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Please tell me how to safely stop on a bike

Rhea

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
6,306
I need step by step. I learned how to cycle as a child, but now living in London and an odd (and expensive!) commute to work has me riding a bike daily. I did very well on Sunday when I was out all day practicing, Mon and Tuesday, but today I had a couple of falls, both at traffic lights.

I ride a road bike in an 50 cm (xxs according to the maker) and am 5ft 3inches. The saddle is fairly low so I can learn how to stop but not so low that my knees are constantly hurting. The bit right under the saddle is straight, not swooped like a woman's bike sometimes is. I lift off the saddle, my legs both bent and peddles even, right foot in front, and try to step down with the left foot. But it's not a natural move. I can practice in parks and have it there but I can't translate it to the roads and needing to slow, stop, and often start again the second my foot touches the ground.

I've signed up for lessons and have two friends who I also work with who are riding to and from work daily with me so that's helping confidence on the road. But the free lessons have a waiting list. I've looked on the internet for videos but can really only find ones aimed at quick stops for people who are already used to stopping.

Can someone describe the process of stopping to me? Where should the peddles be? I push off with my right foot so I try to keep that one in front so I can quickly start again. Where should I be on the seat / bike as I slow down? Are there any internet videos anyone is aware of that show you how to stop?

Any help or advice would be wonderful!
 

cookies

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 5, 2010
Messages
706
I am also a beginner on road bikes. What I do is, squeeze the brake for the rear tire. When the bike is slow enough, I push the right pedal toward the bottom, while moving my butt forward from the seat to the bar. As I move forward, I lift my left foot off the pedal, and try to touch the ground. When my left foot touches or almost touches the ground, I brake the bike to full stop.

There was one time, I jumped off my bike when I saw a stop sign, AND a car crossing the bike lane. People around me were shocked and scared. Luckily I only lost some skin. After that, I received some training from my husband (boyfriend back then).

When the bike is at full stop and I stand on my left foot, I rotate the right pedal to the top with my right foot. So when it is time to start, I just push the right pedal really hard to gain some momentum. Then everything else is the opposite of the stopping process.
 

Pandora II

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
9,613
I'm no real help as I haven't ridden one in ages, but I did just want to say to please, please be careful.

If you are still working in the area of town you used to, then half the drivers there have no licence, no insurance and are blooming awful drivers. My BIL rides his a lot in that area and has already had a couple of accidents (and he's very careful).

DH used to ride a bike to work but after one too many near misses he gave it up. Sorry to be the voice of doom, but round there just walking is pretty dicey.
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
1. Always brake both front and back tires together gently if there is sufficient time.
2. If you wish, you can also only brake the back tire.
3. NEVER brake the front tire only. Unless you are pro, this will likely end up in you crashing head over heels if you were at a moderate to fast pace. This is the first thing to learn. Always get used to stopping using your rear wheel brake, or both front and rear.
4. I normally ask people to learn stopping with the rear brake as using both might be too abrupt. Save it for times that you need the sudden stops.
5. When you are about to stop, unhitch your left foot or right foot (depending on where the curbs are - aim for the side with the curb. So if the curbs are on your left, let your left foot dangle straight down, almost fully extended)
6. Slowly brake, then let your bicycle tilt slightly to the side where your foot is unhitched as you come to a complete stop.
7. Leave the foot that is still on the pedal in a 2'oclock position (meaning, just past the apex of the pedal so that if you push off with it you will be able to move forward)
8. When you start again, push off with your foot that is on the pedal still, then lift your other foot off the ground and place it back on the pedal and start peddling.
9. Why lean towards the curb is because it is safer. If you fall over: you will fall away from traffic. If you have a curb, your leg can rest against it, so your angle of tilt is smaller.

Ride safe, and right of way isn't as important as coming home intact.
 

Rhea

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
6,306
Cookie - thank you for the description, it very easy to imagine and I think that's similar to what I do, except with my other leg! I'm told I also take my second foot off the pedal, which I shouldn't do. I'm still trying to get used to what foot to put down.

Pandora - I work in SE1 and go through E&C by the back roads. It's pretty quiet so I feel okay at the moment, but the mornings are an easier ride than the afternoons. Drivers seem less patient in the afternoons. And I have say, the other cyclists are nearly as scary as the drivers!

