Urban riding: anyone really love/hate it?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by shoeb, Sep 26, 2018.

  1. shoeb

    shoeb Long timer

    Feb 9, 2015
    Sheffield, England
    City riding. Rush hour splitting. The Stoplight GP. Bumper-to-bumper slow rides. Never getting past 3rd gear.

    Anyone get a kick out of urban riding or do you finding a necessary evil? Perhaps you manage to avoid it altogether?

    Post up if you have any strong feelings, and the reasons why you love/ hate it!

    My view; I commute every day right through a city centre. I used to think of it as the 'business' end of my biking life, but I'm increasingly coming to realise i quite enjoy the rough-and-tumble of city life and the skills I keep sharp to do it!
    lnewqban and atomicalex like this.
  2. kruzuki

    kruzuki Gear in the Machine

    Apr 2, 2008
    Thornhill, ON
    I like riding in big city traffic - it keeps me sharp and aware!
    Of course a nice country road is far better, but I think my skills are better put to the test in the city.
    Andrew, tire joe, Motonirvana and 6 others like this.
  3. BetterLateThanNever

    BetterLateThanNever Long timer

    Dec 31, 2014
    Ontario, Canada
    This. I live in the country, but keep a bike stashed in Toronto, and any daylight riding I do there isn't for pleasure. It's to keep me on my toes and help me hang on to whatever situational awareness I've got. I find that riding in the country, you kind of use 'soft eyes' to scan for threats, but in the city, you're keeping a specific inventory all the time, right down to the make and colour of that minivan that just disappeared from your mirrors. Everything happens fast, and close. At my age, I'd be afraid of losing that ability if I didn't practice.

    Riding in the city at night is a whole different kettle of fish. I just love it.
    concours, shoeb and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  4. VACommuter

    VACommuter Long timer

    Jul 11, 2009
    Yokosuka, Japan
    Necessary evil. I commuted for years on my collection of bikes and hacks in the area around Washington DC. Moved to Japan and commute daily. Found that I have become aggressive in my city riding and every so often I need to back off and dial it down a few notches. Usually after I clip some numb nuts side mirror or almost get taken out by a red light runner. However, Japanese drivers seem more aware and accommodating to motorcycle and scooter riders.
    Grestil and SmittyBlackstone like this.
  5. Tall Man

    Tall Man Priest, Temple of Syrinx

    Jul 14, 2007
    The Occident
    @kruzuki captured my thoughts pretty well. The pleasure of an isolated country ride is its own reward, whereas one has to be crisp when riding in an urban environment. I don't seek out the latter, but I know that it definitely requires me to think and to act with unwavering certainty.

    I recall reading a post on this forum, some years ago, in which the post's author stated his clear preference for city riding above all. He felt safe, and went on to say that being constantly surrounded (key word here) by vehicles provided him with a sense of being protected. In his view, and experience, prevailing traffic conditions disallowed anyone to get moving fast enough to cause injury or harm in a manner similar to a rogue driver on a country road. Since creep and crawl conditions tend to force the same vehicles to remain next or near to a motorcycle for some time, the thinking was that unanticipated driver behavior would be radically reduced since the drivers were clearly aware of the cyclist's presence.

    The preceding paragraph was typed from memory, but I'm certain I captured the spirit of the original post. It's an interesting perception, and one that I do still recall from time to time. My only quibble with it is that ever-expanding cell phone usage can dilute one's little theories about riding to the point of uselessness.
    SmittyBlackstone likes this.
  6. texag10

    texag10 Been here awhile

    Dec 2, 2013
    Front Range
    Depends on the temperature and prevalence of traffic lights, mainly temperature. I enjoy making steady progress safely and try to keep from being surprised by any weird/unsafe driving of those around me. It's a very useful game.
  7. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan from Scottsdale Supporter

    Oct 25, 2004
    Scottsdale Arizona
    Until last March I lived downtown Boston. I was intimidated riding at first but after awhile I got to enjoy it quite a bit, not unlike being a pedestrian. My fave downtown ride was a MZ Supermoto. It had mounds of torque and was flickable on contested city streets. I had a few scares at tough intersections but I learned from that. Drivers are hungry for your spot and they hate that you can take that spot so easily. It all worked out as long as I didn't try to defend my position or demonstrate animosity. One time I did when an older driver forced his way to move me aside. I held my line and he faded, letting me through after a close encounter... but then I "demonstrated". He came after me looking like he was willing to bumper punt me. I faded then and nothing happened. But my lesson is that you can never have a traffic confrontation with a car. Some of them will mow you down!
  8. windmill

    windmill Long timer

    Feb 18, 2008
    Kent, Washington State
    I really got a kick out of riding around NYC during business hours in my younger days. Now I enjoy riding around Seattle, but prefer doing it during off commute hours where traffic isn't too bad.

