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Bike Commute Diaries: Losing My Nerve

09 Jun

It’s only one mile from the Caltrain station to my home but the first tenth of a mile has never been easy. At first I “took the lane” on Moffett Blvd, then I found some lower-stress alternatives that have their own issues. Tonight I headed down Moffett, but as soon as I heard the cars roaring up behind me, I pulled over. I can’t do it anymore.

Moffet Madness

About the Bike Commute Diaries: Launched in May 2012 for National Bike Month, this series explores the unexpected and surprising things I’ve seen and learned while bicycling for transportation.

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16 Comments

Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Commute Diaries

 

16 responses to “Bike Commute Diaries: Losing My Nerve

  1. esjbikecoop

    June 9, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    I was smashed a week ago biking to work, and am still shaking off the PTSD and hearing screeching breaks constantly while I ride. I’ve always found that the more I power through it and keep pedaling, the faster I find the pure joy in riding again and get over the stress of car danger. But we have all been at that “lost my nerve” road biking moment and it can be rough!

     
    • ladyfleur

      June 9, 2014 at 10:37 pm

      Ouch! How are you doing? Sounds like it wasn’t so bad if you’re back on the bike. Thank goodness.

      This intersection makes me angry because they changed it recently and it’s much worse than before for bikes both at Moffett and at Rengstorff. I actually went to the meeting where it was discussed and told them the issues, but the traffic engineer kind of threw his hands up and said it was a county project and not really their issue. That’s what makes me the angriest.

      I can accept crappy jobs that were done years ago, but this was designed and approved in 2013 in the name of rail safety at the request of Caltrain, which is probably where half the riders are coming from. Maybe they’re trying to make more room on the bike car by killing off a few cyclists, but it’s probably just that they didn’t consider bikes in the redesign.

       
      • esjbikecoop

        June 12, 2014 at 12:22 pm

        That is sadly a theme in infrastructure projects nation wide, but it seems that the bay is moving in a positive direction in that at least cyclists are sometimes recognized even if not appropriately considered. You getting involved and voicing your opinion to planners is admirable and needed, so thanks for your work =)

        And ouch indeed! I hurt a knee by falling on my self, but luckily the car hit me in just the right way that it smashed into the back of my frame (an indestructible 30 year old steel fixie that didn’t lost any steam) but luckily no major injuries. though if I had been caught half a second earlier or later my leg would have been completely destroyed by said car’s fender. More scary than anything, constantly telling myself still to “just keep pedaling just keep pedaling”

         
  2. Andrew Hsu

    June 9, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear this. Must be that time of the year for careless drivers — the last Friday in May (before taking a week off the bike to travel to Taiwan for work), I was riding into work in the morning. As my usual route, I was heading over the 880 overpass on Montague expressway. As the rightmost lane is clearly marked as ending and becoming the 880S on-ramp, I usually ride on the left side of that rightmost lane starting at the traffic light before that. Well, that day, some guy in a Lexus sedan carelessly brushed by me and hits my arm hard enough for me to knock his passenger rearview mirror back. Fortunately, the speed differential wasn’t all that great (I was going maybe 22 and the car about 30). But what a shock. More fortunately, I didn’t go down on account of the contact. Disappointing was that the guy didn’t stop and simply went on. (I guess he didn’t want to get on 880S, but on the 880N instead).

    Hope that you recover from your loss of nerve. The entire bicycling community needs more people like you!

     
    • ladyfleur

      June 10, 2014 at 11:52 am

      I can’t believe you were able to stay aloft after being hit hard enough to push back the mirror. Yikes!

      I’ll still keep riding, I just won’t attempt to take the lane here again. I’ll either do one of the pedestrian options or wait until the traffic is clear before venturing out. It just makes me really really angry that even though there are tons of people riding from the station in my direction, there are no provisions for bikes. And the latest expensive changes they put in make it worse.

       
  3. Lizzie

    June 10, 2014 at 5:05 am

    A high percentage of drivers in Florida are hostile toward cyclists, don’t pay attention and are in a hurry. Many don’t use turn signals. We get thousands of students in the fall, legislators and people coming in from S. Georgia to work. That’s a lot of people on roads not designed to take the added traffic. I’m retired now and mostly ride recreationally, transporting my bike to safer areas to ride. I hate that I have to do that. Though new roads being built now have bike lanes, the infrastructure is fragmented. Daily I see drivers crossing over into bike lanes or hugging the line so their rearview mirror hangs over into the lane. We need education, enforcement and persistent cycling advocate pressure to make a change. I hope you can find a better route or time to make your commute.

     
    • ladyfleur

      June 10, 2014 at 11:54 am

      Florida has been slammed lately for being the worst place to walk or bike, and I’m from Baton Rouge which has many of the same issues, minus the new bike lanes you’re seeing. Are you in Tallahassee?

       
      • Lizzie

        June 13, 2014 at 4:22 am

        Yes, I live in Tallahassee. We have periodic bike and pedestrian related fatalities here. I’ve had enough close calls to avoid semi trucks whenever possible. I use to ride in the county with no bike lanes but had someone riding with me. I look back on that time with fondness and am glad I did it but I won’t do it now. I guess I’ve lost some nerve. The book “Miles From Nowhere” sums up cycling in Florida – though some improvements have been made, it’s drivers who are the problem. Just look back over your shoulder frequently and don’t ride into the sun.

         
  4. mike

    June 10, 2014 at 9:22 am

    Your instincts are probably correct. My wife and I walk through this area, and it is much worse with the changes. In the past, cyclists would stage a “critical mass” at such a problem area…

     
  5. Matt

    June 10, 2014 at 10:25 am

    I have the same issue with the Tamien Station. The ride through Willow Glen neighborhoods is peaceful and beautiful. But the first 3/4 mile from Tamien Station to Lincoln can sometimes be harrowing. Between Alma, Minnesota, and Willow St…. there are no good alternatives other than pedal like crazy.

     
    • Martin

      June 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      To Matt:

      Crossing Willow St. from the north end of the 87 bikeway is indeed an issue — I sometimes go along the sidewalk on Willow to get to the corner to cross, but once you cross, is the bike lane on Willow Street really all that bad? (I use it often, and find it OK).

      That said, you may be pleased to know that San Jose just announced receipt of a grant to build out the western half of Three Creeks Trail (the part where the City already owns the land), and that will go directly from Minnesota to Coe just before Lincoln. Maybe you will find that preferable.

       
  6. 126bugeyes

    June 11, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Like you, it’s the first stretch from home that is most uncomfortable. I’ve tried different options also, and they have their drawbacks too. I’m finally getting up the nerve (since I’m riding with kids) to just go!

     
  7. Jean

    June 14, 2014 at 7:29 am

    I guess going any earlier during the day is not an option for you? Just thinkin’ of lower car traffic.

     
    • ladyfleur

      June 14, 2014 at 9:37 am

      The morning is fine. It’s the evening commute that’s impossible, and since the street is filled with restaurants, the traffic extends all the way up until at least 10pm.

      I do have other options, they just require mixing in with foot traffic. It just pisses me off that they don’t have a proper bike route from a location that has a significant amount of bike traffic coming from the train and coming from the restaurants and bars. Total lack of consideration by the traffic engineers.

       
  8. Brian

    June 14, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I can’t believe they made it worse. That’s the only situation I have ridden multiple times where I never figured out a way to ride that seemed legal, safe, and efficient enough. And, as you point out, it’s a situation that hundreds of cyclists find themselves in every day. And most are not as nervy as me.

     

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