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  1. #1
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Some of my best friends are motorists

    Not only are some of my best friends motorists, but I am a motorist. In fact, motorists may be the best friends I have when cycling.

    Motorists who pay attention and drive safely and courteously when I am cycling on the road have done more to protect me and make my journeys enjoyable than anyone else. Sometimes these motorists go unnoticed and unthanked.

    Thanks for sharing the road (sincerely.)

    No worries

  2. #2
    Marathon Cyclist MediaCreations's Avatar
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    Every day as I commute I either pass or am passed by hundreds of cars, trucks and busses.

    Most days 1 or 2 will do something stupid. Somedays the count is higher.

    On average, most motorists do the right thing by me. What a shame that nice people like that are trapped inside their metal cages with no idea what they're missing.

  3. #3
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    I agree !! I've been in a running argument with other Bike Forumites about this issue. Boiled down to its essence, their argument is that motorists are irretrievably bad and cyclists can do no wrong. To support this claim they provide anecdotal evidence of motorists doing rude and dangerous things to bicyclists.

    My experience is that there are probably lunatic motorists out there, but I have yet to see them in 5+ years of year-round, urban, bike-commuting. Sure, drivers are at times inattentive, but that is to be expected. I drive a car and I am an avid biker, and there are still times I find myself gripping the wheel a little tighter as I pass a biker. The very act of foregoing a substantial portion of one's "space" to accommodate a vehicle going at a fraction of one's speed is inherently nerveracking.

    I have, however, seen a few cyclists perform stupid stunts designed, I believe, to incite the ire of our steering-wheel-equipped road companions. This is entirely opposite my approach, which is to blend in and be predictable. (Blend in from a traffic standpoint but stand out like a sore thumb from a visibility standpoint.) Predictability is, in my view, the absolute best safety tool at our disposal. And this does not at all mean that I follow traffic laws to the "T".

  4. #4
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    In my own experience, the best drivers are professionals--big rig, UPS, metro bus, for instance. The worst, the ones that it is just plain unwise to consider fully human are your average undertrained drivers' licensed yutz--and the bigger the vehicle they are driving the further from human I consider them. You know, we'd all drive better if there was one of those "Don't like my driving? Call 1-800-BUST ME" or something on the back of our vehicles. I do not apologize for my bigotry--it is a valid, wise survival mode.


    "Adolf Hitler on a bicycle would be a better person than Albert Schweitzer in a car"

  5. #5
    Lovin' my Fixie bikeman's Avatar
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    One thing that I've found after years of bike commuting is that you will always have some idiot at the wheel at some time during your commute.

    One little problem with getting nasty with them or using hand signals (you know what I mean) is that invariably you will end up seeing them again on your commute at a later date. Don't forget that they are commuting too (in a less desirable manner mind you), but they use the same routes at the same time of day too. Once you p__s them off, they will remember the next time they see you on your ride to work or errands. It will just multiply. Be nice as you can and the good car commuters will get to know you as a good rider and give you courtesy in return. You will become a more "real" person if they see you everyday and that way will get used to you being on the road. I see many of the same people and cars everyday. I once cursed at a guy that was crowding me at an intersection and had a shouting match. I realized later on another day that he was a neighbor and I had to ride by his house everyday. That was difficult and embarrassing.

  6. #6
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    In all honesty, I try not to worry about what motorists are doing and worry about what I'm doing most of the time. If they shout abuse or honk I'll ignore them. If they get violent I'll go to the cops. If they piss me off, I'll come back and rant about it here. If they are polite I will give them a friendly wave (yes, I've done that sometimes).

    My whole point is, that whether they are friend or foe, I have little control over what they are going to do, and so I just try to prepare for it. This doesn't mean that I blame myself for every little conflict (certainly not), but there's little point trying to intimidate someone bigger than you.

    And as Feldman said, a little bigotry is very useful. Not so much from a confrontational standpoint, just that it's easier to be prepared for stupid actions from people you don't respect.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  7. #7
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    When in my motorized vehicle, I've seen some pretty stupid antics by guys --I emphasize GUYS-- on bikes. Running red lights through heavy traffic, cutting in and out, not holding a straight riding lane, generally having an attitude of "I dare you to hit me."

    Let's not pretend that because we ride bikes, there are no irresponsible riders amongst us. I would suspect there is the same percentage of Buttheads in our numbers, as there are in the general motoring public.

