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  1. #1
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Bike, Car, and Stop Sign Anomaly

    Yesterday on the way home from work I was rudely reminded of a situation that very rarely affects me on my bicycle largely because I ride fast and don't stop for anything except to grant right-of-way to crossing motor vehicles at intersections. So generally, motor vehicles never catch up to me as I run stop signs and red lights in order to stay ahead of traffic and ride in traffic gaps created by those traffic features in my city.

    So some of you law abiding types may have way more experience with this anomaly than I do, although it does rear it's ugly head around me every year or two.

    I was cycling along a quiet neighborhood street literally within sight of my house. 20 mph limit one block from a busy playground, two way street, curbside parking on both sides. Each block is two houses (and their yards) wide between stop signs. I turned right onto "Street A" a few seconds before an SUV turned left onto the same street and was a short distance behind me. I hear the engine *** behind me - unusual here because the block is so short and there is a stop sign at every corner. I need to turn left at the next corner - I have a stop sign, the cross street does not. This may be the only stop sign in the city where I MUST stop. The intersection is blind due to all the parked cars, my street gets used as a "bypass" to beat a traffic signal a block away so traffic is usually flying, and there is a busy playground just at the next corner. So like it or not, I have to at least track stand at the corner before turning left, then right into my driveway two houses away.

    So I hear the SUV engine rev, look in my mirror, then move left to bike in the left tire track of the right lane so as not to allow the SUV to pass me before the stop sign (the cars parked curbside create an artificial 1-lane road situation here). So basically, I am in the middle of the road. As I near the stop sign I slow down to look right toward the playground, track stand for an instant, then begin to look and lean left into my turn. Before I can push a pedal the SUV is NEXT TO ME on my left. Parking is not allowed within 18 feet of the corners here, so she took that opportunity to try to go around me in the opposing lane. I got my cleat unclipped but could not put my foot down for fear of getting it run over, so I smacked the SUV with an open palm of my left hand to keep from falling leftward against (or under) the vehicle. The conversation that ensued thereafter was polite on both ends (because my neighbors were outside) and she proceeded on her way with her new found driver's education homework which I am certain was a waste of my breath.

    Anyway...this scenario used to happen to me fairly often years ago when I commuted in suburbia where stop signs were farther apart - sometimes five blocks apart. Cars would rarely follow me to a stop sign. They would often try to pass me AT THE FRIGGIN' SIGN! while driving completely in the opposing lane which put them in danger of being clobbered by a turning vehicle head-on. This happened a hundred times during an 8 year period at least. Even my boss did it to me once. When I asked him WTF was he thinking (five minutes later at work) he had no idea what I was referring to. He remembered seeing me, that's all. The danger for me of course is when that "head-on" collision is looming, where do you think that passing car is going to go to avoid the crash? Yep - in my lap.

    In the city where blocks are shorter this has not happened to me in ages, but served as a reminder and just another reason to stay ahead of traffic and use stop signs as a means to do so whenever possible.

    PS: Many years ago a fellow in a pickup made this move and did end up in my lap - almost. I bailed up the curb while smacking his truck with a fist, then into the front yard of a home. He jumped out, ran up to me with fire in his eyes, fists clenched, as I calmly reminded him that he was in a company truck. He said "I could report him, he didn't care", but he immediately stood down, jumped in the vehicle and squealed away leaving a rubber stripe on the road. I did not report him to his boss, but I am certain he was sweating it. One more step and he would have gotten a face full of "bear spray" and perhaps a few thumps after that.
    Last edited by JoeyBike; 09-28-12 at 12:43 AM.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  2. #2
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    Good story. I think passing people riding bicycles is a reflex for some people driving cars and they don't realize the futility of attempting to pass at or very close to a stop sign.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alan wrench View Post
    Good story. I think passing people riding bicycles is a reflex for some people driving cars and they don't realize the futility of attempting to pass at or very close to a stop sign.
    Agreed. I can be going over the speed limit (rare, but it does happen) and cars will still pass me because their brains tell them I'm slow.

