM   #11
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Don't be at the end of a line of stopped traffic! Split traffic if you have to, but don't be a meat sandwich. Leave more room in front.
On lane splitting, is it generally accepted that hey if your bike fits it's fair game or is that a quick way to catch a door broadside?

I won't hesitate to lane split to get out of a dangerous situation but ending up getting pinched in traffic isn't much better.
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I got a feeling the KTM would be like a hot girlfriend so fun to be with just not trust worthy.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:10 PM   #12
JimVonBaden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luni View Post
On lane splitting, is it generally accepted that hey if your bike fits it's fair game or is that a quick way to catch a door broadside?

I won't hesitate to lane split to get out of a dangerous situation but ending up getting pinched in traffic isn't much better.
Lane splitting is not only not legal in DC, but it can piss off other motorists. You can get away with curbing for a turn, but do not try to filter to the front. For traditional lane splitting, I wouldn't go directly between two cars, but if you can swerve/split you can usually get away with it. The key is not to make anyone feel forced to use their brakes because of your splitting.

Jim

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Old 04-09-2013, 06:30 PM   #13
wiseblood
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luni View Post
On lane splitting, is it generally accepted that hey if your bike fits it's fair game or is that a quick way to catch a door broadside?

I won't hesitate to lane split to get out of a dangerous situation but ending up getting pinched in traffic isn't much better.
Very much not legal, aside from California. Lucky bastards.

Doesn't stop me from doing it. I try hard not to piss people off. Folks in the city are much more accepting of lane splitting than folks in rural areas, in my experience.
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Old 04-09-2013, 11:29 PM   #14
Blue&Yellow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duck View Post
Totally disagree. That's a great way to get run over.

I usually ride a little faster than the regular traffic. That way you generally only need to worry about what's in front of you.

I am NOT promoting hooligan riding here. Just a brisk pace.
That's actually what I was trying to say - I probably could have been clearer.

I also like to ride a little bit faster than regular traffic - say 5 mph faster. And I like to ride "in-and-out" of traffic - meaning that sometimes I'll be a part of the traffic flow (making it quite clear that is MY lane now) and then sometimes I'll slip between cars or around a car when it suits.

The message I'm trying to get across is simply not to drive like an asshole or expecting cars and people to stay in place.

You see a lot of bikes in the city that fly by stopped cars or standing traffic. Don't do that.... sooner or later one of those "parked cars" at the side of the road will make a u-turn in front of you. Sooner or later one of those cars at the stoplight will open a door. Sooner or later one of those iphone addicts will walk out right in front of you completely clueless.

Keep a big margin of safety so that you have the chance to brake or swerve - don't pass others with great speed and don't depend on others to stay in place for you to be able to keep your speed.
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Old 04-10-2013, 03:42 AM   #15
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Lane Splitting: Not legal in any state, including CA. The difference is that in CA it is not ILLEGAL. Subtle difference. The CA traffic laws simply don't address it, so it is accepted. The California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP) has recently released Lane Splitting Guidelines if anyone is interested. It has some good tips:

http://www.chp.ca.gov/programs/lanesplitguide.html

That being said, lane splitting anywhere but CA is (IMHO) nuts. Think of it this way: CA drivers are used to lane splitting riders, even if some don't like it, and they accept it. You can't say that about drivers anywhere else. I rode and communted on a bike in DC for several years, 100 mile round trip every day, M-F. The drivers there and everywhere else aren't used to lane splitting and aren't expecting it. If you think CA drivers get pissed sitting in traffic and watching bikes go by, then imagine what the over-stressed idiot drivers in DC might do. Obviously everyone has to assess their own risks. I regularly ride in CA (LA in particular) and love lane splitting, especially at rush hour on the 405, but I won't try it anywhere else. Even if you do survive, you're bound to have a nice chat with local law enforcement eventually...
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