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  1. #1
    coitus non circum. Mars's Avatar
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    The LAW of survival

    It has been snowing and sleeting here during the past week and I witnessed a rear end collision between a car stopped at a red light and another that didn't/couldn't stop in time. I thought to myself, "Wow, if I had been standing there with my bike, obeying the law, I would be dead."

    And THAT led to my remembering the only 2 traffic accidents I have been in as a cager.... both getting rear ended at a red light. Once, a car hit another that was behind me, and THAT one flew forward and hit me in turn. Now imagine if a cyclist was sitting there - crushed between the 2 cars

    I wonder if there are statistics about cyclists getting hit while standing at red lights on slippery days. I doubt it, becasue there are so few wnter cyclists.... However, this line of thinking has got me reconsidering the wisdom of unquestioned obedience to traffic lights. Now when it is icy, I'm thinking that I just might ride through when the coast is clear. The law of survival trumps traffic law. What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    I think the more general rule is, always watch your rear with your mirror, when slowing or stopped. If you're about to get creamed from behind, do what you have to do to survive, even if that means running through a red light if the coast is clear... but, most often, I think you'd jump off to either side.
    Peter Wang, LCI
    Houston, TX USA

  3. #3
    Brain Bucket Killer LilNole's Avatar
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    Are you allowed to ride on sidewalks where you are? And do you have bike lanes? I've ridden on sidewalks when I get caught in a rain storm. I ride really close to or on the sidewalk to avoid cars that may rearend one another on the slippery roads. If i'm riding in the bikelane, I can jump up onto the sidewalk if a car swerves into the bike lane...lots of cars do this. they swerve into the bike lane to avoid a collision with another car. I never sit between two cars at a light. if I have to cross an intersection I cross like a pedestrian at a crosswalk. it might be illegal, i dont know. but i'd rather be breaking the law then get crushed by a car.

  4. #4
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    That might be a valid concern, Mars. Another variation on the scenario of being rear-ended or sandwiched in slippery conditions goes like this: as you approach the light, you are positioning yourself to take the lane well in advance of reaching the intersection. In moderate traffic, this will allow the motorist behind you to slow to a safe stopping speed, and in turn, will do the same for the other five or six cars behind you.

    So taking the lane well in advance of the light should be a good counter-strategy to protect you against being "sandwiched."

    One advantage I have on my bike (maybe others' exerience is different) is that motorists don't waste their time tailgating me because I'm moving much too slowly. I am also narrow, so they just look for the fastest way around me. When I'm driving, motorists who think I'm moving too slowly often tailgate because they know I can speed up with a tap of the accelerator. Tailgating is a main cause of rear-end collisions, especially in slippery conditions.
    Last edited by LittleBigMan; 12-09-04 at 09:45 AM.
    No worries

  5. #5
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    In icing conditions, the worst areas are approaching traffic lights - I dont do winter commuting now, but I remember an occasion when the temp was just below freezing. I rode cautiously with no problems until I came to a red light where I had to stop. I put my foot down but total ice and just couldnt stop a fall. The cars braking and accelerating at lights just do an extra bit of polishing on any ice that may be lying around. Keep away from the car wheel tracks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kf5nd
    I think the more general rule is, always watch your rear with your mirror, when slowing or stopped. If you're about to get creamed from behind, do what you have to do to survive, even if that means running through a red light if the coast is clear... but, most often, I think you'd jump off to either side.
    The problem with this thinking is that you have a fraction of a second or less to jump off the bike. The motorist who got hit from a car had a mirror but what good did it do him? I've said it before that a mirror only protects YOU from making a mistake but will not protect you if the the motorist makes a mistake.

  7. #7
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    When I was in jr. high school waiting for the school bus by the side of the road a car came down the icy hill doing 360s and landed in the snowbank ~10ft from us kids waiting for the bus.

    Al

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    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    When I'm taking the lane, drivers seem to focus and pay a lot more attention to me than they do any other vehicle on the road. I think that makes them less likely to rear-end a cyclist under reasonable visibility than just another car whose speed they have misjudged while daydreaming.

