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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    How to never yield - the ostrich method

    I was riding home on the Burke Gilman Trail the other day, and Trouble almost caught up with me. I'm wondering whether I was partly in the wrong in my understanding of traffic law in this instance, and if not, how other cyclists would have handled the situation?

    There are a few areas in Fremont where the trail crosses mostly unused one-way streets. Many of these roads have stop signs before they cross the trail, which is the same intersection as when they cross the main road - it's a weird setup. The trail does not have a stop sign here, but a mile up there are stop signs ( and lights ) for the trail. So, this leads me to expect that trail users have the right of way.

    As I was crossing one of these roads ( map ), a driver in an SUV was at the stop sign, waiting for a break in the auto traffic to join the main road. He saw me coming down the trail on his left, at about 15+ mph, from a good distance. So the guy looked right, and didn't look back. He pulled out into the main road, through my intersection, when I was about 75 feet away.

    I had a feeling he might cut me off like this, based on his obstinate refusal to look at me, like a protest of ignorance. This is pretty upsetting; if I were in a car, he'd have waited, because I could have done damage to his property, but if the only risk is hospitalizing a fellow human, well, other peoples' lives aren't worth your 15 seconds. I was able to brake and turn, and avoid a crash.

    Other than carrying a paintball gun to warn other cyclists of idiots at the wheel, how would you handle a situation like this? Or was I wrong in expecting the driver to yield in this case? I mean, you always have to be prepared for surprises, but I did have the right of way, yes?

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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    He was at this stop line and you were coming from his right on the trail?
    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=k&...62.29,,0,27.04

    I would have stopped.

    75ft is 'cut-off' ???

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I was riding home on the Burke Gilman Trail the other day, and Trouble almost caught up with me. I'm wondering whether I was partly in the wrong in my understanding of traffic law in this instance, and if not, how other cyclists would have handled the situation?

    There are a few areas in Fremont where the trail crosses mostly unused one-way streets. Many of these roads have stop signs before they cross the trail, which is the same intersection as when they cross the main road - it's a weird setup. The trail does not have a stop sign here, but a mile up there are stop signs ( and lights ) for the trail. So, this leads me to expect that trail users have the right of way.

    As I was crossing one of these roads ( map ), a driver in an SUV was at the stop sign, waiting for a break in the auto traffic to join the main road. He saw me coming down the trail on his left, at about 15+ mph, from a good distance. So the guy looked right, and didn't look back. He pulled out into the main road, through my intersection, when I was about 75 feet away.

    I had a feeling he might cut me off like this, based on his obstinate refusal to look at me, like a protest of ignorance. This is pretty upsetting; if I were in a car, he'd have waited, because I could have done damage to his property, but if the only risk is hospitalizing a fellow human, well, other peoples' lives aren't worth your 15 seconds. I was able to brake and turn, and avoid a crash.

    Other than carrying a paintball gun to warn other cyclists of idiots at the wheel, how would you handle a situation like this? Or was I wrong in expecting the driver to yield in this case? I mean, you always have to be prepared for surprises, but I did have the right of way, yes?
    Well, the situation is that a minor road always gives way to a major road... and I'd call the bike trail pretty minor to that much wider road. I really don't think the stop line is there to give you ROW... so I wouldn't depend on it.

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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Well, the situation is that a minor road always gives way to a major road... and I'd call the bike trail pretty minor to that much wider road. I really don't think the stop line is there to give you ROW... so I wouldn't depend on it.
    That is my thinking too

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    I'd guess he might have thought you were far enough away and going slow enough that he would have had sufficient time (it's possible that his estimation was incorrect). It's possible that his intent was to force you to stop or slow. If you were in a car, you would have likely been travelling much faster (25+mph). 75 feet seems quite a lot of space for an "collision avoidance" maneuver.

    It seems more prudent for the cyclist to treat the path through the intersection as a crosswalk (which it is sort of) and not expect to "barrel through" it. (Note that crosswalks don't often have stop signs for pedestrians.)
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-09-10 at 02:43 PM.

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    He was at this stop line and you were coming from his right on the trail?
    http://maps.google.com/?ie=UTF8&t=k&...62.29,,0,27.04

    I would have stopped.

    75ft is 'cut-off' ???
    I was coming from the driver's left, but otherwise, that's what happened. I don't know, it may have been 50 feet ... I didn't have a ruler at the time. It was about two seconds ahead of me on the trail. In hind sight, 75 seemed like an appropriate number, but it's a guess.

