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Old 08-23-02, 09:04 PM   #1
tnorman
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Safety at intersections

Twice in the past two days, I've almost been hit by cars pulling off of a side street from my left. One was pulling on to the main street in the same direction as me. The other was crossing the main street. The only reason I did not get hit was because I yelled and waved my hands and they slowed down / stopped a few feet away from me. If they hadn't slowed down in either circumstance, they would have hit me or run me off the road.

These two incidents have gotten me quite rattled up and wondering about my safety riding on the road. In this particular case, is there anything I can do to prevent the car from even entering the intersection? Ocassionally, I will wave my hands before a busy intersection so all cars will notice me. But I'd look like a freak waving my hands at every intersection! I will usually wave my hands if I'm not sure if the left-turning car has seen me, but in these cases, I wrongly assumed that they had seen me.

Also, would it be safer to make an evasive maneuver instead of yelling and waving hands? I could have driven off the road in the case where the driver was coming on to the main road. But I don't know of any maneuver to avoid being hit from the side by a car moving straight ahead, other than speeding up (which I did do). There was no time to turn in front of the car. Any ideas?

Thanks,
Tim
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Old 08-23-02, 09:39 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally posted by tnorman
Any ideas?

Thanks,
Tim
Tim,

What I am about to suggest is not commonly done. But I have found it to work.

I don't wave my hands, shout or run off the road. I blow my whistle. That usually gets their attention.

Motorists often don't see us cyclists as they turn into our path, because they are either looking for a car (not a bike) or they think you are too slow to get there in time.

I keep my whistle in my teeth at all times. It has alerted many a motorist to my presence. They usually stop and wait for me to pass.

Yet, it's important not to depend too heavily on a sound device, since some people could care less.

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Old 08-24-02, 09:02 AM   #3
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Unfortunately, there is not much more you can do, other than attempt to make yourself more visible. I always wear bright clothing, but I also employ a few techniques.

One trick that I use on my motorcycle and sometimes on my road bicycle is to "tip the wings". By this, I mean to sort of rock the bike back and forth when approaching side roads and intersections. This little bit of movement will sometimes catch the motorist's eye. I think that the bike and the rider tend to blend into the background too much without some sort of movement.

Most drivers simply don't pay enough attention, and don't look for anything other than other cars on the road. You need to somehow get their attention by any means necessary.

Good luck, and if you (or anyone else!) have any tips regarding grabbing a motorist's attention, please share with the group.

ThanX!!
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Old 08-24-02, 10:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pete Clark

I keep my whistle in my teeth at all times. It has alerted many a motorist to my presence. They usually stop and wait for me to pass.
Does that sound funny when your sucking wind on a steep hill?
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Old 08-24-02, 10:44 AM   #5
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My mindset is that when I'm on the road I trust no one - I'm responsible for myself. I ride extremely defensibly. I used to suggest things like bright clothing, following the exact rules as a car, eye contact with drivers, shouting, waving, etc., but the bottom line is that, on a regular basis, your going to find freaks and conditions that these do not work with. I try to be prepared by having the skills and equipment to get out of most, if not all, situations. It would be nice to follow the rules road and have everything be hunky dory, but since the others (cars) don't, you have to be prepared at all time for anything they throw your way.
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Old 08-24-02, 11:11 AM   #6
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Go to this page and look at the Airzound horn:

http://www.gaerlan.com/bikeparts/acc/light/light.html

I have one of these on each of my bikes and they are very good at getting attention. Just mount the actuator so that you only have to move your thumb over to initiate it...easy on my commuter bike (straight bar) and all of my recumbents, but on the road bike if you're in the drops you'll have to move a hand...if you're riding with your hands on the flats of the bar then it's not a problem. Hope this helps!

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Old 08-24-02, 05:12 PM   #7
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I like the "wiggle" suggestion, since peripheral vision responds best to motion. You can also increase your chance of being seen by riding in the main travel lane, such as along the outside tyre tracks, rather than by cowering against the curb.
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Old 08-24-02, 06:04 PM   #8
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Thanks, all, for your suggestions so far! I had no idea they made horns for bikes, and your other suggestions have given me some good ideas for staying visible.

Tim
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Old 08-24-02, 06:14 PM   #9
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Apart from all the above, where riding defensively helps, I would add the following :

Overloaded or strange intersections.
Intersections with abnormal traffic behaviours are more dangerous, because you may not be where other people might expect you to be "naturally". Strange intersections include offset "+" intersections and those where a bike "path" is very close to one of the streets.
Likewise, I hate intersections where crosstraffic has to stop and wait indefinitely because there is a huge amount of traffic on the arterial. When people have been stopped for quite some time, they tend to become more aggressive and take chances...

