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Old 09-30-04, 08:53 AM   #1
Diggy18
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People waving me through

Close call this morning. There's a four-way intersection of a 40MPH road and a 25MPH road, and I'm coming down the smaller road. This smaller road has stop signs. It's about 7AM so the morning traffic is kicking in. As I get to the intersection, there's a van on the big road waiting to make a left, and a minivan across from me on the small road, also waiting to make a left. I'm waiting to go straight.

A break in traffic allows the van to turn left, leaving just me and the minivan to decide who the heck has the right of way. Who the heck has it, anyway? (Even when I'm driving, I hate these situations.) The minivan was waiting at the intersection before i got there, so it should go first, right? BUT, I am going straight, so I should go first, no? Since it was an ambiguous situation, I figure it's safer to let the minivan turn left in front of me, and then I can go.

But then I see the driver of the minivan waving me through. I'm thinking, no way man, YOU go first. So I wave. Then the minivan starts to pull out to make the left, just as a car is coming down the big road! Whew, luckily the minivan saw it at the last second and jams on the brakes as the other car kind of swerves a bit. It was a little too close. I felt kind of bad, but when it's not clear who has the right of way, I wish the cars would just go first - it's safer for me.
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Old 09-30-04, 09:12 AM   #2
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If you and the van across from you arrived at the same time, and you're going straight, you have right-of-way since he's turning left. However, the law of gross tonnage indicates if you're unsure, you let the van go first.

What bugs the heck out of me is when the cagers yield right of way to me when they shouldn't. Or worse, when I have a stop sign, they don't, and they stop anyway. They do this because they expect me, the cyclist, to do something stupid like run the sign.
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Old 09-30-04, 09:33 AM   #3
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At a 4 way stop, whoever gets there first has the right of way. If two arrive at the same time, you defer to the vehicle on your right. Straight across, make eye contact and work it out. The direction one is taking at the intersection is irrelevent, at least in Virginia. Why add in a factor like turning, when half the people don't use signals in the first place? In this case, if they wave me on, I go ahead and go and give a friendly wave. I'll be irritated about it, but they are being friendly so I'll go even knowing that they should have. At least they saw me and gave me some consideration.
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Old 09-30-04, 09:38 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vtjim
What bugs the heck out of me is when the cagers yield right of way to me when they shouldn't. Or worse, when I have a stop sign, they don't, and they stop anyway. They do this because they expect me, the cyclist, to do something stupid like run the sign.
Yeah, that happens to me a lot. We also have a lot of 4-way stop signs in the area, and it gets crazy when people start trying to wave each other through instead of following the right of way rules. Even when I'm driving this bugs me.

This morning was the second time I saw two cars almost collide "because of me". (Not really my fault -drivers just were confused by a bike, I guess.) The other time was when a pickup decided to try and pass me while we were going around a bend in a two lane road. He went way into the opposite lane and must have been watching me in the rear view mirror, because he didn't see the van coming in the opposite lane. Luckily the van slowed almost to a stop and moved off to the shoulder.
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Old 09-30-04, 09:54 AM   #5
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in Virginia it is not who gets to the 4 way stop first it is who ever is on your right has the right of way thus it's like a roundabout. Having said that most everyone here gives the person who was there first the right of way. If the van was facing you and wanting to go left and you want to go straight then you have the way b/c the van essentially needs to cross traffic.
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Old 09-30-04, 09:55 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diggy18
But then I see the driver of the minivan waving me through. I'm thinking, no way man, YOU go first. So I wave.
IMO, this was your mistake.

When two vehicles arrive at the same time and the "yield to the vehicle on the right" rule won't work then you two need to work it out. Around here the rule seems to be that the vehicle (the van in your case) that is crossing the natrual flow of traffic waits for the one that isn't (you on the bicycle).

That said as soon as someone waves then go. Don't argue with them about it... in this case you confused the driver and that almost caused an accident. A lot of drivers are scared (believe it or not) of hurting a cyclist so it's pretty common for the car to wave you through just so they don't have to deal with you when they finally enter the intersection.

If I and a car are staring at each other and the driver isn't motioning to me then I'll always wave the car through. Like you say, it's usually safer if the car goes first.
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Old 09-30-04, 10:10 AM   #7
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Rule of the right notwithstanding...I never let the driver of the car make the call. I always start motioning to them first. If they try to shake me off I will many times just unclip, stand down and literally bow with a pronounced, sweeping "by all means after you" arm gesture to indicate to them that they get the right of way. The only guys who jack with you after that are usually control freaks. I just wave and smile and send them on their eventual way.
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Old 09-30-04, 10:25 AM   #8
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I'd not motion someone through, as it implies, "Go ahead. It's safe." and then you have what Diggy illustrated above. Rather, I'd put a foot down, smile, shake my head, and wait. If someone is waving me through, and I can see that it is safe to proceed, I'm not going to mess about with the No-you No-you No-you business.