    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Well, the situation is that a minor road always gives way to a major road... and I'd call the bike trail pretty minor to that much wider road. I really don't think the stop line is there to give you ROW... so I wouldn't depend on it.
    I thought about that, and it's a valid interpretation. I don't think it's the right one, but I'm not sure, and that's why I'm asking. Shouldn't the fact that the 'roads' cross at 90 degrees, and the fact that the driver had a stop sign and I didn't, adds up to trail users having the right of way. Am I really that off in my thinking.

    When I see a car on one of these side roads in the future ( which isn't that often ) I'll probably slow down a bit more and prepare to stop, if necessary, regardless. Traffic law takes a back seat to the laws of physics...

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    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Consider that if a driver was parallel to you in adjacent roadway and were to turn right the travel across that bike path you are on that they do not have a stop sign. You should be stopping before crossing this road.

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    I can't tell you whether he was legally supposed to yield to you -- I don't know anything about Washington State traffic law -- but if I were in the same situation, I would definitely slow way down when approaching intersections like the one you describe, and never assume that cross traffic is going to yield. A multi-use trail is not really a road but not really a sidewalk, and it's hard to predict how a given driver will react to it.

    Is the stop sign on the perpendicular road before the point where the path crosses, or after? If the stop sign is before the crossing, it seems more likely that you have the legal right of way...but I would still be careful there, and never approach the intersections at such a speed that you would be in danger if someone cut you off. You can't really expect to move at a decent speed on most MUPs; they're designed for recreation, not efficient transportation.

    One question, though: if there is a road paralleling this path, why do you choose to ride on the path? You might find the road to be a lot safer and faster.

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    I suck, but you're worse
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    A tombstone doesn't differentiate ROW. Motorists are known for being A-holes to bikes regardless of traffic laws, it's unfortunately something we have to deal with so...

    I am actually convinced that it is the motorists' attitude towards cyclists that make most avid cyclists such A-holes to everyone else. How many times has a car pulled in front of you while not looking or not caring and you follow that action with some verbal assault on the motorist? If you live in a big city I promise it happens 1-10 times each ride. Well as they say "practice makes perfect" and eventually you turn into a permanent A-hole yourself!

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    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sanitycheck View Post
    One question, though: if there is a road paralleling this path, why do you choose to ride on the path? You might find the road to be a lot safer and faster.
    That's a good question. I'm not a sidewalk rider otherwise.

    The Burke is a great trail, and just simple fun. It's MUP, but there are actually two trails at this point in the path: one for cyclists, and a second for walkers and joggers. These "super pedestrians" do often borrow the use of the bike trail, but it's about six to eight feet wide at most points, so very easy to navigate. And while there are some bumps from tree roots under the pavement, it's usually kept clear of debris. It doesn't have the feel of a sidewalk - more like an isolated bike path. I'm often passed by faster cyclists here, even when I'm doing about 20 mph. It's just a really nice trail.

    So, it seems like the consensus is that it's not as clear cut as it seemed to me, and that I need to take care for my own safety, regardless of what the law says. As stubborn as I'll continue to be in asserting that I do have the right of way at this type of intersection ( and I the stop is before the trail, not after, as the trail crosses the street at the cross walk ), I can't let that stubbornness get in the way of my safety. So I'll have to at slow down when I see autos on these cross streets ( which isn't often ). Thanks, all, for setting me straight.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    So, it seems like the consensus is that it's not as clear cut as it seemed to me, and that I need to take care for my own safety, regardless of what the law says. As stubborn as I'll continue to be in asserting that I do have the right of way at this type of intersection ( and I the stop is before the trail, not after, as the trail crosses the street at the cross walk ), I can't let that stubbornness get in the way of my safety. So I'll have to at slow down when I see autos on these cross streets ( which isn't often ). Thanks, all, for setting me straight.
    Perfect.

    It is completely appropriate and correct (in any vehicle) to yield your so-called "right of way" to avoid a collision. In fact, you must do that.

    Enjoy the trail (and be careful).
    Last edited by njkayaker; 04-09-10 at 04:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I was riding home on the Burke Gilman Trail the other day, and Trouble almost caught up with me. I'm wondering whether I was partly in the wrong in my understanding of traffic law in this instance, and if not, how other cyclists would have handled the situation?

