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Man, that was close....(18 posts)

Man, that was close....Atombomber
Aug 18, 2001 7:27 PM
Why do drivers feel they MUST pass cyclists? On my ride today, which was great until this altercation, I was feeling really good. Power, breathing, spin, all felt great. Part of one of my regular loops takes me through a designated park area, where the speed limit is 30km/h. With the wind not in my face like it has been all summer, I was comfortably cranking out at around 38km/h. I was going over 25% faster than the posted speed limit, and some chick (I use this term to describe only those women who piss me off) decides to pass me. On most such occasions, cars give ample room when they pass, and more often than not will wait until on-coming traffic is gone, and move into that lane as they go by me. Well, the chick (confirmed later) is on a mission. I didn't hear her approach, or even sense her, so I can surmise she's raced up pretty fast, and goes by, and clips me with her mirror. I happened so fast, and I am greatful that I have the biking skills that I have, because I didn't crash, or even lose speed. I came close to taking myself out on some parked cars though, but fortunately didn't. Since there are a number of pedestrian controlled crossings, I tried to catch up with the newer black Honda Civic. She stopped for the ensuing next red, (and don't harp too much on me), and I caught up, and banged onto her passenger side window, scaring her quite a bit. I didn't yell, but firmly stated what had happened, and she was aware that she made contact with me, but didn't care. She said I should have ridden further to the right, and she didn't know how much room she had. Since both I and the bike were fine, I just let it go, and did/could not memorize the plate numbers. (I don't ride with pen and paper).

SO that was the excitement of my day. The rest of the ride went without a problem. No more cars hit me or even cut me off, no pedestrians jumped out in front while jay-walking, no animals to avoid or sprint from, etc. But, just to end on a low note, while in a state of a solo 150km euphoric tiredness, I ran over some glass not 500m from home, and sliced my rear Vredestein, and puctured. Walked home, since the tire was toast, and would have blown the second tube.

Cycling, its the variety that keeps it fun.
re: Man, that was close....SamDC
Aug 18, 2001 8:01 PM
That's one cold woman... glad to read that you're ok, however.
re: Man, that was close....Bruno S
Aug 18, 2001 8:35 PM
Today's group ride was very large. Maybe 70-80. When there are two lanes usually the group takes the whole right lane and most cars will past in the left lane. Today there was this guy that instead of passing started honking like crazing and shouting that we should ride in single file or something. The guy was shouting without opening the windows so I could not hear him. After 1 or 2 minutes of continuos honking one rider starts shouting back: Shut the phuck up!! Shut the phuck up!! So the guy in the car accelerates to the front of the pack driving very closely and then sways into it forcing several riders to break and move right. Then he pulled away very fast. By this time we are getting to a police car thats parked just ahead. And what is police doing? Giving a ticket to another roadie becuase he did not stop at the stop sign. The policeman was completly unaware of what had just happened. Unbelievable.
that was closer that you thinknuke
Aug 18, 2001 9:09 PM
You really should contact the police in these situations. In this particular case, it seems that the biker was in the right and the female driver errantly took possession of his lane.

In Texas, a cyclist is only asked to ride to the right of a lane if we meet two conditions: (1) there is only one lane available in our direction and (2) it is safe to do so (meaning there is not debris in our path AND that the lane is wide enough for a car and a bike to safely pass each other in the lane). In cases where there are two lanes in our direction, a cyclist may take the entire lane, period. I usually ride to the right of a lane, as long as it is safe to do so.

But the main reason I think it is important to contact the police in these matters is a matter of education of a simple fact that is overlooked simply because we're on a bicycle. IMPORTANT: Even if I'm wrong as a cyclist, that does not give anyone the right to threaten me with my life in order to prove their point!

When you're up against a 2 ton vehicle, you WILL lose! You could die in this altercation! Do these drivers ever really realize that? I've asked some...and read polls about some that were, they don't! They don't really stop to think that hey, I could kill that person! We are no different than a fast moving pedestrian when it comes to our physical vulnerability; when was the last time a car driver decided to nudge a pedestrian with his car just because they didn't think they should be on the road?

I've had this situation happen to me before (being run off the road/nudged by a driver). When I explained to the driver at the red light what happened (yes, I was actually calm), he very irately yelled that I shouldn't be on the road. I told him that I would contact the police. I did. I asked the police department to speak with him while I considered a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. I did not file the charge as he resigned to show understanding of the law, even though he didn't like it. Besides, neither I nor my bike received any damage. And I'm more interested in educating all of us (cyclists too) to be able to "just get along" on the road.

I know the laws of my road, but I still ride in order to survive the realities.
Aug 19, 2001 5:28 AM
There are two laws which govern us in Texas (as far as where we can ride on the road) - one states that if we are going slower than the flow of traffic, we have to stay as far to the right as we safely can (in some cases, that means taking the lane - such as on a narrow curve or over a narrow bridge, etc.) - it doesn't matter if there are one, two, three, etc. lanes there - we must stay as close to the right as we can.