Tristan - Your step-by-step is very helpful, thank you! I think I'm still getting the feet confused through.

________________________

I minded what I did both to and from work today. I grew up in the US where you drive on the right hand side of the road and now live in the UK where you drive on the left hand side of the road. I typically need to be on the left-hand side and that's where most of my curbs are so I can put my left foot down.

When I do what comes naturally I put my right peddle at approx 11 /12 o'clock, my left peddle 5 / 6 o'clock, and step down to the ground with my right foot, leaving my left foot in place, I put most of my weight on my left leg to do this. Since I can't push off like that easily I use my stopping time to spin the peddles around so right is at 2 / 3 o'clock and left is opposite.

It's clumsy. So I tried to do it both Cookie and Tristan's way on the way to work and I think that's where I get confused and fall. I can't seem to put my left foot down first so I don't have to switch legs to push off unless I'm by a curb, and I concentrate so hard on getting the peddles where I need them to push off again that I just wrap my feet up and stumble and fall. I'm so graceful!!

When I think about what my partner is telling me to do...well, see 1st post...

Cookie and Tristan - is it practice? Any other tips for getting my feet and peddles in the correct position?

I really do appreciate the step-by-step you both gave. It was very helpful in thinking about how to do it and what it should look like.
 

cookies

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 5, 2010
Messages
706
Addy, sorry to hear that you fell! I hope you didn't get injured.

I easily panic on busy roads. When I panic, I cannot stay focused and learn. So I practiced in a park first for a few days. The park has bike lanes. It also allows cars and has parking lots. During my practice, I ran into some cars (occasionally) at the stop sign, but it was not too bad. I was still able to remain calm (except that one incident). Once I got comfortable, I tried riding with the (light-normal) traffic, and was able to manage, even though I didn't feel safe.

However, there is no way I could bike in NYC. The traffic there is just crazy. I have no idea about London, but if it is as bad, I think you should practice quite a bit in a safer place first.
 

Rhea

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
6,306
Cookie, don't be sorry! It's not nearly as bad as it sounds. Technically my person leaves the bikes, usually by side stepping it when I realise it's going down and I save myself, so it's a fall. In reality, I cycle mostly along cycle routes, crossing roads occasionally and usually on foot at the crossings. I can mostly certainly stop and not have my person leave the bike and the bike crash to the ground, but I do it with the wrong foot for what you and Tristan both do and then I have trouble starting again and the peddles are in the wrong place for me to easily start again.

So I'm learning, and most certainly avoiding busy roads! I figure in the process of learning how to do it both safely and correctly I'm bound to mess up. I hope to commit the steps to memory and get them to come naturally, I'm just not there yet and haven't made any noticeable progress in the couple of months I've been trying - so frustrating, to both me and my friends who are patient in learning routes but not so patient in the basics - so the steps are helpful. I'll get there!
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
Hmm, I think the problem in your case is instinct. And nothing else.

Can I make you practice this?

1. Everytime you get on the bike, mount only from the LEFT. As in, swing your weight over the saddle from the left side. Don't ever get on from the right.

This way you always start with your left foot on the ground.

2. At every stop, make sure you end up with your left foot on the ground, not your right After you are at a complete stop. Then cycle your peddles around to whatever position you need.

3. When you are cruising on a comfortable slow pace, like near big parks, or clear roads or near home with less traffic or something, just try cruising with your LEFT leg off the pedal. It will seem weird the first two days, but you'll need the practice so that when you come to a stop, sticking your left leg off the pedal becomes much more natural. Eventually, it will come naturally to you. I need to do this if I switch to a right hand drive country too. It is hard even for experienced people.

Otherwise you'll fall because your mind says left leg off, your body says right leg off. You might end up both legs off, or confused wondering which leg off, then you'll fall cos you need to stop.

