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Old 04-21-09, 02:50 PM   #1
VeloBusDriver
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Buzzed today - Do something or just blow it off?

I have commuted by bike in Bellevue, WA for years. I ride outside of traditional rush hour, ride on low traffic streets, stop at stop signs/lights, use hand signals, have lights, wear high-vis clothing, and position my bike properly in the lane. Because of these precautions and a somewhat bike friendly culture in the area, it is rare that I have run-ins with motorists.

This morning, however, I was buzzed by a pickup truck on his way to a hard stop at the next stoplight - about 100 yards from where he passed me. I'm relatively certain he was trying to send a message to stay off the road although he didn't yell or honk. He just revved his engine REALLY loudly and passed within inches of my handlebar.

I have endured my fair share of honking, kids yelling at me to scare me, dogs barking from trucks and cars. Virtually all of these events, while nerve racking, seemed like cluelessness or just venting. This is the first time in years that I have actually felt threatened.

I caught up to him and was able to memorize his license plate and a description of the truck. However, in the absence of video evidence or any other corroborating evidence is there any value in reporting this incident to the Police?

I'd love to see a system like the HOV Violator system we have in Washington. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists could complain about another driver. The driver would be sent a letter with the complaint and information explaining the law. No ticket can be issued since it wasn't witnessed by Police, but it gives people an opportunity to vent and a slim chance of educating offending drivers.

Thoughts?
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Old 04-21-09, 03:33 PM   #2
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Call the Bellevue PD and talk with them. I would at least try to get them to take the description of what happened, where, the vehicle, etc. The driver might do this kind of thing again, and your report could be one more piece of evidence against him.
You might post this over at the Cascade Bike Club forums and see if anyone knows what Bellevue would do with the information.
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Old 04-21-09, 03:51 PM   #3
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... and position my bike properly in the lane.
OK, I don't want to start yet another debate on lane position, but I'm curious: were you riding within the lane, or were you to the side of the lane or on the shoulder?
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Old 04-21-09, 03:51 PM   #4
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Do you also have a description of the driver?
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Old 04-21-09, 05:56 PM   #5
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Do you also have a description of the driver?
Negative... That's why I figure they can't do squat other than record the complaint against the vehicle for future reference. Hopefully, it'll never be needed.
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Old 04-21-09, 06:01 PM   #6
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I have considered reporting drivers in Washington under this program, but haven't done it:

http://www.wsp.wa.gov/traveler/roadrage.htm
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Old 04-21-09, 06:05 PM   #7
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Personally, I'd forget about it...to paraphrase Barnum, there's one dickweed born every minute and life is too short to worry about dealing with them all.

But, that's me. If you want to take a small step towards dealing with this one, file a police report. You have the license number...ya never know, he might do something stoopid again in the future where your previous incident could be the evidence that gets him punished instead of walking.
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Old 04-21-09, 06:08 PM   #8
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I just treat these encounters like I would in a near miss in an auto, people make mistakes in cars and on bikes. Making a big deal about something that almost happened doesn't really work for me. I mean, how many of us have almost hit a car or made an error that lead to a driver having to take action to avoid a collision. If he did it on purpose and you're convinced, handle it as you do any other harassment, cuss, slap his hood,call a cop, whatever. I know if I took the time to deal with every catcall and buzzing I encounter on my commute I would never get to work. Though, I must admit, some of my record times to work have been because I was chasing some cager down to encourage better "road sharing" behavior.
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Old 04-21-09, 06:14 PM   #9
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OK, I don't want to start yet another debate on lane position, but I'm curious: were you riding within the lane, or were you to the side of the lane or on the shoulder?
You noticed I was purposely vague, right?

I used to be a gutter rider until reading the debates here. Now, unless I'm on a really wide road, I stay in the track where the cars' right wheel runs. It really does seem to work.

I do occasionally move up onto the sidewalk, mostly to let cars go by on uphill climbs. I realize the risk I am taking and attempt to compensate by thinking more like a pedestrian. Had I done that in this case, it would have worked well. Of course, it was 6:20am and there were only 4 vehicles on the entire block of a 4 lane city street plenty of room to pass. Come to think of it, this bozo saved absolutely no time since I would have turned right at the red and been out of his way before it had turned green.
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Old 04-21-09, 06:22 PM   #10
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You noticed I was purposely vague, right?

I used to be a gutter rider until reading the debates here. Now, unless I'm on a really wide road, I stay in the track where the cars' right wheel runs. It really does seem to work.

