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Old 02-10-07, 11:16 AM   #1
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What did I do wrong?

I am riding home at night from the supermarket. I am on back streets in a suburban neighborhood. The cross street I am on is one lane in each direction demarcated down the center with a very faded (practically invisible) stripe of red, white and green (it's an Italian neighborhood). The cross street I am travelling on is about 1/10th of a mile long and has an occasional parked car. The speed limit, though not posted- so far as I recall- cannot be more than 20 or 25 mph. The road is very lightly travelled by primarily local traffic. My bike is lit with a Cat Eye LT1000 rear light, a handlebar mounted front light and a helmet light. I am wearing a reflectorized bright orange outer layer. I have two large bags of groceries in my milk crate and am riding well left of the center of the lane. I am closer to the center of the road than the right side of the lane. I am behaving predictably and riding what is often referred to in A & S as "vehicularly". As I am about 200' from the intersection at the end of the road I hear what sounds like a pick up truck coming up the road behind me. I can tell the driver may be exceeding the speed limit as the truck is approaching rather rapidly.

My normal response would be to move to the right and let this bozo get to the stop sign a fraction before I do and let him go on his merry way. But I decide I will test the theory of maintaining a "centerish lane position" and, in fact, I moved ever so slightly left of where I was and slightly increased my speed from perhaps 14 mph to about 16mph. His response was to increase his speed and he got right up behind me about 40 feet before the intersection and then whipped close by me (about a foot off my left) and right hooked me to the stop sign. I was stopped about 2" from his passenger door face to face with his surly looking passenger. I was so ticked off I almost spit at the window right at him. Avoiding the confrontation I blank stared him and let him go.

At this point in my life I prefer to avoid these situations. Years of experience on the bike said move well to the right and let him get to the stop sign literally a fraction of a second before me. If I'm understanding VC theory I was in a lane controlling position.

What did I do wrong and why did this driver not behave as theorized?
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Old 02-10-07, 11:21 AM   #2
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You were just exposed to wrongful and typical road ownership car/bike endangerment by some JAM.

You experience exposes the fallacy inherent in vehicular cycling as biking panacea.

I'd check with John Forester, VC superstar, and his buddies at the american dream coalition for the anwser. www.americandreamcoalition.org
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Old 02-10-07, 11:25 AM   #3
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You did nothing wrong. Not one single thing.

What happened was you met stupid people. There are some around, but their numbers are relatively few when compared to the number of people who act in a reasonably intelligent manner, most of the time.

Stupid people tend to live a life of misery, caused by themselves, and feel this misery must be projected onto others at every opportunity.
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Old 02-10-07, 11:30 AM   #4
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If you thought he might try to pass, issuing a stop signal would have been helpful. If you had enough room to let him go by before the stop sign, then letting him go by if you sensed some aggressiveness would have been an ok choice as well. Sounds like you don't use a mirror. Using a mirror might have clued you in as to the driver's intentions and allowed you to handle the situation better.
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Old 02-10-07, 11:33 AM   #5
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It wasn't you that did something wrong, it was the driver of the pickup truck.
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Old 02-10-07, 11:33 AM   #6
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You didn't follow your instincts. You have them for a reason. Use 'em.
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Old 02-10-07, 11:35 AM   #7
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Nice edit Bek,

Now I am not a VC expert. I just know what I have read in this forum. So this may be wrong, but this is my understanding.

Riding VC does not equal acting as a moving roadblock. Sure a "lane controlling position" is a good thing in certain respects. By being out in the lane you were more in the line of sight of the truck driver, and thus helped him notice you. But that doesn't mean you cannot move aside to let him pass. In fact I would generally surmise it is best to move aside and let them pass when you can. Unless it is unsafe to move right for some reason.

I am sure I will now get railed by everyone but oh well. It always leads to some more A&S entertainment.

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Old 02-10-07, 11:40 AM   #8
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i think the rider was approaching a stop sign. he sounds like he was going to be first at the stop, and the JAM accelerated to close pass the rider in an agressive matter.