  4. #4
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    motor vehicles never catch up to me as I run stop signs and red lights in order to stay ahead of traffic and ride in traffic gaps created by those traffic features
    Before I can push a pedal the SUV is NEXT TO ME on my left. Parking is not allowed within 18 feet of the corners here, so she took that opportunity to try to go around me in the opposing lane.
    So what you are saying is that the rules of the road apply to SUVs but not to you??? You break the law to stay ahead of traffic and that's fine but she breaks the law to get ahead of you and you're pissed???
    Lead, follow or get out of the way

  5. #5
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Joey, here is a thread from April of 2006 where I tried to explain a similar situation and why it occurs... http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...tion+explained

    It comes from "the notion" of motorists thinking that cyclists are supposed to get out of the way of cars... so motorists do this stupid move at stop signs to try to pass you by going around you just as you stop... and they do it by going into the other lane and end up on the wrong side of the road at the stop. It seems motorists cannot stand being behind a cyclist, even if you are going over the speed limit.

  6. #6
    Senior Member mulveyr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    So what you are saying is that the rules of the road apply to SUVs but not to you??? You break the law to stay ahead of traffic and that's fine but she breaks the law to get ahead of you and you're pissed???
    Yeah, that was my first impression too... sort of reminds me of news stories where a drug dealer calls 911 to complain that someone ripped him off. ;-)
    Knows the weight of my bike to the nearest 10 pounds.

  7. #7
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    Yesterday on the way home from work I was rudely reminded of a situation that very rarely affects me on my bicycle largely because I ride fast and don't stop for anything except to grant right-of-way to crossing motor vehicles at intersections. So generally, motor vehicles never catch up to me as I run stop signs and red lights in order to stay ahead of traffic and ride in traffic gaps created by those traffic features in my city.
    You can often get those gaps by stopping and waiting until all the motor traffic has cleared the intersection.

    So some of you law abiding types may have way more experience with this anomaly than I do .... Cars would rarely follow me to a stop sign. They would often try to pass me AT THE FRIGGIN' SIGN! while driving completely in the opposing lane which put them in danger of being clobbered by a turning vehicle head-on.
    I've heard the traffic in New Orleans can sometimes be lawless. They always want to beat you to stops, that's universal I guess. In this area, I'll make the left turn in a way that invites a two-vehical turn, if it's wide enough. I've never had someone force their way inside of me on the turn though - perhaps they're frustrated that you're running all the lights and stop signs, and reason that doing so renounces your right of way?

  8. #8
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    I didn't read in Joey's OP of him signaling a left turn, that generally gets even the most clueless of motorist's attention, and might be helpful in avoiding a similar situation in the future.

  9. #9
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    You can often get those gaps by stopping and waiting until all the motor traffic has cleared the intersection.

    [COLOR=#000000]

    I've heard the traffic in New Orleans can sometimes be lawless. They always want to beat you to stops, that's universal I guess. In this area, I'll make the left turn in a way that invites a two-vehical turn, if it's wide enough. I've never had someone force their way inside of me on the turn though - perhaps they're frustrated that you're running all the lights and stop signs, and reason that doing so renounces your right of way?
    Don't know about NOLA, but I've had motorists try to pass me on the left, while they eventually wanted to turn right.... now how does that make sense? Especially right at a stop sign... the motorist is setting up to be in totally wrong position... just to pass, even though they are going to turn away anyway.

  10. #10
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    So what you are saying is that the rules of the road apply to SUVs but not to you??? You break the law to stay ahead of traffic and that's fine but she breaks the law to get ahead of you and you're pissed???
    I don't care who breaks what law in what vehicle really, so long as it is not mindless. I don't even care how close they pass me (3-foot law) so long as they don't force me off the road doing it by merging onto my line before they clear my front wheel. Had the roles been reversed in my story, I would never pass the SUV on the left at a stop because it leaves me wide open to a "left hook" if she turns left, or a conflict with a car turning into my face at this blind corner.

