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Riding in Oxford, England and Moscow, Russia

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Riding in Oxford, England and Moscow, Russia

Old 10-16-13, 06:09 PM
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Riding in Oxford, England and Moscow, Russia

I did a lot of riding in Oxford this week. I mean riding a bus, of course. In my opinion, you'd have to be out of your mind to ride a bike in or around the town. I was there the last couple of days, stayed in an old inn outside of town, took the bus to town, walked all over the town, day and night, and rode a bus out to Woodstock to tour Blenheim Palace. Zillions of cyclists, both university students riding to class and lots of adults riding and around town at all hours of the day and night. I think they're all crazy.

When they have bike lanes, they're not much bigger than the stripe it takes to mark one, and when riding one of the massive buses, I'd shudder ever time we got close to a cyclist, which we did constantly. I chatted up the bus drivers I rode with. All were very friendly, very professional, and not very happy with the lack of courtesy, compliance with traffic laws and lack of common sense exhibited by many cyclists.

There are many multi-use paths outside of town that may work well for some cyclists. On the pedestrian streets in-town and adjoining streets, you have to really be careful about cyclists when walking. Also, only about 5% of students were wearing helmets but most of the commuters wore helmets and bright jackets for visibility.

I'd love to spend more time in Oxford, but I'd never ride a bike there.

Oh, and then there is Moscow. I was there last week, and like Oxford, I walked endless miles around the city. No problem with cyclists there because - they don't have any! They've put in cycle racks that appear to be used for guys hanging out and smoking. They also have rental bikes prominently displayed in several spots, but I didn't see any being used.
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Old 10-16-13, 07:16 PM
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Interesting stuff. I've often thought the same thing when I've been in UK & Ireland. Cycling those busy roads and narrow lanes looks suicidal. The worst would be the lanes bordered by hedgerows with no place to bail! We're generally pretty lucky in North America. Haven't been to Moscow, but I did notice that Vladivostok had no bikes, but did have a large contingent of tall, drop-dead gorgeous blondes who navigate the uneven streets on 5-inch heels. I think there was some other stuff too...I can't remember...
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Old 10-16-13, 07:24 PM
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The hottest thing I've ever seen on a bike was when I was walking about a town circle in Simferopol, Ukraine. Right in the middle of evening rush hour, this woman with long blonde hair went blasting through traffic on a bicycle, with a "I don't take crap from nobody" look on her face. Dang, was it sexy.

I wonder if she's still alive. Motorists were insane. In her instance, going helmetless made perfect sense. She was hard to miss.
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Old 10-16-13, 11:03 PM
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I lived on and off in Moscow from 91 to 96. I bought this cruiser type Russian bike, kinda like a heavier version of a Schwinn racer. It was fun to ride it, but like you said I was like the only one in the entire city riding a bicycle. They do like bikes but use them mostly at their cottages outside Moscow,

So they looked at me like crazzy riding on the sidewalks, you couldnt ride in the streets in Moscow cars would not yield for a bicycle, no way lol.

I have heard that now their is a small bicycle culture that has emerged in the last few years.
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Old 10-17-13, 03:44 AM
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Riding in any new locality or country will always take some getting used to and university towns such as Oxford or my local one of Brighton will take even further adaption. In general Cyclists in the University towns get a bit of respect from other road users as there are so many of them. Similarly cyclists have to respect cars and trucks as they are vulnerable. That is not the case in London where "Some" cyclists respect nothing- not even themselves- and it can be a bit harrowing driving or cycling there.

However away from cities and things are different. In general car drivers and motorists respect each other but once away from the main roads then a different technique is required. Many of the lanes I ride on are not much wider than a big 4x4 that seems to be the normal vehicle using them. Plenty of twists and turns and high hedges so you have to keep your ears open for vehicles that have got a lot quieter over the years. No problems as long as you realise that a car has as much right on the roads as you and they won't see you before you see them.

This is one of our "Main" Roads connecting two villages and not a back road connecting Farms.Plenty of good roads around and they are not all as scenic as this one but who wants to ride on roads where all the cars go--I don't
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Old 10-17-13, 07:05 AM
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Don't worry about Oxford.

