Path design causes riding problems

#1
Path designers around here (Denver) seem in love with narrow short sharp right-angle entrances to the frequent river/creek crossings. I've found only two with a paved knuckle at the entrance, none built on a diagonal. They also love narrow, short, diving and sharply turning entrances to underpasses with iron railings on the river side. And we have busy busy multi-use paths, especially around downtown area.

My cadence-sensing bike (Magnum Metro) takes about a half rotation for the assist to kick in - just enough to shove me clear across the path if I have to slow/stop for on-coming traffic at a bridge entrance. Struggling to learn how to feather those hydraulic brakes just enough to let me pedal without assist, never had hydraulics before.

The underpasses scare me. Can't see under there, no idea if someone is oncoming and not staying in their lane, underpasses go underwater when the river/creek runs high and so are great for collecting loose gravel; my vivid imagination has me hitting a patch too fast, sliding out with me into the railing and the bike into the river. My speed drops precipitously entering one but most folks seem to fly thru them.

My bike skills were pretty rusty last year when I returned to riding and now with an e-bike I'm finding out just how rusty. Any tips/tricks for dealing with these/similar problems? Is the gravel on path bit just a matter of getting used to the paths, knowing where/when they might have problems and I need to slow and when I can just go?

All in all it seems to me that the paths were afterthoughts put in place by highway engineers.

BTW - bug season has just started here along the river. Didn't eat any yesterday but did have a few fly into the vents on my helmet and crawl. around in the few hairs left up there. Rather disconcerting feeling at 20 mph.
 
#2
Path designers around here (Denver) seem in love with narrow short sharp right-angle entrances to the frequent river/creek crossings. I've found only two with a paved knuckle at the entrance, none built on a diagonal. They also love narrow, short, diving and sharply turning entrances to underpasses with iron railings on the river side. And we have busy busy multi-use paths, especially around downtown area.

My cadence-sensing bike (Magnum Metro) takes about a half rotation for the assist to kick in - just enough to shove me clear across the path if I have to slow/stop for on-coming traffic at a bridge entrance. Struggling to learn how to feather those hydraulic brakes just enough to let me pedal without assist, never had hydraulics before.

The underpasses scare me. Can't see under there, no idea if someone is oncoming and not staying in their lane, underpasses go underwater when the river/creek runs high and so are great for collecting loose gravel; my vivid imagination has me hitting a patch too fast, sliding out with me into the railing and the bike into the river. My speed drops precipitously entering one but most folks seem to fly thru them.

My bike skills were pretty rusty last year when I returned to riding and now with an e-bike I'm finding out just how rusty. Any tips/tricks for dealing with these/similar problems? Is the gravel on path bit just a matter of getting used to the paths, knowing where/when they might have problems and I need to slow and when I can just go?

All in all it seems to me that the paths were afterthoughts put in place by highway engineers.

BTW - bug season has just started here along the river. Didn't eat any yesterday but did have a few fly into the vents on my helmet and crawl. around in the few hairs left up there. Rather disconcerting feeling at 20 mph.
We have this problem in my community too. It’s caused here by traffic engineers trying to get bike paths to make use of existing traffic signals. It can involve riding straight, making a 90 degree turn, pushing a signal button, waiting, starting your bike again, riding across a six lane road, going up a narrow ramp, and making another 90 degree turn. It can be intimidating.
This isn’t sexy advice, but Ijust took a fall on my bike yesterday trying to make a sharp turn transitioning from a dirt to pavement path. Luckily, nothing was hurt but my dignity.
When in doubt, get off the bike and walk it. Push the light signal, cross at the pedestrian crossing, whatever.
I get the side eye from other riders, but I tell myself that a broken collarbone looks a lot more ridiculous than walking my bike.
Also, try to find a quiet place, and practice making those turns. It’s important. I was reading somewhere that the majority cycling injuries are actually caused by crashes into objects.
Also, there’s information on mtb sites on how to ride through gravel and loose dirt. Panic and hit the brakes and you’re more likely to crash, especially on a turn. It’s a special skill set, and I need to work on it.
Maybe again, you could practice on dirt/gravel in a less traffic place?
 
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harryS

Well-Known Member
#3
I think you might be going too fast for your current skill level. Bike paths were not designed for 20 mph. Keep riding though, and you should be able to figure it out.

I only have hydraulics on my hybrid, and I don't know offhand if a little slack can be put into the lever. On my e-bikes, there's enough slack that I can feather the mechanical brakes and shut off the motor w/o slowing the bike much at all.