    But assuming you are right and I break the law willy-nilly all the time, a cyclist getting hit by an SUV is a bit different than a cyclist hitting an SUV.

    The real point of the story is to illustrate why obeying every law is dangerous on a bicycle. If I stopped completely at every stop sign, this scenario would play out a dozen times each day and is one of the reasons when I was 15 years old I learned to ride where the cars are not whenever possible and use every traffic control features as an ally, not a nemesis.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  11. #11
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    I didn't read in Joey's OP of him signaling a left turn, that generally gets even the most clueless of motorist's attention, and might be helpful in avoiding a similar situation in the future.
    That would have been ideal for sure, but the surface at that intersection requires both hands on the bars with white knuckles, which also contributed to me falling against the vehicle. I always signal turns when practical. So you are correct. My chances would have been better, but what if I was going straight and not turning? She still would have made this common bonehead move next to me only to be boxed in behind me by parked cars after crossing the intersection. Did she plan to just squeeze me off the road? You betcha.

    It was obvious there was no place to go ahead of us if we were side-by-side, and as you noted, she had no way of knowing I wanted to turn left. What was her plan? If she was going to let me proceed ahead of her (I got there first remember?), why was she next to me?

    As someone suggested: THEY MUST PASS
    Last edited by JoeyBike; 09-28-12 at 09:14 AM.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  12. #12
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    You can often get those gaps by stopping and waiting until all the motor traffic has cleared the intersection.
    I do that all the time, just depends on how I hit the lights and what the road ahead is like. The whole point is to limit the number of cars passing me. I very often stop at a GREEN light with a foot on the curb a safe distance from a crazy intersection and cross on the yellow light or behind the last car and ride the gap that way.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  13. #13
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Joey, here is a thread from April of 2006 where I tried to explain a similar situation and why it occurs... http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...tion+explained
    Thanks. I will check it out.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    That would have been ideal for sure, but the surface at that intersection requires both hands on the bars with white knuckles, which also contributed to me falling against the vehicle. I always signal turns when practical. So you are correct. My chances would have been better, but what if I was going straight and not turning? She still would have made this common bonehead move next to me only to be boxed in behind me by parked cars after crossing the intersection. Did she plan to just squeeze me off the road? You betcha.
    Looks like you'll have to check your mirror more regularly on that particular section of roadway or roads similar to that one. If a motorist really wants to pass you, they'll do some really asinine maneuvers just to get by.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Looks like you'll have to check your mirror more regularly on that particular section of roadway or roads similar to that one. If a motorist really wants to pass you, they'll do some really asinine maneuvers just to get by.
    Yup, so much for predictability.

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Yup, so much for predictability.

    Predictability is still a good thing, as long as it's sprinkled with a big helping of situational awareness.

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    intersections where I have to stop are the one place where I insist on taking the full lane. If they want to go over into the oncoming lane at the stop sign in order to pass, nothing I can do about it. On my commute, there is one stop sign where I have seen multiple cars pass me and then run the sign at speed. I'm pretty sure if I wasn't there, they would have pretended to stop.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    intersections where I have to stop are the one place where I insist on taking the full lane. If they want to go over into the oncoming lane at the stop sign in order to pass, nothing I can do about it. On my commute, there is one stop sign where I have seen multiple cars pass me and then run the sign at speed. I'm pretty sure if I wasn't there, they would have pretended to stop.
    Yep. There are a number of stop sign intersections like that where I've had this same thing happen a number of times. I now preemptively move far to the left when approaching those intersections precisely to head off this exact behavior by motorists. Sometimes they need "encouragement" not to pass where it isn't safe or sensible to do so, and after you've been riding a route for a while, you know where these trouble spots are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
    That would have been ideal for sure, but the surface at that intersection requires both hands on the bars with white knuckles, which also contributed to me falling against the vehicle. I always signal turns when practical.
    Can't you put your foot down and signal? That's what I do, and somehow this situation never happens to me.

    If you're going straight, coming to a full stop allows the car to be a jerk, but at least not dangerous. If you're stopped with your foot on the pavement, you're just a stationary obstacle that they go around and they have to give enough room... otherwise they're blatantly running you over.

