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the asymptote-of-the-hyperbola trick(23 posts)

the asymptote-of-the-hyperbola trickET
Oct 18, 2001 6:13 AM
When I cycle the 8 miles to work on my hybrid, I often do so with a co-worker, a born-and-bred New Yorker who seems to almost relish blending with rush-hour traffic and not getting blended by it. This guy isn't about to stop for some measly light, even at a super major intersection. If we just miss the light, he instinctively goes over to the left side--the opposing traffic side of our two-lane road--and then, during the brief period of time that the intersecting road has left turn signals in the turn lanes, he proceeds diagonally across the street (the path of the asymptote) narrowly splitting between the vehicles making their left turns in each direction (sweeping out the hyperbola). Two seconds after he crosses, the light changes, and the 4-lane traffic that would've flattened me to the ground had I tried his maneuver with even a drop of hesitation or mistiming of the turn signal duration immediately blasts off, leaving me scratching my head and my coworker to take a coffee break on the other side till I make it across. What do you think of the asymptote-of-the-hyperbola trick? Do you do it?
it's probably illegalDog
Oct 18, 2001 6:20 AM
First, he's riding on the "wrong" side of the road when he first crosses to the left.

Second, he's probably pissing off about 50 drivers, who might be a little less likely to give you guys (or any other rider they see, for that matter) a wider berth, or who might even intentionally do something.

Why not just run the darn light straight ahead, weaving between the cars? What's the difference?

I can see the "trick" is somewhat creative, but I think it's still wrong.

and I know a lawyer who speeds :-)ET
Oct 18, 2001 7:22 AM
That illegality thing seems to always pop up in your mind first, and I always think the lawyer side of you is cutting off the true cyclist side from speaking. To me this is not such an issue. If you tell me that you come to a complete stop on your bike at a 4-way stop sign when no cars are there, I just won't believe you, even though not stopping is no doubt illegal. In fact, I'd say most cyclists go through it even when arriving at the same time as a vehicle approaching perpendicular, knowing full well the vehicle will stop. My philosophy is that practically speaking, a bike is not a car and everyone knows it, so practically speaking the letter of the law is relaxed. So if it's not dangerous and does not impede traffic, then go ahead and do it if you like (again, only if those conditions are satisfied), even if it is illegal. Chances are a cop wouldn't even ticket you, and I can live with the consequences on the rare chance he does.

This fascinating maneuver actually does not inhibit traffic at all. The vehicles never deviate from the hyperbola and don't have to slow down. It is sort of surreal that the vehicles who have the red light are just watching the brilliant maneuver taking place in front of them. And while I'm hesitant to always try it (a man's got to know his limitations), it is certainly safer than the suicide you recommend, trying to cross a road with heavy traffic flying in 5 lanes and two directions.
Oct 18, 2001 7:44 AM
I'm generally a "live by the rules" guy. At least I try to avoid flagrant violations.

Speeding on a bike, temporarily doing 64 in a 55, certainly is breaking the law. But, not to excuse it, but to put it into social perspective, nearly everyone (in cars) does it, and it's highly unlikely to offend or irritate a single person. Sort of the same thing with stop signs (btw, I did come to an absolute full stop at every sign in the race, as required, and did so training for it, too). At least half the cars, I'd say, don't come to a full stop. I absolutely never completely blow through a sign, unless in some mass event (admittedly, should not be doing there, either), where big groups of riders are doing so. In other words, I try to be conscientious and a good cycling ambassador.

This maneuver is a bit different. It's like cheating. It's flagrant. It easily could piss off drivers. A cop likely would cite you for it, I suppose, if seen.

No, I'm not saying I'm perfect, or always obey the law. Nonetheless, that does not mean that anything goes.

I tend to look at the legality of something, of course, when the legality is the primary character of the issue. I think many would, even non-lawyers. I don't think that's that unusual.

Yes, it's clever. I'll give him that. I'll not do it, though.

Further proof that Darwin was correct . nmdug
Oct 18, 2001 6:58 AM
Boy that is dumb, I think I'll try it going home tonight. ;-) nmMB1
Oct 18, 2001 7:03 AM
Oct 18, 2001 7:34 AM
Well I do commute in the city. nmMB1
Oct 18, 2001 7:44 AM
Fascinated by urban ridingjtolleson
Oct 18, 2001 7:04 AM
First, can I say that the name of that manuever IS fun, danger and stupidity (or bad cycling ambassadorship) aside.

It sounds like a common bicycle messenger maneuver. As an experienced cyclist, I dread and fear downtown riding (which I RARELY do... I rarely ride in town at all) and have a love-hate relationship with the bicycle messengers.

They ride freewheeling helmetless, in all lanes, against traffic, after light changes, you name it. And yet I've never seen or heard of a crash. They are remarkable, albeit in a clownlike fashion.