    But it's nice and soothing to our egos if we can extol perfection in our thinking and our deeds. Truth is: It Ain't So.
    ljbike

  8. #8
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    well i agree that people on bikes do plenty of stupid and illegal things... as do many motorists (speeding, tailgating, etc)

    BUT, the consequences are different. when a cyclist does something stupid or makes a mistake he is usually only endangering himself (occaisonally others, but rarely threatening the LIFE of others). when a motorist is inattentive and does whatever, runs a stop sign, turns w/o looking first or swerves into a bike lane to avoid a left-turning car w/o looking --- the consequences with the weight and speed and size of a car are MUCH MORE SEVERE

    I agree that many motorists drive very safely and i thank them greatly (i try to wave too when it's warranted), but IT ONLY TAKES ONE motorists inattentive act to end my or some other cyclist's life!

    My experience is that there are probably lunatic motorists out there, but I have yet to see them in 5+ years of year-round, urban, bike-commuting.
    Andy, not that i believe that every motorist out there is out to get me... but i honestly can't believe that you've been cycling for 5 years as you say and have never almost been killed by the mistake of a motorist! virtually every day i have an encounter where if it were not for my cycling skills and experience and acute awareness to anticipate and predict these dangerous and illegal acts - i would have 'accidents' all the time. like "light turns green, start riding" - no! you have to first look b/c some day someone will run the light. that driver who makes a sudden right-turn from the left lane while you're in the right lane, the driver who runs a red light! the driver who fails to yeild --- happened a few months ago as i was going 30km/h and locked the brakes and stopped 2" from the guy's car who had pulled right in front of me at a merge. the guy THOUGHT he had right of way and yelled at me for a while until i pointed out the yeild sign clearly in his path. if i hadn't anticipated that he might not stop AND/OR didn't have great braking skills we would have collided - incidentally i was on my MTB and on my road bike i would have been going faster (speed limit was 40km/h) and also can't stop as fast on skinny tires

    the average motorist has what, i'm guessing but we could probably find it from some insurance study, but i would guess 1 "accident" every 2 years. now for a car driver this usualy means some $$ in insurance deductables, plus higher insurance rates, maybe a ticket and some "hassle" when the car is in the shop --- but for a cyclist involved in this same crash "once every 2 years" we're talking broken bones or loss of life!

    please see the "Cycling Death In Cambridge, Mass" where i've posted a related comment about driving being a PRIVILEGE
    why drive when you can ride?
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  9. #9
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    Originally posted by nathank

    Andy, not that i believe that every motorist out there is out to get me... but i honestly can't believe that you've been cycling for 5 years as you say and have never almost been killed by the mistake of a motorist!
    Believe me, I wonder if I'm a statistical anamoly. 5+ years. Year round. Night and day. Rain. Heavy traffic, urban commute. Depending on my commute path, I may be on roads that are unsafe for cars!!

    The closest I've ever been to making contact with a car (something I've never had occur) is when someone performed the classic right-hook unusually quickly. My brakes (always in perfect shape, by the way) kicked in just in time. I actually heard the idiot before I saw the move ... I was on alert. I had already mapped out an escape route, but didn't need it.

    I've had countless "close calls" and have had to take some mildly evasive maneuvers. But nothing so far has ever made me stop my commute, sit down, and shake it off.

    In these situations I stare at the driver but quickly move on, and never say a word. Normally they look like a castigated dog ... they absolutely slouch in their cars!!! They know they screwed up.

    My riding style is aggressive-defensive. I ride absolutely straight lines. I ride fast and often will pass traffic. (Speed helps, I think.) I will jump a red light (when the turn lanes have a green arrow but the main lanes are still red) when it is safe to do so, so as to avoid a squeeze situation. I run reds when a road Ts, and there's no cross traffic. I have no qualms in taking a lane. I stare down drivers, and communicate clearly that I will take a lane. I am always in the right gear at the start (to avoid weaving), and at red lights with a right turn lane I will always move to the left, blocking the rightmost thru lane, so as to let cars make a right hand turn. Then, when the light goes green, I'll take my line to the right. This (a) makes me VERY visible and (b) allows traffic to flow. (I have seen bikers block the right turn lane, pissing drivers off.)

    I wear hideously bright outfits, complete with a horrendously ugly orange/red helmet. I am tall (6'4") and probably look like a billboard. I ride at SUV height. I have a strobe front light and recently added a powerful full-time rear light (NiteRider Digital ... buy it !!) At night I'm lit up like an airport runway.

    I engage in driver profiing. I am on particular alert near certain neighborhoods populated by short people known for their good food who also match their stereotypical image when it comes to driving. (The incident above occurred in just this area.)

    My bike is in OK condition except that two things are always perfect: brakes and lights. My bike also doesn't move without my wearing a helmet. I don't use a mirror and never have. I instead rely on my hearing. I have perfected the over-the-shoulder look, or more accurately the downward under-and-around-the-armpit look, so as to maintain the straight line even at slow speeds while taking a snapshot of the traffic situation. I always have an escape route in mind.

