Safety in Numbers

image I’ve been really nervous cycling on the roads since Adam’s death last week. So when Brian asked if I’d like to accompany him on his commute to work yesterday I was a little hesitant. It seemed like a great opportunity for some jerk to swing his door into me, or for some redneck to try to see just how close he could come to running me off the side of the road (do those people realize that if they mess up and hit me it’s vehicular manslaughter and they’d be ruining both our lives? Seems like a big risk to take in order to prove that a) your truck is bigger than my bike and b) you are an asshole. Seems like you could do something safer and still prove that you are in fact dumber than a retarded chimpanzee. Like the video below…).

Anyway, I wanted to see Brian, because I don’t get to see my friends nearly enough when I’m training this hard. I met him on the Burke Gilman Trail and headed south to Downtown Seattle where Brian works. Then I rode home. It was a casual and chatty ride, and I was amazed that the drivers near downtown Seattle seem to be a lot nicer than the drivers in the rural areas where I normally ride. Yes, there’s way more traffic, stop lights, and opportunities for being “doored” by a parked car. But the people on the road seemed to be aware of how much space to give a cyclist, and I was never told to “get off the road”, “ride on the sidewalk”, or (my favorite) “get a car”. All this was surprising to me because I’m not normally commuting by bike during rush hour – I just assumed traffic would be a dangerous nightmare. Then I dropped off my friend and headed back to North Seattle. Suddenly it became obvious why downtown drivers are better at dealing with cyclists on the road than rural drivers: there were hundreds of bikes headed toward downtown! When you’re riding in the same direction as the other cyclists you don’t really notice how many there are, but once I was riding the reverse commute I could see everyone descending on downtown. There were all kinds of bikes, all sizes of people, plenty of yellow rain jackets… I saw hundreds of cyclists riding in the opposite direction, within four miles of downtown. It was great to see that kind of dedication to health, and the environment. It was cold and dark, but Seattle’s cyclists are committed.

I was riding with my Garmin Edge 705 and my Quarq Cinqo Powermeter. It was impossible to ride steadily in traffic and I logged 15 minutes of pause time in a 2 hour ride, which is really high for a focused training session. I wouldn’t recommend trying to do your interval training on the way to work, but it’s certainly a great way to log extra miles and get in recovery rides. If you’re training and have the opportunity to commute, I say join the crowd. The more people that ride, the safer it will be for everyone, and the ride is certainly better training than sitting in your car watching brake lights.

Published by Ben

Ben Collins Professional Triathlete

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  1. Don’t forget about me getting punched in the head for giving the bird to a guy having a bad day. I used to count the number of ‘birds’ flown in a ride (or at least how many times I wanted to fly it) to define whether or not it was good or bad – I haven’t had to do that since I left. It’s sad that there are so many fools out there willing to take that risk. Especially in the Seattle area where bikes are so prevelant – even in Redmond, in a bike lane covered town – it’s still a problem. We had team rides where folks would swerve at us, park in the bike lane as we were approaching or as you have experienced – lots of names, threats and suggestions. Since I’ve gotten older and have way more at risk if I get hurt, I just think the bird but still pack heat just in case. Suburban retards. BOOOOOO.

    Tell Court I got a new pair of Specialized glasses from someone.

  2. Hey Ben,

    I’m really sorry to hear about your friend’s passing. I can’t even imagine what you, his other friends and his family are going through right now. I give you some serious credit for heading out on the road so soon after his accident.

    All the best,

  3. So even if you’re not riding on the roads much – why aren’t you posting? Can you have Aaron write more posts or Brian or maybe Courtenay? How about Victor writing something sweet about triathlon training? I’m tired of giving your blog hits for the same post.

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