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Old 07-21-08, 11:36 AM   #1
Test4Eric
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Nearly hit by coworker on way home from work... my response?

I'll get the basics out of the way... I follow all the laws, ride in the right hand lane, and I'm smart about commuting. In addition, I use a helmet, wear bright colored clothing, use a standard blinky light on my backpack, have DOT conspicuity tape covering my frame, the best AA powered headlight I could find, & use THE most important piece of safety equipment: my Planet Bike Superflash.

My commute is 3 miles each way, with the most hairy part crossing I-29 close to my job. I get off work at 3AM, the first 1/4 mile is all uphill & I have a few stop signs which zap all my momentum. The first 1/4 mile is the toughest, with me going about 10 in a 35. I get passed by 2-5 cars on avg, but thanks to my SuperFlash I get PLENTY of room. In 3 months I have *NEVER* had an incident.

So here's what happened...

Thursday night, 3 AM, headed home from work. Full moon outside, not a cloud for 200 miles. All my lights are on strobe. I'm nearly to the peak of the bridge crossing the interstate. I hear squeeling tires & a horn blaring. After I put my heart back into my chest I turn around to see what happened. About 6 feet behind my rear tire is a giant boat of a Buick with a old grey haired lady behind the wheel. She waits until the other lane is clear, at which point she speeds on by. I catch her plate # & call the police. They tell me the plate doesn't match the vehicle, and couldn't seem to care less about what happened.

Now, I'm not going to let this incident stop me from commuting, but I'm NOT going to pretend nothing happened. Here are my options:

1 - Hope she was just having a bad day & that it would never ever EVER happen again. Seeing as I will no doubt be on the road with this woman again & she very nearly killed me, this option is off the table.

2 - Find her car in the parking lot @ work & put one of my "Bicycles Allowed Full Lane" stickers on her window during a break. She'd know that I knew who she was, get the message, & the sticker would be easy enough to remove, but I think my employeers might frown on this option.

3 - There are 2 stop signs before the highway that are off work property. I could hang out by one after work, wait for her to get there & then slap a sticker on her windshield. Vigilante justice with no real harm being done appeals to me.

4 - Similar to option 3, but instead of putting a sticker on her window I pull her out of her vehicle, give her some U-Lock justice, take her keys out of her ignition & throw them into a drainage ditch. Seeing as she nearly made me a grease spot on the road, I think it's well deserved, but I'm not a violent person.

Without exagerating, I was very nearly killed & will NOT let it go.

Does anyone have any ideas about how I should handle this situation?
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Old 07-21-08, 11:41 AM   #2
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I think you skipped the most obvious and useful option: talk to her. If you tell her about it and then tell her the rules of the road in regards to bicycles that may reduce the chances of anyhitng like that happening again.
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Old 07-21-08, 11:41 AM   #3
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Either drop it from you mind or have a friendly chat with her. Options 2-4 are what you don't want to do.

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Old 07-21-08, 11:50 AM   #4
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Frankly since it is this "old grey haired lady," you might want to tone down the justice aspect a bit and go and just talk to her. You'll find out that first and foremost she probably doesn't have a clue as to the legality of cyclists using roadways. (Even though I have biked for well over 30 years, my father until recently thought that motorists were just doing us favors... he didn't know we had rights to the road).

You may want to bring her a pamphlet or some sort of printed material that outlines the rights of cyclists and how motorists should deal with cyclists... maybe your state has something available.

Talk to her, explain the situation and your concerns. Tell her the DMV can pull her license for reckless driving. Mention you already reported her license plate to the police. (she doesn't know they did "jack").

If this doesn't get her attention.... remove the cores from her tire valve stems.
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Old 07-21-08, 11:51 AM   #5
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Push the mismatched plates with the police, quietly. Take a photo, copy the VIN number. See what happens. Probably won't make any difference at all - can still chat with her. But I'm curious about the plates and want to find out what happens!

Older people forget stuff & do weird stuff. I do! Maybe she doesn't have the car registered and "borrowed" some plates. Might have a license that expired in 1991 - my mother in law did!
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Old 07-21-08, 11:54 AM   #6
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Chatting with her presents a few issues... The only thing I know about this woman is that she drives a Buick & has grey hair, so it's not like I can call HR & request a sitdown or anything. In addition, there are about 2,000 employees where I work, about 300 are on night shift, and they're spread out over a giant industrial complex.


The only way I could talk to her face to face would be to wait outside her car after work. I'm not opposed to that option, but I think a face-to-face would seem confrontational, & if that happened I'd like for it to be off work property.

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Old 07-21-08, 11:56 AM   #7
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Chatting with her presents a few issues... The only thing I know about this woman is that she drives a Buick & has grey hair, so it's not like I can call HR & request a sitdown or anything. In addition, there are about 2,000 employees where I work, about 300 are on night shift, and they're spread out over a giant industrial complex.


