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  1. #1
    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    Just can't win out on the road

    So long story.

    Roadie/road racer riding in blissful ignorance on the road for years with only an occasional close pass with any automotive traffic. I was hit on the road a year ago and am still recovering. Mostly riding off road now or sticking to very low traffic residential areas. Kind of going nuts riding the same short loops on my cyclocross bike. I don't ride my road bike much because in order to avoid busy traffic routes, I have to hop curbs and ride through the woods or fields to connect to better/safer roads. I also now have to drive to a local rail trail to get longer rides in.

    Trying not to live in fear of re-injury (or death), and to respect my wife's fears/concerns as well. She no longer rides on the road after witnessing my collision. I invested in lights and educated myself on how to ride on the road with safety as my number one priority (rather than training goals or speed or time). I even bought a freaking blinking electric LED vest.

    So I have ventured out for a few short road rides and encountered a number of blissfully ignorant cyclists some of who were all dressed in black, weaving all over the road, riding in shadows, no lights, no hand signals, no concern for other traffic, etc...as well as a group of hardcore racers (7 of 8 had power meters) who were seemingly trying to piss off any cars who were catching them by riding 3 abreast and chatting while taking an eating break and riding along at 10mph in the only traffic lane when there was plenty of room on the right. I try to be an ambassador to cycling and chat with any riders who are willing to listen about riding smart.

    Anyway, moving on...

    The other day, I branch out a little on my road bike and got out on a quiet two lane road for a few miles.I am climbing around an 8% grade hill and am halfway up when I hear a car approaching from the rear. I am standing and moving as quickly as possible to clear the hill. A moment later, I see an oncoming car rounding the bend and I move over to the center to take the lane as there is now no way for the car overtaking me to pass safely. We have a 4 foot passing law here in PA. The car approaching from the rear reacts to this by going even further across the double yellows to get around me and without even lifting their foot from the accelerator. I see the writing on the wall at this moment and whip over right to the white line. A split second later, the oncoming car comes into view of the rear approaching car and vice-versa. The problem is that the overtaking car is now well across the double yellows and going fast. The oncoming car did a nose dive and honked and the car that was illegally going around me (despite me taking the lane), is now beside me and of freaking course, they swerve back to the right to avoid a head-on collision and missed me by inches. Had I maintained the lane any longer, I would have been hit. If the cars had collided head on, I probably would have been collateral damage.

    It's hard to get any sense of comfort or pleasure from riding on the road anymore. People are just too crazy and are driving around at crazy speeds and with little common sense and a complete disregard for the laws of the road or public safety. I want to ride on the roads again but am having a hard time. Anyone else in the same boat?
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Walpurgisnacht's Avatar
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    I don't have your experience of being hit, but I feel similarly. People aren't careful when they drive, and they can be incredibly short-sighted. They'll perform dangerous and illegal maneuvers to get out of waiting an addition 5-10 seconds of riding behind you. I find this to be true whether I'm on my bike or in my car and driving conservatively. I find it rather sad. I still ride on roads, but I absolutely avoid any time when there's moderate to heavy traffic.

    I'm sorry to hear that you had a near miss today, but I'm glad to hear that it was a miss.

  3. #3
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Sad but true, there are some serious knuckleheads out there who seriously consider that saving 10 seconds is worth putting someone else's life in danger.
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    You were on a road where the lane isn't wide enough for a motor vehicle to pass you within the lane. Instead of communicating that to oncoming motorists who are within sight of you but out of your hearing range, you instead gutter hug. When you finally realize that you have an overtaking car and an oncoming car, you move out to take the lane. You're too late! The overtaking car had already mentally committed to passing you and assumes you were just being an ass by moving out.

    If the lane is wide enough to share, by all means stay to the right side. If it's too narrow for a motorist to safely pass you while remaining entirely within the lane, take the lane from the get-go. If you don't have this basic rule of safe riding figured out, it's no surprise to me that you are having problems riding on the road.

  5. #5
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    You were on a road where the lane isn't wide enough for a motor vehicle to pass you within the lane. Instead of communicating that to oncoming motorists who are within sight of you but out of your hearing range, you instead gutter hug. When you finally realize that you have an overtaking car and an oncoming car, you move out to take the lane. You're too late! The overtaking car had already mentally committed to passing you and assumes you were just being an ass by moving out.

