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  1. #1
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    (somewhat) close call last Thursday

    Had a somewhat close call on my commute home on Thurs. I have a couple of 4 lane suburban "Stroads" to cross on my way home. These intersections are always the most dangerous parts of my ride.

    On this particular crossing, I was stopped at a red light, making a pedestrian crossing, to get to the MUP across th road. Going from the upper left to the upper right as in this image.

    It was dark, and I was stopped waiting for the green. I had a flasher as well as a steady light going on my handlebar, and my jacket is made of the "illuminite" reflective material. There was one car stopped in the oncoming lane, waiting to make a left turn. The right lane was empty. The nature of this intersection is such that most of the traffic will be turning either left or right, from the feeder road (going east west in the link) to the main road (going north south in the link).

    The light turned green and I started across. Just as I started across, three cars approached in the on coming right turn lane (coming from the right, in the upper right lane in the attached link, ready to turn north). The intersection is at the top of a hill, which really limits visibility. The cars are probably only fully visible for 100 ft before the intersection. I hate this intersection because of the possibility of getting hooked here, so I'm always wary.

    Anyway, as I said, the light turned green and I started across. The oncoming car slowed way down, from probably 40 MPH, to about 5MPH - MUCH slower than most cars when they are making a right turn on green. Because of this, I ASSUMED he had seen me - and that was my mistake. Just as I was about halfway across, I hear the engine rev to accelerate. I hit the brakes, and because I'M standing, my weight is forward, and the rear wheel starts coming up. Luckily, because it is winter and I'm wearing Sorel boots, I'm not clipped in, so I just jump off my pedals and do a Fred Flintstone stop - before I'm in the path of the turning car.

    The driver sees me at the last second, slams on the brakes, and gives me the friendly wave ("Hi! Didn't mean to kill you!"). I get across the street, no harm, no foul.

    But if he HADN'T seen me, and I'd been 1/2 second further into the intersection, it could have been ugly.

    Ironically, when I got to the intersection 30 seconds earlier, I almost jumped the red light, because cross traffic was clear. But there was that oncoming car waiting at the light, and I didn't want to be the guy that Gives Bikers A Bad Name ™.

    I understand that its not possible to avoid every accident. But when I'm at an intersection, expecting every car to right or left hook me, and I still get it wrong, what then? Work on my mind reading? Seriously, short of waiting till there is no traffic visible in all four directions, what can you do?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by loky1179 View Post
    Had a somewhat close call on my commute home on Thurs.....
    I understand that its not possible to avoid every accident. But when I'm at an intersection, expecting every car to right or left hook me, and I still get it wrong, what then? Work on my mind reading? Seriously, short of waiting till there is no traffic visible in all four directions, what can you do?
    There's no easy answer. I've many instances when cars would be stopped at stop signs waiting, then start just as I'm entering the intersection. This happens day or night, even when I think we've made eye contact. (no they weren't trying to get me, people are slow to make up their minds, so they wait through an opening and finally go when it's too late).

    In a way I feel safer in the dark, because I can swing the H-bar sweeping my light onto cars waiting to enter, and this is much more obvious than depending on them seeing me in daylight.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post

    In a way I feel safer in the dark, because I can swing the H-bar sweeping my light onto cars waiting to enter, and this is much more obvious than depending on them seeing me in daylight.
    I do this as well. I always filter up to the front if it is a red light, then I can point my lights at the cars waiting on the other side. The really dangerous situation is if there are no cars waiting, the light turns green, and THEN you get cars approaching. Typically they are in a hurry, trying to make the green, and all bets are off. And with the timing on these damn suburban lights, I almost can't blame them.

    One light I wait at in the morning, to cross a 4 lane 55 mph road (six lanes if you count turn lanes), has a green light that lasts 10 to 12 seconds, when triggered by a single car. There is NO justification for green light that short. I suppose I need to start writing some letters to the proper officials.

  4. #4
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    I am glad you were not hit.

  5. #5
    Transportation Cyclist turbo1889's Avatar
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    I'm also glad you weren't hit. As I understand it you were crossing in a ped. cross-walk? Marked cross-walk? You were crossing with the green light (or "walk" ped. sign)?