Road deaths/year UK : 1900 population 60m
Road deaths/year US : 32,000 population 310m

I'm sure you can work it out
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Old 10-17-13, 07:10 AM
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Originally Posted by NVanHiker View Post
Interesting stuff. I've often thought the same thing when I've been in UK & Ireland. Cycling those busy roads and narrow lanes looks suicidal. The worst would be the lanes bordered by hedgerows with no place to bail! We're generally pretty lucky in North America. Haven't been to Moscow, but I did notice that Vladivostok had no bikes, but did have a large contingent of tall, drop-dead gorgeous blondes who navigate the uneven streets on 5-inch heels. I think there was some other stuff too...I can't remember...
The numbers of really tall, young women in Moscow was staggering. My son and I discussed this issue. We both agreed that the probably cause was tall, beautiful women flocking to Moscow to seek modeling careers and marriage. Speaking of staggering, he and I witnessed a young woman come crashing down on a pedestrian walkway in a pair of the 5-inch heels. Quite a sight!
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Old 10-17-13, 07:21 AM
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Originally Posted by ThatBritBloke View Post
Don't worry about Oxford.

Road deaths/year UK : 1900 population 60m
Road deaths/year US : 32,000 population 310m

I'm sure you can work it out
I wasn't trying to say that riding a bike in most areas of the US is safe, or safer than Oxford. I was pointing out the physical limitations, and attendant likelihood of misadventure when riding a bike in the Oxford area. There are many areas of Princeton that I will not ride my bike either. There is, at best, 10% of the cycling traffic in Princeton that there is in Oxford and virtually none of the bus traffic.
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Old 10-17-13, 07:28 AM
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In the Princeton area? I agree Route#1 is a no-no and I'm not keen on 206 or 27. Other than that Princeton doesn't have many areas, does it?

But, I know, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. But cycling here seems far more hazardous than around the Bristol area where I used to live. And Bristol is frequently cited as being as bad, and even worse, for driving than London.

PS: I live in Rocky Hill.
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Old 10-17-13, 07:58 AM
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Originally Posted by ThatBritBloke View Post
Don't worry about Oxford.

Road deaths/year UK : 1900 population 60m
Road deaths/year US : 32,000 population 310m

I'm sure you can work it out
And more to the actual point I was making regarding cyclist, and not motor vehicle drivers, the UK has multiples of cyclists deaths per 1000 population than the US, and more cyclist deaths on an absolute basis than the US. See http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...uk-road-deaths

More the most accurate compilation of cyclist deaths in the US that I found, see http://www.everybicyclistcounts.org/site/map

More significantly for the 50+ forum are the numbers of 50+ cyclists killed (at least in the US) compared to the general population. Of the 82 deaths in 2012, there were 71 with ages given. Of those 71, 37 were over fifty, so greater than 50%. The same percentage is holding true for 2013.

I'm not trying to start a war between the US and UK here. That's already happened. Just pointing out my personal observations of cycling outside the US.
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Old 10-17-13, 08:33 AM
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In the UK 1 death/23million miles cycled. Can't find an equivalent figure for the USA.

No, it's not a war ... just a sense of proportion.
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Old 10-17-13, 09:24 AM
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A more dedicated cyclist once told me she wouldn't ride in Phoenix traffic because it was "crazy". She probably rode 2 or 3 times as many miles as I do. She drives to work, then home to get her bike then out to a path trail or organized ride to get her rides in. Personally, I always thought that was "crazy". But we all have our own idea of sane or crazy.

Would love to see other countries sometime. I too would hesitate to ride in a new area until I understood the rules of the road better. And how to find the alternate routes.
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Old 10-17-13, 09:38 AM
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I was in London for a week in this year and during the late 90s oversaw a satellite office in Piccadilly Circus and my wife and I have traveled and I drove a car in the UK. On my last trip to London, I was observing the cyclists / car interactions and the cycling infrastructure. I saw commuters and a few road cyclists with a vast range of equipment. There were the stands of bikes that one could rent and ride. I thought of renting one. My main reason for not doing it was that I would be on the opposite side of the road and everything is reversed. As a foreigner, I had to be careful walking in the UK (especially in London) since I am used to traffic coming in the opposite direction. I was concerned that if I made a judgment error on the bike, it would be really bad.

As far as narrow roads go, we have cycled in Switzerland, Italy, France and Spain. The roads are narrow and traffic can be fast. I have ridden in larger cities without a problem and even rode our tandem into Florence, Italy. IMO, it is all about bike handling skills and knowing the rules of the road that pertain to bike / car interactions when in country. The euros pass closer and have a better sense where the front fenders are than those in the US. The reason being it that the roads are narrow and car drivers negotiate tighter spaces. We have had a great experience cycling in Europe and we are scheduled to cycle in Mallorca Spain next year.