I do occasionally move up onto the sidewalk, mostly to let cars go by on uphill climbs. I realize the risk I am taking and attempt to compensate by thinking more like a pedestrian. Had I done that in this case, it would have worked well. Of course, it was 6:20am and there were only 4 vehicles on the entire block of a 4 lane city street plenty of room to pass. Come to think of it, this bozo saved absolutely no time since I would have turned right at the red and been out of his way before it had turned green.
I too have been reading these lane Vs shoulder debates with great interest. I can understand why some feel it's safer to ride in the lane, forcing passing cars into the other lane to pass, as opposed to riding to the side where cars will crowd you during passes to stay in the lane. However, I can also see how the majority of car drivers wouldn't understand this and consider lane riding as arrogance on the part of the bicyclist, resulting in the occasional buzzing.
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Old 04-21-09, 07:10 PM   #11
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However, I can also see how the majority of car drivers wouldn't understand this and consider lane riding as arrogance on the part of the bicyclist, resulting in the occasional buzzing.
I'm biking in an area with no shoulder, so that's not an option. Sidewalk is an option and, as mentioned above, I'll use it occasionally - with the full knowledge that it's not as safe. (My wife and I almost were left hooked today)

The roads I'm on usually are 4 lane city streets with little traffic, so the cars can get around me easily. If I were riding in the same lane position on a 2 lane road with an open shoulder during rush hour, then yes, it would probably be interpreted as arrogance. I avoid a couple of spots with a bike lane littered with debris for this reason. Cars will wonder why I'm not in the bike lane but not be willing to look at the sand and glass over there and realize there is a very good reason I'm in traffic.
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Old 04-21-09, 08:02 PM   #12
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However, I can also see how the majority of car drivers wouldn't understand this and consider lane riding as arrogance on the part of the bicyclist, resulting in the occasional buzzing.
Huh. I thought it was the driver's responsibility to understand the laws and regualations that pertain to driving, including the laws that permit cycling in the roadway. If they have passed the road test, how is it that they misconstrue a cyclist's lawful behavior as arrogance?
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Old 04-21-09, 08:17 PM   #13
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Huh. I thought it was the driver's responsibility to understand the laws and regualations that pertain to driving, including the laws that permit cycling in the roadway. If they have passed the road test, how is it that they misconstrue a cyclist's lawful behavior as arrogance?
Every time someone gets squished on a bike here, I expect a media blitz pertaining to bike laws. Nothing. Even the news anchor doesn't mention what the law is. I'm convinced people would be cooler if they knew.
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Old 04-21-09, 08:26 PM   #14
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It may not have been intentional. Maybe the driver thought he had more clearance space and he didn't realize how close he was to you. Anytime I get buzzed it's almost always by trucks and vans. Those drivers don't always have the same depth perception that drivers in normal-sized cars do. I actually prefer that they pass closely instead of trailing me for a quarter-mile and holding up traffic.
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Old 04-21-09, 08:35 PM   #15
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Every time someone gets squished on a bike here, I expect a media blitz pertaining to bike laws. Nothing. Even the news anchor doesn't mention what the law is. I'm convinced people would be cooler if they knew.
I agree. I think it's good to write to the editor or post comments when the media fails to point out what the actual traffic laws are. Maybe the OP should "report" his buzzing to a local news outlet instead of to the police. It might do more good.
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Old 04-22-09, 10:14 AM   #16
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Huh. I thought it was the driver's responsibility to understand the laws and regualations that pertain to driving, including the laws that permit cycling in the roadway. If they have passed the road test, how is it that they misconstrue a cyclist's lawful behavior as arrogance?
I assume your response is sarcastic? Yes, of course, drivers are supposed to know and respect the rules of the road, including bicycle rights. But you know as well as I do that this isn't the case. The vast majority of drivers do not understand why that bicycler chooses to ride in their lane when it appears there's plenty of room on the side of the road. I'm not saying this is right, it just "is".
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Old 04-22-09, 02:33 PM   #17
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In my part of the city there is a certain truck that did a similar thing to me, twice. The first time I just let it go because I wasn't sure about it, it happens every so often. The second time I was certain the guy was doing it on purpose. I reported him to Seattle PD, they have an on-line reporting tool, with a description of the truck, the driver, the license plate and the incident. They did get back to me personally and asked me to contact them again if anything else happens and that an incident was recorded. I have only reported one other vehicle for a different issue and got another personal response. If you think he did it on purpose, you should report it. At the very least if he causes an injury maybe he'll be in the system already. Not all bicyclists could keep their line of travel when startled and I hate to think of what could happen if he "buzzes" someone else.
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Old 04-22-09, 03:04 PM   #18
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Huh. I thought it was the driver's responsibility to understand the laws and regualations that pertain to driving, including the laws that permit cycling in the roadway. If they have passed the road test, how is it that they misconstrue a cyclist's lawful behavior as arrogance?
+1
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Old 04-22-09, 03:09 PM   #19
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... I reported him to Seattle PD, they have an on-line reporting tool, with a description of the truck, the driver, the license plate and the incident. ...
Colorado Highway Patrol has a reporting web-site, now Seattle PD has one. Now that is an advocacy tool I hope we all could support every city/state implementing.
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Old 04-22-09, 03:20 PM   #20
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Look at it this way, if it is not worth it for you to invest $150 in a helmet cam, then it probably isn't worth the police's time to investigate. I think as cyclists we need to be ahead of the curve. If we are not willing to do that, then it seems silly to waste police resources on such a 'trivial' incident.
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Old 04-23-09, 05:37 PM   #21
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The legal system in the USA generally needs an actual description of the driver in order to do very much. Moreover, unless there is an enforceable specified safe passing distance, buzzing can largely be seen as a "no harm, no foul" situation. I do, however, like the idea of agencies keeping databases with license numbers and vehicle descriptions of drivers who have done dangerous things, and some means of follow-up. Some road ragers act with the belief that they are anonymous in their steel boxes, and just bursting that anonymity bubble might work wonders.
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Old 04-23-09, 08:00 PM   #22
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I think it's essential to create a paper trail on these guys. That way, if he makes a mistake one day, and buzzes a little too close, and kills some cyclist, his "I didn't see him" or "He swerved in front of me" excuse won't be quite as believable.