The only way I could talk to her face to face would be to wait outside her car after work. I think a face-to-face would seem confrontational, & if that happened I'd like for it to be off work property.
Put a note on her car... with the cyclists' rights and driving info.

Try a gentle approach first... save the justice for later.

I think I would follow up on the license plate thing too.
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Old 07-21-08, 12:04 PM   #8
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Most of your options seem to be centered around the belief that she didn't think you belonged on the road. From your description, it seems she just didn't see you.

Anything more than a note saying "Please pay more attention." seems unwarranted.
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Old 07-21-08, 12:20 PM   #9
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Pedaleur,

It is impossible for her to not have seen me. The area is VERY well lit, with gas stations, a highway going E-W & an Interstate going N-S, as well as a full moon on a cloudless night. In addition to my environment being well lit, I had a headlight, reflective tape visible from the front, side, & rear, light clothes, blinky light on my backpack, and a SuperFlash on strobe. It was a straight highway & nothing to obstruct her view.

If she couldn't see me, she doesn't belong on the road.
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Old 07-21-08, 12:29 PM   #10
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I would likely put the sticker at least on her driver side window, though I'd be real tempted to put on the windshield.
First I'd take the photos and push the plates issue with the police. Maybe try to get a candid photo of the driver as well. Or take a photo of her car with her behind the wheel so she knows exactly what you're doing. If she asks, politely tell her the police requested a photo of the person who almost committed vehicular assault on you.
OK, maybe first try to catch her by he car and ask her if she would please pay more attention. If she acts like it was all your fault, then go with the photos.
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Old 07-21-08, 01:28 PM   #11
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It sounds like either she didn't see you, was distracted, or misjudged your speed or position and had to stop suddenly. You didn't mention if she yelled, honked, or even glared at you. Since I'm lazy I would leave a note stating that she should be more careful but you can wait for her at her car and tell her.
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Old 07-21-08, 02:12 PM   #12
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I think you skipped the most obvious and useful option: talk to her. If you tell her about it and then tell her the rules of the road in regards to bicycles that may reduce the chances of anyhitng like that happening again.
I would go with this, except I say talk AT her. Not to her. You do not listen to anything she says. You do not negotiate your safety.
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Old 07-21-08, 02:16 PM   #13
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Went to the police station & talked to an officer.

I'm essentially allowed to do whatever I please, as long as I don't make her feel threatened. I can wait for her in the parking lot to have a word, stop her while she's at a stop sign, take photos of her & her vehicle, leave a note on her car, etc...

I haven't decided for sure what I'm going to do, but I think I'm going to wait until we're both off of work property & wait for her at one of the stop signs that everyone has to go through. I'm sure I'll have a spike in blood pressure & will be peeved, but as long as I don't threaten her I'm good to go.
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Old 07-21-08, 02:27 PM   #14
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definitely talk to HR as well! you have the license plate, description, time of day, etc. you shouldn't have to be harrassed by employees whether it's on the property or not. even if you don't know exactly who it is, someone else might and the company should know about it anyway.
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Old 07-21-08, 03:06 PM   #15
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I agree with others that you do not want to escalate the situation in a confrontational manner unnecessarily. The main concerns should revolve around:
  • Follow up on the vehicle plate mismatch. I guess this pretty much means finding her car at your employers site and taking a photo. Your first goal should be to identify her. She may not be fully aware that she broke the law, driving without due care and attention, since she skidded ("squealing tires"), i.e. lost control of her vehicle. She may also not be fully aware that you have a right to be on the road. A chat from a police officer will have far greater impact than a lecture from you. A civil letter, not a rant, under her windshield wiper (not a sticky) in combination with a visit from the police will leave her in no doubt that the matter is serious. Avoid hand written letters, assume her eyesight is deficient and use a large font, get the letter proof read by someone literate (I am not implying that you are illiterate).
  • Is she still fit to be driving any vehicle on the road? Family and colleagues are extremely unlikely to arrange to have an elderly persons license to drive revoked. You owe it to yourself and other cyclists to make sure she is still fit to drive. Here is something I have never seen discussed here in the Advocacy and Safety forum - how does one arrange for a driver to face a mandatory examination of eyes, etc.?
  • Your employer will definitely not want to get involved in something that happens off site, that notwithstanding, if this old woman turns out to be unfit to be driving home after-dark, then you should inform Human Resources, once you have identified her. Once your employer is informed through the proper method, they 'could' (not definite) become partially liable if they continue to require her to work until 3 AM and drive home at night. The forgoing is opinion and not legal advice.
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Old 07-21-08, 03:18 PM   #16
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definitely talk to HR as well! you have the license plate, description, time of day, etc. you shouldn't have to be harrassed by employees whether it's on the property or not. even if you don't know exactly who it is, someone else might and the company should know about it anyway.