My solutions? Of course, I ride defensively, look to all sides and in mirror before crossing any intersection. In some cases, I'll try to slow down or accelerate so I go through the intersection at the same time a car crosses it. People consider "more obvious" a bit 18-wheeler than a tiny 2-wheeler.

Regards,
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Old 08-24-02, 09:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by sscyco
Does that sound funny when your sucking wind on a steep hill?


I must have passed you while you waited for a bus.

On a long, steep hill, it sounds like I have a lung disease.

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Old 08-25-02, 12:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pete Clark



I must have passed you while you waited for a bus.

The only time I wait for a bus is just before a blind corner on a two way road - then I pass.
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Old 08-27-02, 03:15 PM   #12
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I have a couple of tricks I use, and my close calls have decreased sharply. Not only do I have an orange triangle attached to the back of my pannier basket, I have one on the front. All I need now is two baskets and I can cover people approaching from both sides of the road. People still pull out in front of me, but I think it is either purposeful, or they think I'm still (in their warped perception) far enough back (false) and not travelling faster than a pedestrain (also false) and that they have enough time. I also move to the center of the lane if no one is behind me to be seen easier. One should also try staring really hard at the eyes of the drivers--if you look psychotic enough it seems to catch their attention.

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Old 08-27-02, 03:38 PM   #13
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i have fell down more times than most.
i mean i have bounced down stairs on my head. fell off ladders (on my bike), smashed my face into the concrete and bleed more than most as a result of riding my bike.

because I know what it feels like to hit the ground, I am very cautious when riding in the street. most of the time, in the city, i ride on the sidewalk. *

cars OFTEN pull out in front of me.

one thing I do to keep from getting hit or going over the hood of their cars is to PAY ATTENTION. and not ride faster than I can slow down.

often times i will come to an almost complete stop and go around the car from behind.
this assures that they won't run me over.
sure, it takes all my speed away and I have to pedal hard to get up to speed again.
BUT, because i've sat on my couch for weeks not being able to ride as a result of falling down, I don't mind the extra work on my part.



* I KNOW someone will tell me it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
if you'd like to come give me a ticket feel free. but when my safety is in MY hands, I will ride on the sidewalk.
i've never had a cop stop and tell me to ride in the street.....
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Old 08-27-02, 04:29 PM   #14
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I will quite often simply make a right turn, check behind me and do a U-turn to go around a car waiting at an intersection. This maneuver is unnecessary when I know I have caught the driver's attention as I enter the intersection.

For self preservation, I don't mind the slight extra distance or the temporary loss of speed. Indeed, I often do this as a way of "running" a red light as well.

In either event, I am always prepared to stop.

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Old 08-27-02, 04:33 PM   #15
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Since virtually all cars bring their front bumper tothe edge of the traffic lane when exiting a driveway or parking lot, even when they are crossing a sidewalk, I think the sidewalk option is a bad one. No one it seems actually "looks" both ways when crossing a sidewalk. When they do, they expect to see a pedestrian.

At least being in the road with vehicles with the size and potential to harm the intersecting driver, you are in a place where they at least normally look for traffic. They still may not register an approaching bicycle, but at least they are anticipating the possibility of traffic.
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Old 08-27-02, 05:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by pnj
because I know what it feels like to hit the ground, I am very cautious when riding in the street. most of the time, in the city, i ride on the sidewalk. *

cars OFTEN pull out in front of me.
That's why I gave up cycling on them.
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Old 08-28-02, 04:10 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by pnj

* I KNOW someone will tell me it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk.
if you'd like to come give me a ticket feel free. but when my safety is in MY hands, I will ride on the sidewalk.
i've never had a cop stop and tell me to ride in the street.....
Unless the law has changed, it is NOT illegal to ride the sidewalks in Seattle (if that's where you're doing it). A helmet is also not mandated. But, when I make my shorter commute I am pretty much stuck with a few sidewalks, and it terrifies me. I have 10 close calls on the sidewalk for every one in the street. Peds hopping out of doors, cars coming out of garages/alleys/driveways, cars shoving through crosswalks, etc. Safe speed on a sidewalk seems to be about 4 mph.
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Old 08-28-02, 08:32 PM   #18
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I wear bright clothing. Yellow or red jerseys. The gaudier the clothes, the more likely the guy at the intersection will notice you.

Also, anytime I see a car at or approaching an intersection, I assume s/he has not seen me until I make eye contact with him/her. Always look for the drivers eyes. If s/he isn't looking at you, s/he isn't seeing you. Most people will track you with their eyes once they spot you. If the driver doesn't then assume s/he hasn't spotted you.

Even with eye contact, look for your safety route. If you have any doubt about the driver, slow down before it's a problem. Also, be thinking about evasive tactics before the car becaomes a problem. Waving your arms and shouting might be one of those tactics.

Other warning signs are cars with loud stereos, any teenage driver, or a car with existing body damage!
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