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most threatened I've ever felt on a bike(23 posts)

most threatened I've ever felt on a bikeDougSloan
Aug 26, 2002 6:38 AM
Yesterday while on a hundred miler, I was riding on a narrow, two lane, country road. There was no shoulder at all.

I see a line of four or five cars approaching from the front. At the rear, a white full size Ford pickup starts to pass when the line of cars was no more than a quarter mile away. I sit up to increase visibility. The truck starts to pull back in, but then it moves out again, clearly intending to make the pass despite having seen me. At this point, I start waving my left arm for attention, as it appeared that there is no way a pass here would be safe. There is nowhere for me to go, except in the ditch. This guy comes full on, probably around 70 mph, with me going about 20, but slowing. So, that's about a 90 mph closing speed. The guy nearly runs me off the road, going by no more than 6 inches from my left. I yell "f****** a******!" so loudly at him my throat hurt afterwards. This has to be the biggest jerk I've ever encountered on the road. I was so mad that I would have choked him to death if I'd gotten my hands on him. This was just plain rude, dangerous, and so unnecessary. If he'd clipped me even a tiny bit with a mirror, it probably would have spun my around like a top.

I first considered "taking the lane" as some have suggested. In fact, I was riding about 3 feet into the lane, until it became obvious the the driver had no intention of no passing. Don't want to be "dead right."

I got to thinking whether what he did was legal or not. While this was not striped as a no passing zone, it clearly was not safe. Six inches with closing speed of 90 mph is insane. Any idea whether this was legal?

Too bad white Ford pickups are so plentiful. I could kill this guy if I ever saw him again.

reckless driving is illegal everywhereSteve_0
Aug 26, 2002 6:51 AM
besides that, i'm sure most states clarify 'passing in the absence of oncoming traffic', or something similar.
state laws vary -- local ordinances can factor, too, butbill
Aug 26, 2002 6:58 AM
I would say that the p/u was wrong -- unsafe passing is unsafe passing. I also would have to say that, if it came down to it, they could cite you, too, because most states require cyclists to stay to the right as far as possible. I don't think that taking the lane, as much as I believe it to be the safe option in the right circumstance, is legal anywhere. Some local ordinances forbid cyclists on certain roads (where there is a bike path available, Va. law, for example, permits localities to restrict bike traffic to the path -- part of the devil's deal in getting the paths, no doubt).
I think that you were more right than he, Doug, but I'm a sympathetic audience. I think that, if it came down to it, you could assume the opposite from the hoi polloi.
Aug 26, 2002 7:06 AM
I was about 3 feet from the right, in my lane, with no cars coming from the rear, until I saw he was certain to pass. Then, when the cars were near me, I was about an inch from the edge of the pavement, in fear of my life. I don't think anything requires us to ride an inch from the edge 100% of the time. Riding further in the lane prior to that was for the purpose of trying to indicate to this idiot that there was no room. I think the law requires riding as far to the right as practical, and under the circumstances, attempting to save your own life probably qualifies as "practical."

you know as well as I that the way the story will/would be toldbill
Aug 26, 2002 9:10 AM
is that you were "in the middle of the lane; he just wouldn't get over, who does he think he is trying to hold up traffic that way you know the way those cyclists are just check his shaved legs why dontcha?" And most people would believe the driver, including my wife, who can't stand cyclists on the road.
Let's face it, the roads, like it or not, belong by default to the cars. There are a lot more of them than there are of us, they're a lot bigger, and we make 'em all nervous. They're going to win these battles, both because of the laws of physics and the laws of nature (as you well understood, determining, as you did, that discretion was the better part of valor).
Texas lawKEN2
Aug 26, 2002 8:48 AM
Texas law was recently amended--the new law states these exceptions (among others, such as preparing for a left turn) to riding as far right as practicable:

lane width "less than 14 feet without a designated bike lane," or "too narrow for a bicycle and motor vehicle to safely travel side by side."
welcome to the clubcyclopathic
Aug 26, 2002 7:05 AM
had similar brush last fall with Utility truck.
No shoulder/no pass 50mph zone, I was going downhill ~35mph 3 cars in opposite direction and moron passed me doing ~70mph, just when the first car leveled with me. I felt the air wave and went right to the ditch. Luckly it was shallow and I didn't endo, just flatted on thorns.

The guy got scared and pulled over at general store/gas station 1/4mi down the road. Judging by his erratic driving around lot he was scared he hit me and didn't know what to do either to go back or run.

I set in a ditch for a while looking at the blue sky; if someone stopped and offered me a beer or shot of tequila I'd give him all money I had on me. Life is good
Legal? Potentially tortious --
Aug 26, 2002 7:09 AM
I do know whether the driver's actions would violate any traffic law, but if you had been injured his actions clearly seem to be negligent or worse. However, to echo your comment, you don't want to be "dead right" or injured, but alive, and right.

Your experience reminds me of something that occurred to me in the Spring. I was riding on the shoulder of a two lane road when I heard a truck approaching from the rear. Just as the truck was alongside me, a motorcycle came from the rear and passed me on the right, with inches to spare, and then cut in front of the truck.

