Author Topic: how safe is it to ride in the US?  (Read 4428 times)

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Offline wouterdhoye

how safe is it to ride in the US?
« on: February 21, 2012, 03:10:29 pm »
Hi,

I'm considering a bike trip in the US some day... But the more I read in american cycling forums the more I have the impression that US isn't the most cyclist friendly place. I hope i'm wrong but sometimes I have the impression there is a growing annoyance (I really don't want to use the H-word) between cyclists and motorists.

Please tell me I'm wrong. and give me some pointers on what to look out for and how to behave on US roads.

Over where I live people are very used to cyclists and in general both groups understand eachother fairly well...

Thanks for any advice.

Wouter.


Offline BikeFreak

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2012, 03:28:38 pm »
At least if you stay on the ACA routes it will be much safer to ride in USA compared to Europe. American motorists drive defensively whereas European motorists drive aggressively. Speeding is a constant issue in Europe, in USA motorists generally obey speed limits.

Lucas

Offline scayford

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2012, 04:18:14 pm »
In general I think it's fine. The main problem in my experience is getting through the suburbs around most cities where you get stuck on busy arterial roads.

I would disagree with Lucas' opinion that it's better than Europe though. Guess it depends on where in Europe and where in the US. Both are big, varied areas not easily reduced to a good/bad statement.

Offline John Nelson

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2012, 06:05:14 pm »
One driver out of a thousand will give you problems, but you only hear about the one. Furthermore, that one won't give you that much of a problem. I rode the entire TransAm with no close calls at all, and no visibly irritated motorists.

Offline Patco

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2012, 07:35:08 pm »
In the plus 20 years I have been riding seriously, primarily in the West, I have had maybe six less-than-friendly vehicle encounters, and all but one were, in essence, non-events.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2012, 09:55:25 pm »
One driver out of a thousand will give you problems, but you only hear about the one. Furthermore, that one won't give you that much of a problem. I rode the entire TransAm with no close calls at all, and no visibly irritated motorists.

I had one more dangerous motorist interaction than John.  If my guesstimator is close, that comes out to about one in 20,000 interactions with motorists (it might be closer to 50,000 or 100,000, depending on how many motorists I guess I passed per average hour).  How's that compare to your area?


Offline johnsondasw

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2012, 12:43:17 am »
In 50+ years of riding and 32 years of touring in the US, I have left the road about 5 times due to cars cutting it too close.  I use a mirror and therefore know when to get out of the way.  One of those would have hit me and my 2 buddies for sure--it was his intention and he was driving a big semi rig in the rural areas of eastern Washington.

Twice in urban areas, I had cars pass me and immediately turn right so I hit them!  Minor damage in both cases, but the last time that happened was 30 years ago and I'm much more aware of that insidious potential now.  A mirror helps here too because some times they are blinking their intention.  But often (in Washington anyway), people don't use blinkers.  This is a real pet peeve of mine, and I think a justifiable one. I wish the cops would do emphasis patrols on this all too common problem! Grrrrr!
May the wind be at your back!

Offline DaveB

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #7 on: February 22, 2012, 09:36:12 am »
Many Europeans (I assume the OP is from Europe) view the US as still the "wild west" or as portrayed in gangster movies with bullet flying through the air at all times of the day and night and our population is all rednecks with oversize pickup trucks with gun racks.   It's a hard image to overcome until they actually come here.

Offline pmac

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #8 on: February 22, 2012, 10:11:17 am »
I agree with most of the replies.  In my years of riding, mostly in the deep south where rednecks abound, 99%+ of drivers, including the rednecks, simply want to pass you and will do so when it is safe for you and them.  The problems I've seen often involve groups of riders that are difficult to pass safely.  That tends to really p.o. drivers, with some reason.  Sometimes cyclists are their own worst enemy.  Frankly, my main concern is less with the guy who is out to harass cyclists and more with the inattentive driver talking on a cellphone or, god forbid, trying to text, while approaching me. 

Unfortunately, it only takes one idiot to cause you serious injury or harm.  That can occur anywhere and anytime, here or abroad.  Don't worry about riding in the US.  But when you come over use a mirror, pay attention, avoid riding at night when possible and high traffic court roads and wave to the motorists who are looking out for you most of the time.  You will have a great time and meet great people.

Offline jrswenberger

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2012, 12:47:51 pm »
Many Europeans (I assume the OP is from Europe) view the US as still the "wild west" or as portrayed in gangster movies with bullet flying through the air at all times of the day and night and our population is all rednecks with oversize pickup trucks with gun racks.    It's a hard image to overcome until they actually come here.

sounds like my time in central Floriday...  ;)
ACA Life Member 368

Offline wouterdhoye

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2012, 06:26:03 am »
Hi ,

Thanks for the many replies. I am from europe indeed, more specifically Belgium. Which has pretty busy traffic. But in general I don't feel unsafe on whatever roads i've riden over here. I'm happy that the impression I was getting (mostly from a rad racer/rider forum) is a wrong one. So that leaves me to gettich my fitness back on par and get saving some money to pay for the trip. Won't be this year but hopefully next year.

This year i plan to ride in France.

greets,

Wouter.

Offline onebikeoneworld

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Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2012, 09:28:05 pm »
In 9 months of riding round the US I've had negative interactions with only 3 drivers (A guy threw a pear at me + Bus driver getting too close and car running a light. The rest are generally courteous and will give you plenty of space. Yeah, there are some people in pick-ups that get a bit closer than you'd like, but then there are 'soccer moms' in their SUVs that do too!
« Last Edit: February 28, 2012, 09:35:53 pm by onebikeoneworld »
World bike tour blog - www.onebikeoneworld.com

Offline driftlessregion

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2012, 10:17:42 pm »
Dangerous? I was in North Dakota several years ago grinding out a long day in the sun when a limo slowed as it went by Michael and I. It turned around a half mile ahead and came back past us. When it turned towards us again I told Michael that we needed a signal to hit the ditch; we were a little concerned to say the least. Well, the limo slowed again besides us and the window rolled down and out came a hand with a cold beer for each of us!

Offline johnsondasw

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #13 on: February 28, 2012, 11:52:20 pm »
The only time I was offered a beer by someone in a car was the time in rural WA when someone threw the empty bottle at me out the window.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline yumadons

Re: how safe is it to ride in the US?
« Reply #14 on: February 29, 2012, 03:52:04 pm »
I say stick to the ACA routes where people are used to cyclists coming thru and you needn't be worried  ;)