Last week, I decided to make a right turn off our path onto the sidewalk and see if the riding would be interesting. My wife complained about the light pole she almost hit. Ummm, what light pole? In our car, she hits corners much faster than I do, so I always drive. Must be the same on a bike.
 
#4
I think you might be going too fast for your current skill level. Bike paths were not designed for 20 mph. Keep riding though, and you should be able to figure it out.

I only have hydraulics on my hybrid, and I don't know offhand if a little slack can be put into the lever. On my e-bikes, there's enough slack that I can feather the mechanical brakes and shut off the motor w/o slowing the bike much at all.

Last week, I decided to make a right turn off our path onto the sidewalk and see if the riding would be interesting. My wife complained about the light pole she almost hit. Ummm, what light pole? In our car, she hits corners much faster than I do, so I always drive. Must be the same on a bike.
You said it in way fewer words. Thanks. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean that you should”?
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
#6
I don't know how long you've had your bike, but you mentioned bugs. Put a flashing light on your bike at night and it calls out to every bug within the county. They just hover in clouds on the path in the dark, hoping the love of their life is coming, but it's only you and me.

Low speed maneuvers do take a bit of time to adopt. On my first ebike, which is less flexible, it's better to shut it off if I ride into a crowd. Others, I can drop into PAS assist 0, which is the same effect.

Some people, like me, find all of the changing gears as you slow down or speed up, adjusting PAS, etc, to be a lot of fun. Others want electronics to handle that.
 

rich c

Well-Known Member
#7
Engineers are highly trained professionals. They just don't design without purpose, these curves and transitions are there to control speed an provide safe paths. One of your issues is the cadence sensor. The exact reason I prefer torque sensing systems to get a smooth natural pedal feel. "Spandexter bombers"? No wonder they don't like "cheaters". Amazing how divided everyone is at this time in history. So many haters for those that aren't exactly like us!
 
#10
Path designers around here (Denver) seem in love with narrow short sharp right-angle entrances to the frequent river/creek crossings. I've found only two with a paved knuckle at the entrance, none built on a diagonal. They also love narrow, short, diving and sharply turning entrances to underpasses with iron railings on the river side. And we have busy busy multi-use paths, especially around downtown area.

My cadence-sensing bike (Magnum Metro) takes about a half rotation for the assist to kick in - just enough to shove me clear across the path if I have to slow/stop for on-coming traffic at a bridge entrance. Struggling to learn how to feather those hydraulic brakes just enough to let me pedal without assist, never had hydraulics before.

The underpasses scare me. Can't see under there, no idea if someone is oncoming and not staying in their lane, underpasses go underwater when the river/creek runs high and so are great for collecting loose gravel; my vivid imagination has me hitting a patch too fast, sliding out with me into the railing and the bike into the river. My speed drops precipitously entering one but most folks seem to fly thru them.

My bike skills were pretty rusty last year when I returned to riding and now with an e-bike I'm finding out just how rusty. Any tips/tricks for dealing with these/similar problems? Is the gravel on path bit just a matter of getting used to the paths, knowing where/when they might have problems and I need to slow and when I can just go?

All in all it seems to me that the paths were afterthoughts put in place by highway engineers.

BTW - bug season has just started here along the river. Didn't eat any yesterday but did have a few fly into the vents on my helmet and crawl. around in the few hairs left up there. Rather disconcerting feeling at 20 mph.
Im north of you in the Boulder to Broomfield area, same things although in Boulder the underpasses are REALLY low. Ripped a headlight off a helmet a few years back. I did inline skate all the denver trails about 10 years ago so Im familiar with them. IF you ever get the chance try the 36 bikeway path, its wonderfully designed.

I personally love all the path/underpass variations although I come more from a MTB background so none of this gives me issues. I have had a few close calls (which always seem to be with the onewheel electric skateboards). In the end, I was probably going too fast as well. At least we dont have ice collecting in the underpasses anymore this year

Your bike behavior is exactly what I dont like about PAS only systems (I test rode several and just didnt like them at all). What you describe as 'lurching' is what happens when your assist level is high. I think the only way around that is use the throttle to get going/back up to speed again(or reduce the PAS level)

If you have brake cutouts for the motor(im positive you do), that can also cause unpredictability and may prevent you from using them to feather the power as they will just cut the power and then power come on a few seconds later. My Juiced CCX does this and it drives me insane. I thought about disabling them but the CCX can do some weird stuff with 1 foot resting on the pedal (like trying to take off). I always make sure while on the CCX waiting to cross a crosswalk street that I have both brakes engaged. There is also considerable motor run-on where the motor still powers for a sec or two after you stop pedaling.

