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Thread: Help for new biker with concerns for bike safety and general wimp factor

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    Default Help for new biker with concerns for bike safety and general wimp factor

    Hi,
    I started commuting toward the end of last year but stopped when the weather got chilly and dark. I'd like to start biking again and not stop. First question, best thing you bought that kept you warm and/or conspicuous to drivers and other bikers during the cold months? Second question, recognizing I might not want to head into the Mall every single morning due to the distance, I want to give myself the option of biking to a metro station. I could bike to either East Falls Church, Ballston or Virginia Square (all about the same distance). Is one more or less apt to have a bike theft and, what can I do to secure my bike (best lock, best way to lock, etc.). And third, my commute takes me from the Chain Bridge along the canal past Jack's Boathouse, straight onto Water Street onto Rock Creek Parkway/trails. When I pass under Georgetown (on Water Street), there is no traffic in the early morning so it's no problem. In the afternoon, though, it's packed with cars, bikes and people. I've tried the walkway but there are a lot of tourists strolling by. When I'm on the street, though, no cars seem to know what to do with a bicyclist and pull up beside me and then turn into my path. Maybe, as a newbie, I don't know the right etiquette. If anyone rides this short stretch of roadway and has some advice, I'd really appreciate it!
    Thanks for helping out someone who is just at the beginning of a long biking career!

  2. #2
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    1) Warm - a nice pair of cycling gloves. You probably won't need them much longer though. Conspicuous - a bright rear flasher. Planet Bike or Portland Design Works make a great product.

    2) East Falls Church has tons (maybe 100 racks?) of bike parking so a bike would "hide" well there. Virginia Square has secure bike lockers provided by WMATA. If you get one you can just roll your bike into a little "shed" and close the door. Ballston is probably the least safest with a lot of people coming through. Anytime you lock up anywhere, use a U-lock through the frame.

    3) Take the lane. Don't ride in the gutter to invite cars to have space to push you off to the side.

    I'll also put in a plug for Two Wheel Tuesdays sessions (www.BikeArlington.com/TWT), which are going on now. These types of questions (and more!) would be covered in depth at one of these meet ups.

  3. #3
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    Tim's advice is all good (although he didn't mention obtaining a Bike Arlington safety vest!). There are also bike lockers at East Falls Church.

    I had a bike stolen five years ago at Ballston. It looked like a brazen mid-day heist -- when I got back in the afternoon, the bike parking area was strewn with destroyed locks (all varieties) and suspiciously few bikes. The bike parking area is right next to a taxi stand and a bus circle, so there must have been witnesses. If you have an old "beater" bike, you can park it anywhere with a good lock, but if you have something worth protecting, I'd advise you get a locker at one of the stations where that is available.

    Liz

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    I had my bike stolen at Ballston (the one day I forgot my U-lock and used a cable lock). A neighbor had his bike stolen there. I once saw two Mormon kids out doing their missions - you know, those kids in ties on bikes - looking at two snipped cable locks where their bikes had been, at Ballston.

    There's a really bad problem there, and the police ought to put out warnings signs about using U-locks and maybe some cameras to catch, or at least deter, thieves.

    I don't know about the other stations, but I think thieves go wherever the bikes are. The main factor is your lock, not your location.

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    dasgeh's Avatar
    dasgeh is offline Queen of Family Biking & All Things Kidical
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    What is up with Ballston? It seems to be the center of crime in Arlington...

    Anyhoo... great advice on everything. I just wanted to ask where you're biking to and from? There may be an option for you to bypass Water Street (aka that street under the Whitehurst Freeway) altogether in the afternoons.

    Welcome and happy biking.

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    Warm and bright: Endura Gridlock jacket in yellow. I wear mine all winter with an Endura merino wool baselayer. Has a tab on the back for a light.
    A great confidence builder is bike to work day, May 17th. There should be a meet up in your area.
    Good luck with your commuting!

  7. #7
    DismalScientist is online now I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    1) Don't forget headlights. I use cheap Chinese LED flashlights bought off ebay. One on the handlebar and the other tied to my helmet with a piece of bike tube. Others on the forum no doubt scoff at my cheapness.

    2) As an alternative to Metro, consider taking the bus. That way you take your bike with you and don't need to lock up at a Metro station.

    3) There's no pressure to bike all winter. There is no shame in bailing out with the bus or Metro when it is too cold or wet for your comfort. (Unless, of course, you are in the Freezing Saddles competition.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by corm0407 View Post
    Hi,
    1) Best thing you bought that kept you warm?
    2) Conspicuous?
    3) East Falls Church, Ballston or Virginia Square?
    4) Best lock?
    5) Georgetown?
    1) Pearl Izumi thermal socks and soft shell PRO WXB booties... toasty!
    2) Knog Pulsar rear light, + all the cool free swag from BikeArlington.
    3) East Falls Church, lots of racks, lockers, less foot traffic and loitering.
    4) I use a kryptonite NY standard U-Lock, very happy with it.
    5) As Tim stated, take the lane.... don't give drivers an inch or else they'll take a mile. You will probably be traveling at traffic speed anyway.

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    dasgeh is offline Queen of Family Biking & All Things Kidical
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    And - are you a woman? If so, WABA wants to help you bike more...
    Last edited by dasgeh; 04-03-2013 at 02:36 PM. Reason: links help

  10. #10
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    The trick I use on warmth is my biking gloves (better when it's 40+) and then another set of cheap gloves (like ones you can buy at CVS for $7) over top of them. Some form of covering for your ears. Otherwise, I really don't mind the cold that much. It's the cold+wind or cold+rain that I mind.

    Security wise, I usually only lock my bike up at work in a parking garage. Otherwise, if I leave it at Metro (rare occassion), I will often bring my cable with me. So then I loop the cable through both tires and onto a ulock. I ulock main frame to the bike rack. And I take off things I don't feel like replacing (blinkies, lights, air pump...I don't care so much about my fixer baggie thing as it's only worth maybe $15 with stuff in it). When I ride to Terps games, I lock the saddle (sear) up in my friend's car as I've noticed plenty of missing saddles there.

    I have a blinking light on the back and a strong front light. I try to wear bright clothing (neon Pearl Izumi jacket, red jacket, red shirt, etc). And I try to avoid unpredictable things. When I'm on the street, I will often take the whole lane because slowly, but surely I have found that it's the safer option.

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