The second law describes who can and can not ride in improved shoulders - cars can not, bikes, emergency vehicles, police, etc. can.

When it comes time to deal with the police (after getting hit, etc.) you will find there are many ways these laws are interpreted (at one point I was told by an officer in Lakeway that I should have been out in the lane on a speed limit 60 road with a wide improved shoulder...) - when it comes down to dealing with insurance co's, or in court, the actual law is what is adhered to, though.

I guess my point would be that unless you need to take the lane for safety reasons (or because you are making a left, etc.) don't assume that you legally can - even if there are two lanes - because according to the law, you can not.
control your road when there's no roomclub
Aug 19, 2001 5:56 AM
when cars are approaching from behind and in front on a narrow road, don't hug the right, but ride far enough into the traffic lane to prevent idiots from trying to squeeze by. Then when the way ahead is clear for the cars behing, swing back to the right, maybe even wave them on. The drivers that aren't total idiots will see what you're doing and not get freaked out. The others will get pissed, but better them pissed than you hit. It's called effective cycling.
control your road when there's no roompackfill
Aug 19, 2001 1:21 PM
I have to agree. When on narrow roads with no shoulder, its the only way to be safe.

sociopathic cyclistsA. Provaceteur
Aug 19, 2001 7:11 AM
Well, if you and your 78 other riders are BLOCKING the road, of course the guy's going to be p!$$ed off. Then, telling him to "shut the fu[k up" just made a bad situation worse. Didn't ANYBODY think of moving to the right, and letting the @$$hole past? Would you also goad on a mad rhinocerous if you happened upon one? Either way, you are playing a stupid game, which you can't win. Ease up, and TRY to act like a civilised human being, even if others aren't.
This situation reminds me of two sayings:
"never come to a gun fight armed with only a knife"
"if a motorist hits you, it's his fault. you can laugh all the way to the hospital"
The flames may now proceed.......
I agree (no flames from me...)rollo tommassi
Aug 19, 2001 7:50 AM
I recently got "flamed" on my own club website because I offered the theory that we are our own worst enemies when it comes to road rights.

Yes, the officer should have been ticketing the cyclist who ran the light. I would also encourage all "70-80" of whatever group you're riding in to stop for lights, ride single file when it is appropriate or when it may be helpful to other road users, ride in a predictable manner (say, two-up paceline?), and act in a way that will give you the respect you deserve.

I also encourage everyone to verbally reprimand people who run lights. The Group will be punished for the actions of an individual.

Our group does all these things, and drivers know our jerseys and respect us. We actually direct them to pass us after making sure the oncoming lane is clear. Imagine that. Cooperation!

This board has lit up with posts about confrontatons with drivers in the past two weeks - is it just me noticing this? Is it because it's the height of the season? Is everyone tired and cranky?

Please, everyone take a deep breath out there - I don't want to read another sad post like the RV mirror one awhile back. Yes, accidents happen, but chasing someone up their driveway is not the way to go.

Pax vobiscum!
Did I miss something here...Lone Gunman
Aug 19, 2001 8:59 AM
or when on a group ride, yelling "CAR BACK" is the signal to go single file? Is that a standing screw it rule with your group? A little common sense goes a long way in deflecting a full blown confrontation.
communication is the key...rollo tommassi
Aug 19, 2001 11:15 AM
We are usually riding a two-up paceline, swedish box rotation, but sometimes we stop the rotation and go single file for a bit.

One of our group will just say 'let's single it up', and we little sheep comply...I guess it's the bamboo/zen approach to traffic calming?

It's usually on the same stretches of road that we do this, and it's almost expected as we're so familiar with the route. On a two-lane with heavier oncoming traffic it allows the driver to pass more easily without having to cross the center line. Then, we're back to a pulling paceline, 'business as usual'.

"Car back" is more a general heads-up to the front of the group that a vehicle is approaching. I guess the key is that the group should understand what phrases or cues are used so that the purpose is clear.
re: Man, that was close....4bykn
Aug 19, 2001 8:11 AM
I carry a cell phone with my local city police and county sheriff on speed dial. If a situation arises, I only need remember the license no for a minute. I am just not comfortable confronting someone who just put my life at risk with a 2-ton guided missle. If someone assaults me (and that is what happened to you, atombomber) they won't be dealing with me and my bike. Rather, they will have to deal with the police.
Unreal! (& my personal rant- etiquette question)James1
Aug 19, 2001 8:46 AM
I just recently started putting in a lot of road miles, after 2 years of riding offroad and frankly I'm stunned by the way some people get so aggressive against cyclists.

