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  1. #1
    Guy with bike
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    How do cars deal with bikers when it's snowing?

    Anecdote(s)
    1) This morning I was riding my bike in the right tire tread up a hill. Maybe 2 inches of snow fell last night. As I'm going up the hill I see many people pass me, one of whom flicks me off. Then he parks right in front of my destination. I wave and say, "hi" and he tells me "I don't want your death on my hands." Yikes! Things went downhill from there. He told me that people don't bike in weather like this, that I should take the "f***ing bus" and blah blah blah. I yell at him, he yells back and threatens violence. Nothing is gained by anyone.

    2) I guy at the repair shop I go to was talking about how much he must freak cars out when he's fishtailing on the road or wobbling somewhat in heavy snow. I agree, it must be scary. People are afraid we're going to slip and fall.


    So... I probably should have just said nothing to the guy. Or should I? Is there something I could have said that would have helped? Do you think he would be swayed by my studded tires? Is there some literature I could leave under his windshield wiper that would make things better?

    And, more generally, how do we convince cars that we can safely interact on the road even when conditions are crap?

  2. #2
    Listen to me powers2b's Avatar
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    Cars treat cyclist the same all year round.
    They will clip you if they think they can get away with it.
    They see a bike in the road as a personal attempt to slow them down and make them late for their smoothie at the mall.
    Take the lane, ride with a good mirror and pay attention.
    You are responsible for your safety.

    Enjoy

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    When I used to winter commute I found that cars gave me much more space when passing because they were scared that I would fall under their wheels. With a fresh heavy snowfall I found it easier to ride through the smooth snow on the sidewalks, than struggle with the ruts in the road. One of the joys of winter cycling was listening to motorists scraping the ice off their windshields as I got on my bike and cycled off without delay.

  4. #4
    more ape than man timmhaan's Avatar
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    so he doesn't want your death on his hands, but then he turns around and threatens violence? he doesn't deserve any of your time. nothing you say will make a positive difference to an individual like this.

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Wilke's Avatar
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    I don't know about where you live, but here in Wisconsin, people can barely drive safely in the rain, yet alone in the snow. Personally, I think you're putting your life on the line riding _in traffic_ on snowy roads. Irregardless if you have a right to be there or not, or if you can easily handle yourself in the worst conditions, drivers are white knuckling it already ... throw a bike in the mix and they freak out.

    My .02

    John Wilke
    Milwaukee

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Wilke
    I don't know about where you live, but here in Wisconsin, people can barely drive safely in the rain, yet alone in the snow. Personally, I think you're putting your life on the line riding _in traffic_ on snowy roads. Irregardless if you have a right to be there or not, or if you can easily handle yourself in the worst conditions, drivers are white knuckling it already ... throw a bike in the mix and they freak out.

    My .02

    John Wilke
    Milwaukee
    Whether or not I'm actually safer is up for debate, but if I'm going to bike in the snow, I'm going to do so on the narrowest, hilliest roads I can find. Why? Because most drivers wouldn't dare try to take their car on those roads and the few drivers that do usually have a reason for being there (plows mostly). It just so happens that my normal commute route is the narrow, hilly roads so I know the route well which is also a big plus. I would not feel safe mixing it up with the cars on the major roads. Somehow people don't feel the need to adjust their speed for the conditions and I've seen some ugly accidents as a result.

  7. #7
    Portland Fred banerjek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechrisproject
    So... I probably should have just said nothing to the guy. Or should I? Is there something I could have said that would have helped? Do you think he would be swayed by my studded tires? Is there some literature I could leave under his windshield wiper that would make things better?

    And, more generally, how do we convince cars that we can safely interact on the road even when conditions are crap?
    Probably it would have been best to say nothing. If you can keep your composure, you may have mentioned that experienced riders who have proper equipment like studded tires have much more control and can ride much safer than most people realize.

    Just let it drop and don't bother with leaving any notes -- it might weird him out.

  8. #8
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechrisproject
    Anecdote(s)
    1) ...one of whom flicks me off...he tells me "I don't want your death on my hands." ...He told me that people don't bike in weather like this, that I should take the "f***ing bus" ...and threatens violence.
    It doesn't snow where I live, but I recognize snow when I see it.