If I spent one day in urban traffic, I'd probably buy the farm bonking into an opening car door.
" a clownlike fashion." LOL!! (nm)RhodyRider
Oct 18, 2001 11:37 AM
Certainly illegal for good reason. This is what makes drivers...Chris Zeller
Oct 18, 2001 7:13 AM
hate cyclists. Not that road rage is ever justified but I think we'd all be better off if cyclists followed traffic laws. Imagine if a car did this? Imagine the suprise of the car turning left. We have traffic laws for a reason. This is dumb all the way around.
No reason for itbikedodger
Oct 18, 2001 7:20 AM
If your co-worker does this manuever and then has to wait for you to cross with the light, what has been gained?
because he can:-)ET
Oct 18, 2001 7:32 AM
He does it all the time, whether I'm with him or not. His natural New York instincts. And he assumes I sometimes may join him, which I occasionally do if conditions are exactly right. I may be able to blow him away when on our road bikes going up a steep hill or in a steep descent (well, I did before my recent spill; now I'm afraid of descents), but on our morning commute, I aways hold him back. Commuting is good way to get in riding time one might otherwise not, which is why I sometimes do it, but honestly, I hate dealing with rush hour traffic.
I think it's time the both a yiz128
Oct 18, 2001 7:57 AM
either get in a car or get off the road completely.
And stop calling it New Yorker instincts...what a (senti)mental cop-out.

Come ride in Boston, let some real dogs show you how it goes. We do put the ass in Massachusetts after all...




PS: got my yard sale bike back from the LBS tune up. Smoked up my 12 mile loop, well, not really: ran hard all summer but didn't take 30 seconds before I thought "ooh, different muscle group." Hello quads!!
Not all drivers hate cyclistsKristin
Oct 18, 2001 7:54 AM
This theme comes up over and over on this board. I think its a bit overstated! I'd bet that not many drivers even notice cyclists, let alone hate them. And the drivers that do are typically people with major issues who tend towards hating everyone but themselves.

I worked in the city for a number of years and barely noticed the cyclists and bike messangers. (I wasn't a rider then.) I recently went into Chicago for training and will be there again next week. I spent my lunch breaks sitting outside, watching the messangers come and go. They're fun to watch! And some are pretty unique. Don't worry too much about what drivers think. Don't be rude or stupid by any means, but otherwise don't stress over it so much.
I do.muncher
Oct 18, 2001 8:06 AM
Most of them seem to be making less effort than I do to travel at the same speed..
messengers are special categoryDog
Oct 18, 2001 9:51 AM
I think that people who drive in cities a lot place messengers in a special category. They know that they are doing their jobs, and may even use them, as well. They know that a bike messenger may easily be the quickest way to get a document from one place to another in city traffic. They probably get used to seeing them.

Recreational riders, or commuters, doing stupid things likely aren't cut as much slack.

ps: some of us aren't real "cyclists" anyway :-)Dog
Oct 18, 2001 9:53 AM
I recall that someone said I'm not really a cyclist, so I suppose drivers who hate cyclists won't necessarily hate me, too. Problem solved.

yup...i agreeColnagoFE
Oct 18, 2001 11:22 AM
usually they are doing this move while smoking a cig and taking calls on their cell phone. have seen some pretty wild riding. one guy in denver was coming up on a busy intersection with a fixie and i thought for sure he was going to run right into traffic, but at the last minute he put the rear wheel into a skid and stopped on a dime without putting his feet down at all. pretty cool trick.
San FranciscoDog
Oct 18, 2001 11:38 AM
I've seen a few in San Fran whipping in and out, around busses, and thought to myself that their average careers must be around 30 days. But, I noted that most of the time they are riding around traffic that is almost stopped; car can't do too much damage between 0 and 5 mph. They seemed to be very aware, despite the distractions you mention, too.

And, oh, the hills there - and on single speeds. If I were in college again, I'd do it.

Former NYC Bike Messengergrzy
Oct 18, 2001 8:58 AM
It's the only rational explanation. Word is this is how they make angels.

It's totally illegal since the traffic laws for cars apply to bikes. One day he's going to meet some drunk running the light or a cop with a law and order attitude. You couldn't get away with this in CA, but you certainly can in MA.

My wife's brother used to do all sorts of crazy things on a car and motorcycle. In essence he would often put himself in the situation where he had no "out" and survived on the assumption that the other drivers could NOT make a mistake. One day his luck ran out and he was flattened by the trailer of an 18 wheeler when he zorched down an on-ramp and drifted into the main lanes. His speed was too great to negotiate the kink in the on-ramp to get parallel with the traffic. Had he survived he would've laughed at us for being chicken. He left behind a wife and four young kids and a large extended family that misses him deeply to this day.

Realize that life isn't a race, but rather a journey.
re: A smart sounding name for a stupid bike trick! nmdzrider
Oct 18, 2001 9:54 AM
What makes him so special?Rich Clark
Oct 18, 2001 1:32 PM
There's a social contract that being a citizen commits you to. The freedom that we Americans treasure so dearly is a direct product of a system whereby we are ruled by law, not by men. In other words, the ultimate product of the dissolution of that contract is either anarchy or totalitarianism.

It's an oft-pondered question: can such a society stand in the face of human greed and selfishness? Is anyone willing to sacrifice anything for the sake of the common good? The disappearance of common courtesy suggests that few people even understand that they exist in a social context where they effect those around them, and not in a vacuum where the only people who matter are themselves.

Flagrant daredevil cycling in traffic is just one more example of this.