As far as emerging markets, I would choose carefully where to cycle, if at all. I would do it as long as I was with a group of local cyclists who knew the ropes. I golfed a lot in Asia and when with my business colleagues and local partners. I played a lot of golf with the Japanese. I am not so sure that I would race Keirin with them.

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Old 10-17-13, 09:56 AM
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You're right, Terex - at least for bike deaths, the ratio to pop. is virtually identical in the two countries. UK 122 (2012) US 677 (2013). From my own touring viewpoint, i.e. town-to-town, it may be safer here because of the number of roads that have nice wide shoulders. (Think NJ47 down through Millville to Cape May - bliss!)
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Old 10-17-13, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by ThatBritBloke View Post
In the UK 1 death/23million miles cycled. Can't find an equivalent figure for the USA.

No, it's not a war ... just a sense of proportion.
Agreed. And the site I posted doesn't appear to have total U.S. cyclist deaths. Looking at deaths in 2011, another site shows 677 dead from car/cycle accidents, and I'd guess 2012 would be in that ballpark. http://www.bicyclinginfo.org/facts/crash-facts.cfm But, another article from Oxford states that there were 58 cycling deaths in Oxfordshire in 2011, which is a lot to me for a small area, and in my line with my perception of risk associated with riding in and around Oxford. http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/99...ling_injuries/ During the same period, there were only 17 cyclists killed (I know, "only"...sorry) in the entire state of New Jersey.

Again, everyone agrees that even one death is regrettable.

When my youngest daughter was in school in Japan, Kyushu in Fukuoka, she rented a bike to ride to classes. She could rent a bike at Oxford, but decided well before my arrival that riding a bike at Oxford was just a bad idea.
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Old 10-17-13, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by stapfam View Post
Riding in any new locality or country will always take some getting used to and university towns such as Oxford or my local one of Brighton will take even further adaption. In general Cyclists in the University towns get a bit of respect from other road users as there are so many of them. Similarly cyclists have to respect cars and trucks as they are vulnerable. That is not the case in London where "Some" cyclists respect nothing- not even themselves- and it can be a bit harrowing driving or cycling there.

However away from cities and things are different. In general car drivers and motorists respect each other but once away from the main roads then a different technique is required. Many of the lanes I ride on are not much wider than a big 4x4 that seems to be the normal vehicle using them. Plenty of twists and turns and high hedges so you have to keep your ears open for vehicles that have got a lot quieter over the years. No problems as long as you realise that a car has as much right on the roads as you and they won't see you before you see them.

This is one of our "Main" Roads connecting two villages and not a back road connecting Farms.Plenty of good roads around and they are not all as scenic as this one but who wants to ride on roads where all the cars go--I don't
We took our tandem to Northern Ireland for two weeks this past summer. Our tour was planned but self-guided and we were on our own. We pretty much saw all of Counties Antrim and Down, where roughly half the population of N.I. is located. We started in Belfast, went west and then north, came back down the Antrim Coast road, through the western Belfast area to Hillsborough, across to Strangford, then down to Newcastle, finishing off with a Van Morrison concert. We were in Portstewart and Portrush on the holdiay weekend.

We had very, very few problem. Most motorists were courteous and aware. We only had two less than pleasant incidents that I can recall, one guy honking behind and one guy so close he scared my stoker, which scared me.

With almost no shouldered roads I made it a point to stop and let the cars by if more than three or four stacked up behind us.

The riding was much different from my part of TX, where last Saturday we saw five cars, with three passing us, in 15 miles.

Biggest adjustment was moving my helmet mirror to the right side and remembering to stay on the left after turning a corner. Stoker was often heard to say "move to the left, move to the left".

I would go back to the U.K. to ride anytime.

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Old 10-17-13, 11:45 AM
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I suppose that in every country you get used to what you get used to. I've felt more nervous riding in the US than here in the UK, but that's just due to less familiarity with the road conditions, I don't think it's anything to do with road width.

I don't know the stats, but I would have thought the most meaningful measure of the danger is deaths/accidents as a ratio of cycling population, as different countries have differing percentages of the general population who cycle.
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Old 10-17-13, 02:19 PM
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Oxford is a fantastically safe place to cycle. Massive numbers of cyclists, virtually no serious injuries or deaths.

