Self-infliction

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
iviehoff
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Self-infliction

Postby iviehoff » 11 Sep 2013, 11:37am

As I was waiting at a zebra crossing with two other cyclists and a car for a very doddery person to make their last few steps across the crossing, another cyclist moving fairly quickly went up the outside of all of us, proceeded across the crossing (well separated from the pedestrian who was practically at the other side at this point), and then, without any apparent provocation, reared up and landed very badly in a heap in the middle of the road, his shoes still attached to the pedals, probably not even 10 yds beyond the crossing.

I think there is a certain disregard for one's personal safety in choosing to use cleats to cycle around London where the need to stop, and to stop suddenly, is so frequent. But I think this cyclist showed further disregard for his personal safety by additionally choosing to ride a fixed wheel bicycle - I'm not sure of that but I think only that can explain the bicycle rearing up some yards after passing the waiting car. Having handicapped his ability to take evasive action with those two hard-to-use devices, further to choose to engage in tight manoeuvres is practically suicidal. Again, I can't be sure, but I'm guessing he got into this tangle either from making some pedal contact with the kerb of pedestrian refuge in the centre of the crossing, or touching the car with his hip or something. The central reservation narrows the roadspace quite considerably, (the crossing is the one across Marylebone High St at the junction with Weymouth St if you want to see how narrow), and it is a long central reservation meaning a long narrow passage. And yet he squeezed up the RH side of a car that was queuing parallel to bicycles on its LHS.

He did look to land rather badly, but a large number of people were immediately attending to him, and as there is not much use for (yet another) witness in a self-inflicted one-vehicle accident, I didn't hang around.

Dynamite_funk
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby Dynamite_funk » 11 Sep 2013, 1:14pm

Fixed gear (rather than single speed) in city centres should be banned like they are in Berlin.

tyred
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby tyred » 11 Sep 2013, 1:51pm

A fixed wheel bike is perfectly safe if ridden correctly.

AlaninWales
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby AlaninWales » 11 Sep 2013, 2:10pm

Cleats are also perfectly safe when used correctly and properly adjusted (riding my mezzo in London last week with leather-soled shoes, I was really missing my cleats!).

iviehoff
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby iviehoff » 11 Sep 2013, 2:35pm

tyred wrote:A fixed wheel bike is perfectly safe if ridden correctly.

AlaninWales wrote:Cleats are also perfectly safe when used correctly and properly adjusted.

And both at the same time? Do you both have the self-control to continue using them correctly, and at the same time, when subjected to the misfortunes and indignities expected to be encountered while cycling around Central London? Might not your ability to take evasive action (eg put your foot on the ground as fast as possible) be in some way hindered? Does it not seem likely that the use of such equipment might amplify the consequences of such misfortunes and indignities? I have occasionally struck the kerb or indeed the road with a pedal, or had minor hip contact with some object, but it has never resulted in such loss of control that I have ended up very painfully in a heap in the middle of the road.

MartinC
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby MartinC » 11 Sep 2013, 2:44pm

Here we go. This is the old "ban everything I'm not used to 'cos it's dangerous" argument. Riding fixed, toe overlap, cleats, clips, drop handlebars, quick releases, friction gears, derailleurs even two wheeled vehicles all exist on somone's list of shouldn't be allowed. Ban them all! Those bikes can't even stand up on their own.

tatanab
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby tatanab » 11 Sep 2013, 2:47pm

tyred wrote:A fixed wheel bike is perfectly safe if ridden correctly.
And legally braked.

I've ridden fixed for 45 years, including a little riding in London with no incident. Clip in pedals or toe clips in the olden days are an aid to the control of the machine, indeed I might suggest that flat pedals are dangerous because your foot can slip off - but I'd only be teasing.

What you have here is probably a trendy type riding fixed simply because it is fashionable and possibly with no brakes because that too is fashionable with the trendy types who only ever ride around town. So please do not blame the machine or equipment simply because the user does not know how to ride it.

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby hubgearfreak » 11 Sep 2013, 2:55pm

MartinC wrote:Here we go. This is the old "ban everything I'm not used to 'cos it's dangerous" argument.


bread knives, electricity. the list is endless. but i'd suggest that the clearest evidence for something to be banned is motor vehicles in cities. if you wanted to do it by evidence, that is :wink:

Jon Benger
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby Jon Benger » 11 Sep 2013, 2:57pm

I saw a similar incident in Copenhagen the other day, poor woman did an unexplained wheelie, sudden halt, and splat on the cyclepath. Fortunately she suffered only embarrassment rather than injury. I prefer to keep my feet available for unplanned stops - I find I do a lot of these in London, mainly to avoid collisions with pedestrians who suddenly wander into the road.

thirdcrank
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Sep 2013, 2:58pm

I'll suggest that showing off on the road is silly and often dangerous.