As this does not appear to be a work related problem, its none of the company's business. Rather than go overboard, the better direction is to discuss or let the lady know what the law is and hope she becomes aware of how to interact safely on the road with cyclists.
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Old 07-21-08, 03:26 PM   #17
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As this does not appear to be a work related problem, its none of the company's business. Rather than go overboard, the better direction is to discuss or let the lady know what the law is and hope she becomes aware of how to interact safely on the road with cyclists.
i agree that he should talk with the lady if possible.

i don't agree that it's not a work related problem. it's an employee harassing another employee going to\from work. it's definitely under the "HR" umbrella.
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Old 07-21-08, 03:31 PM   #18
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I can't find on the OP where he knows for sure it's a fellow employee. Other than the fact that they were both on the road at the same time, it sounds like an assumption. That just based on the info presented.

The "old gray haired lady" might just have been gramma on the way home from the bingo bar.

-Roger

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Old 07-21-08, 03:39 PM   #19
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i agree that he should talk with the lady if possible.

i don't agree that it's not a work related problem. it's an employee harassing another employee going to\from work. it's definitely under the "HR" umbrella.
I'm not sure there was harassment. The lady was six feet off the bumper and passed after a loud honk. Only she knows if she was surprised, for whatever reason, and gave the honk as a warning or as an indicator she wasn't happy he was in "her" lane. Sure, she should have been more attentive, but it doesn't fit harassment in a manner that HR should be involved. In fact, if the OP isn't careful about how he approaches the matter, it may be him accused of harassment. As presented, HR has no place for involvement, just as the police had no reason to charge the woman.
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Old 07-21-08, 03:44 PM   #20
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use a helmet, wear bright colored clothing, use a standard blinky light on my backpack, have DOT conspicuity tape covering my frame, the best AA powered headlight I could find, & use THE most important piece of safety equipment: my Planet Bike Superflash.
...
I hear squeeling tires & a horn blaring. After I put my heart back into my chest I turn around to see what happened. About 6 feet behind my rear tire is a giant boat of a Buick with a old grey haired lady behind the wheel. She waits until the other lane is clear, at which point she speeds on by.
If you also had a mirror you would not have been as surprised and likely would not be as upset as you now appear to be.

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Old 07-21-08, 03:52 PM   #21
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I'm not sure there was harassment. The lady was six feet off the bumper and passed after a loud honk. Only she knows if she was surprised, for whatever reason, and gave the honk as a warning or as an indicator she wasn't happy he was in "her" lane. Sure, she should have been more attentive, but it doesn't fit harassment in a manner that HR should be involved. In fact, if the OP isn't careful about how he approaches the matter, it may be him accused of harassment. As presented, HR has no place for involvement, just as the police had no reason to charge the woman.
for a one off issue like this, i agree.

if it keeps happening, and the cops do not do anything, the OP shouldn't feel like he can't bring it up with the HR department. especially for a large company with 2000+ employees, they undoubtably have policies in place to handle things like this.
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Old 07-21-08, 04:01 PM   #22
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for a one off issue like this, i agree.

if it keeps happening, and the cops do not do anything, the OP shouldn't feel like he can't bring it up with the HR department. especially for a large company with 2000+ employees, they undoubtably have policies in place to handle things like this.
I agree if it happens again it may be harassment and the OP should consider bringing it to the attention of HR. Hopefully, the company is bike friendly. Had the OP not found the car in the lot at work, this would have been just another one of those incidents cyclists encounter and that would have been the end.
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Old 07-21-08, 04:46 PM   #23
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I compiled a list of problems observed with an older driver. Provided full contact information for myself and that other driver. Sent it in as directed by the safety folks at State. Letter arrived at the bad driver's house indicating evaluation by doctor required. Examination revealed unfit to drive. Letter revoking license arrived after bad driver's death from cancer. Took a while, was pretty easy, and really got the culprit pissed off! But the system worked. Check into your state's system. Usually there's a nice lady who answers the phone. She'll know more than the "right" people you're supposed to talk to!
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Old 07-21-08, 05:26 PM   #24
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Wonder what the OP considers "old"? If she's still working, its doubtful she's all that old. Grey hair is meaningless in determining whether someone is "old". My hair has been fully gray since my mid-30's. Old also has less to do with actual age and more to do with physical and mental factors.
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Old 07-21-08, 06:58 PM   #25
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As this does not appear to be a work related problem, its none of the company's business. Rather than go overboard, the better direction is to discuss or let the lady know what the law is and hope she becomes aware of how to interact safely on the road with cyclists.
Neither is DUI. But lots of employees get fired for it.
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