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Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

View Poll Results: How do you feel about too-nice motorists?
I'm grateful for any breaks I can get. 32 49.23%
I don't like, it's patronizing and shows lack of respect. 10 15.38%
Could go either way, depending on the situation or my mood. 23 35.38%
Voters: 65. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 05-10-08, 09:49 PM   #1
JohnBrooking
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Attitude towards too-nice motorists?

This might be an interesting poll. Here's the situation. The street I live on intersects a major road (arterial with two lanes each way), so my street has a stop sign at that intersection, and the arterial has no light or stop sign in their direction. Basically, they have the full right of way. Except, there is also a highly visible crosswalk with highly visible signage about stopping for pedestrians, although there is no crossing light. When I am on my street preparing to cross the arterial, I do so vehicularly, stopping at the stop sign, taking the lane. About 80% of the time, someone on the arterial stops for me, often the person in the nearest lane on my left. I know what they're thinking: "There's someone on a bike, waiting to cross. I know I'm supposed to stop for pedestrians, so I'll stop for him too." Maybe they're just being nice. But anyway, it causes confusion and I really don't like it. But usually it ends up that other people observe the situation and stop also, so what can I do but go on through? (Carefully, of course, after checking the other lanes, and trying to make it obvious that I have to do so.)

I don't think I really have much other choice, so I'm not asking what you would do (although you are welcome to tell me if you do something different from me), but how it makes you feel. I suspect most people (except maybe those on this board) would think I'm silly to not just be grateful they are being nice, but to me, it feels condescending. I try so hard to ride according to the rules of the road and be an equal road user to them, but once again I'm not treated that way, even though at least they are erring on the positive side rather than the negative. The rational side of me is frustrated by their lack of understanding that I'm NOT a pedestrian.

How about you?
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Old 05-10-08, 09:54 PM   #2
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In that second option, perhaps "lack of respect" is too strong, but I don't think I can go back and edit the poll options. Consider "lack of understanding" as an alternative phrase.
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Old 05-11-08, 02:29 AM   #3
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Typically I feel the people that are "too-polite" which are usually FEW and FAR between (and by crazy amounts) are people that are just generally too-police no matter what it is, not so much a lack of understanding or respect as it's just a personality trait.
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Old 05-11-08, 03:46 AM   #4
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When I am on my street preparing to cross the arterial, I do so vehicularly, stopping at the stop sign, taking the lane. About 80% of the time, someone on the arterial stops for me...The rational side of me is frustrated by their lack of understanding that I'm NOT a pedestrian.

How about you?
I hate when I come to a 4-way stop and time my stop so I can take my turn, then somebody waits for me out-of-turn. If I go at that point, maybe someone else facing another direction decides to go too, since it's their turn anyway.

When someone on the 4-lane artery stops for you, you still have to watch for drivers that aren't planning to stop. I'd rather people be predictable then overly-helpful.
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Old 05-11-08, 04:07 AM   #5
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I don't like it, but I don't think of it as being patronizing or done out of lack of respect. Lack of understanding I agree with, and you and LBM touched on the reason.

I don't like it because, while the motorist doing this may simply be trying to be nice, if another motorist is present they may not understand why the first motorist is doing what they are doing and blow right on through.

I don't like it because someone making an exception to the rules of the road, even if the intent is to be gracious, is not acting in a predictable manner, and can potentially put others in a dangerous situation.
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Old 05-11-08, 05:30 AM   #6
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I think some people treat crosswalks with a sense of entitlement and will use them in defiance of any vehicles which may be intersecting them regardless of a vehicle's speed or position. All too often I've seen instances of pedestrians stepping out into four lane streets against lights in moderate to heavy traffic prompting dozens of cars to suddenly and unexpectedly stop, which in my opinion is considerably dangerous for all involved.

Drivers who have dealt with something similar to the above might see you and figure there's a good chance you're just going to cross anyway whether they're approaching you or not so they choose to yield to you rather than risk a collision or confrontation. Some might see all the highly visible signage and choose to yield to you rather than risk receiving a traffic ticket. Some might think it applies to you too, and others might just be considerate and want to give you a break.

I encounter the same type of intersection along the trail I regularly ride on. When I stop right at the street quite often drivers will yield unnecessarily to allow me to cross, however if I stop about 20 or 30 feet back from the intersection where I can still see when it's clear to cross vehicles will continue along their way as they should and I can then cross at my leisure when it's clear to do so. Either way, I don't let it bother me.
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Old 05-11-08, 07:34 AM   #7
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I live in an exceptionally nice area, people are very nice and polite. This happens all the time, I wave and go on. I can take or leave it.
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Old 05-11-08, 01:57 PM   #8
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I think some people treat crosswalks with a sense of entitlement and will use them in defiance of any vehicles which may be intersecting them regardless of a vehicle's speed or position. All too often I've seen instances of pedestrians stepping out into four lane streets against lights in moderate to heavy traffic prompting dozens of cars to suddenly and unexpectedly stop, which in my opinion is considerably dangerous for all involved. ...
What are pedestrians supposed to do where traffic controls are 2km or even farther apart?
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Old 05-11-08, 02:18 PM   #9
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I think i know what you're talking about kind of. A slightly similar situation is when I'm stopped at a light and the cars behind me are giving me too much space so the signal wont activate for the light. I always try to move forward really far to give them the message that they need to move up but they never do.
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Old 05-11-08, 02:31 PM   #10
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Better too-nice than too-mean.
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Old 05-11-08, 02:55 PM   #11
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Better too-nice than too-mean.