Sure, the traffic is heavy, and cyclists rub up against buses and trucks etc. But speeds are low, and not much happens. The OP is an interesting example of how our perceptions of danger are more influenced by what we are used to than by facts. Oxford, with its mediaeval street pattern and heavy traffic, looks chaotic and intimidating to the American visitor. But the natives are unfazed, and do fine.
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Old 10-17-13, 02:53 PM
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I haven't been to Moscow since the Brezhnev era, but my recollection is not of a bicycle friendly city.
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Old 10-17-13, 04:12 PM
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Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
Oxford is a fantastically safe place to cycle. Massive numbers of cyclists, virtually no serious injuries or deaths.

Sure, the traffic is heavy, and cyclists rub up against buses and trucks etc. But speeds are low, and not much happens. The OP is an interesting example of how our perceptions of danger are more influenced by what we are used to than by facts. Oxford, with its mediaeval street pattern and heavy traffic, looks chaotic and intimidating to the American visitor. But the natives are unfazed, and do fine.
Read follow-up posts. 58 cycling deaths in Oxfordshire last year. Sure, people aren't getting killed on Broad Street, but injuries every day. I helped up a girl who fell on her bike while talking on her cell phone. Witnessed innumerable near crashes between cyclists and people. Cops are having special weeks to educate, and cite, cyclists for unsafe cycling practices. http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/107...enalty_ticket/

The "OP" is interested in facts and circumstances, not in making up things. Your response is without merit or facts.
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Old 10-17-13, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Terex View Post
Read follow-up posts. 58 cycling deaths in Oxfordshire last year. Sure, people aren't getting killed on Broad Street, but injuries every day. I helped up a girl who fell on her bike while talking on her cell phone. Witnessed innumerable near crashes between cyclists and people. Cops are having special weeks to educate, and cite, cyclists for unsafe cycling practices. http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/107...enalty_ticket/

The "OP" is interested in facts and circumstances, not in making up things. Your response is without merit or facts.
Without merit or facts? OK, here is a fact for you. There was a total of 122 cyclist deaths last year in the whole of the UK. Oxfordshire (which is much bigger than Oxford) is about one hundredth of the UK. The idea that there were 58 cycling deaths in Oxfordshire last year is utterly ridiculous and completely false. You are talking ignorant nonsense and should try to educate yourself before making absurd statements about things you don't understand.
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Old 10-17-13, 05:44 PM
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Boys, boys... if you read my post above you will find that the ratio of bike deaths to population is virtually the same in the two countries. Let's call it a draw.
It also appears both of our countries are much safer than Germany or Japan!
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Old 10-18-13, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Terex View Post
But, another article from Oxford states that there were 58 cycling deaths in Oxfordshire in 2011, which is a lot to me for a small area, and in my line with my perception of risk associated with riding in and around Oxford. http://www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/99...ling_injuries/ During the same period, there were only 17 cyclists killed (I know, "only"...sorry) in the entire state of New Jersey.
You're not comparing like with like. The Oxfordshire statistics refer to death/serious injury.

Statistics are like a bikini: what they show is interesting, what they hide is essential.
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Old 10-20-13, 08:30 PM
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Hey everyone - calm down!

What I'd really like to see is comparative figures on deaths/injuries per miles cycled, not per population. And maybe separate the death figures from the injured.

And I too am skeptical that the 58 deaths in 2011 is solid. If true, Oxford has indeed become a incredible death trap. But the number sounds way out of line. Deaths + injuries = 58 would more plausible - wonder what the deaths-only figure is.

I spent 8 years cycling in London and environs, before mobile phones became ubiquitous. I commuted from north to central London, about 16 miles round trip, often 4 days/nights a week, for 4 years. Later, I commuted 36 miles a day, all on city streets. Yes, the roads are narrow and curvy, but at least then, the drivers were more skilled and had to pass more stringent driver's tests. Cars too are smaller and generally handle much more nimbly.

Now at 63, I feel far more vulnerable on these wide stateside roads than I ever did there - partly due to the insidious danger of texting, phone use while driving, and GPS device use while driving. Clearly, I also feel more vulnerable with age and decreased strength.

But I don't think I would be more shy cycling anywhere in the UK now than I am in the US.

Just my $02.
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Old 10-21-13, 07:04 AM
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I had the displeasure of riding in Moscow, Kiev and Odessa over the course of five years. There were some, but not many road cyclists other than those riding for utility purposes and there was a reasonable level of respect from drivers. There were also a very high number who have disdain for road cyclists but you can find those anywhere. Was it safe? Not really, at least I never felt comfortable. This experience ended about 12 years ago so things may have changed by now.

I have ridden all over the UK without incident and a high level of regard from motorists. There are still those Travellers though...
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