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  1. #1
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Close Encounter of the Motorized Kind

    I ride local rides after work of about 7 miles. I have ridden this same route at least three times a week for 18 months now and its ideal for a post-work, 30 minute work-out. As the neighborhood is very dark in winter (but low traffic) I recently bought a MagicShine 1000 lumen light that augments a side "flasher" I have on the forks and my rear flasher. I literally look like a UFO going down the road and I am as visible as possible - or so I thought.

    I was cranking along at 15 mph and noticed a resident driving down her wooded driveway towards the road and heading to intersect with me. The MagicShine was so bright that I could actually see her and her passenger illuminated in their seats in the car. As we come closer and closer my confidence in her stopping starts to wane and I start shouting "Wow Wow Wow" - she doesnt react. At this point Ive hit the breaks and she actually sped up towards me . We meet at the road and I find myself directly in front of her and by this time Im screaming "STOOOPPPP - STOOOPPP". Then I hear a scream of "Oh my god!" as she suddenly sees me and she hits the brakes and turns away from me - literally inches from my legs. I have no idea how she missed me. This all happened in less than a few seconds. Sadly, she took off and raced away without stopping. As luck would have it, she had to stop at an intersection to the main road and so I hammered the bike in hot pursuit. I caught up to her!
    As I arrived at the rear of the car I pounded the trunk with my fist and pulled up to the passenger window. She rolls the window down and with a panic-filled voice she says "Oh my god, my god are you Ok? I just didnt see you Im sorry - Im so sorry" I start yelling at her to slow down and open her eyes and then I notice her passenger is a young girl (about 12 yrs) and that kind of took the wind out of my rant. I basically told her to PLEASE be aware for cyclist as she almost killed me. She apologized again and drove away.

    So the motto of the story? NEVER assume todays drivers can see you. My lighting was so bright it illuminated INSIDE her car yet she still did not see me! It boogles the mind.

    Anyways, I rolled into home and my wife insists that I stick to the indoor trainer from now on. She makes sense, but the neighborhood is so pretty this time of year. Tomorrow it will seem even more so - I feel very lucky!

  2. #2
    Senior Member bassjones's Avatar
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    Wait till it happens at 75 MPH on a motorcycle... I'm a 6'5" 350 lb manbear and I wear a safety vest over my riding gear, have reflective graphics on my lid and ride with my hi-beams on 99% of the time (which means FOUR bulbs lit up if the hi-beams are on). Drivers basically suck at driving, IME

    Quote Originally Posted by magohn View Post
    I ride local rides after work of about 7 miles. I have ridden this same route at least three times a week for 18 months now and its ideal for a post-work, 30 minute work-out. As the neighborhood is very dark in winter (but low traffic) I recently bought a MagicShine 1000 lumen light that augments a side "flasher" I have on the forks and my rear flasher. I literally look like a UFO going down the road and I am as visible as possible - or so I thought.

    I was cranking along at 15 mph and noticed a resident driving down her wooded driveway towards the road and heading to intersect with me. The MagicShine was so bright that I could actually see her and her passenger illuminated in their seats in the car. As we come closer and closer my confidence in her stopping starts to wane and I start shouting "Wow Wow Wow" - she doesnt react. At this point Ive hit the breaks and she actually sped up towards me . We meet at the road and I find myself directly in front of her and by this time Im screaming "STOOOPPPP - STOOOPPP". Then I hear a scream of "Oh my god!" as she suddenly sees me and she hits the brakes and turns away from me - literally inches from my legs. I have no idea how she missed me. This all happened in less than a few seconds. Sadly, she took off and raced away without stopping. As luck would have it, she had to stop at an intersection to the main road and so I hammered the bike in hot pursuit. I caught up to her!
    As I arrived at the rear of the car I pounded the trunk with my fist and pulled up to the passenger window. She rolls the window down and with a panic-filled voice she says "Oh my god, my god are you Ok? I just didnt see you Im sorry - Im so sorry" I start yelling at her to slow down and open her eyes and then I notice her passenger is a young girl (about 12 yrs) and that kind of took the wind out of my rant. I basically told her to PLEASE be aware for cyclist as she almost killed me. She apologized again and drove away.

    So the motto of the story? NEVER assume todays drivers can see you. My lighting was so bright it illuminated INSIDE her car yet she still did not see me! It boogles the mind.

    Anyways, I rolled into home and my wife insists that I stick to the indoor trainer from now on. She makes sense, but the neighborhood is so pretty this time of year. Tomorrow it will seem even more so - I feel very lucky!

  3. #3
    Neil_B
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    Sorry that happened. I never assume drivers can see me.

  4. #4
    Still spinnin'..... Stealthammer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magohn View Post
    .....NEVER assume todays drivers can see you. My lighting was so bright it illuminated INSIDE her car yet she still did not see me! It boogles the mind.......
    +1

    Also, don't assume that they care even if they see you. I have two roundabouts near my home where the vehicle in the roundabout has the right-of-way and any vehicle entering from one of the streets leading into it must yield. It is very uncommon for any vehicle entering when I am in the roundabout to yield my right-of-way, and that includes cops. I guess the feeling is that since I'm not in a car I don't matter....
    Just your average 'high-functioning' lunatic, capable of passing as 'normal' for short periods of time.....

