Sooo... I'm wondering how safe it is to ride at night here in the northeast.
I'm wanting to commute between Paseo Del Norte at Wyoming and Montgomery at Pennsylvania. It's pretty much just a straight shot down Wyoming and it's fairly well lit at night with not a lot of traffic, but I would be making this commute between midnight and 1am. Haven't done it yet. Just wondering what others thought.
Advice, warnings, suggestions?
My two cents...I've ridden a lot in that area (I went to Abq Academy), not that late but typically around 9 or 10 pm. I've also ridden on Wyoming at night before, the major stumbling block is that until you get to around Spain, it's not easy to get off the road quickly, not a lot of driveways. As a lifelong biker in Abq that's an absolute must for me, I think you don't want to place yourself in a position you can't easily get out of, basically to me it means putting your well being in the hands of drivers who may or may not take it seriously.
Having said that, it may not be as much of an issue that late at night. Alternately, if you have or are willing to get a good headlamp and backlights another way to go is through the residential area and once you get to the South side of Academy you can grab the Moon bike route the rest of the way. I found that to be accessible and easier to manage.
Wyoming (stay on the sidewalk, unless you're really well lit; otherwise you could be hit by drivers who are well-lit) south to Osuna, west to Pennsylvania south to Montgomery. Osuna and Pennsylvania are pretty safe to ride on and they have bike lanes. Wyoming and the other main north-south streets do not have lanes, and I just cannot recommend riding on the road. There are no really safe shortcuts for bikes in this area.
Bring a cellphone and some pepper spray (you're female, right?), and remember there's a police sub-station on Osuna near Wyoming (just a precaution - the area is safe, but still...)
If consulted, I would have discouraged my daughters if they had informed me that they wanted to post the exact hour (especially that hour) and route that they would be taking on any public forum. May the one who has all Power assist in your saftey and protection - if you so desire it. Such a life on such a planet.
In some ways I agree...I wouldn't want to post my route and time of (night) on a public forum.
If you haven't done so already, visit the city's interactive bike map. If possible, try out your planned route during daylight hours first. Not only can you see street signs better, you can identify potholes, tar snakes, and other problem spots.
Of course, your best bet for riding at night is to be a shining beacon in the darkness. Lots of lights, reflective clothing, etc.
Blinking lights are good for drawing attention to you, and solid lights are good for giving drivers an idea of where you are (there is research to suggest that using only blinkies actually makes it harder for a driver to judge your position). With my bikes, I have a blinking light on the handlebars, a solid one on the fork, and one on the back that has a solid beam and a blinker.
I also have little guppy lights on my helmet - white forward and red back - which I find helps drivers see where I'm looking. If I turn my head until they can see the white light, they know I've seen them, and they can react properly.
Finally, assuming you've got some downhill portions, anticipate right hooks. Don't assume drivers know you're behind them; they could turn right, across the bike lane, at any time. Without turning on their blinkers, of course. Make sure you're going slow enough that you can stop in time if that happens.
Also, don't worry about John the Baptist. If someone is so determined to do wrong that they will be surveilling the entire area between your start and your destination during a vague point in the night, stalking a random person mentioned online, a U-lock to the jaw would probably do them some good.
Thank you for all the advice...
Lights are a must, of course. And also of course a cell phone.
Sidewalk riding was going to be my preferred path along that route. But cutting through residentials is a good idea too.
And thank you for the concern about posting my exact route and time of travel. I needed to post that information, however, in order to ask about safety. Double-edged sword I guess. But I'm of the belief that if I'm going to be harmed by an outside force, there is little I can do about it, and I'm not willing to limit my life out of worry. So if anyone feels like stalking me on that route at that time should I decide to take it... have at it. Thank you for the reminder about the cell phone and police station, though.
//Sidewalk riding was going to be my preferred path along that route//
Please, please, PLEASE do not do this. In addition to being illegal in the city of Albuquerque, riding on the sidewalk is one of the most dangerous things you can do on a bike. It's tied with riding against traffic as the #1 cause of bicycle fatalities. Bicyclists are safest when they act as and are treated as any other road user. In other words, "drive your bike." Ride on the street, take the lane when it's unsafe not to, and follow all the rules of the road. If you operate under the same rules as a car, then your actions become predictable.
If you haven't already, consider taking a Traffic Safety 101 class. They teach you best riding practices, emergency handling maneuvers (for quick stops and quick turns), and basic bike maintenance.
Okay, maintaining a lane in traffic is fine in theory, but not in practice up here. At this time of night, the drivers are either returning from work, or returning/going to bars and parties. So, you want to take a chance that some drunk won't notice you doing 50+ on Wyoming late at night? Or take a chance that some a**hole junior cowboy type isn't going to stop and hassle you, 'cause him and his buds have had a few at one of the local watering holes at Eubank and Montgomery? (There's five bars there, btw.. - the parking lot is packed on the weekends.) Anyway, drivers aren't used to seeing cyclists on the major roads up here, so they may not be watching what's on the road. (Or texting...)
No, she's a lot safer with a curb in the way of someone's big wheeled truck. Don't become a ghost biker...
...riding on the sidewalk is one of the most dangerous things you can do on a bike. It's tied with riding against traffic as the #1 cause of bicycle fatalities.
Riding on the sidewalk seems safer. It isn't. There is lots and lots and lots of evidence to back this up.
Personally, I would avoid traffic lanes on a major street like Wyoming wherever possible, even if it meant taking a longer, less direct route. But most of the streets suggested have bike lanes, which is a better option than sidewalks at any hour. Same goes for residential streets.
I researched the sidewalk theory, and it boiled down to one basic reason: it's hard for the driver to see the cyclist when crossing driveways and crossing intersections. The angle puts the cyclist in the peripheral vision of the driver, not the direct cone. It makes sense - but she'll be doing a midnight run, with lights on (right?), so she'll be pretty obvious to the eye.
On Wyoming, from Paseo to Osuna, there are no private driveways - the only driveways on the road are for daytime, commercial businesses. There are only a handful of streets that access Wyoming directly in this area. For example, from Academy to San Antonio, you would use the sidewalk next to the Academy - no driveways/roads there. Why anyone would ride on a road with 45 mph traffic when they could ride on a sidewalk next to the road (with no crossing traffic) is beyond me. Yeah, during the daytime, you have to watch for cars entering/leaving the commercial roads carefully, but, for this midnite run, it's a no-brainer that the sidewalk offers protection (a curb) that the road doesn't.
The only thing I don't like about sidewalks is that sidewalks tend to have abrupt elevation changes, due to their uneven nature, or cracks - roads feel smoother than uneven sidewalks. However, better dealing with cracks than high speed, texting drivers...