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Old 11-03-05, 10:19 AM   #1
noisebeam
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The view from behind is disconcerting

Well I finally got a mirror that lets me monitor the rear constantly. (Although I still need a better one as this one jiggles to much and shifts out of position over time)

But what I learned troubles me. On the PM commute I have a ~3mi of mulitlane (two and three lanes of same direction) densely traveled relatively high speed roads with only NOLs.

In these places I ride well into the lane to prevent cars from squeezing by me to close. I frequently get agressive and angry drivers as they have to slow and merge into next lane over, but with little gaps for them to do so. Yesterday I was honked at 4 separate times, one time was about 8 honks over a period of time.

What I observed it that some drivers get 'stuck' behind me for much longer that I thought. On this 3mi stretch one driver was behind me for a good 1/2mi and was angry after about 1/4mi honking and swerving left to right real close to me. They simply could not pass me as traffic in the adjacent lane was 45mph+, but we were traveling 20-25mph. When they finally did the 2nd car behind them tried also (accerated hard) and couldn't make the gap and braked hard at last minute with tire squeal (which I had previously heard on occasion, but not known why)

I actually felt a bit concerned holding up cars like this and putting them in a situation where they need to agressively pass to get around me. I know why they are stressed, not (just) because they are slowed by me, but because the merge to pass me is not an easy manever in such traffic.

Anyway there was a lot more 'action' going on behind me that I was aware of as previously I only made the occasional shoulder check.

I'll see how it goes today, maybe yesterday was just worse than usual.

Al
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Old 11-03-05, 10:25 AM   #2
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Welcome to the real world. Ignorance was bliss.

Today I had a giant tow truck towing a giant motorhome for quarter mile behind me. I don't like it any more than they do. I wish they knew that. I considered just stopping and getting off my bike and letting him and everybody behind him go. But I didn't.
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Old 11-03-05, 10:28 AM   #3
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Yup, there are too many cars.
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Old 11-03-05, 10:28 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
Ignorance was bliss.
I almost used this phrase in my original post.

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Old 11-03-05, 10:30 AM   #5
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I guess the part that surprised me more was that since these are multilane roads I didn't think passing me was a 'big deal' I couldn't figure out why drivers got so angry, I previously thought "just freaking pass me, how hard is it"

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Old 11-03-05, 11:04 AM   #6
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My gut feel is ride on!

The fault is no more yours for riding at the speed you do than it is the people in the other lane not allowing enough room for people to merge in.

I do appreciate the negative impact on your safety, but if you are concerned about your influence on the traffic pattern, your impact is only a piece of the puzzle. Even if some behind you think you are to blame, there are other factors beyond your control.
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Old 11-03-05, 11:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
Welcome to the real world. Ignorance was bliss.
Another blissful alternative to the real world may be to read the cycling good book(s), experience an epiphany, and adapting the divine revelations as your new guiding light.
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Old 11-03-05, 11:18 AM   #8
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I havent had a problem with drivers behind me, but I think motorists here are a lot more considerate in allowing other motorists to merge in to their lane.
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Old 11-03-05, 11:24 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I guess the part that surprised me more was that since these are multilane roads I didn't think passing me was a 'big deal' I couldn't figure out why drivers got so angry, I previously thought "just freaking pass me, how hard is it"
Another factor for consideration is the difficulty of merging into lanes (for motorists and cyclists) when vehicle speed-distance judgements are made even more difficult due to headlight glare and lack of references other than headlights in hours of darkness. Neither staring over the drivers shoulder, nor mirrors show/tell much other than headlights approaching.
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Old 11-03-05, 11:25 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgregory57
I do appreciate the negative impact on your safety, but if you are concerned about your influence on the traffic pattern, your impact is only a piece of the puzzle.
The concern I expressed is for my safety as you note. I really don't mind holding up cars behind me, they do have 1 or even 2 lanes to their left to pass and like you said it is not my problem other cars are not letting them do so, nor not my fault they don't adjust their position sooner when they are traveling at a rate the same as the traffic they need to merge into, nor my fault that 3 lanes of traffic get forced into 2 or that the road is often used as overflow for the freeway when an accident happens on it. But all that jockying going on behind me seems to be a hazard for me, one pass that pushes the limit and clips me is a concern.