    I think coming to a full stop is far safer. Your assertion that obeying the law is dangerous doesn't make sense to me. With the exception of 4-way stops where nobody is there, I come to a full stop at every stop sign, and this situation doesn't play out a dozen times a day - in fact, I can't remember it ever happening. The only times a similar situation occurs are the times when I have no stop sign and am turning into a side street.

  20. #20
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Predictability is still a good thing, as long as it's sprinkled with a big helping of situational awareness.
    Excellent advice.

  21. #21
    20+mph Commuter JoeyBike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by charbucks View Post
    Can't you put your foot down and signal? That's what I do, and somehow this situation never happens to me.
    Putting my foot on the ground would have made this incident less of a safety issue for sure, I agree. Far and away most of these incidents occur shortly before I actually arrive at the stop sign. The motorist begins to pass me when I am still at speed approaching the intersection, then realizes they can not beat me to the sign so either remain in the oncoming lane all the way to the sign, or simply squeeze me off the road as they move into my lane without the slightest regard for my whereabouts (see the "company truck" story higher up this page). My mirror keeps this action from taking me by surprise, but it is never fun when it happens bordering on unbelievable.

    The fact that I am still here having cycling experiences at 55 years of age should give some assurance that I know how to handle a bike around cars. I began cycling seriously at 15 and became totally car free once and for all at 30. (My wife owns a car that I do enjoy for dates with her and some vacation travel). If I want to get somewhere on my own, be it across town or across the country, I am on a bicycle. It is not easy to sneak up on me or catch me off guard. But there are certain scenarios, this one included, that really stumps me. Stopping completely at the signs would be besides the point and after the unwanted interaction most times.
    "For all we know his skills may be excellent, allowing him to ride like an idiot without actually being one." - FBinNY

  22. #22
    Vegan on a bicycle smasha's Avatar
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    get cameras and let the police give 'em some real education - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oovVNL0wpKc
    "When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race." - H.G. Wells

  23. #23
    On your right
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    I'm reading the OP and it seems to me that the SUV driver had a similar motivation and method as the cyclist -- to drive in "the clear" between obstructing clumps of traffic. The opportunity to pass and get free of the obstructing traffic occurs when that traffic stops at intersections, whether the passer is an SUV or a cyclist.

    I'd suggest that for those who are offended by this kind of "selective law breaking" on the part of a motorist, now you can begin to understand why some motorists have an emotional response when they see a cyclist break the law.

    BTW, Joey, no criticism of your riding style implied -- if I was in NOL, I'd ride the same way, and for the same reasons.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Daves_Not_Here View Post
    I'd suggest that for those who are offended by this kind of "selective law breaking" on the part of a motorist, now you can begin to understand why some motorists have an emotional response when they see a cyclist break the law.
    here is the big difference -- this directly impacted the safety of the OP. I see people breaking traffic laws all the time. Since there seems to be a concerted propaganda effort to blame cyclists for the sociopathic behavior of some motorists, I do happen to notice it when motorists break the law even though it doesn't directly impact anyone's safety. OTOH, I do take it pretty seriously when motorists break the law and it impacts my safety.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
    here is the big difference -- this directly impacted the safety of the OP. I see people breaking traffic laws all the time. Since there seems to be a concerted propaganda effort to blame cyclists for the sociopathic behavior of some motorists, I do happen to notice it when motorists break the law even though it doesn't directly impact anyone's safety. OTOH, I do take it pretty seriously when motorists break the law and it impacts my safety.
    I agree with you and understand the distinction -- my attitude towards law breaking is that it is the actual risk and potential impact on others that really matters.

    However, I'm talking about the emotional response -- reading the responses to the OP, you can see that some people seem to be miffed at the motorists' "need to pass", the idea that drivers don't have the patience to slow down and wait and then go on to intentionally break the law. This emotional response that others are unreasonably impatient and willful is the same response that motorists have when they observe that cyclists can't be bothered to obey traffic laws.

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