As the smaller vehicle, I have to make decisions about my safety, because I'm the only one who really cares about it. Therefore, if I have to take a lane, I do. If I have to wait for others to cross the intersection, I do.
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Old 09-30-04, 10:53 AM   #9
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Some motorists are apparently ignorant of the finer points of the law, particularly at 4-way stop signs. When driving or cycling, I try to modulate my speed, usually by slowing, such that I and any road user on a conflicting trajectory arrive at distinctly different times. This eliminates the most ambiguous situations, which involve simultaneous arrival.

I often receive wave-throughs from motorists who have the right-of-way, and I concur that this can be a dangerous problem. The most polite way to use the road is to follow the rules and conventions.
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Old 09-30-04, 10:54 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfmckenna
in Virginia it is not who gets to the 4 way stop first it is who ever is on your right has the right of way thus it's like a roundabout. Having said that most everyone here gives the person who was there first the right of way. If the van was facing you and wanting to go left and you want to go straight then you have the way b/c the van essentially needs to cross traffic.
You appear to be right. Back in the stone ages the law was whoever got there first, and if there was no clear decision based on that, you yield to the driver on your right. I guess now if only two vehicles approach a four way stop from opposite direction, they just stare at each other yielding forever.
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Old 09-30-04, 10:55 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F1_Fan
IMO, this was your mistake.
Yeah, that's kind of what I was thinking. Plus the fact that it seems like the guy going straight, me, has the right of way over the left-turner, the minivan. My hesitation was that, since the 40MPH road was kinda getting busy, I knew the van would need to pull out and turn quickly when they got a chance, and I was afraid they wouldn't see me going straight as they did so, resulting in SPLAT.

Next time though, if they wave me, I'll check first and then go. I wish I could avoid this intersection, but there just seems to be a real dearth of traffic signals around here, and too many stop signs at very bust intersections. Not matter where I go in the morning I'll have to deal with at least one place like this.
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Old 09-30-04, 11:34 AM   #12
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Here is a slight twist on this. Here in Minneapolis we have some bike paths that cross some relatively busy 4 lane 30-40MPH roads. There is a small but legal enough looking stop sign facing the bikers. There is also a cross-walk like marking on the road itself but just a sign that says, I believe, "Trail Crossing", and no stop sign or light for the cars. When I pull up to the stop sign, I fully expect to stop and wait for a gap. But, some cars will slow, stop and waive the bikers through. Which is nice, but when one lane stops there are three others to worry about. So, I just take what I can and make sure I don't get hit. Compared to my safety, people sitting in cars waiting when they shouldn't be aren't much of a priority.

If people would just GO, this wouldn't be a problem. But, if people are going to stop anyway, I wish they'd just put in a stop sign because it would be safer for the bikers. But, that does slow traffic.

Anyone see a way around this?
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Old 09-30-04, 01:35 PM   #13
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I think unexpected actions cause more accidents than anything else.

The van waved and expected you to come across, but you did what he didn't expect you waved back at him.
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Old 09-30-04, 04:36 PM   #14
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Whenever I'm faced with such a situation, where a car giving right of way to me, and I don't feel it's safe, I unclip both feet and look down at the bike like something is wrong.
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Old 09-30-04, 09:05 PM   #15
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You know, this is one of the things I see drivers frequently do around here, as well as pedestrians (i.e. stop where they have a clear right of way, and proceed in places they don't). When I get this situation, I have a quick check to make sure it's safe, then blast straight through. There's no point messing around in these situations. I figure it's just people who haven't made up their mind what they intend to do at the intersection just yet.
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Old 09-30-04, 09:12 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan
Whenever I'm faced with such a situation, where a car giving right of way to me, and I don't feel it's safe, I unclip both feet and look down at the bike like something is wrong.
No kidding, I did this once. Both my feet were on the ground, and I had my hands crossed over my chest, looking around. Then after a few seconds, I noticed that the driver was still there, frantically waving me through! I was so surprised that he hadn't gone through the intersection (a three way stop sign).
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Old 09-30-04, 10:20 PM   #17
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Here's a situation I run into all the time: I have a stop sign, the cross traffic does not. I stop & wait for traffic to clear before proceeding. Frequently a car will brake when they see me, come to a complete stop & wave for me to cross in front of them. Never take them up on it though. Usually there is another car coming from the opposite direction at speed. I just shake my head & wait for them to come to their senses.
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Old 09-30-04, 11:34 PM   #18
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This was a 2 way stop, not a 4 way, right? The best situation is to have a car beside you, so you can go when they go. The car beside you becomes your protection. In your case, I would have gone before the minivan whether they had waved me or not. I think your main danger is from the cars on the big road that don't have to stop, not from someone stopped at a stop sign. Besides, I hate it when people in cars wave me about. That's my opinion. For more of my opinions about stupid things car drivers do, check out the "Fat People in Cars" thread in the Jokes/Humor section.
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Old 10-01-04, 06:34 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDan
Whenever I'm faced with such a situation, where a car giving right of way to me, and I don't feel it's safe, I unclip both feet and look down at the bike like something is wrong.
Ha - That's a good one. I've been known to just pull out my water bottle and commence with some refreshment.
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Old 10-01-04, 08:58 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F1_Fan
IMO, this was your mistake.

