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Riding in peak hour traffic

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by Donuts, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. Hi guys,

    I'm yet to ride in 'peak hour' traffic - somewhat close once but not the real deal. To be honest, at times even DRIVING in peak hour traffic scares me sometimes - so many stupid maneuvers occuring around me freaks me out. I generally consider myself a 'good driver', as do my friends (I'm only 20), and as such assume my awareness will give me a good upper hand on the bike as it does in the car (do a fair bit of driving and have avoided my share of close calls that I would'nt have been at fault in).

    Basically, I've always imagined traffic travels in "groups", and there is generally a gap between each group because of lights etc. I know this is true for most of the day, but when there is so much traffic around does this still happen? If I get to the front of a few sets of lights and get ahead of the group, will I be relatively alone or still travelling with a bunch of non-indicating idiots?

    Any other tips on dealing with peak hour? Or do you avoid it all together? If location makes any difference, I'd be riding along Burwood Hwy -> Blackburn Rd -> Westall Rd -> Springvale road. Burwood and Blackburn are probably the busiest and two I am most concerned about, so any tips and pointers (other than "Assume you're invisible", which I can and do, but with so many cars around all moving between lanes with little personal space this is hard to do).

    Thanks in advance :cool:
  2. In peak our no matter how many 'groups' you get in front of there are always slow motion drivers up ahead and you'll have to join their 'group', but at least you're not in a cage and have to sit back and wait.

    Split all the way!!!

    Once you get used to it you'll have fun!
  3. That's alright, I can deal with sitting back and waiting behind a group so long as I don't have a car right behind + alongside me - that would be too stressful for me, heh, especially when it's time for them to change lanes erratically (I've came up with a pretty good theory, as soon as a car taps it's brakes assume it is indicating to change lanes, as this is what generally follows with or without the orange flashing :evil: ). So there remains a space between groups that I can sit in? So long as I don't need to sit in the middle of the actual group with everyone trying to get to the front, I can deal with it :).

    Of course, I will eventually be moving up to splitting too hopefully, the problem with Blackburn Rd is the lanes are so narrow for a lot of it that splitting would be impossible :(.
  4. TBH I don't mind peak hour traffic because although it's unpredictable, the no-rules nature of it makes me feel a lot less guilty about filtering through.
  5. I enjoy peak hour traffic, I used to mainly stay in the left lane because then I only have to worry about what the lane next to me is doing rather than worry about 2 lanes. I travel along Burwood Hwy from Upwey to Toorak Rd. Its good filtering to the front of the queue at the lights.
  6. So I should be right just diving straight in? I've got to get a lot more practice up, I want to get a bike before semester 2 and start riding to Uni more - weather permitting of course :LOL: just another excuse not to go :wink:
  7. where ever you can, dont sit in the middle lanes. you expose yourself in the left side lanes blind spot and the right side blind spot.

    Sit in left or right lanes.

    Rider position, if you go to the left lane and on the left side of the lane, you can be hidden between 2 cars. another car can go oh look a gap between 2 4wds and merge into you. if in the left lane ride towards teh right side of the left lane. (same for the right lane but oppsite, left side of the right lane)

    If you can try not to sit in blind spots of other vehicles, i know its hard in peak hour. dont focus on the car infront of you, try to see ahead and predict stops, watch out for idiots who dont 'see' or 'look' for you, dont rely on the horn [personal experience: horn, guy looks at me, still merges into me]
    cover your brakes and be prepaired for idiots.

    when stopped in traffic leave enough escape room, always some idiot who thinks its a good idea to read teh newspaper in traffic, doesnt see the stoped stream of cars, and sandwiches you. when you stop, put in first look at the rear view mirror and see if the cage behind you is going to stop, if not get ready to get outta the way.

    where abouts are you located, which uni do you go to?
  8. Positioning on the road is very important, as stated above.

    Just as important is understanding and predicting what is happening and about to happen around you.
    Always look well ahead. If there is a lane ending check what vehicles are around and predict who is going to move where and position your self accordingly.

    I find the evenings worse than the mornings and Fridays worse than the Mondays. When people are coming home they are thinking about the day etc and not so much what is happening around them. Just allow for this.

    An important thing I do after each ride or scare or incident, is to analyse what happened and assess what i could do better in the future to avoid it. This is a great way of ensuring you don't repeat the same mistakes twice.
  9. All good tips!!
    Just remember it's also important to 'own' your lane.
    Move around in your lane to your advantage, depending on the traffic conditions. Especially when approaching vehicles in side-streets ahead intending to either merge or cross. Make yourself as visible to them as possible.
  10. Near Frankston, and Deakin in Burwood - so Frankston Fwy -> Springy -> Westall -> Blackburn -> Burwood Hwy. About a 50 KM trip each way.