    There are a few areas in Fremont where the trail crosses mostly unused one-way streets. Many of these roads have stop signs before they cross the trail, which is the same intersection as when they cross the main road - it's a weird setup. The trail does not have a stop sign here, but a mile up there are stop signs ( and lights ) for the trail. So, this leads me to expect that trail users have the right of way.

    As I was crossing one of these roads ( map ), a driver in an SUV was at the stop sign, waiting for a break in the auto traffic to join the main road. He saw me coming down the trail on his left, at about 15+ mph, from a good distance. So the guy looked right, and didn't look back. He pulled out into the main road, through my intersection, when I was about 75 feet away.

    I had a feeling he might cut me off like this, based on his obstinate refusal to look at me, like a protest of ignorance. This is pretty upsetting; if I were in a car, he'd have waited, because I could have done damage to his property, but if the only risk is hospitalizing a fellow human, well, other peoples' lives aren't worth your 15 seconds. I was able to brake and turn, and avoid a crash.

    Other than carrying a paintball gun to warn other cyclists of idiots at the wheel, how would you handle a situation like this? Or was I wrong in expecting the driver to yield in this case? I mean, you always have to be prepared for surprises, but I did have the right of way, yes?
    You were, and ARE, all the way wrong; you cannot assume you have the right of way. And, uh, 75 feet at 15+ mph is NOT a cut-off. A tiny bit rude, but then you were being rude in assuming he was supposed to wait for you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I was coming from the driver's left, but otherwise, that's what happened. I don't know, it may have been 50 feet ... I didn't have a ruler at the time. It was about two seconds ahead of me on the trail. In hind sight, 75 seemed like an appropriate number, but it's a guess.

    I thought about that, and it's a valid interpretation. I don't think it's the right one, but I'm not sure, and that's why I'm asking. Shouldn't the fact that the 'roads' cross at 90 degrees, and the fact that the driver had a stop sign and I didn't, adds up to trail users having the right of way. Am I really that off in my thinking.

    When I see a car on one of these side roads in the future ( which isn't that often ) I'll probably slow down a bit more and prepare to stop, if necessary, regardless. Traffic law takes a back seat to the laws of physics...
    A bike trail, essentially a MUP, does not have equal standing with a road, as far as right-of-way goes; the stop sign is where it is because any closer to the corner would block the sidewalk and/or the MUP. It DOESN'T mean you have right of way. So traffic law is NOT taking a back seat to safety or physics.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    That's a good question. I'm not a sidewalk rider otherwise.

    The Burke is a great trail, and just simple fun. It's MUP, but there are actually two trails at this point in the path: one for cyclists, and a second for walkers and joggers. These "super pedestrians" do often borrow the use of the bike trail, but it's about six to eight feet wide at most points, so very easy to navigate. And while there are some bumps from tree roots under the pavement, it's usually kept clear of debris. It doesn't have the feel of a sidewalk - more like an isolated bike path. I'm often passed by faster cyclists here, even when I'm doing about 20 mph. It's just a really nice trail.

    So, it seems like the consensus is that it's not as clear cut as it seemed to me, and that I need to take care for my own safety, regardless of what the law says. As stubborn as I'll continue to be in asserting that I do have the right of way at this type of intersection ( and I the stop is before the trail, not after, as the trail crosses the street at the cross walk ), I can't let that stubbornness get in the way of my safety. So I'll have to at slow down when I see autos on these cross streets ( which isn't often ). Thanks, all, for setting me straight.
    Stubborn doesn't get you anything except lumps on your head from beating it against that wall. Asserting a non-existent right WILL, however, turn you into grill-grease.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    That's a good question. I'm not a sidewalk rider otherwise.

    The Burke is a great trail, and just simple fun.
    Fair enough; that's a good reason to ride the trail. I do the same thing; most of the time, I strongly prefer a road when it's available, but if the offroad trail is much nicer than the road itself, I'll take it.

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    Young Fred jediphobic's Avatar
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    The thread had come to a satisfactory conclusion before you arrived. The OP had reserved judgment on the legal situation, and come to understand that the best course of action would be to take caution around this intersection. And yes, there is some question about who has right of way. The presence of a stop sign sees to that. Especially since the MUP doesn't have one, even though it is marked with signs and lights at other intersections. A bike trail can have equal standing with a road in [B]certain situations[\B], it all depends on local traffic laws.
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    Young Fred jediphobic's Avatar
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    sorry, sanitycheck, I was speaking to DX-MAN. Indulging my morbid desire to feed the trolls.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
    I thought about that, and it's a valid interpretation. I don't think it's the right one, but I'm not sure, and that's why I'm asking. Shouldn't the fact that the 'roads' cross at 90 degrees, and the fact that the driver had a stop sign and I didn't, adds up to trail users having the right of way. Am I really that off in my thinking.