    If so it is a total case of turning motorists refusing to respect the ROW of cross-walk users. Some of the more hard line VC crowd would argue that such is an inherent danger of ped. type riding and crossing of intersections and would suggest it might be better to ride vehicular and "take the lane" in a straight across crossing lane and cross on the green light that way. I don't totally buy into that and think that motorists just need to be forced to respect the ROW and vulnerable user status of cross-walk traffic by a combination of clear "in your face" signage and strict enforcement. There are a couple small towns (the exception to many others) up here in NW corner of MT that have used this approach and in the summer time they put out these narrow plastic pole signs that go right in the middle of the road on the center line and the between lane lines if there are more then two lanes that make a very clear and bold statement "STATE LAW !!! . . . YIELD to crosswalk traffic !!!" (the do remove them in winter because of snow plowing needs) and they back it up with solid enforcement and in those couple towns if one of their local cops see you not respecting cross-walk traffic they are going to give you a big $$$ ticket every single time. It creates a fairly solid atmosphere of significantly more respect of cross-walk traffic in those two towns then exists in others that even permeates at least partially into the winter months where the signs are removed for snow plowing reasons (enforcement continues) and I greatly respect and admire the steps they have taken and believe such should be expanded universally. I also think that all bike path crossings should get at least the same level of legal protection and ROW standards as traditional ped. cross-walks including this heightened level of "in your face" signage and strict enforcement.

    I know this doesn't provide an immediate solution to your problem but for a long run approach it might be something for you to start getting your local advocacy groups to push for.

    These are what the signs look like:

    https://www.google.com/search?site=i...04.7jELnhMxnfM

    For an MUP crossing though they need to include not only a ped. symbol but also a bike symbol (or better yet how about the word ALL in great big bold letters).

    And the signs themselves aren't the full picture they need to be backed up with strict and aggressive enforcement. The signs together combined with that by a local jurisdiction that puts political will behind the implementation of such over the course of a few years can make a huge change in the attitude and climate produced in the interaction between motorists and cross-walk users. I've seen it first hand, that combination does work.

  6. #6
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by turbo1889 View Post
    I'm also glad you weren't hit. As I understand it you were crossing in a ped. cross-walk? Marked cross-walk? You were crossing with the green light (or "walk" ped. sign)?

    If so it is a total case of turning motorists refusing to respect the ROW of cross-walk users. Some of the more hard line VC crowd would argue that such is an inherent danger of ped. type riding and crossing of intersections and would suggest it might be better to ride vehicular and "take the lane" in a straight across crossing lane and cross on the green light that way.
    Yep, crossing on the green, with the walk light. This is an intersection where I do sometimes use the VC method and take the lane, but like I said, almost all of the oncoming traffic is turning right or left, so it's kind of a choice between a potential left hook and a potential right hook.

    I think in this case, the driver saw me, but did not recognize what I was. Seeing a pedestrian in the crosswalks in the suburbs is about as common as a bigfoot sighting.

    However, that doesn't mean driver behavior is any better when they do recognize pedestrians. I work in downtown Minneapolis, where there are thousands of pedestrians, and I routinely see cars racing through red lights, and making right turns on red, failing to yield to peds in crosswalks.

    In fact, one of my colleagues got nailed in a crosswalk, on a green light, by a turning car. Steel rods in her legs and in a wheelchair for six months while she healed up. Because of stories like this, my head is on a 360 degree swivel at every intersection, whether I'm walking or biking.

    In fact, about the only place I've seen cars consistently yield to peds is out in your neck of the woods - downtown Red Lodge, MT. Cars stop for people crossing the main drag, whether they are in a crosswalk or not.

  7. #7
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    What is your helmet and handle bar light setup?

  8. #8
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leebo View Post
    What is your helmet and handle bar light setup?
    Straight bars wth Light & Motion Urban 400 (on strobe) and a Jetbeam PA 40' on steady. I have a Pbsf on the back of my helmet, but I.m not running a front light on the helmet. I tried it and it gave me a headache. Not sure if it was from the extra weight or what.

  9. #9
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    I find a helmet light very effective at getting the drivers' attention when you look at them.

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