None of this behavior exist on the popular well designed mid-drives (brose, bosch etc...). You can feather the brakes and load up with pedal pressure to get going again slowly.

The best advice I can offer is seat time and practice. I practice maximum braking at least 1 time per ride, usually from my highest speed for that ride.
 
#13
Engineers are highly trained professionals. They just don't design without purpose, these curves and transitions are there to control speed an provide safe paths.
More than anything else I think the curves and transitions are reflective of the era they were built in. There are sections further south than Denver on the trail, built years later than the northern sections, that are much more comfortable for bikes; bridges cross the river on a diagonal, or have large knuckles at both ends.

I'll have to do some research now, got me interested in exactly when different trails/sections of trails were built here.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
#14
This was Wednesday's problem on the route to our bike path. Stolen car hits a cop. Other cops give chase which roars past my subdivision. Running gunfight ends 1/4 mile from my house with capture. Good grief, gunfire 100 yards from the local school. I could have been riding there.

We routinely ride the sidewalk on either side of the street below. When I heard the news copters circling over my house, I rode my ebike over, expecting to see a bad crash and hoping family wasn't involved. By that time, it was full of emergency vehicles and street was blocked to traffic, but I ambled down the sidewalk on my bike.

Whoa, they kicked me out, put up tape on the sidewalk, and I didn't know what had happened til I got home, A neighbor said he had heard the gunshots earlier. Pic from news copter shows 5 holes in the windshield.

https://abc7chicago.com/bolingbrook...after-being-struck-at-scene-of-crash/5257837/

kaboom.jpg
 
#16
Your bike behavior is exactly what I dont like about PAS only systems (I test rode several and just didnt like them at all). What you describe as 'lurching' is what happens when your assist level is high. I think the only way around that is use the throttle to get going/back up to speed again(or reduce the PAS level)
While none will match torque sensing, not all PAS/cadence sensing systems are created equal. A couple that I tried are notable. Rad Power has a PAS system where the input power, and thus the torque (at lower speeds), is proportional to the PAS level. Thus, if you dial in a low PAS level you get a gentle nudge. The gentle nudge should be maintained through the speed range. The Magnum Metro was the opposite and the worst of the cadence systems I tried. It gave a hard shove at low speeds even at PAS level 1. You had to turn off pedal assist entirely to eliminate this. Meanwhile, the assistance caps out at a certain speed based on PAS level (lower speeds for lower levels).

For the technically minded, this is probably because they are using a conventional (i.e. simple) controller where the voltage is proportional to the PAS level but current is limited at low speeds. You can see this effect on the motor simulator at https://www.ebikes.ca/tools/simulator.html. By default, the torque (blue line, measured in Newton-Meters) stays high at low speed even if you decrease the throttle, while you see the assist speed being reduced. You have to select a custom controller and select "Amps" type in the pulldown to get the nice behavior Rad Power gives. (Unfortunately, the chart doesn't plot input power directly, so have to slide the line over it to see it.)
 
#17
The Magnum Metro was the opposite and the worst of the cadence systems I tried. It gave a hard shove at low speeds even at PAS level 1. You had to turn off pedal assist entirely to eliminate this.
Found that out, I'm still trying to learn to feather the brake but I'm now going to PAS O for uncertain spots, until my skills get better.
 

harryS

Well-Known Member
#18
While none will match torque sensing, not all PAS/cadence sensing systems are created equal. A couple that I tried are notable. Rad Power has a PAS system where the input power, and thus the torque (at lower speeds), is proportional to the PAS level. Thus, if you dial in a low PAS level you get a gentle nudge. The gentle nudge should be maintained through the speed range. The Magnum Metro was the opposite and the worst of the cadence systems I tried. It gave a hard shove at low speeds even at PAS level 1. You had to turn off pedal assist entirely to eliminate this. Meanwhile, the assistance caps out at a certain speed based on PAS level (lower speeds for lower levels).
Nice explanation, Greg. I like the cadence assist from a KT controller, which we have on most of our ebikes. Similar to the Rad's I would guess. The current delivery is matched to the assist level. It also helps when your desired speed is near the top of a given assist level. Then the motor assist and leg assist are better matched.

Others are like your Magnum example. Crude and off to the races.