But I will ride on.

Al
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Old 11-03-05, 11:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
What I observed it that some drivers get 'stuck' behind me for much longer that I thought. On this 3mi stretch one driver was behind me for a good 1/2mi and was angry after about 1/4mi honking and swerving left to right real close to me. They simply could not pass me as traffic in the adjacent lane was 45mph+, but we were traveling 20-25mph. When they finally did the 2nd car behind them tried also (accerated hard) and couldn't make the gap and braked hard at last minute with tire squeal (which I had previously heard on occasion, but not known whyl
Now you see, if you had a nice bike lane to use there would be no problem! (Sorry, couldn't resist).

I was out in the middle of nowhere one day last summer to enjoy some nature. On the way back I hit some construction on 3-lane road closed to a single narrow lane. No intersections for miles, so there was no going back. A lot of gravel and dirt, so I was going slowly and holding up a lot of traffic behind me. It happens. I figure turnabout is fair play for all those times cars slow me down in gridlock.

Sometimes the reverse happens too. Yesterday on Bank street downtown a guy in a city maintenance van was stuck trying to do a left turn at an uncontrolled intersection. He was holding up rush-hour traffic behind him, and no one was letting him pass. I was using the "door zone" of the parking lane as I sometimes do to avoid gridlock, so I merged back into the lane, slowed, and stopped. He gave me a big wave and grin as he made his turn. I don't think the driver behind me, who had kindly let me merge, was all that impressed, but hey, its only a few seconds of his time.
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Old 11-03-05, 11:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by patc
Now you see, if you had a nice bike lane to use there would be no problem! (Sorry, couldn't resist).
Actually I know as fact that if I had a WOL there would be no problem. This same road has a WOL that turns into a NOL and only there is where the issues start.

Al
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Old 11-03-05, 11:41 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by scarry
Yup, there are too many cars.
And not enough bikes.

The more common bikes become on the roads, the better the situation will become. We need to ride on, together.
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Old 11-03-05, 11:47 AM   #14
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The more common bikes become on the roads, the better the situation will become. We need to ride on, together.
I really agree. Specifically these other cyclists need to be on the roads.

Al
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Old 11-03-05, 11:58 AM   #15
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If motorists have a better chance at seeing you, they react sooner, and with less frustration. Got good lights? Fluorescent colors?
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Old 11-03-05, 12:02 PM   #16
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Got good lights? Fluorescent colors?
Yes to both.

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Old 11-03-05, 12:05 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LittleBigMan
Al, you've just described to me my own feeling when I drive my car..
I've been given the finger by a driver passing me and seen drivers throw up their hands in exasperation while following me while I was driving the speed limit in my car on this same road in the far right lane.
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Old 11-03-05, 12:10 PM   #18
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Sorry for the repost.

Al, you've just described to me my own feeling when I drive my car. Average speed is not a concept often understood by many motorists.
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Old 11-03-05, 12:14 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by budster
The more common bikes become on the roads, the better the situation will become. We need to ride on, together.
Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
I really agree. Specifically these other cyclists need to be on the roads.
Interesting discussion. On the one hand, I agree with you... if more cyclists rode on these roads and asserted their position in the lane, perhaps more motorists would realize that we have a right to be there and learn to adapt.

On the other hand, I don't want to risk my life just to make a point. When faced with a similar situation on my commute, I decided to find an alternate route. My ride is about 1 km longer now but so much more enjoyable. I certainly support a cyclists right to the road and applaud all of you who are comfortable in a situation as described, but I prefer the stress-free alternative.

Jalopy

Last edited by Jalopy; 11-03-05 at 12:16 PM. Reason: added a quote
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Old 11-03-05, 12:19 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noisebeam
Well I finally got a mirror that lets me monitor the rear constantly. (Although I still need a better one as this one jiggles to much and shifts out of position over time)

But what I learned troubles me. On the PM commute I have a ~3mi of mulitlane (two and three lanes of same direction) densely traveled relatively high speed roads with only NOLs.