We can try to allow instinct to lead you, but there is a risk. Simply because when you get MUCH better, your leg extension will be 2degrees off full extension, and you will barely be able to get your leg on the ground unless you lean the bike waay over. I feel uncomfortable having you lean over into traffic instead of into the curb.
 

pwendyp

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Apr 18, 2007
Messages
308
hi Addy

I think Tristan has it spot on, in both his thinking on where your head is at when cycling, and his description of how to do the actual cycling. It must be hard and alien for you, having made the crossover from right hand roads to our left hand ones! I sympathise, and have no clue at all how to ride on right hand roads, but can totally visualise Tristan's descriptions. Practice is key, to allow new cycling habits to form over the top of your old instincts.

I've ridden more than a few years, and remember well when roads weren't so choked as now, and would barely dare to venture into London on a bike, so admire you for that! I used to cart my daughter around on the back of my cycle, in a little seat - so handy and cute, but I only rode in very very quiet times, and we lived in a fairly quiet area. Not sure I could ever risk a child seat now!

I also spent a little time in Amsterdam...oh the land of the cycle! They are expert out there, and almost all the roads have cycle lanes, which have right of way (I think still - mostly) over cars! I remember being there seeing a guy who had a gorgeous old fashioned black cycle, and just said to me 'sit side saddle on the cross bar' He then wizzed me through the streets of 'dam at quite a brisk pace!! It was total fun!

I wish you very good luck in your practice...do lots of it, so you feel really secure in your footing, what Tristan said really was spot on.

:))
 

pregcurious

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 18, 2009
Messages
6,724
TristanC|1312440451|2983852 said:
1. Always brake both front and back tires together gently if there is sufficient time.
2. If you wish, you can also only brake the back tire.
3. NEVER brake the front tire only. Unless you are pro, this will likely end up in you crashing head over heels if you were at a moderate to fast pace. This is the first thing to learn. Always get used to stopping using your rear wheel brake, or both front and rear.
4. I normally ask people to learn stopping with the rear brake as using both might be too abrupt. Save it for times that you need the sudden stops.
5. When you are about to stop, unhitch your left foot or right foot (depending on where the curbs are - aim for the side with the curb. So if the curbs are on your left, let your left foot dangle straight down, almost fully extended)
6. Slowly brake, then let your bicycle tilt slightly to the side where your foot is unhitched as you come to a complete stop.
7. Leave the foot that is still on the pedal in a 2'oclock position (meaning, just past the apex of the pedal so that if you push off with it you will be able to move forward)
8. When you start again, push off with your foot that is on the pedal still, then lift your other foot off the ground and place it back on the pedal and start peddling.
9. Why lean towards the curb is because it is safer. If you fall over: you will fall away from traffic. If you have a curb, your leg can rest against it, so your angle of tilt is smaller.

Ride safe, and right of way isn't as important as coming home intact.
The first 3 are what I remember from being a kid.
 

Rhea

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 20, 2007
Messages
6,306
Just a quick update...

It's working!! I've been riding for an additional month and had been concentrating very hard on how I stop following all of TristanC, pwendyp, and Cookie's instructions! It's become easier and easier and now I don't have to think about it much at all.

Also, I finally got my phone call about my free one-to-one bike lessons. I took 5 hours of those so I'm doing much better! I may go for lessons again in another couple of months (would have to pay for those) since the instructor didn't get as far as I wanted to with what I was taught. I think maybe I should've have hit the beginner button when they asked where I was at with riding. I enjoyed learning the basics, but it could've moved on from them more quickly to actually being in traffic, which I need to do a bit everyday.

A friend and I are riding together tomorrow along the river and it's all going very swell! Thanks again all!
 

MishB

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Aug 16, 2008
Messages
656
I'm still getting used to riding my road bike with proper bikes shoes with cleats and clip-in pedals.

I had one low speed fall when the bike leant to the side where my foot was still clipped in, and a near miss today, in the traffic, it was a bit scary.

My tip is just practice, and consistency. With clip ins, you have to 'choose' a foot that you will always unclip, and stick with that foot. Usually the foot that is on the curb side makes the most sense. My worst habit is to come off the saddle and put my foot on the ground too early, before the bike comes to a full stop, then the foot skids along the ground a little.

There are videos on the internet about this, I know.

Try this one, Sheldon Brown has some pretty good advice for beginner cyclists.

http://www.sheldonbrown.com/starting.html
 
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