That's what sunk Brentwood Doctor Christopher Thompson's excuse that "it was an accident" when he hit two cyclists-- another two cyclists had reported the same type of encounter with him the month before. When it happened a second time, his excuse didn't get him off the hook.

Start a paper trail on this guy; it might help some other cyclist down the road.
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Old 04-23-09, 08:06 PM   #23
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Start a paper trail on this guy; it might help some other cyclist down the road.
Indeed.
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Old 04-24-09, 11:23 AM   #24
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I have commuted by bike in Bellevue, WA for years. I ride outside of traditional rush hour, ride on low traffic streets, stop at stop signs/lights, use hand signals, have lights, wear high-vis clothing, and position my bike properly in the lane. Because of these precautions and a somewhat bike friendly culture in the area, it is rare that I have run-ins with motorists.

This morning, however, I was buzzed by a pickup truck on his way to a hard stop at the next stoplight - about 100 yards from where he passed me. I'm relatively certain he was trying to send a message to stay off the road although he didn't yell or honk. He just revved his engine REALLY loudly and passed within inches of my handlebar.

I have endured my fair share of honking, kids yelling at me to scare me, dogs barking from trucks and cars. Virtually all of these events, while nerve racking, seemed like cluelessness or just venting. This is the first time in years that I have actually felt threatened.

I caught up to him and was able to memorize his license plate and a description of the truck. However, in the absence of video evidence or any other corroborating evidence is there any value in reporting this incident to the Police?

I'd love to see a system like the HOV Violator system we have in Washington. Cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists could complain about another driver. The driver would be sent a letter with the complaint and information explaining the law. No ticket can be issued since it wasn't witnessed by Police, but it gives people an opportunity to vent and a slim chance of educating offending drivers.

Thoughts?

I used to commute. There was one guy who routinely passed me at high speed and very close on totally open roads (no traffic in sight). I got his tag and make and model. I reported it to the police. They sent a deputy to talk to the guy. He readily admitted to doing just what I had said and the police did zip. But being talked to did seem to make him a bit less aggressive afterwards. If nothing else, this driver is on record as being needlessly aggressive. A few reports like that on his record will give him almost zero credibility if he does happen to hit someone.
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Old 04-24-09, 07:07 PM   #25
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If nothing else, this driver is on record as being needlessly aggressive. A few reports like that on his record will give him almost zero credibility if he does happen to hit someone.
I'm curious if these reports can be used in a court of law. Hopefully some lawyers can chime in here.
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