I agree, though I'll make sure that surrounding motorists realize what the "polite" motorist is doing before proceeding.
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Old 05-11-08, 03:59 PM   #12
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Personally I think that intersections/motorists that do not accommodate pedestrians and cyclists discourage alternate transportation and with those that are left non-accommodations encourage too many to j-walk or j-bike, which does seem to appear significantly in fatality and crash stats. So I think over accommodation is better then under accommodation.
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Old 05-11-08, 04:01 PM   #13
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In general, as others posters have said, I do not enjoy "too polite" drivers since they so often seem to waste time and increase risk.

In this particular case, though, I'd be happy at cars stopping for ANY object in a pedestrian crosswalk. Our local drivers ignore them even when the proverbial old lady is trying to cross the street.
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Old 05-11-08, 04:29 PM   #14
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I think a little extra caution on the roads is generally appreciated. Anecdotally, people who are in a rush seem to create the most havoc.
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Old 05-11-08, 04:50 PM   #15
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... people who are in a rush seem to create the most havoc.
+1 That goes for both cyclists and motorists.
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Old 05-11-08, 05:54 PM   #16
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Today I was number 3 at a 3 way stop. 3 of us stopped while 4 & 5 come up the right of way.

An overly polite driver with the right of way ( the one street without a stop sign ) stopped and waved for me to go. It was a nice gesture, but it really wasn't his decision to make. The motorist behind him wasn't too happy, stopping when there is no stop sign and everyone else waiting and showed it by honking.

The number two car in the right of way lane is the scariest. I've seen cars zip around the stopped car in this situation at this intersection several times before.

I waved the right of way driver on and he went on his way but then the number one driver in line at stop sign hesitated, waiting for me. I played traffic cop again and gestured him on.

It took a while to play out, but everyone would have gotten through the intersection much faster if they weren't overly polite.

It may have been my record track stand though...
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Old 05-11-08, 07:07 PM   #17
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Today I was number 3 at a 3 way stop. 3 of us stopped while 4 & 5 come up the right of way.
...
It may have been my record track stand though...
See, it was your fault! Motorist do not seem to know what to do with a cyclist doing a track stand.
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Old 05-11-08, 09:21 PM   #18
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I make a show of facing the other way, and ignore them until they drive on past. Just because one person has stopped, does not mean that others will (especially as doing so would violate the principles of right of way)
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Old 05-11-08, 09:57 PM   #19
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I make a show of facing the other way, and ignore them until they drive on past. Just because one person has stopped, does not mean that others will (especially as doing so would violate the principles of right of way)
Yeah, I find that when drivers yield when they're not supposed to it can cause more problems than anything else. Drivers in other lanes get confused, and anyone stuck behind the yielder could be resentful toward the cyclist for "causing" the delay.
I've often given motorists that think they're doing me a favour a dirty look and waved them on. I want to consistently be treated like a vehicle - lots of respect and no surprises.
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Old 05-11-08, 10:15 PM   #20
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What are pedestrians supposed to do where traffic controls are 2km or even farther apart?
My observation of "pedestrians stepping out into four lane streets against lights in moderate to heavy traffic" was in reference to pedestrians in crosswalks, not jaywalkers.
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Old 05-11-08, 11:12 PM   #21
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I don't know what the answer is to this, but I would hope we can figure it out soon.

I don't have a good answer, but I'm certain that it's not:
a) putting on the annoyed face, or
b) ignoring the person trying to be nice to you, or
c) waving your hands frantically.

If things are iffy, I:
1) stop, and jump off my bike (just feet to the ground)
2) point purposefully at the driver whose turn it is to go
3) wait for them to go and for others to take their turn
4) then i go on my turn.

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Old 05-11-08, 11:29 PM   #22
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If they're prepared to give way, I'm prepared to take it.
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Old 05-12-08, 12:51 AM   #23
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unpredictable is unsafe
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Old 05-12-08, 01:21 AM   #24
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I don't like them. I usually go if I consider it safe, but I shake my head and mumble something about learning the laws.
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Old 05-12-08, 01:39 AM   #25
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I've been guilty of this, but not because it wasn't the cyclist's turn to go. Rather, waiting for the cyclist to go and they not trusting me to stay put. From a cycling POV - I think the annoying bit is, of course, having to put a foot down if motorists wait too long to go, but often that's exactly why they are waiting. They are more likely to just get on with it if you do come to a full stop, foot on the ground. I'll take the too solicitous driver over the road rager any day of the week. At least you know they are looking.
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