The bottom line: the law provides little protection from jerks -- at least until it is too late. And, as careful as we may be, there is always the possibility that some jerk is going to nail us. The only question then is whether the authorities and the courts will say that we assumed the risk or were contributorily negligent merely because we were riding bikes on roads which, everyone knows, are exclusively for the use of cars and trucks.
Nothing to do...MXL02
Aug 26, 2002 7:57 AM
but rant here and let us commiserate. If you could have gotten his license, you could have registered a complaint with the local police, but other than that, we simply have to endure...
Officer - as I swerved to avoid the truck my water bottle ...jose_Tex_mex
Aug 26, 2002 8:08 AM
slipped from my and as I had to swerve hard to avoid the oncoming truck. I had no intention of it breaking his windshield.
Officer - as I swerved to avoid the truck my water bottle ...Cat 4 boy
Aug 26, 2002 8:49 AM
You wanna be careful with the water bottle trick, a friend here in the UK was in the same situation & ended up with a ticket for breaking the windscreen of the a*hole who was trying to kill him by driving straight at him.

As Doug said, better alive than dead right.
That doesn't work unless you like jail timeTig
Aug 26, 2002 8:49 AM
I know of a young local rider who did that when a pickup with 2 rednecks made a U-turn to harass him again (he flipped them off after they first passed him closely, yelling to get off the road). They bored straight at him on the wrong side of the road, trying to run him off the road. He held his ground and tossed a water bottle at their oncoming windshield, shattering it. They ended up beating him up and driving over his once nice bike. Everyone went to jail. He assaulted them by tossing the bottle, they assaulted him physically, and there were no witnesses to the original harassment. Everyone lost!

The guy could have lost even more if they managed to run him over. Hot heads only escalate the violence.
scares the crap out of youColnagoFE
Aug 26, 2002 8:29 AM
i have had this happen a couple of times. do drivers just assume you are not an obstacle just because you're on a bike? what if a tractor was in that lane? do you think they'd be as willing to pass then? anyway...glad you are OK. better alive than dead right as you say.
they somehow forget you are a human with a family... -nmTig
Aug 26, 2002 8:50 AM
sometimes they just don't see youcyclopathic
Aug 26, 2002 10:15 AM
and this is no joke. Some drivers so used to looking for cars they can't see you period.

Had a lady pulling out of her driveway once. She looked at me (as it turned out right through me), and then drove. If her windows weren't rolled down and I didn't scream, I'd end up as a bright safety yellow decoration on her Mercedes hood.
are you saying high-viz yellow doesn't gain you much?ET
Aug 26, 2002 10:43 AM
I'm starting to wonder if high-viz yellow clothing looks too much like those new traffic signs. But of course, the signs aren't moving.
I think she was colorblindcyclopathic
Aug 26, 2002 11:10 AM
or smoked weed and had short term memory loss 8-O
the long sleeve yellow jersey I had on hurts eyes to look at
illegal in every statesalmonwheel
Aug 26, 2002 9:17 AM
Most states clearly state in the vehicle code that bicycles must be given a wide berth. Regardless of the " as far to the right as practicable" passing safely is th e responsibility of the passing vehicle. If you were in the middle of the lane holding up traffic,which you weren't, you could have been ticketed, but it does not release him of his responsibilty to pass with care and caution. A similar incident happened to me recently on a four lane (two in each direction) by a semi. It took me all night to calm back down. I got the company name and e-mailed there safety officer who replied asking for more info etc.. Jerks are out there. People put 15 seconds of their time higher on their list of priorities than human life and safety.
is this the first time this has happened to you?ET
Aug 26, 2002 10:00 AM
Glad you're OK. Of course I sympathize, but this happens frequently. By Murphy's Law, vehicles coming from both directions and cyclist all meet at the narrowest point on the road, e.g. when it curves without shoulder or on a bridge. A certain percentage of the time it will happen with a guy in a truck who never slows down.

This may be a good case to put in a plug for that Take-a-Look mirror (you were wearing your mirror, weren't you?), as another cyclist might have veered a little further into the street or got his head shorn off if he would've stuck it out a drop.
no, but the worstDougSloan
Aug 26, 2002 10:20 AM
This was the most egregious. The guy clearly saw me, almost decided not to pass, then went anyway. In law school we discussed the "depraved heart" murder -- like driving through a crowd of people, not *intending* to kill, but being so reckless that it's almost the same thing. This guy would have qualified had I been hit.

If there would have been a shoulder, it would not have bothered me much. Also, someone passing me going the same direction would not have bothered me as much. But having a truck coming head on inches away at 90 mph closing is nuts. The margin for safety is almost nil.

Don't know what you mean about the mirror in this instance. All these cars were approaching from the front.

oh, now I get itET
Aug 26, 2002 10:39 AM
"at the rear" meant at the rear of the pack of cars, not at your rear.
Better to be right in the ditch this time.Steve98501
Aug 26, 2002 2:45 PM

You know CA traffic law better than I or most of us. I'm in WA, and what you described would be illegal passing. The oncoming lane was not clear, as you were in it. If you had been driving a semi truck and trailer rig, for example, do you think he would have risked passing there?

My explanation: size matters. He saw you and knew you saw him, and since you on your bike were much smaller, you could get out of his way, ditch or not. Even if you could make a positive ID, police might not cite him since they didn't witness the violation. Occasionally they will, but it's not consistent, at least around here.

Sometimes we can only get mad and rant, as getting even isn't on the menu.

re: most threatened I've ever felt on a bikeSkip
Aug 26, 2002 9:48 PM
The only way cyclists might win in this senario, is when we are able to hit the switch on our handle bars that either 1. transforms us into a holographic image of a Mack truck bearing down on them (turning their nice white leather interior brown), or 2. vaporize the Bastardz with a purple lasar.