    If the lane is wide enough to share, by all means stay to the right side. If it's too narrow for a motorist to safely pass you while remaining entirely within the lane, take the lane from the get-go. If you don't have this basic rule of safe riding figured out, it's no surprise to me that you are having problems riding on the road.
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  6. #6
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    +2,

    Let me add, that shared lane passing works. It may not be desirable, but it can be safer than the force to the opposing lane attempts like yours.

    I don't agree with trying to impose or stop a motorist/s course of action, I prefer to react and adjust in a way that promotes, not only my safety, but that of all road users. In Europe and many areas here drivers are obligated to slow and/or otherwise adjust to allow passers to complete the maneuver quickly. That makes more sense than trying to show them the errors of their ways.
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  7. #7
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    Riding a bicycle is much like being thrust into a boxing ring. Be careful out there.

  8. #8
    Senior Member RamahX's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm missing something too but for the life of me I'm trying to figure out your reasoning of taking the whole lane in the first place like you did. I always stay right. It's not a who's right, this is like the irrevocable law the sea - the rule of gross tonnage.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamahX View Post
    Maybe I'm missing something too but for the life of me I'm trying to figure out your reasoning of taking the whole lane in the first place like you did. I always stay right. It's not a who's right, this is like the irrevocable law the sea - the rule of gross tonnage.
    There's a school of thought that says to stay out in the lane to discourage drivers from trying to sneak by without moving over. It's a valid argument to an extent, but lanes aren't digital, and drivers only move over as far as necessary. So once you've prevented the sneak through, and the driver has moved over, it's time to let him complete the pass as expeditiously as possible. That usually means moving right somewhat.

    If you were driving a car, you'd also be obligated to slow down if it appeared that the passing car was going to run out of room before being able to move right again.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
    You were on a road where the lane isn't wide enough for a motor vehicle to pass you within the lane. Instead of communicating that to oncoming motorists who are within sight of you but out of your hearing range, you instead gutter hug. When you finally realize that you have an overtaking car and an oncoming car, you move out to take the lane. You're too late! The overtaking car had already mentally committed to passing you and assumes you were just being an ass by moving out.

    If the lane is wide enough to share, by all means stay to the right side. If it's too narrow for a motorist to safely pass you while remaining entirely within the lane, take the lane from the get-go. If you don't have this basic rule of safe riding figured out, it's no surprise to me that you are having problems riding on the road.
    So you think the unsafe driver would not have passed if the OP had been taking the lane all along? I don't buy that. Drivers are either going to cross the double yellow line, or they aren't. If they are, your lane position matters little to them; they are going to try to go around you.

    It sounds to me like the OP had good situational awareness, and did what he had to do to keep himself alive.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by loky1179 View Post
    So you think the unsafe driver would not have passed if the OP had been taking the lane all along? I don't buy that. Drivers are either going to cross the double yellow line, or they aren't. If they are, your lane position matters little to them; they are going to try to go around you.

    It sounds to me like the OP had good situational awareness, and did what he had to do to keep himself alive.
    No issue on your first statement. IME drivers will pass when they feel there's an opening. I find they afford me the same passing clearance regardless of my lane placement.

    However, where the OP went wrong was moving LEFT after seeing oncoming traffic. The passing driver was committed to the pass, so the cyclist should have moved right and slowed (though down from 8mph wouldn't have mattered) to make room for everybody to squeeze by (what I call a European pass). This is what he did eventually, but he was slow to figure it out.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member loky1179's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post

    However, where the OP went wrong was moving LEFT after seeing oncoming traffic. The passing driver was committed to the pass, so the cyclist should have moved right and slowed (though down from 8mph wouldn't have mattered) to make room for everybody to squeeze by (what I call a European pass). This is what he did eventually, but he was slow to figure it out.
    I guess I don't know exactly how far back the car was when he moved into the lane. If it was at the last moment, then I agree, that is not going to help.

    I'm just thinking of one particular place on my commute, where I sometimes need to take the lane because of parked cars. It is right after a curve, so I never have that much advance notice, but I check my mirror, and move left from the shoulder to take the lane if it is safe, even in there are cars behind me in sight. If it is not safe, the cars behind are too close, I will slow and stop if necessary.