Haven't you ever done exactly as the rider described the situation? I know I have. Vehicular training leads a bicyclist to try and control the lane, -keep their vehicular parity- approaching a stop or intersection where it is likely the bike will be there first ahead of traffic behind them. this limits the possibility of a right hook at the intersection.

some drivers get it, some drivers hate it. I get varied responses to controlling the lane approaching a stop or traffic signal.
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Old 02-10-07, 12:31 PM   #9
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no, you didn't do anything wrong. Guy was a jerk. happens a lot!
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Old 02-10-07, 03:30 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzman
....My normal response would be to move to the right and let this bozo get to the stop sign a fraction before I do and let him go on his merry way....

....What did I do wrong and why did this driver not behave as theorized?
The only mistake I see is suggesting that any particular individual's behavior can be predicted by theory. There is nothing wrong with the theory. Riding left makes you visible. Even when people are in a hurry, sometimes it's not a bad idea to encourage them not to make an unsafe or inconsiderate pass.

Generally speaking, the same rules that apply for dealing with dogs also apply for drivers. Act predictably. Keep your composure and don't show fear -- otherwise they will become more aggressive.

Being on the roads is a process of constant negotiation. If you encounter a jerk, laws of physics apply so use your noggin. Having said that, I don't like getting hooked or encouraging drivers to think it's OK to gun by and turn in front of me, so I probably would have done the same thing you did.
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Old 02-10-07, 04:44 PM   #11
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As soon as you used the words "pickup truck" I was pretty sure I knew what the rest of the story was going to be. The only thing you did wrong was not follow your initial instincts.
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Old 02-10-07, 04:59 PM   #12
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You didn't do anything wrong. You were coming up to a stop sign and were going to stop where you should. You met the guy that always writes letters to the editor about cyclists not being where they are supposed to be on the road and not stopping at stop signs.
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Old 02-10-07, 05:23 PM   #13
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I think that you forgot that wether you were right or wrong, in a collision between a cyclist and a pick-up truck, the cyclist is going to loose. Trust your instincts. Good job holding your temper.
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Old 02-10-07, 06:04 PM   #14
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I would say that you did nothing wrong.

Had you moved right to allow the motorist to pass without having to pay any attention to you, you would have increased your chances of being right hooked at the intersection, or being placed in a position where you are invisible to cross traffic. What you did was the safest thing for you - what the motorist did was stupid, but not unusual.

BTW, My daughter lives near the corner of California and Bridge sts, Methinks you might be neighbors!
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Old 02-10-07, 06:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzman
I am riding home at night from the supermarket. I am on back streets in a suburban neighborhood. The cross street I am on is one lane in each direction demarcated down the center with a very faded (practically invisible) stripe of red, white and green (it's an Italian neighborhood).


...What did I do wrong and why did this driver not behave as theorized?
Gee buzzman, we're just about neighbors. Adams street in Newton, right near Our Ladies church on Washington street, right? I've had a few experiences on Adams street myself, similar to your own.

You did nothing wrong. As bh already stated, you did a fine job of holding your emotions in check. Regretfully, there are certain areas where these fine examples of bad DNA tend to congregate. The Nonantum section of Newton, (a.k.a. "The Lake") is just one of those areas. There are a few sleazy beer joints in the area, and you're pickup truck bozos were probably going to one, or just coming from one. (Or maybe they had just left Marty's Liquors on Wash. street.) Harassing a bicyclist probably gave them bragging rights for the evening.
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Old 02-10-07, 11:54 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trackhub
Gee buzzman, we're just about neighbors. Adams street in Newton, right near Our Ladies church on Washington street, right? I've had a few experiences on Adams street myself, similar to your own.

You did nothing wrong. As bh already stated, you did a fine job of holding your emotions in check. Regretfully, there are certain areas where these fine examples of bad DNA tend to congregate. The Nonantum section of Newton, (a.k.a. "The Lake") is just one of those areas. There are a few sleazy beer joints in the area, and you're pickup truck bozos were probably going to one, or just coming from one. (Or maybe they had just left Marty's Liquors on Wash. street.) Harassing a bicyclist probably gave them bragging rights for the evening.
DA' LAKE!!!! You know it! You pegged it- to a tee and you know just what kind of driver I'm talking about here too! Here's another thread about the same street and a pick up truck- pleasanter outcome, however, that you may get a kick out of if you didn't see it before.