    Motorcyclists who regularly occupy the travel lane face the same vulnerability, and serious rear-endings at signals do happen sometimes, but not nearly as often as turning or crossing collisions.

  9. #9
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    As I recall from my days of living in the north, low speed bumper contact happen quite frequently in icy and snowy conditions. In the old days (perhaps when folks were less concerned about liability, etc.) if no damage was expected sometimes folks didn't even get out of their cars.

    But a low speed no-damage impact in a car translates into a serious bump on a bike.

    Al

  10. #10
    Senior Member JavaMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars
    .... However, this line of thinking has got me reconsidering the wisdom of unquestioned obedience to traffic lights. Now when it is icy, I'm thinking that I just might ride through when the coast is clear. The law of survival trumps traffic law. What are your thoughts?
    Exactly. As I've stated before in other threads, obeying the law does not keep you safe - paying attention to everything going on around you does. Glad you witnessed the collision from a safe distance!
    Tom
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  11. #11
    semifreddo amartuerer 'nother's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars
    I wonder if there are statistics about cyclists getting hit while standing at red lights on slippery days. I doubt it, becasue there are so few wnter cyclists.... However, this line of thinking has got me reconsidering the wisdom of unquestioned obedience to traffic lights. Now when it is icy, I'm thinking that I just might ride through when the coast is clear. The law of survival trumps traffic law. What are your thoughts?
    I agree that actual incidents of this type are probably rare. But it serves as a good reminder that although in many cases you want to "act like a car", you are *not* a car, and you don't always want to pretend you are one. At least for me, the consequences of not actually being one are more than I'm willing to risk for the sake of principles.

    I don't think I'd condone running every light you encounter just because it's an icy day. I don't think the mere *potential* for danger is a good excuse for breaking the law - there would be enough threat on good weather days to break the law then, too! Actual danger, e.g. a real skidding car coming up on you, I agree that the law of survival kicks in and you gotta do what you gotta do, get the hell out of there! But not just because of the threat, or even increased risk of something happening.

    I *would* consider changing riding habits on those days (just as you'd ideally have drivers changing their driving habits, however unlikely that is to happen!). Like maybe hug one side of the lane, not get dead center where you may be more subject to becoming the filling of a car sandwich. Or take a different route if possible. In any case *definitely* get the awareness engine going in overdrive, so that if you did have to take evasive action, whether within the law or not, you'd be better prepared to do so.

  12. #12
    Senior Member kf5nd's Avatar
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    Sure, but a car can't jump sideways, nor turn 90 degrees with a few feet turning radius.

    Just yesterday, I got out of the way of someone who was following me through a light changing from yellow to red... I started slowing down to obey the red, I noticed and predicted they were going to charge through the red, so I made an emergency turn and got out of their way, and they did run the light, they would've run right over me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    The problem with this thinking is that you have a fraction of a second or less to jump off the bike. The motorist who got hit from a car had a mirror but what good did it do him? I've said it before that a mirror only protects YOU from making a mistake but will not protect you if the the motorist makes a mistake.
    Peter Wang, LCI
    Houston, TX USA

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    I live in a "red turn on red" town. So, if I am going straight, and hit a red light, I stop out far enough for cars to pass me on the right and make their left turn. I look behind me to check for vehicles approaching from the rear and watch whether those cars are moving to the right or coming up behind me.

    IF I thought someone was coming too fast to stop, I would have the choices to try to move to the right, or to push off the pedals and attempt to get high enough to land on their hood. Not good choices, but better than UNDER a vehicle.

  14. #14
    Huachuca Rider webist's Avatar
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    In inclement weather I use a trainer. Actually, the trainer has eliminated all the inclement weather excuses that came in so handy.
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  15. #15
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars
    It has been snowing and sleeting here during the past week and I witnessed a rear end collision between a car stopped at a red light and another that didn't/couldn't stop in time. I thought to myself, "Wow, if I had been standing there with my bike, obeying the law, I would be dead."

