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

  1. #11
    KLizotte's Avatar
    KLizotte is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Arlington, VA by way of MA and London, UK
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    I highly recommend that you take a Confident Cycling class that is sponsored by WABA (one is even being held this Saturday). Everyone raves about them.

    Blatant cut-and-paste from the WABA website:

    Confident City Cycling (CCC)

    Participants of all levels are encouraged to attend these 3 hour classes which will have options for multiple skill levels ranging from simple bike handling skills and using trails, to learning avoidance maneuvers and riding with traffic.

    The "Trails" group will discover basic bicycling information and on-bike skills such as: bicycle selection, fit, inspection, gearing, cadence, clothing, accessories, bike handling basics like starting and stopping, riding straight, scanning and signaling

    The "Traffic" group will explore vehicular cycling principles, roadway positioning, lane changes, turns and parking lot drills to learn avoidance maneuvers.

    On-line study is recommended prior to arriving at class by registering and completing the material on

    Participants must bring their own bikes, helmets, and water. Clipless/SPD shoes/pedals are not recommended for this class. Participants will be required to sign liability waivers. Certain jurisdictions may require a fee. See upcoming courses at

  2. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Takoma Park, MD
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    Welcome to a fellow "new" commuter! I've crazily been starting my commute during the winter.

    I've pretty recently started riding to work more regularly. Regarding not wanting to ride all the way, I'm a fan of the half-commute to build up strength (bike to work and metro home, then metro back and bike home the next day). I have the advantage of an entire lab all to myself to lock my stuff up in though.

    For being seen I have a bright neon yellow Pearl Izumi jacket (convertible so it'll become a vest pretty soon with weather getting warmer!). I imagine that it makes me very visible. All my coworkers seem to see me coming.

    For locking up I use a U-Lock through the frame and back tire and a chain lock through the frame and front tire, attaching to the back U-Lock. I think I saw a European blog or something that did a study showing this to be the "best" way to lock your bike up. Its worked for me at the Takoma metro, but there tend to be lots of bikes always locked up there and its a pretty visible area.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    I also sometimes utilize the "one-way" commute as I have a secure place to store my bike. This was how I eased back into it after maternity leave when I just did not have the energy for the two-way commute, the pumping, etc. every day. Although often when I've wimped out for whatever reason (rain, snow, etc) I end up regretting it jammed into the mass of humanity on the metro, or inevitably there will be some sort of delay. I find that my incentives to keep going over the winter (and hot summer) months are: It is a far more enjoyable (and reliable) commute, except in the worst of weather; it's the only way I get any exercise; I am in such a better frame of mind when I get to work and home. To keep warm - I have been toasty in most weather with a merino base-layer, fleece and windbreaker and if it's in the teens, I wear my ski jacket. I even wore my ski goggles this year, reaching a new low in biking fashion, but at least my eyes didn't freeze. My feet have been warm all winter with a combo of thick ski socks, my ventilated "summer" biking shoes and shoe covers. If you don't have ski gear to re-purpose, you could just skip the coldest days. I invested in a better light this year and haven't regretted it. Regarding safety, I have chosen a somewhat less than direct route to stay mostly on bike paths and off the street, although I know that's not an option for everyone. It takes longer but is less stressful and more enjoyable for me.

  4. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Carlsbad CA
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    Lots of great advice here - I'll focus specifically on the issue of that stretch of Water Street, since I have the same stretch as part of my bike commute. Tim Kelley is absolutely correct (naturally) in urging you to take the lane. The issue with Water Street as you come off the Rock Creek Parkway to head to the CCT is this is tourist mecca - there are movie theaters, people jaywalking, the Whitehurst Freeway overhead, and streets (e.g. Thomas Jefferson, 31st, etc.) that dead-end into Water Street. I think you have to use your visibility - bright clothing, blinkies -even in daytime to maximize drivers and pedestrians noticing you. Another key is to be predictable - signal your intention to stop at each and every stop sign, and put a foot down, make eye contact with drivers so you know they know you're there. Let pedestrians know that you will yield to them in the crosswalks just as cars must do. Watch for cars doing the "Crazy Ivan" u-turns if they spot parking opening up. Stop at CycleLife Cafe once in a while for a juice or a cappuccino. All these things will increase your comfort level, but always be anticipatory of the unexpected. I always feel better as I ride onto the trailhead, which brings its own issues.
    Last edited by jwfisher3; 04-04-2013 at 07:34 AM. Reason: spellcheck doesn't like my UK spelling

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