    Next time, say, "I'm calling the police right now," and reach for your cell phone. "Let's discuss it with them.
    No worries

  9. #9
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    I tried to flip off a guy the other day who passed too close. I guess it doesn't have the same affect with mittens on.
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

  10. #10
    Guy with bike
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ritehsedad
    I tried to flip off a guy the other day who passed too close. I guess it doesn't have the same affect with mittens on.
    It looks even funnier with lobster gloves on.

  11. #11
    Guy with bike
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    I'll admit that I'm a little wobbly sometimes, especially when I am standing up pounding at the pedals trying to get up a hill. It is possible that I might fall over, that is true. It's also possible that on a summer day I can hit a pothole and lose control. Visually, I may look more likely to fall on a snowy day. So, as drivers, how should people deal with me? I think that I, as a car driver, would probably drive as if that person could fall down at any time. Is that too unreasonable? I feel like it's just being safe and doesn't really cause too much undue stress. You give a biker a good 4 feet of clearance and you're good to go. It's the same amount of clearance that you'd give a slow moving snow plow or any other slow moving vehicle.

  12. #12
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    Stuck drivers deal very well with me when I stop to help push their car free. I think that giving back to the road-using community is a good form of advocacy.

    Paul

  13. #13
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrewP
    One of the joys of winter cycling was listening to motorists scraping the ice off their windshields as I got on my bike and cycled off without delay.
    It's also one of the joys of having a garage if you do drive!
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  14. #14
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joejack951
    (plows mostly)
    There is your biggest danger when riding in the snow, IMO, especially on residential streets. You haven't had 'fun' till a plow passes and buries you in wet, slushy snow, or worse, decides he wants to plow you along with the snow.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  15. #15
    Senior Member spandexwarrior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by powers2b
    Cars treat cyclist the same all year round.
    They will clip you if they think they can get away with it.
    They see a bike in the road as a personal attempt to slow them down and make them late for their smoothie at the mall.
    Take the lane, ride with a good mirror and pay attention.
    You are responsible for your safety.

    Enjoy
    I disagree. For me it is definately worse in the winter. People seem less inclined to regard you as normal if you are biking in what they percieve to be intollerable conditions. Maybe they fear it. Once snow factors into it, they really feel obligated to "remind" you that you are "nuts." One day a snow storm effectively shut down traffic. When I went out on my Cannodale mountainbike, there was gridlock literally everywhere- and this is where there is never gridlock. People didn't know how to drive in this snow which was rapidly accumulating. I, however, had no problems with it on my bike. I was zipping past gridlocked cars for miles (it was a good snow for biking- nice and wet and not too slick). When I was in the process of riding past these cars, some guy on the curb says, "you bike like you crazy." This winter, as soon as it got cold, I've been getting more crap from drivers. I think because in the summer there are more people biking, people have less issues with it. Yea, I know that sounds wierd. To put it more clearly, because people don't think people are quite right for biking in the winter, when we bikers slow them down or something, they are more inclined to go off the handle. I think they really think we are stupid or something and it is their "duty" to set us straight.
    Last edited by spandexwarrior; 12-14-05 at 12:45 PM.
    Urban Cycling Vocabulary
    Foreplay The efforts of a cyclist to locate and trigger buried sensors under the pavement that will cause the traffic light at an intersection to turn green. Like the real thing, occasionally there is no result from this activity, despite most sincere efforts.
    High A lateral position on a street more toward the center line. I.E., If you look like you are leading a funeral procession of slow moving cars, you are probably positioned too "high."

  16. #16
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Same way they deal with other vehicles. Bumpers are for stopping the car if you slide.

    Al

  17. #17
    PatronSaintOfDiscBrakes dynaryder's Avatar
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    I've noticed a bit more agression around DC since the weather turned bad. Traffic is bad enough when the streets are clear,the addition of ice/snow seems to unhinge some people. Oh,and I've noticed this not just while riding,but while crossing the street as a ped.

    When the weather's like this,I like to run the sidewalks when they're clear,just to avoid the nutty drivers. Problem is,most folks around here never shovel their walks,so I still spend alot of time in the road. It adds to the D factor significantly when you not only have to be aware of the cars,but also potential bad spots in the road that could cause them to lose control.

    I was going to post a poll about how VC'ers handle snow,but didn't want it devolving into a mess. Just out of curiosity,anyone here ride strictly on the road,no matter how bad the conditions?