    I'd imagine most everyone else on this board has similar things to say.

  10. #10
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Generally, when I ride I consider the following factors:

    1. My own safety (paramount)
    2. The road rules (usually 1 and 2 involve doing the same thing).
    3. Making sure I get to work on time.

    The convenience of someone else comes a long way down the list. It doesn't necessarily make me too many friends out there, but believe me, I signal all the time, ride in a totally predictable manner and am always visible. It doesn't prevent me from being the target of 'road rage'.

    Of course, if you ask drivers why they act like that, you will invariably get the old "cyclists break rules" crap. Well, so does everyone else, but they never seem to cop the same crap. And anyway, if cyclists break rules, it doesn't justify the abuse unless this cyclist breaks the rules. Generally that doesn't happen.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  11. #11
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    Originally posted by Chris L
    ... Of course, if you ask drivers why they act like that, you will invariably get the old "cyclists break rules" crap. Well, so does everyone else, but they never seem to cop the same crap. And anyway, if cyclists break rules, it doesn't justify the abuse unless this cyclist breaks the rules. Generally that doesn't happen.
    See, this is exactly the problem in my vie. You apparently experience "road rage" because of acts other bicyclists perform.

    Last night on my way home from fireworks I saw no less than 15 or so bicyclists, all riding dangerously -- no lights, no helmets, dark clothes, opposite to traffic, etc. Only one couple had their acts together and rode like I believe most of us in this Forum do.

    I believe these death-defying cyclists are the idiots and that we should focus our efforts on them. Sure, they're sharing the road ... scaring the hell out of motorists.

    I've said earlier that I've not been the target of road rage. I believe that's partly due to the fact that I ride in ways that make motorists feel comfortable -- predictable, straight lines, etc. I also believe that any act we do that makes us appear like the idiots last night cause motorists to equate us with those idiots.

  12. #12
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch


    See, this is exactly the problem in my vie. You apparently experience "road rage" because of acts other bicyclists perform.

    Last night on my way home from fireworks I saw no less than 15 or so bicyclists, all riding dangerously -- no lights, no helmets, dark clothes, opposite to traffic, etc. Only one couple had their acts together and rode like I believe most of us in this Forum do.
    I am going to sound like a broken record, here, but this is due in part to the bicycle-facility mentality. Most people think "safe cycling" means wearing a helmet and staying off the street. So this is what it gives us--widespread ignorance about how to ride safely.

    So when some casual cyclist finally decides to dust off the bike from the garage to see fireworks without getting tangled in traffic, they make up their own rules. (Wrong-way cyclists and sidewalk cyclists are probably adapting pedestrian rules to cycling, since they haven't been told what to do.) They probably don't even know if there are any rules applying to bicycle transportation, since authorities have paid so little attention to
    training everyone properly.

    It's not only cyclists who need training, it's anyone that becomes a cyclist once a year, or once every ten years. Proper cycling should be common knowledge, which brings us back to the original thread topic: motorists should know how to share the road with cyclists (because they've been taught correctly.)
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 07-05-02 at 09:11 AM.
    No worries

  13. #13
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Andy Dreisch
    See, this is exactly the problem in my view. You apparently experience "road rage" because of acts other bicyclists perform.
    Two points here:

    1. Most motorists (around here) simply do not want bikes on the road point blank. I believe the real reason for their aggression is not wanting to share the road with anyone (not even other motorists). However, when they are asked to justify their actions, the old "cyclists break rules" seems more credible than "I want the road to myself". In all honesty, I don't think anything would change if every cyclist in the world was perfectly behaved.

    2. Re: the way many cyclists ride. I actually have views on this. I believe much of it comes from the way children are taught to ride these days, and that they carry many of these lessons into adulthood. I gave more specific examples of that here. Forgive me if I'm too lazy to type it all out a second time.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  14. #14
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    From all this we can conclude:
    • Drivers need educational updates
    • Riders need educational updates
    What's missing is the catalyst. For drunk driving, it was the clear evidence of tragedy. MADD stepped in and launched a campaign of awareness and the rest is history.

    Can we expect a similar campaign to address driver skills any time soon? I doubt it. Call me a skeptic but I'm in the camp that believes that "the plane has to crash" before a redesign occurs. I therefore believe we are a long, long way from similar catastrophic events with regard to bicycling that will cause a sea change in public opinion. And attempts thus far by bicycling advocates to boost awareness (e.g., the lunatic Criitcal Mass events in SF) have had a terrible affect on public opinion and have only worsened matters.

    So, as tragic as cycling injuries and deaths are, and as woefully unskilled as drivers in general may be, I don't see this issue on any radar screen any time soon.

    In the meantime, I'll do my best to survive the mean streets.

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