    Thanks for the post guys, helpful stuff :). When riding in normal traffic I always sit in the middle lane where I can, I always felt like it gave me 2 options instead of 1 but I also didn't have cars either side of me, only 1. I think I'd sit in the right lane along Burwood hwy, left lane is always ridiculous (parked cars, people pulling out, always something wrong with it), right lane just leaves the u-turners and people wanting to turn right up ahead (along with the "hey my lane is 0.5 km/h slower than that lane, I'd better change now without looking" :wink: )

    I read the topic you have posts in VCM about people always pulling out infront of you (pretty sure it was you :oops: ), helpful tips in there (doing slaloms in your lane, etc) - seen quite a few people riding as described in that thread and it definitely gets drivers attention - girl I usually share drive with goes "what the hell is that bike doing?", instead of not noticing the bike like she usually does :roll: ).

    I already spend more time looking ahead in the car than just at the car infront, and also like to try and hone my skills by trying to pick when a car is going to change lanes erratically 5 seconds before it happens (I get most of them :)), along with be concious of what is happening ahead and responding to it).

    Hm, one thing that would worry me in the heavy stuff in on the 2 lane road (blackburn), right turners block the right lane and everyone makes a mad dash to get into the left. Any tips when I'm riding past them all in the left? Drop down a gear to be a bit louder, brake covered... sit in the left or right hand wheel track?

    Cheers guys :)
  11. +1 - great tips. Don't split until you ready.
  12. I did this route (outbound) for four years, and yes, it's a biatch.

    The lanes on Blackburn road are not very wide in places - they've squeezed an extra one in here and there. I tended to split only where the traffic came to a standstill around High Street Road, Ferntree Gully Road etc. Cameras at High Street IIRC. Unmarked BMWs work this section at times.

    Once they get over the Monash they can pick up a bit of speed and that makes them dangerous. For the most part, I would stick to the centre lane, as approaching Wellington (and also Dandenong Road) road a lot of them would wake up and suddenly decide they needed to turn left or right (across me!).

    Once you get to Dandenong road, and again at McNaughton, if you are on a red you can choose whichever lane you want because you will be able to accelerate away and position yourself for the right turn into Westall. Beware of trucks cutting your lane off at Westall, though. You can give it a nice bit of wrist down to Centre Road if it's clear but don't keep it up past the intersection as the plod often position themselves down towards the rail overpass.
  13. I definitely won't be splitting for a while, thanks again for the posts guys especially yours titus.

    When you say Cameras at High Street, do you mean red light or ?

    I've never seen any police along Westall but I will be mindful of this too. In the car I always do the left turn onto Dandenong in the middle lane (becoming the right) and usually hang back as everyone else cuts across madly to make the Westall turn. I've always assumed on a bike though that if I get a red left, I can easily split to the front (long light + ride lane usually fairly empty), then get ahead and get to the front of the McNaughtons lights and/or Westall lights before anyone - if not I will be travelling straight through the green and missing the initial rush anyway, win win.

    Peak hour going home is definitely worse, it's not so bad on the way up. I've just had a look at my timetable for next semester, other than a a lecture than finishes at 7 ( :shock: ), looks like I will generally be leaving just after 4 which isn't so bad, just means I get soccer mum traffic and should just beat the start of peak hour :). Also by the time I leave after 7 I should be catching the tail (I think - not 100% sure ;))
  14. Hm, I just realised it's entirely possible for me to ride via Westernport Hwy -> Monash Fwy then get off at Blackburn. Better? I haven't been on the Monash for a while, is it still a mess? I generally don't go that way because when it's busy, it's a carpark and when it's not busy times, the other way is generally faster, especially with all roundabouts (which aren't a problem on a bike)
  15. Its still crappy, stone get flung up in certain sections, some sections have snakies or the road lines grinded out and htey kinda pull u in their direction. havent been down that way for a while cuz of road works. got enough stone chips...

    Starting to get the idea. always good to be louder, be ready to swirve. gearing down gives you the option of better torque to rev past if possible. +1 to covering your brake, i tend to go towards the middle, but there is no cetrain way due to the unpredictable amount of cars, how long they've been banked up, how late some idiot is because they couldnt get up 5 mins earlier, or too busy doin make up in their cage on the way to work, etc. etc. etc. just use extream caution
  16. Thanks :). Then again hopefully I will be ahead of the pack and watching all of that crap happen in my rear view mirror :LOL:
  17. My 3rd ride was in peak traffic. Tonight I rode from the city to Upwey via Burwood Highway, it was getting quite busy a lot of people like me do finish work at 4.00pm.

    I think riding in peak traffic improves your skills. You learn to pull up quickly without locking the brakes, when you see that traffic light going red and you are doing 80km/h. You learn to improve your hill starts. You learn to take off quicker at the lights.. You start thinking where did everyone go as you leave them behind. You learn to ride in the rain. You also see other people on bikes and can watch how they ride.

    Have found the left lane to be a constantly changing lane with people constantly entering and leaving. You also learn to do lane changes, like when your lane is out to be merge, and you do all this under pressure.

    I had about 4 cars all decide that they didn't want to be held up by the tram and all them tried to get in my lane. So you learn to speed out of the way of trouble to avoid it.

    Riding in peak traffic is great fun!!!
  18. keep your eyes where your going not behind you (i get what you mean thou :LOL: )

    nooo you just end up catching another group of traffic or a few riceboys who think their shopping list on the side of their car will help them race and beat you..... sometimes i dont even bother