    When I see a car on one of these side roads in the future ( which isn't that often ) I'll probably slow down a bit more and prepare to stop, if necessary, regardless. Traffic law takes a back seat to the laws of physics...
    The sad thing is that the road engineers that placed the stop sign there probably did not take the path into account... so as much as you want the stop sign to be for cross traffic for the path, it is not. Likely the path wasn't even a consideration for the traffic engineers...

    Further, based on that lesser road/greater road issue, the path itself probably should have a stop sign.

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    Senior Member ls01's Avatar
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    It is always wise to protect ones self from injury. Some are blaming the cyclist here and I dont believe that he is at fault. Here is why; A motorist, while stopped at a stop sighn has the legal responsibility to look for ALL traffic. Motor traffic AND pedestrian traffic, He, the motorist has a stop sighn, not the cyclist/pedestrian therefor the bike path has not been established as the lesser route the cross road has. This stop sighn gives the right of way to the pedestrian/cyclist on the path, the motorist has the responsibility to give way, or put another way to yield right of way to the other traffic. I would also like to point out that had this been a pedestrian it would be open and closed case of failure to yield.
    On that note I would also like to say good job in avoiding a bad situation and recognizing it before it became a huge problem. I would urge you to complain to the appropriate governing body about this potentially unsafe intersection.

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    Senior Member ls01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    The sad thing is that the road engineers that placed the stop sign there probably did not take the path into account... so as much as you want the stop sign to be for cross traffic for the path, it is not. Likely the path wasn't even a consideration for the traffic engineers...

    Further, based on that lesser road/greater road issue, the path itself probably should have a stop sign.
    Unfortunately you may be correct as to the why this happened. But the facts are that the motorist has the responsibility to obey the traffic signs as they are placed not interpret what they may or may not have meant. Also note that the cyclist is not operating on the road ,this removes the stipulation that some states have that a bicycle is a vehicle. Since the cyclist is not on the road but on a separate path that makes him a pedestrian. And a pedestrian always has the right of way in most states.

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    Senior Member ls01's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
    You were, and ARE, all the way wrong; you cannot assume you have the right of way. And, uh, 75 feet at 15+ mph is NOT a cut-off. A tiny bit rude, but then you were being rude in assuming he was supposed to wait for you.



    A bike trail, essentially a MUP, does not have equal standing with a road, as far as right-of-way goes; the stop sign is where it is because any closer to the corner would block the sidewalk and/or the MUP. It DOESN'T mean you have right of way. So traffic law is NOT taking a back seat to safety or physics.



    Stubborn doesn't get you anything except lumps on your head from beating it against that wall. Asserting a non-existent right WILL, however, turn you into grill-grease.
    actually I think you are wrong, but I will change my answer so you dont have a sizure ok,? take some deep breaths and try to relax the medication will start to work shortly. Wow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    The sad thing is that the road engineers that placed the stop sign there probably did not take the path into account... so as much as you want the stop sign to be for cross traffic for the path, it is not. Likely the path wasn't even a consideration for the traffic engineers...

    Further, based on that lesser road/greater road issue, the path itself probably should have a stop sign.
    I don't think this is correct. The stop is before the path/crosswalk.

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    Regardless of intention, the way the road is laid out implies that the cycle path would have right of way. However, it is very confusing for drivers, thanks mostly to America's terrible driver's ed programs. If it were me, I'd assume right of way, but go very, very slow, ready for someone to do something stupid. As soon as possible, I'd talk to the city and explain that the intersection is likely to cause issues if the situation isn't clarified. A stop sign on the MUP would be acceptable, if not ideal. Better would be a simple sign warning of bicycle cross traffic, provided the traffic on the MUP isn't heavy enough to cause a real disruption of motor vehicle traffic.
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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ls01 View Post
    Unfortunately you may be correct as to the why this happened. But the facts are that the motorist has the responsibility to obey the traffic signs as they are placed not interpret what they may or may not have meant. Also note that the cyclist is not operating on the road ,this removes the stipulation that some states have that a bicycle is a vehicle. Since the cyclist is not on the road but on a separate path that makes him a pedestrian. And a pedestrian always has the right of way in most states.
    Right Try to get that one by most motorists... Heck, more pedestrians are killed than cyclists... good luck with that line of thinking.