    And THAT led to my remembering the only 2 traffic accidents I have been in as a cager.... both getting rear ended at a red light. Once, a car hit another that was behind me, and THAT one flew forward and hit me in turn. Now imagine if a cyclist was sitting there - crushed between the 2 cars

    I wonder if there are statistics about cyclists getting hit while standing at red lights on slippery days. I doubt it, becasue there are so few wnter cyclists.... However, this line of thinking has got me reconsidering the wisdom of unquestioned obedience to traffic lights. Now when it is icy, I'm thinking that I just might ride through when the coast is clear. The law of survival trumps traffic law. What are your thoughts?
    Perhaps the lack of statistics on this occurs because there are so few cyclists who actually get killed by being "sandwiched" between two cars on icy roads. Just ask yourself what would have happened had you run the red light? Would you have just been creamed from the side instead?
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mars
    It has been snowing and sleeting here during the past week and I witnessed a rear end collision between a car stopped at a red light and another that didn't/couldn't stop in time. I thought to myself, "Wow, if I had been standing there with my bike, obeying the law, I would be dead."

    And THAT led to my remembering the only 2 traffic accidents I have been in as a cager.... both getting rear ended at a red light. Once, a car hit another that was behind me, and THAT one flew forward and hit me in turn. Now imagine if a cyclist was sitting there - crushed between the 2 cars

    I wonder if there are statistics about cyclists getting hit while standing at red lights on slippery days. I doubt it, becasue there are so few wnter cyclists.... However, this line of thinking has got me reconsidering the wisdom of unquestioned obedience to traffic lights. Now when it is icy, I'm thinking that I just might ride through when the coast is clear. The law of survival trumps traffic law. What are your thoughts?
    Yes. There are studies on car-bike collisions. The most common accident type against the experienced cyclist is the left-turning goomba, aka the blind motorist, plowing into the side of the cyclist going straight in the opposite direction, in the opposite lane.

    The least common: the rear-ender. Use a helmet-mounted rear view mirror if you feel the need to avoid getting something stuck up your rear end while standing at red lights on slippery days.
    Given the majority's ruling, the only safe bicycle in Illinois is a stationary exercise bike located in one's home or at the gym. ----Illinois State Supreme Court, Boub V Wayne

  17. #17
    misses the city
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    Quote Originally Posted by LilNole
    Are you allowed to ride on sidewalks where you are? And do you have bike lanes? I've ridden on sidewalks when I get caught in a rain storm. I ride really close to or on the sidewalk to avoid cars that may rearend one another on the slippery roads. If i'm riding in the bikelane, I can jump up onto the sidewalk if a car swerves into the bike lane...lots of cars do this. they swerve into the bike lane to avoid a collision with another car. I never sit between two cars at a light. if I have to cross an intersection I cross like a pedestrian at a crosswalk. it might be illegal, i dont know. but i'd rather be breaking the law then get crushed by a car.
    Sidewalks are for walking. Period.

  18. #18
    cab horn
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    Quote Originally Posted by emilymildew
    Sidewalks are for walking. Period.
    Ditto. If it's too dangerous to ride on the road, it'll be at least equal to or more dangerous on the sidewalk. If it really is bad, then dump your bike and take the transit home. Riding home is fun, but not if you arrive dead.

  19. #19
    don't be so angry clancy98's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    Ditto. If it's too dangerous to ride on the road, it'll be at least equal to or more dangerous on the sidewalk.
    except for the GIANT METAL CARS. anti-logic.

    I can't believe that the people on this board would rather be right and injured or killed, than wrong and alive. If its ICY and there are cars sliding all over the place, I'll see you on the sidewalk, man.

    some people are willing to put their lives in danger, just so they can prove to the "cagers" that they have the same rights as a car. Well feel free, survival of the fittest!

    CL
    Irregardless is not a word, and you do not sound more intelligent using it.

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