    I can certainly sympathize with the situation, however. I think everybody has had that time where you think "hope there's no oncoming traffic", and then "Oh crap!".

  13. #13
    Senior Member CrankyOne's Avatar
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    An internecine battle of VC's — AVC vs EuVC. (I'll side w/ EuVC)

  14. #14
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
    ..... It's hard to get any sense of comfort or pleasure from riding on the road anymore............ I want to ride on the roads again but am having a hard time. Anyone else in the same boat?
    I know exactly what you're going through. I've been divorced twice. There comes a time when you know it is over... when it's time to say good bye. It isn't that you want the experience you're having to continue. Who in their right mind would want all that emotional drama in their life. The pleasure is gone. The passion you once felt (in this case... for cycling).... is no longer there. It's over. It is time to move on!

    You will love again.... oh sure it may not be the same reckless thrill that you got from cycling... but it will be a genuine love. There are countless other sports and ways to enjoy exercise. Some sports and exercises are good with the wife and/or family... and some are good for alone time as well. Try other ways of getting some exercise and having fun!

    Clean and freshly lube both you and your wife's bicycles. Then find a nice clean dry place to store them. They will wait for you... just in case you change your mind (and odds are as the years go by you will).

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    I ride the road, I am 61 I ride a fixie I am absolutely fearless about riding on the road. If you are not fearless when riding on the road, my inkling is that you should probably not ride on the road.

    You were critical of others you saw on the road, riders that probably have little fear and were having fun.
    They belong on the road. I ride about 5 times a week, every single ride is a blast, I feel young, strong and empowered.

    My advice always is if you fear the road, you should not ride it,,,you are only going to be miserable and probably make a mistake.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrankyOne View Post
    An internecine battle of VC's — AVC vs EuVC. (I'll side w/ EuVC)
    Sorry, new here: What's a "VC"?

    Thanks, Dick

  17. #17
    Senior Member Mr. Hairy Legs's Avatar
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    I'll be the devil's advocate here...

    When I'm driving, I never expect a cyclist to suddenly swerve in front of me as I am about to pass him. Never.

    As a cyclist, if they are close enough that you can hear them, it's too late to make such a move.

  18. #18
    905
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    Quote Originally Posted by dicktill View Post
    Sorry, new here: What's a "VC"?
    Vehicular Cyclist

    Quote Originally Posted by Number400 View Post
    Roadie/road racer riding in blissful ignorance on the road for years with only an occasional close pass with any automotive traffic. I was hit on the road a year ago and am still recovering.
    So I have ventured out for a few short road rides and encountered a number of blissfully ignorant cyclists some of who were all dressed in black, weaving all over the road, riding in shadows...
    It's hard to get any sense of comfort or pleasure from riding on the road anymore. People are just too crazy and are driving around at crazy speeds and with little common sense and a complete disregard for the laws of the road or public safety. I want to ride on the roads again but am having a hard time. Anyone else in the same boat?
    Not sure how to avoid riding in shadows; and one man's weaving can be another's filtering. Can't say I'm in the same boat, but I do feel your pain.

    A couple of years ago I found myself in what turned out to be the right place at the right time. I was on a busy road and wanted to turn right, which in the UK means crossing a lane of traffic. Rather than position myself towards the centre, which I didn't feel was safe on this particular road due to the speed of most of the other traffic, I pulled over to wait it out. A few cars behind me a woman wanting to make the same turn impatiently hopped into the other lane and ran her car smack into someone coming the other way. [Full story here on my oddly named blog.] If I'd behaved like the assertive vehicular cyclist I usually am, chances are I wouldn't be typing this today. Such a traumatic experience could've easily drained my confidence if I didn't have a good stock of it to begin with.

