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Old 03-20-09, 07:46 PM   #1
Nick C
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Cars moving into oncoming traffic to pass?

Lately, I've noticed this as more and more of an issue. My commute takes me on about 1 mile on a narrow, two lane, one in each direction road. I take the lane on this section because it is so narrow with no shoulder, and I have noticed many cars will pull out into the other lane to pass me with oncoming traffic no more than a couple hundred feet away. This amazes me as it always ends up with the oncoming driver slamming on the brakes and swerving onto the 4" wide shoulder, yet they never, ever honk or even seem angered by this reckless maneuver.
Logically, if you swerve into oncoming traffic, the oncoming traffic will get the s**t scared out of them, and will most likely be angered by the situation, so why does throwing a bike into the mix make it perfectly fine? Are people so stuck in the belief that everything is our fault? I know if I were a driver I would be laying on the horn each and every time.
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Old 03-20-09, 09:00 PM   #2
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Lately, I've noticed this as more and more of an issue. My commute takes me on about 1 mile on a narrow, two lane, one in each direction road. I take the lane on this section because it is so narrow with no shoulder, and I have noticed many cars will pull out into the other lane to pass me with oncoming traffic no more than a couple hundred feet away. This amazes me as it always ends up with the oncoming driver slamming on the brakes and swerving onto the 4" wide shoulder, yet they never, ever honk or even seem angered by this reckless maneuver.
Logically, if you swerve into oncoming traffic, the oncoming traffic will get the s**t scared out of them, and will most likely be angered by the situation, so why does throwing a bike into the mix make it perfectly fine? Are people so stuck in the belief that everything is our fault? I know if I were a driver I would be laying on the horn each and every time.
I've seen this happen many times, I always shake my head and then be ready to take evasive action if necessary. There have been a few times that amazed me to the point of disbelief, and they all happened on one part of my commute with motorists going over a double yellow line into a blind turn into oncoming traffic.
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Old 03-20-09, 09:25 PM   #3
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I've noticed this more and more lately, especially since I've been riding during the morning commute. I've been more assertive in taking the lane when the roads are especially busy and narrow, and I continue to be amazed at how crazy some of the passes have been. I'm always worried that there will be a head on collision because then another innocent person will be victimized, but at least they have a better chance of surviving
with an airbag and seatbelt and a steel cage around them than I would getting hit from behind.

I just had this happen last week.
You can check out the video here
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Old 03-20-09, 09:33 PM   #4
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Because motorists are conditioned* to pass cyclists asap without having to wait, simply taking the lane is sometimes not enough. Watch approaching traffic in your mirror, and when someone appears to not be slowing issue a slow/stop hand signal. I find this helps to convince most drivers that it may be safer to wait. When they do, (which for me is most of the time) I often give a friendly wave once they are able to pass. Sometimes they even wave back.

*I blame part of this conditioning on cyclists who always ride close to the right curb or road edge, which from my observation seems to be most all of them. Since this usually allows motorists to squeeze by without ever having to wait for a safe opportunity to pass, I'm not surprised that many drivers never even entertain the thought of hanging back for a few seconds, even when confronted with a lane taking rider.

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Old 03-20-09, 09:54 PM   #5
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I have seen this many times recently. I really don't understand it at all. I am marginally more concerned that I will be involved in the aftermath of a head-on collision due to this than being run over from behind.

I also don't understand why some motorists seem to be willing to go 50-60 on narrow residential streets just because they have caught a cyclist that is only going 25. There truly does seem to be a compulsion on some people's part to passing a cyclist without slowing down. Maybe that's why the oncoming motorists don't honk, they think that the other motorist was just doing what comes naturally.
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Old 03-20-09, 11:13 PM   #6
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We have a road here (30mph) where it happens all the time. It helps if I take the lane until it is safe for them to pass. However, just about 2 weeks ago, one car went around a school bus with the stop sign out so it seems to be 'I have a car and no one else matters' syndrome. A few of us are going to use a video camera and give it to the police. The drivers need some kind of reminder of the rules. If cops could pull some folks over for a warning, it would get in the local paper (small town) and soon everyone would know the rule.
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Old 03-21-09, 12:10 AM   #7
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We have a road here (30mph) where it happens all the time. It helps if I take the lane until it is safe for them to pass. However, just about 2 weeks ago, one car went around a school bus with the stop sign out so it seems to be 'I have a car and no one else matters' syndrome. A few of us are going to use a video camera and give it to the police. The drivers need some kind of reminder of the rules. If cops could pull some folks over for a warning, it would get in the local paper (small town) and soon everyone would know the rule.
oh crap you're right I just noticed that cars around here NEVER stop when school bus has the stop sign out. Shoot thats right you have to stop. Everybody does it so I never gave it a tought.
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Old 03-21-09, 06:54 AM   #8
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... I take the lane on this section because it is so narrow with no shoulder, and I have noticed many cars will pull out into the other lane to pass me with oncoming traffic no more than a couple hundred feet away. This amazes me as it always ends up with the oncoming driver slamming on the brakes and swerving onto the 4" wide shoulder, yet they never, ever honk or even seem angered by this reckless maneuver. ...
I often ride on a similarly asymmetrical road with a usable shoulder on one side only, and motorists traveling in both directions do a very similar bit of a dance over the centerline to avoid bicyclists and pedestrians on the shoulderless side. With a posted speed limit of 35mph/60kph, the effective relative closing speed is often actually more like 80mph/130kph. This is absolutely the highest speed at which I would want to see something like this played out, but I realize that narrow two-laners with 55mph/90kph speed limits are commonplace.
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Old 03-21-09, 07:32 AM   #9
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There something about the presence of a bicycle in front of a car that turns normally mild-mannered drivers into absolute homicidal, suicidal maniacs. If instead of a bicycle in front of them, there were another car, most overtaking drivers would never even consider making the dangerous passes that they do when there is a bicycle in front of them.

I think there's a couple of things going on. There are of course, selfish, "bicycles don't belong on the road types", but I don't think it explains the number of crazy passes.

I think one of the factors is simply fear. There are many drivers that are intensely scared of bicycles, scared that they will be involved in a collision with a bicycle and hurt or kill them, so their reaction is to get around the bicyclist as quickly as possible and at any cost, so the bicyclist is now in back of them.

I know that logically it makes no sense, you are afraid to hurt a cyclist, so you do something that is clearly putting the cyclist at risk, but when you react based on fear, logic has nothing to do with it.
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Old 03-21-09, 07:40 AM   #10
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I don't really have anything substantial to add other than I have observed also that overtaking cars seem to have no problem nearly running oncoming traffic into the ditch. It's a common occurrence.

Oh, and off topic....John E, member since 2000? Wow!
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Old 03-21-09, 08:49 AM   #11
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Thats a right turn lane and not a shoulder, but its the same idea.
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Old 03-21-09, 09:52 AM   #12
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This amazes me as it always ends up with the oncoming driver slamming on the brakes and swerving onto the 4" wide shoulder, yet they never, ever honk or even seem angered by this reckless maneuver. (snip)
...I know if I were a driver I would be laying on the horn each and every time.
Ha! When this happens in my presence, the encroached upon motorist frequently honks... at me the cyclist!
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