Rarely does one ride go by when I do not get either:

a. yelled at from a car.
b. passed too close while I am hugging the shoulder (sometimes even in designated bike lanes.
c. cut off by drivers making a right turn while I am proceeding straight in the bike lane or otherwise.
d. subjected to morons revving their engines after they pull up next to me in their 3000 pound vehicle. Gosh they are brave.

What is wrong with people? Is there something about people in their big bad cars that makes them ENJOY harrasing cyclists?

I almost always ride alone, and lately I've been avoiding the road as much as possible and doing the local bike trail to avoid this kind of crap.

Now to my etiquette question:

On the bike trail yesterday I had an experience that really ticked me off. I'm riding in one direction of a 2 way bike trail in the middle of my lane while two riders approach in the opposite direction riding side by side. We all were riding at a pretty good speed towards each other and I held my position in the middle of my lane, while the two riders approaching riding side by side were encroaching into my lane because the lanes are only wide enough for one rider realistically. I don't have time to really move over even if I want to. As we pass, the rider who was encroaching into my lane yells something at me, like I am supposed to move over to accomodate him. Shouldn't they have went single file when they saw me approach? This happens occasionally but I need to know what is correct.


Unreal! (& my personal rant- etiquette question)nothatgullible
Aug 19, 2001 9:34 AM
Yes. that rider should have gotten out of your lane and behind his friend. You were in the right. Imagine if it was a car situation, if a car is passing another and another car is coming the other way he better get back in his lane by either completing the pass or falling behind. The guy probably thought he is better than you for whatever reason and decided that you were the one that had to move. Road cycling is great and I love it but it's the stuff that you have to put up with that sometimes makes it less fun. The way I see it there are certain things that are just fact and you can't change them, like red lights, traffic jams and bad drivers or in your case bad riders.
bikepath dorks: throw a fakieub
Aug 19, 2001 12:44 PM
if they don't want to move to the right and expect you to squeak by in the little room left to you, just wobble the handlebar violently a couple of times when you're about 20 feet apart so it seems you're sketchy and likely to hit them head-on. they'll move, and quick. always works for me.
let me guess....filtersweep
Aug 19, 2001 10:43 AM
...the side by side riders were on mtn bikes? My guess is that it is some "macho" sort of thing.

I swear trails are more dangerous than roads- there are some new 8 ft wide commuter trails- separate for each direction with a separate walking path where a bunch of RR tracks have been removed... aside from passing groups of mendicants who reek of alcohol hanging out beneath the freeways (and the associated broken glass on the trails that have caused me at least one flat!) I've had to dodge people stopped perpendicular on the trail, rollerbladers sitting in the trail to put on blades, abandoned bikes lying on the path, and of course the goose crossing.... and a ton of recreational riders plodding side by side paying no attention to their surroundings, and the "on your left" invariably causes them to weave left as the look over their left shoulder, or if they are a complete idiot, they think you want them to move to the left! Fortunately I have just three miles of this trail to get to a great set of actual roads.

When I think back to "drivers ed"- I can recall NO MENTION of cycling laws, nor can I in any driving test. There are NO PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENTS on TV or radio regarding bike laws. On the flip side, there are at least a dozen bike shops within a few miles of where I live, and I saw more bikes than cars on my ride today, which was without incident (or extreme heat or wind)- but it is a Sunday, and Sunday drivers are usually not in a hurry. Also, for all my own ranting I've done about idiot drivers, there have been very few cycling fatalities of adults that I can recall in recent years around here. Today my rant is "can they fix all those potholes?"

If that woman had clipped me and responded in that manner, I'm thinking there might be some cleat marks on her passenger side door... it would be quite a temptation... or better yet, kick her left mirror off... she could hardly call the police on you if she hit you with that mirror! Especially if you were lucky enough to at least have a bruise. I don't know that I would actually do that, but "revenge fantasies" can be comforting.
my solution:alex the engineer
Aug 20, 2001 3:54 AM
On my local paved "multi-use" trail, this happens a lot. Often, I will yell "MOVE", and people do, but then my voice is deep and VERY loud. I'm also quite tall and muscular.
Barring that, the most effective solution is to put your left arm out, elbow straight out, forearm down, fist closed. People see this as an object which they don't want to hit, and they ALWAYS get over.
Have a look at this websiteKEN2
Aug 19, 2001 1:21 PM is a bicyclist advocacy site that has lots of information that pertains to your questions and observations. From your description in b. and d. I would submit that you may be riding too far to the edge of the road. Unless you are required to be in a "bike lane," I suggest riding approximately where the right tires in a car track in the outside lane. That way cars can't just squeeze by you, nor can they pull up beside you at lights.

I insist on my right to full space in the lane. In Texas you are not required to "share the lane" (i.e. allow cars to come up beside you inside the lane striping) unless the lane is at least 14 ft. wide. Most states are similar.