    There are conflicts at that intersection... that of minor paths meeting a major road, of paths having no "weight" in the mind of most motorists, and of the stop line being too close to the path as to render the stop ambiguous.

    I would NOT depend or expect motorists to treat users of the path in a good way. The drivers are looking at their minor road, which meets a major road as being the only valid users of the facilities in that area. Motorists will not look at the path as any more than a "park/recreation" situation, while they, the motorists are the "official" users of the road. Such is the mentality of most drivers. Try to change that or expect different treatment... and you will no doubt be in for a huge disappointment and a lot of frustration.

    Now if you really wanted to get things set right, the first thing I would suggest is educating motorists... and the best way would be with a sign placement indicating that motorists must wait for crossing traffic. Something like: Yield to Bikes and Pedestrians. Without that, as far as motorists are concerned, you don't exist. Even with that, there is a strong chance that such signage will be ignored.

    Around here in some places, in order for pedestrians to get the ROW they actually are granted by law, there are special crosswalks, with road level inset blinking lights, and roadside signs with large blinking lights, to stop motor traffic and permit pedestrians to safely cross. It takes that much to get drivers to stop, look and obey the law.

    Here is an example of such a crosswalk:
    http://maps.google.com/maps?client=f...181.15,,0,5.34

    Notice the speed limit on the road, the dayglow ped signs, and in the street, the inset lights that flash. It takes that much to tell motorists they don't in fact "own the road."

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    Senior Member ls01's Avatar
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    but that is exactly my point. I f we continue to give up our right to the road and let them bully us because they are in a car then we will eventually lose those rights. my above argument is about what the road says is legal and who should be yielding to who. I completely understand what you are saying about the motorists perception, but that doesnt make thier behaviour right or legal. Dont misunderstand me I am not saying to throw yourself in fron of a car because you have the right of way, but to stand your ground whan it is appropriate. the op asked if his thinking was wrong. And from where I sit I dont think he is. I believe the motorist violated his right of way and failed to yield to him. I also believe that he did a great job of recognizing a bad situation and dealing with it in a safe maner.
    Laws make us all equall, without them then the only thing on the road would be semi trucks and the occasional army tank. In a civilized society might does not make right.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ls01 View Post
    actually I think you are wrong, but I will change my answer so you dont have a sizure ok,? take some deep breaths and try to relax the medication will start to work shortly. Wow.
    Actually, I think you're foolish, and I don't require medication. But I'll forgive you, since I see you're from Detroit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ls01 View Post
    but that is exactly my point. I f we continue to give up our right to the road and let them bully us because they are in a car then we will eventually lose those rights. my above argument is about what the road says is legal and who should be yielding to who. I completely understand what you are saying about the motorists perception, but that doesnt make thier behaviour right or legal. Dont misunderstand me I am not saying to throw yourself in fron of a car because you have the right of way, but to stand your ground whan it is appropriate. the op asked if his thinking was wrong. And from where I sit I dont think he is. I believe the motorist violated his right of way and failed to yield to him. I also believe that he did a great job of recognizing a bad situation and dealing with it in a safe maner.
    Laws make us all equall, without them then the only thing on the road would be semi trucks and the occasional army tank. In a civilized society might does not make right.
    OK I agree that Peds do have ROW at that intersection... and maybe the stop line IS placed where motorists should also stop for cyclists (who BTW do NOT have the rights of peds as someone mentioned). So how are you going to "fight" motorists who don't yield to either peds or cyclists... as the OP opined, this guy intentionally did not look... pretty much shifting the responsibility of safety to the path users.

    Sure this sort of thing really ticks me off too... we have similar problems here with paths, even with signs that indicate cyclists are crossing, and with motorists that have red lights and are making right turns on red and crossing the path.

    Now tell me how to stop such behavior and man I'll be right behind you.

    What are you going to do... Write politicians? (Oh like that will help) Demand police protection? (Good luck) Use loud horns to warn motorists (might stop one or two).

    The problem is that motorists feel they own the road have some sort of priority over any other road user... the only real answer is to re-educate all motorists. (and that isn't going to happen either)

    Yes, I am cynical... I've been around long enough to see just how selfish some folks can be when behind the wheel... even to other motorists. I'd love to hear a real solution.

    I'm waiting...

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