Quote:
Originally Posted by joejack951
If you thought he might try to pass, issuing a stop signal would have been helpful. If you had enough room to let him go by before the stop sign, then letting him go by if you sensed some aggressiveness would have been an ok choice as well. Sounds like you don't use a mirror. Using a mirror might have clued you in as to the driver's intentions and allowed you to handle the situation better.
All of what you say is good advice joejack but perhaps my post was not a clear enough description.

#1- We were approaching a stop sign. He could see it. I could see it. We both knew I had to stop. A hand signal would have been not only redundant but dangerous to do for several reasons- not the least being I'm riding on a bumpy, icy street with two large bags of groceries in my milk crate.

#2- Absolutely right- when I sense aggressiveness in a driver I absolutely do move right and let them go. I deliberately chose to hold the lane position because my thought really was about BF's and this constant drumbeat of the centerish lane position and this idea of cyclists who move out of the way of automobiles having some kind of inferiority complex. I don't have an inferiority complex in that regard nor do I particularly give in to intimidation or what has been described as "phobia". I simply move to the right to avoid confrontations like this one because I find them repugnant and they take the joy out of cycling.

#3- I agree that a mirror can be useful in these situations and have used them in the past. However, the sound of the engine, the change in RPM's, the sound of the oversized tires on the pavement all indicated exactly the kind of driver Trackhub so accurately describes. I knew exactly what I was in for and didn't need a mirror for it.

By the way, I failed to mention but I think you can guess, the truck ended up somewhat diagonally across the lane in order to beat me to the stop sign.

And I think I did do something wrong- it was to not move out of the way of truck. I knew better and took a chance. It was a gamble I thought I could handle (and I could) but a little bit of playing chicken, which is not a good idea.

Last edited by buzzman; 02-11-07 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 02-11-07, 12:26 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzman
I deliberately chose to hold the lane position because my thought really was about BF's and this constant drumbeat of the centerish lane position and this idea of cyclists who move out of the way of automobiles having some kind of inferiority complex.
Derath and joejack already covered it pretty well, but here's my take.

The above is not a good reason to not move aside. I can't speak for others, but my constant drumbeat about the centerish lane position is:
  1. Use it when faster same-direction traffic is not present, AND
  2. Even when faster same-direction traffic is present but it is not safe or not reasonable to move aside (lane is too narrow, approaching an intersection, etc.).

If there is faster traffic behind and it is safe and reasonable to move aside, you should. If you don't, that doesn't justify what he did, but it could explain why he got frustrated.

You were approaching a stop sign, okay. But how far were you from it? Was there enough distance/time to move aside, let him pass, then get behind him, without you having to slow down? If so, then it would have been reasonable to let him pass. If not, then you should not have even considered moving aside.
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Old 02-11-07, 12:28 AM   #18
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he anwsered those questions, armchair rider. He WAS approaching an intersection. just like you've reiterated he should have been doing, which he was.
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Old 02-11-07, 12:41 AM   #19
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sometimes, oh great helemt head, a vehicular cyclists 'message' just doesn't clear some drivers' windshields.

the OP's scenario describes the fallacies inherent in predicating vehicular riding as traffic panacea.

Most (all) of us that actually ride regularily in traffic understand this.

how helmet head does not is pretty much shrouded mystery, but I'll lay odds on infrequent riding and his neophyte riding status.

No offense, helemt head, but you haven't got much street cred with the crusty old asphalt dawgs, pup. Just proud, vacuous talk about driving that armchair, and your RV....

Again, the OP's scenario describes the fallacies inherent in predicating vehicular riding as traffic panacea.
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Old 02-11-07, 09:54 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by buzzman
All of what you say is good advice joejack but perhaps my post was not a clear enough description.

#1- We were approaching a stop sign. He could see it. I could see it. We both knew I had to stop. A hand signal would have been not only redundant but dangerous to do for several reasons- not the least being I'm riding on a bumpy, icy street with two large bags of groceries in my milk crate.

#2- Absolutely right- when I sense aggressiveness in a driver I absolutely do move right and let them go. I deliberately chose to hold the lane position because my thought really was about BF's and this constant drumbeat of the centerish lane position and this idea of cyclists who move out of the way of automobiles having some kind of inferiority complex. I don't have an inferiority complex in that regard nor do I particularly give in to intimidation or what has been described as "phobia". I simply move to the right to avoid confrontations like this one because I find them repugnant and they take the joy out of cycling.