I regularly rode fixed wheel, especially in the winter, long before anybody invented the word "fixie." (I only stopped when it got too hard on the hills. :oops: ) It does take a bit of getting used to the first time, but I can't think of anything that's inherently dangerous about it. Like plenty of others on here, I grew up with toe clips and straps with shoe plates, which can be much harder than cleats to release in a hurry, especially when the straps are properly tightened. Again, cleats take a bit of getting used to the first time, but I can't think of anything that's inherently dangerous about them either.

It sounds to me that if there was a fault, it was on the part of the rider, rather than their bike.

iviehoff
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby iviehoff » 11 Sep 2013, 3:31pm

MartinC wrote:This is the old "ban everything I'm not used to 'cos it's dangerous" argument.

I never suggested that. I don't wear a hxxxxt either. I'm just asking
(1) does this equipment, as I suspect it does, materially reduce ones ability to respond to indignities that may befall one (I stopped using cleats on off-road because I got fed up of falling over when I couldn't get my foot on the ground fast enough after hitting a rock or something - so I don't think this is sheer prejudice)
(2) given the frequency of such indignities in central London cycling, isn't it rather daft to choose to use them - or else
(3) if you like using this equipment, shouldn't you choose to ride particularly carefully and defensively to avoid the risk of being put to the test

As an indication, my ride across central London is about 2 miles each way. Considering only my evening route, as it happens to be the one in my mind just now (and it is quite different from the morning route, such are 1-way streets). After carefully tuning the route over more than 10 years to minimise traffic light delay, there are only 12 sets of traffic lights on the route. There are also a further 10 junctions I may need to give way at. I think there are 5 further pedestrian crossings I may need to give way at (though pedestrians are often kind). Additionally I dismount-and-wheel 30 yds along a pedestrianised section (in part because CrossRail works have temporarily-for-five-years closed the street I was previously using, and in part because that walk is quicker than the 2 sets of lights I would encounter if I didn't do that). So that's 28 scheduled locations I may need to stop at in just 2 miles, before consideration of the other reasons I may have to come to a halt, which includes free range dopey pedestrians who infest certain parts of the route, and other road users generally getting in the way in the many annoying ways they know. Whilst I would consider myself rather unlucky on any one ride to have to stop at even as many as 50% of the potential stopping locations on the route, my foot is meeting tarmac probably at around a rate of about 4 or 5 times a mile on average. I really don't want to be cleating in and out at anything like that frequency.

I was hoping someone might comment on whether striking the kerb with a pedal while riding fix wheel was likely to result in a rapid dismount. I've never used fix.

iviehoff
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby iviehoff » 11 Sep 2013, 3:32pm

thirdcrank wrote:It sounds to me that if there was a fault, it was on the part of the rider, rather than their bike.

What I was suggesting was, that the rider was foolish to choose such a bike on which to ride in such a manner. What the cyclist did at the crossing wasn't specially stupid or anything, but on such a bike the level of risk appears to have been greatly elevated. I squeeze through narrow gaps from time to time, but then it doesn't matter so much if occasionally I hid the kerb with my pedal.

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Si
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby Si » 11 Sep 2013, 4:09pm

And both at the same time?


Clipless pedals make great sense on a fixed - I find it much easier to ride mine with my SPDs on, much less danger of losing a foot when spinning fast or leg braking.

And as others have said, fixed and/or clipless is perfectly fine if used properly. I would suggest in this case you ought to be blaming the bad workman not the tools :wink:

MartinC
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby MartinC » 11 Sep 2013, 4:16pm

Iviehoff, it wasn't particularly aimed at you but at the general tenor of the thread - strongly expressed disapproval of others equipment choice. My point is that any bicycle is inherently unstable and it requires a good degree of skill to ride it. Anyone who doesn't ride one could say that it's a totally inappropriate choice of equipment for you to use for the journey you described above and any pratfall you have serves you right. Equally you can mock anyone who chooses to ride fixed because it requires a degree of skill you choose not to be proficient in. I don't see much difference between either the non-cyclist's or your position.

tyred
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Re: Self-infliction

Postby tyred » 11 Sep 2013, 4:24pm

Admittedly I don't ride in central London but if I'm in situations where fine control of a bike is required, I would take fixed wheel over freewheel every time. Far from having less control, you have more control.* There is a learning curve with riding fixed but it is worth it.

Any two wheeled vehicle is fundamentally unstable and liable to fall over if the rider makes a mistake or lacks the necessary skills to use it in the first place.

*assuming it is a proper bike with sensible gear ratio, normal width bars and at least one brake and not some fashion victim steed with a track racing gear ratio, no brakes and ridiculously narrow bars.