    One of my favorite "special" rides is riding around Seattle on a Sunday morning at first light on one of the longest days of the year. There's hardly anybody out and about, the city almost seems abandoned, it's kinda surreal.
  9. DesertPilot

    DesertPilot Been here awhile

    May 18, 2014
    Mountain View, CA
    It depends on the urb. Buffalo in the winter... I'd give that one a miss. Santa Barbara, riding past the beach on El Cabrillo Blvd on a warm summer evening... I can deal with that.
    brianpeck likes this.
  10. Neal J Hinerman

    Neal J Hinerman Been here awhile

    Aug 25, 2011
    I can enjoy a mile long ride to the grocery store complete with multiple traffic lights during rush hour. I'll still have a smile when I get there and when I get back.
  11. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Long timer

    Aug 31, 2012
    Phuket, Thailand
    I'm not bothered by getting around town on a small motorcycle.... easy to cut through traffic and to park..... way to go!

    The odd time I've been on a big bike in town I have found it a bit of a hassle, but still far preferable to sitting in traffic jams in a car.
    atomicalex and shoeb like this.
  12. neanderthal

    neanderthal globeriding wannabe

    Nov 26, 2006
    Here, but lost. Am I lost if i know i'm here?
    I enjoyed my commute in LA.

    Here in Texas, not so much.
    Grestil likes this.
  13. shoeb

    shoeb Long timer

    Feb 9, 2015
    Sheffield, England
    Fair points. I've noticed I didn't really start to enjoy city riding until I developed quite a thick skin about people's driving antics. Having done so much of it now I'm not shocked, upset or angry when drivers do daft or careless stuff (unless it really is moments-from-death material). I just think of it as part of the game!

    Filtering is a real zen discipline; calm amid chaos. I love that practice of keeping relaxed but at the peak of your awareness.
  14. Biddles

    Biddles Suck it easy!

    Oct 10, 2014
    LI NY
    I don't mind lane splitting as I would do it daily commuting, but on Friday I left NY to PA and traffic was so bad it must have been two hours of delays and I couldn't split with all the luggage on the bike. The amount of hand cramps really hurt the trip and later the next day I crashed into a deer. I can't really blame that traffic but that delayed the entire trip and instead of being at my planned destination hotel Saturday I was in the hospital. You se you tend to drive fasterto make up time you lost, and in my case I was out later than I planned riding at night in unfamiliar territory. So yes I hate urban riding. I cant wait to leave NY.
  15. WindBlast

    WindBlast Three chords and the truth.....

    Apr 1, 2007
    Philly is ova dere
    I lived in Los Angeles for 25 years and commuted fairly often, sometimes for hours a day. It was stressful lane-splitting even though I approached it like a sport. I arrived at work mentally tired. Definitely not enjoyable.
    KZJohn likes this.
  16. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

    Sep 6, 2011
    Depends a whole lot on the bike, to me. On a nimble, easy to park, easy to squirt through openings bike, it can be almost fun. On a big, ponderous, hot and heavy machine, not nearly so fun.
    Grestil, daveinva, TheProphet and 2 others like this.
  17. turbodmac

    turbodmac Been here awhile

    Aug 12, 2015
    Ventura County
    Living outside of DC (NoVa) and riding a dual sport, I avoided the city and traffic all the time. Nothing but country roads for me. Since moving West and getting a road bike I've slowly been using it for errands and appointments and therefore ending up in traffic more. I don't mind but I usually do my best to put a lot of distance between me and cars. Last night I tried splitting or "lane sharing" into LA for the first time. It was fun, exciting and a bit scary. In my first timer opinion, it seems most people are fine with letting you through. Of the ones that don't, they are usually on their phones or oblivious. I only saw a couple that I know saw me and didn't make room. It's definitely mentally tiring though.
    atomicalex likes this.
  18. Yossarian™

    Yossarian™ Deputy Cultural Attaché

    Jul 9, 2007
    the 'Ha
    I find it to be a great time riding a scooter in traffic in Genoa (ITA) or Barcelona (ESP) as the locals all expect to give way to you.
    shoeb likes this.
  19. TheProphet

    TheProphet Retired; Living the Dream

    Mar 7, 2014
    NW Illinois, Driftless Zone
    I live in a very Rural area, so mostly "country" riding. The tiny towns around here I wouldn't stretch to call "Urban", so they don't count. :-)

    I have ridden frequently in the past throughout Chicago, and in some areas it's enjoyable, others it seems like suicidal, or death wish style road use from all parties involved. The closer you get to the urban center ("downtown"), the more folks seem to be in a manic hurry, and stoplights/stop signs/signals are more a vague suggestion than a rule. Taxi and Bus drivers, in particular, appear to have been granted a license to kill. Not fun. :(
  20. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

    Apr 5, 2011
    Western Sierras
    I live in a rural part of California, but occasionally venture into the San Francisco Bay Area. I wouldn't want to do it every day, but I will say it is a thrilling experience. It really taxes all of my 20+ years of riding experience. Hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and I can't help think to myself "this is the real deal, keep sharp!"

    It isn't all 3rd gear slow traffic riding, either. Many times, heavy traffic flows at 80 mph or more. In the South Bay, there are lots of tech savvy drivers who are immigrant hi tech workers with very little driving experience. It is not uncommon for them to change multiple lanes, without signaling, while tapping away at their iPad sitting on the steering wheel.

    You really need to have your Spidey senses at full tilt. I know a few inmates here that live in those areas. I have no doubt they are better riders than I as a result.
    Andrew and shoeb like this.