#3- I agree that a mirror can be useful in these situations and have used them in the past. However, the sound of the engine, the change in RPM's, the sound of the oversized tires on the pavement all indicated exactly the kind of driver Trackhub so accurately describes. I knew exactly what I was in for and didn't need a mirror for it.

By the way, I failed to mention but I think you can guess, the truck ended up somewhat diagonally across the lane in order to beat me to the stop sign.

And I think I did do something wrong- it was to not move out of the way of truck. I knew better and took a chance. It was a gamble I thought I could handle (and I could) but a little bit of playing chicken, which is not a good idea.
Moving right when there is room to let faster same direction traffic by is how traffic is supposed to work (assuming there is room to move right such that faster traffic does not need to change lanes to pass). If you were 50 feet from the stop sign and moving at more than walking speed, it makes sense to hold your line. I suggested issuing a stop signal (even though it seems awfully redundant) because I encounter similar situations on a weekly basis going to/from work. Motorists see me slowing for a stop sign and realize that if they just run the stop sign, they can pass me quicker. I'm not going to let them cause a collision with their impatience so I issue stop signals to let them know not to try the pass. If I see that they are ignoring my signal, I do what's best for me and slow down before the stop line and move right if necessary to let them back into the proper lane as soon as possible. If they are going to be that stupid, I'd rather them be in front of me and not heading towards oncoming traffic. If this is seen by this one driver as me being inferior then so what. The other 99.9% who act appropriately are all that I care about.

With ice on the roads, I realize that it's tougher to take your hands off the bars and to watch behind you, even if you had a mirror. Again though, if you sensed aggressiveness and were not about to stop at the intersection, slowing down earlier and moving right (assuming there was space) makes sense. A mirror can help you detect just how close the motorist is and let you decide if you only need to brake or if you need to move right as well. I certainly can't do this by hearing alone but with a mirror it's easy. I've been in a similar situation many times, sometimes with clean dry pavement, other times with a few inches of snow on the ground.

I agree that playing chicken was not an appropriate action but this has nothing to do with using a centerish lane controlling position in normal riding.
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Old 02-11-07, 10:01 AM   #21
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If you had moved to the right, the driver would have likely buzzed you dangerously and he still would have right hooked you. The only difference is that you would have had no escape route. Moving to the left helps keep you safe from negligent right hooks and gives you an escape route from the intentional ones.
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Old 02-11-07, 11:29 AM   #22
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so, i'm confused. should the op have moved right, or left?

Doesn't matter, the cager likely would have harassed him regardless of lane position.

the fallacies inherent in lane position as traffic panacea are very evident in this thread. more like 'placebo' against dangerous, manevolent drivers.

society needs reeducation to get drivers, en masse, to respect cyclists, regardless of lane position.

all this internet chestbeating about how positioning yourself this way or that to get the cars to respect you is fantastical folly in blatant denial of real world cycling conditions.

This is not a critique of the original poster. He felt using a centered position to control the lane approaching the intersection was the right thing to do (and the chestbeaters concur) but the driver did not.
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Old 02-11-07, 11:46 AM   #23
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so, i'm confused. should the op have moved right, or left?

Doesn't matter, the cager likely would have harassed him regardless of lane position.

the fallacies inherent in lane position as traffic panacea are very evident in this thread. more like 'placebo' against dangerous, manevolent drivers. . . .
A left-side-of-lane position wasn't a placebo, it gave the OP room to escape. Good lane position doesn't solve all problems, but it helps a lot.
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Old 02-11-07, 11:46 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
You didn't do anything wrong. You were coming up to a stop sign and were going to stop where you should. You met the guy that always writes letters to the editor about cyclists not being where they are supposed to be on the road and not stopping at stop signs.
This statement assumes the driver know how to read and write!
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Old 02-11-07, 11:50 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by bhchdh
I think that you forgot that wether you were right or wrong, in a collision between a cyclist and a pick-up truck, the cyclist is going to loose. Trust your instincts. Good job holding your temper.
truth. There is a point at which you must stop trying to be right, and start trying to be safe.
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