    To paraphrase howeeee: To safely ride on the road, you need to conquer your fear of it. Perhaps easier said than done, I know…

    There's no shame in Dave Cutter's advice, a.k.a. the WarGames solution ("The only way to win is not to play"). An acquaintance of mine, an extremely experienced cyclist, had a close encounter of the worst kind with a bus. He took a sabbatical from two wheels. Time healed those wounds; as you're still recovering, perhaps you need more of same.
    Last edited by 905; 06-12-14 at 08:52 PM. Reason: trip down bad memory lane; misspelled howeeee
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  19. #19
    Senior Member Number400's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the comments and advice and opinions. It's hard to relay the timing of these things but the car behind had not initiated the pass yet but was not slowing. I heard the car in front coming and then saw it and moved over further into the lane to discourage the pass. Really, if they just did a brake check for a second and held back, it would have been no problem. The car behind never slowed and was going to pass no matter my position in the lane. This car should not pass on a two lane road, going up a hill with a bend at the top. This is exactly the scenario in which a Maryland woman was killed last year (minivan passed her and then shot back into the lane to avoid an oncoming car). In my case, it happened quickly with no time to even try to signal. It was pretty much the worst timing possible for the situation. In hindsight, I should have moved right and stayed right and not try to use my body/bike to try to prevent motorists from making bad choices when they are trying to get around me. You would think that they would realize that I might just know something that they don't in the situation and not just plow into it. I just wish that people would drive more gently, especially around bicyclists and pedestrians.

    All my friends from racing are still out there getting miles in and are not dropping like flies so it's not all doom and gloom
    Last edited by Number400; 06-12-14 at 07:18 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    It's probably been said already, but taking the lane doesn't guarantee a motorist won't pass you unsafely anyway. It usually works, but not always. If driver is hell bent on passing me despite poor visibility of possible oncoming vehicles, I hit the brakes as he's going for the pass so I'm not beside him when he decides to swerve right to miss the oncoming vehicle he hadn't seen.
    Ride more. Fret less.

  21. #21
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    I talked to several motorists that were badly injured in automobile collisions, all went back to driving the same roads as soon as they recovered from their injuries, one was badly injured again, at the very same spot several months later, yet they returned to driving as soon as they recovered. Looks like bicycling in the US does not have the same addiction rate as does driving an automobile.

  22. #22
    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I'm not going to comment on how OP reacted or what he should have done or not done. Except that something clearly went wrong and OP is in the best situation to dissect it and possibly alter his judgment to conform with this kind of situation. It was a miss, that's the good part. You coped with it.

    When I broke my collarbone I was seriously hesitant to thrust myself into the same situations again. Confidence took a hit, both in myself and in drivers. I didn't want that to build, so my solution was to get back on the bike, back on the same routes, as soon as possible. Five days in fact, maybe too soon but that's what worked for me. I was extremely cautious at first, but small victories one at a time and the whole thing is now a faded memory. I do think that experiences like this can hone our judgement and we wind up better than before, safer.

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    OP - I'm glad that you're getting back out on the roads. It would be very hard to overcome fear after being in a serious collision.

    Your reasoning was sound, but the driver behind didn't interpret your motions correctly. If you find yourself in a similar situation, try putting your hand out, palm back, to try to communicate that the driver shouldn't pass you just yet. If they still pass anyway, then move as far right as you can and prepare to shield yourself from the head-on collision shrapnel.

  24. #24
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    As others have pointed out you can't control others, just remove temptation from responsible drivers. In my experiences the greater the speed differential the greater the likelihood an irresponsible driver will be temped to do something really stupid. When I'm going slowly up a hill I keep right so I can bail out if nessary, and will never attempt to block a manoeuvre that someone has already initiated.

  25. #25
    Senior Member enigmaT120's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    The passing driver was committed to the pass, so the cyclist should have moved right and slowed (though down from 8mph wouldn't have mattered) to make room for everybody to squeeze by (what I call a European pass). This is what he did eventually, but he was slow to figure it out.
    I think that happened to me last night on my ride home. I was climbing a hill (4 mph?), a pickup was coming up behind me and one in the oncoming lane in front. I thought the one behind me would wait (he could see the oncoming pickup, too) but he squeezed through -- I was about 1 - 2 feet from the edge of the pavement. He crossed the line some but not enough to run the other guy off the road, but still gave me a couple feet of clearance. I still think he should have waited, but it wasn't as bad as I always thought it would be. Maybe the road is wider than I thought.

    Is that what you mean by a European pass? Because I'd never read that term before.
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