In these places I ride well into the lane to prevent cars from squeezing by me to close. I frequently get agressive and angry drivers as they have to slow and merge into next lane over, but with little gaps for them to do so. Yesterday I was honked at 4 separate times, one time was about 8 honks over a period of time.

What I observed it that some drivers get 'stuck' behind me for much longer that I thought. On this 3mi stretch one driver was behind me for a good 1/2mi and was angry after about 1/4mi honking and swerving left to right real close to me. They simply could not pass me as traffic in the adjacent lane was 45mph+, but we were traveling 20-25mph. When they finally did the 2nd car behind them tried also (accerated hard) and couldn't make the gap and braked hard at last minute with tire squeal (which I had previously heard on occasion, but not known why)

I actually felt a bit concerned holding up cars like this and putting them in a situation where they need to agressively pass to get around me. I know why they are stressed, not (just) because they are slowed by me, but because the merge to pass me is not an easy manever in such traffic.

Anyway there was a lot more 'action' going on behind me that I was aware of as previously I only made the occasional shoulder check.

I'll see how it goes today, maybe yesterday was just worse than usual.

Al
Reading your story makes me feel glad that I live in a city with sidewalks and 25 mph roads. Your situation sounds like night and day from mine.

If you're riding in the middle of the lane, (or taking the lane) on a highway, I think you're asking for trouble. Isn't there another route around this highway?

I would start wearing 4 or 5 of the brightest blinkies on my back pack and helmet even during the day because you need to be treated like a hazzard. (not that you are one)

Good luck.
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Old 11-03-05, 12:32 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Jalopy
On the other hand, I don't want to risk my life just to make a point.
I don't see how riding where Al is riding is risking his life.
I agree it's an important point to make - that cyclists have the same right to the road as do other drivers of slow moving vehicles - and that using the full lane is the appropriate, effective and SAFE way to ride when the lane is too narrow to be safely shared.

What really should happen is that the adjacent lane should slow down too. When I'm driving a motor vehicle, and the lane next to me slows or stops, I make it a point to slow down, gradually of course, to reduce the speed differential between my lane and the adjacent lane.

Al,

Maybe you could get your local advocacy group to push for some widening on this street?
No room? How about combining the 2-3 narrow lanes into 1-2 wide lanes?
Is there a middle lane used for left turns? How about scrapping that, turning the left lane into left or straight at the relevant intersections? The extra space ceded by losing the turn lanes could be used for lane widening.

Maybe you could post your picture again (attach it to your OP)?

Last edited by Helmet Head; 11-03-05 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 11-03-05, 12:38 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
you need to be treated like a hazzard. (not that you are one)

Good luck.
No, they are treating him like a hazzard... it would be better if they treated him like a fellow commuter.
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Old 11-03-05, 12:41 PM   #23
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Two options:

Find an alternate route.

Let the motorists handle their own disappointment.

I use alternate routes all the time.
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Old 11-03-05, 12:49 PM   #24
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I don't see how riding where Al is riding is risking his life.
I didn't say Al was risking his life. However, the way his situation was described (cars swerving around behind him, screeching to a stop while attempting a pass) it sounds an awful lot like a situation that I was in when I started commuting in Toronto. In my situation, I felt travelling on that particular road at that time of day was an unnecessary risk.

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Old 11-03-05, 12:59 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by sbhikes
...I considered just stopping and getting off my bike and letting him and everybody behind him go. But I didn't.
I'm curious, years ago someone mentioned to me that, in California anyway, there was a rule about pulling over. Something along the lines of having to pull over (when able) if you were 'holding up' a line of five or more vehicles. The utility of such a law becomes clear when one is trapped behind a large heavily laden truck on a LONG winding mountain road going a small fraction of the speed limit.

Assuming there IS such a law, anyone know if bikes have to pull off too? It seems to me they'd legally be considered no different than the aforementioned truck.
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