    C'dale BBU('05 and '09)/F600/Super Six/Hooligan8and 3,Kona Dew Deluxe,Novara Buzz/Safari,Surly Big Dummy,Marin Pt Reyes/Novato,Giant Defy 1,Schwinn DBX SuperSport/Qualifier,Brompton S6L,Dahon Speed Pro TT

  18. #18
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder
    I was going to post a poll about how VC'ers handle snow,but didn't want it devolving into a mess. Just out of curiosity,anyone here ride strictly on the road,no matter how bad the conditions?
    I would ride if I would drive, but my threshold to drive is probably more strict. It depends on the road conditions. There are times when hitting/bumping the bumper of the car in front of you becomes so normal that folks don't even get out of cars, just wave. I wouldn't stop behind a car in these conditions, nor ride in a way that would require fast slowing by cars. I've been in snow/ice storms where I was bumped (and I bumped others once) ~5 times in 30min. I've watched police cars unable to stop intentionally drive into other vehicles and snowbanks. I've watched a car coming down hill a hill toward me doing 360s and had to jump off the sidewalk to avoid getting hit.

    (While I live in AZ, I grew up in New England and did a lot of winter driving and some winter cycling)

    Al

  19. #19
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder
    Just out of curiosity,anyone here ride strictly on the road,no matter how bad the conditions?
    Aside from the first 1/2 mile of my commute, I don't have any other option but the roads. I'll admit that I felt a little uneasy with cars passing me while I was trying to maintain control of my bike, knowing that a decent rut in the snow could bring me down quickly. That was also my first time out in the snow in a long while so hopefully with some experience I'll be biking, and feeling, safer. Once I got off the main roads, I had no problems as cars were basically non-existent.

  20. #20
    Conservative Hippie
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    Adverse weather seems difficult to some people. And then one of us comes blowing along like we're having a good time and it makes them, some of them, anyway, feel like a wimp.

  21. #21
    52-week commuter DCCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynaryder

    Just out of curiosity,anyone here ride strictly on the road,no matter how bad the conditions?
    I ride every day, and the roads are the only place ridable when it snows.

    I have studded tires and more traction than most cars.

  22. #22
    Senior Member knoregs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thechrisproject
    Is there something I could have said that would have helped?
    tell him you just got out of jail for beating to death the last motorist who gave yo sh*t
    "I'm a foreign diplomat. I don't pay for drinks. Do you think G. Gordon Liddy paid for his drinks while he was strangling people with piano wire for the good of our nation?" - Peter Griffin

  23. #23
    Enthusiasm on Wheels As You Like It's Avatar
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    Normally when I am on my bike, I am like a cheerleader. Vivacious and faintly annoying but generally overflowing with goodwill. However, last week, on my first snowstorm commute, I flipped a man off. Why? Because he was tailing me for a block laying on the horn the whole way. He had no reason to do that sort of idiotic thing, he was just egregiously being a jerk. Granted, with my big, fat gloves on, I don't think "the bird" was recognised, but it was the best I could do at the time.

    What I really wanted to do was chuck a brick through his windshield.

    Most drivers didn't treat me any differently than they normally do. Which is to say that one or two passed WAY too close, but most of 'em minded their own business and gave me no more grief than I gave them, which is to say none.
    Wheeeee!

  24. #24
    Senior Member mechBgon's Avatar
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    For me, the main negative effects of snow and ice are

    1) the rideable area of the roadway is variable in width and generally a lot narrower. That can make things tough for someone trying to pass me, if they have to move towards the center of the road and then half their drive wheels are on the snow/ice in the middle of the road and they've got bad traction. To make more room, I'll ride on snow, slush or ice at the edge of the road if it's rideable, but oftentimes it's just not rideable.

    2) I have to be watching the road surface non-stop on city streets. Ice "plaque", rutted snow and slush, any of it could take me down. I've ridden enough of it to recognize its characteristics on sight, but I have to be paying attention and looking ahead to plan a smooth line.

    3) In snow, people can't see the lane markings, fog line, center line, etc, so they cut corners. That means that on the climb on Southeast Boulevard here, the motorists unintentionally drive over into the bike lane somewhat at the bends in the road, for example. And of course they rapidly wear away the fog line that marks the separation between the car lane and the bike lane when they do that. So now they don't even realize they're in MY space.

  25. #25
    contre nous de la tyranie
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    I tend to take a lane, but graciously let trailing cars pass, when it's safe, and doesn't stop me from moving. I think that this obvious cooperation, is appreciated. Most people are good hearted, still the world is naturally peppered with jerks, and I don't think that there is much you can do about them, besides showing that you're polite, but not spineless.

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