Tandem Cycling - Near 18 wheel pile up
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12-14-08, 08:54 PM
Nico and I were on our way home from a crepe run (http://www.crepemaker.com) this morning when we were unfairly reprimanded for avoiding a 9 bicycle (give or take) accident.
We're the purple arrow in the picture. We need to make a left at the fork to get home...it's not the easiest turn on a tandem even when there is no traffic, and today many other bicyclists were out enjoying the 42 degree air (actually, it was probably up to 50 for the ride home). From the left, I see at least 4 bicycles moving at considerable speed; one of them was another tandem. I didn't even bother looking right, as I knew there was no way I could make the turn ahead of these bikes. So we stopped. I was probably a foot from the right hand shoulder; I could have been a little farther over, but this was an unplanned stop. At this point, the other tandem decides to make a right (which again is a pretty difficult turn without traffic)...either their high speed, or our presence (still stopped) on the path causes them to do a rough dismount. (I say: "Nice paint" as their non-Santana appeared to be painted in the same shade of Dupont Shadeshifter as ours--my comments were ignored by the other tandem team). Before the path has cleared, 4 more bicycles come up from behind us. The last bike in line yells: "Tandem, you can't just stop there." I think he came closer to hitting one of his riding partners than us. I yelled back (a little too late): "I have to disagree".
After looking at the aerial shot, I've come to the conclusion that any bike coming from behind us should have seen us from 200 feet away. Does anyone reading this think I should have done something differently?
12-14-08, 10:36 PM
Don't worry about it . They'll get over it.
12-14-08, 11:28 PM
Bike paths. I hates 'em, hates 'em, hates 'em. Had many more close calls on bike paths than roads. Tandem is doubly bad, since every other user can move quicker than you, getting in your way quicker than you can avoid them. And every freaking new user is on them. Gives me the screaming meemies. At least with cars, you're more maneuverable and can fit in smaller spaces. But I can see there's probably no other way around the obstacle, whatever it is.
On a road, you would have pulled over next to the centerline and waited for the oncoming with stoker's arm out, plus one of the two roads would have had a stop sign. The bikes or other vehicles behind you would have stopped or passed properly on your right. You would have made your turn, in your turn, with no drama.
This little incident is not your problem. Comes with the territory.
I had a little "incident" a few weeks ago. Almost back to the car, riding on a bike path a little too late, getting dim, the bike path totally covered inches deep in leaves, I got the front wheel off the pavement at a path intersection and dropped my stoker. :( Going about 3 mph, no harm, but not good. Never would have happened on a road. My mistake. I should have used a road route.
Couldn't agree more in regards to bake paths, I avoid them like the plague. I paticularly like the part where traffic engeneers get to the difficult parts where busy roads, ramps etc come together. The engineers seem to leave you completely are your own after getting you into a mess that most new riders are unprepared for. In particular the intersection of the bike path near Hwy87 and Curtner roads in San Jose is a disaster waiting to happen.
High riding speeds and bike paths do not mix. The first group, with the tandem, making a hairpin right turn was just plain dangerous. I don't get the complaint from behind, but it probably comes from your distance to the curb. Overall, it sounds like one of those sticky, couldn't-replicate-it-if-you-tried situations. Just do the safe thing, and don't be intimidated by those who aren't in your position.
12-15-08, 08:02 AM
Possibly the bike that yelled did not know you were attempting a left turn. They wanted to go right and you were stopped directly in the path they needed to take. From the pix that is a tough intersection to make a left turn on. It seems from your description and picture, you did the correct thing, however their perception of what you did was different.
I am sure you are very familiar with the route, but I would have attempted to get on the left side of the road well prior to the loop.
They have probably forgotten about it by now
12-15-08, 08:48 AM
I know that turn well. Usually going the other way though. Tight turn on a single and idiot weekend warriors in packs come screaming around from under the bridge like there is no one else on the road. Lots of near misses as they cross the line. Screw these guys. You did the safe thing and were looking out for other people. If they don't get it, THEIR PROBLEM.
Dude you could have cost them a position.
12-15-08, 11:36 PM
We don't do bike paths . . .
12-16-08, 09:38 AM
We don't do bike paths . . .
Most of the paths here in OC are great but I avoid them on weekends, holidays and summertime.
12-16-08, 11:43 AM
Not your issue, you read the situation and made your best call, the over-taking riders had the greater responsibility and missed it big in IMHO.
Back in the day we rode the LA and Orange County bike paths a lot on singles and our Tandem. We particularly enjoyed the ones from the coast inland to the foothills and tried to ride them in the quiet times of the day, Even then however, your mindset had to be more laid back and in ultra defensive mode, you constantly had to expect the unexpected and use all of your senses all the time. On the days we wanted to hammer we had a responsibility to stay off the paths so we would not be a danger to ourselves or others.
The reality is that on most paths there is just not a lot of 'escape room' if things go badly. We also need to remember that those paths are built for a large cross section of society to use. They were not built for want to be elitist cyclists that wrongly decide to use it for their private training ground. People do have all kind of reasons to slow and stop, just as you did. The issue was not yours, it was those that choose to group ride in an inappropriate environment in an inappropiate manner.
12-19-08, 06:46 PM
It sounds like you made the best choice. Pulling over to the right probably caused some of the other riders to make evasive maneuvers, any other choice could have resulted in a crash. I suspect that the overtaking riders expected you to move off the path as soon as you stopped and don't understand that it takes at least a few more seconds and a fair bit more coordination to get off the path with a tandem than it does with a single bike.
12-30-08, 01:31 PM
Some people just cannot be pleased. As mentioned above, Bike paths are really "recreation" paths and not great places for serious riders expecting training-ride like conditions. They are great for a casual ride when viewed from that perspective but you have to expect less than ideal situations - especially on a tandem. We have taken our tandem on paths when appropriate but use the same cautious thought process that you obviously do. Don't worry about a few folks that take things a little too seriously. Ride on and have a great time together!!
I love the comment about "costing them a position" I'll have to remember that one.
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