When two vehicles arrive at the same time and the "yield to the vehicle on the right" rule won't work then you two need to work it out.
Well, yeah, but the only reason why the standard yield rule isn't working is because the guy on the right, who is, in fact, obliged to go, won't go.

Nooo! Sluggy slug just won't go!

We're all better off when we play by the same rules. Even if someone waves me through an intersection, if that person has the right-of-way I often will refuse the wave, simply because neither I nor the person yielding unnecessarily can control the behavior of others in the intersection. Just because the guy on my right is waving madly, it doesn't mean that the fella at the 4-way stop opposite him, on my left, will also yield. I'd rather wait my turn, because it's safer that way.



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Originally Posted by F1_Fan
Around here the rule seems to be that the vehicle (the van in your case) that is crossing the natrual flow of traffic waits for the one that isn't (you on the bicycle).
The basic rule for uncontrolled intersections -- that is, places where two ways meet where there are no signal lights, or stop or yield signs -- is that lesser ways yield to larger ways. Pathways and driveways traffic yields to the road, smaller roadways traffic yields when it meets a larger road, and so on.

It's a simple rule, and it must be understood by anyone using the roaday.


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Originally Posted by F1_Fan
That said as soon as someone waves then go. Don't argue with them about it... in this case you confused the driver and that almost caused an accident.
Strongly disagree. In the rare instance that only you and one other driver are at an intersection, it's okay for him or her to yield to you, even if it's unnecessary. But if there's anyone else around, by going you're assuming that those other road users are following the hand-waver's rules of the road, rather than the standard ones. That's not a good bet.

The worst situation that I usually encounter the hand-wavers going nuts on are two places in my commuting route where I have to cross four-lane divided boulevards, that each have center strips down the middle. Drivers, including me, will pull into the gap between boulevard sections and wait to cross or turn into traffic on the other side, and that's all fine. But sometimes, a critter in one of the lanes I'm trying to cross will stop and start waving.

Being nice, you say? Maybe he thinks he is. But often this waver will be in the left lane on his side of the road, effectively blocking me from view of the traffic in his right lane. Were I to go on the waver's command, I'd likely find out that the guy on the right didn't yield. And then we're all road pizza!


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Originally Posted by F1_Fan
A lot of drivers are scared (believe it or not) of hurting a cyclist so it's pretty common for the car to wave you through just so they don't have to deal with you when they finally enter the intersection.
Yeah, well, ignorance is a serious social problem. But the basic traffic principles on yielding are a simple three:

* First come, first served, and tie goes to the right.
* When crossing or entering lanes of traffic, yield to traffic in those lanes. In this case, "yield" means, wait until traffic in those lanes clears before crossing the lanes.
* When changing lanes of traffic, yield to traffic in the lane you're entering. In this case, "yield" means, remain in your current lane until a sufficiently large gap appears in traffic in the lane you're desiring to enter that permits you to enter it safely.

We're all better off when we all play by the same rules. Although it's true that scaredy-cat and ignorant motorists might consider the rules flexible when it comes to bicyclists, we're better off learning what the standards are and abiding by them, regardless of what the scaredy-cats and ignoramooses say.

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Old 10-13-04, 01:37 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by twahl
You appear to be right. Back in the stone ages the law was whoever got there first, and if there was no clear decision based on that, you yield to the driver on your right. I guess now if only two vehicles approach a four way stop from opposite direction, they just stare at each other yielding forever.
Uh, but what if it's an all-way stop and there are vehicles at each stop sign? Then everyone is to someone's right, and who goes first??? I still go by the order of arrival, then vehicle on the right as a tie-breaker in cases of simultaneous arrival. (I'm in MD, but took the test in NY.)
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