    “The difference between genius and stupidity is; genius has its limits.” - Albert Einstein

    “We all know that light travels faster than sound. That's why certain people appear bright until you hear them speak.” - Albert Einstein

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    i am continuing to improve on lighting up. I have two magicshinnes... one on my handbars and one on my helmet. I have one blinkie but I need another one. I wear a vest and soon will be installing more reflective tape and spokes.

    With commuting to work, the ride home is dangerous with much more traffic. And there are long lines of cars at each stop light and stop sign so I do find myself taking the risk and riding on peoples right side when stopped at a light or sign which I know is a risk and considered stupud. I might need to change that.

  6. #6
    2 Fat 2 Furious contango's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by magohn View Post
    So the motto of the story? NEVER assume todays drivers can see you. My lighting was so bright it illuminated INSIDE her car yet she still did not see me! It boogles the mind.
    Never assume drivers can see you (however visible you are). In fact never assume drivers can see anything at all.

    If drivers can see you, never assume they will wait for you even if it is your right of way. Some drivers figure that they are fast enough to "just nip out before you get there", others figure you can slow or stop easily if they misjudge, others don't care what it takes as long as they don't get stuck behind the guy on a bike.

    For good measure a lot of people see "bike" and think "8-10mph" and are truly surprised when "bike" actually means "20-25mph"

    Most of the time I find drivers see me and give me adequate space. But there's always one who apparently doesn't see the fluorescent yellow and flashing lights.
    "For a list of ways technology has failed to improve quality of life, press three"

  7. #7
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Add to that story 1) actually getting hit by the car and 2) having it occur in broad daylight, and you have what happened to me earlier this past summer. I'm convinced the only thing that kept me upright and undamaged was the position of my right pedal (near the top of the stroke) where it became the point of contact between the car's fender and me. That, and the car's direction, caused the rear end of the bike to slide sideways under me. If the car had hit the stays instead, I would have gone down and under the front wheels.

    My reaction at the time was similar to yours - without thinking about it, I shouted "Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" Funny how our minds work.
    Last edited by CraigB; 12-21-11 at 04:35 AM.
    Craig in Indy

  8. #8
    Senior Member RGNY's Avatar
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    glad you're ok.

    first thing mom taught me about riding a motorcycle: "pretend you're invisible".

    i've had friends almost take me out on a moto or bike in the large parking lot at work. when i ask them why, it just seems like we're the wrong shape and don't even register. of course i know other folks that just ignore bikes because they realize we have more to lose and assume we'll flinch first.

  9. #9
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    I'll bet she could have and would have seen you if she had been paying proper attention. A lot of people drive as if they have blinders on, only looking at a narrow field directly in front of them. I see it all the time when I walk. I will be crossing a two lane street in the crosswalk in broad daylight and a driver will approach the intersection in the far lane and not realize I am there until I am pretty much directly in front of them. There is nothing preventing them from seeing me--from seeing the light reflecting from my body, which is what makes me visible. They simply are not looking.

  10. #10
    Starting over CraigB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    I'll bet she could have and would have seen you if she had been paying proper attention. A lot of people drive as if they have blinders on, only looking at a narrow field directly in front of them. I see it all the time when I walk. I will be crossing a two lane street in the crosswalk in broad daylight and a driver will approach the intersection in the far lane and not realize I am there until I am pretty much directly in front of them. There is nothing preventing them from seeing me--from seeing the light reflecting from my body, which is what makes me visible. They simply are not looking.
    Selective focus is what I like to call that, and I think it's what caused my run-in. In my case, my wife and cousin were also on bikes, about 50 yeards behind me, and the young lady driving the car, I believe, looked to her extreme left for vehicular traffic, saw those two on bikes and decided to get into the road (without stopping) before they got there so she wouldn't get stuck behind them. Unfortunately, I was right in front of her when she saw them and made her idiotic decision.

    BTW, magohn, I don't mean to derail the thread from your encounter - just trying to add to the conversation.
    Last edited by CraigB; 12-21-11 at 07:47 AM.
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  11. #11
    A square going nowhere psalm's Avatar
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    I always assume they don't see me, even if I'm stopped next to them. Unless they wave at me, or say something, I imagine they don't know I'm there. Oh and BTW, I never tell my wife about any close encounter.
    01:20:23:00
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Black wallnut's Avatar
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    Glad to hear she saw you in time to avoid hitting you. The next motorist may not see you because of being blinded by some rascall on a motorcycle with his high beams on causing tempory spot blindness due to having a cataract too small to remove. Not to derail the thread but driving with high beams on is just flat dangerous and counter productive; when you blind an oncomming driver I hope you are the only grease splatter he makes.


    Mark

  13. #13
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    Selective focus is what I like to call that, and I think it's what caused my run-in. In my case, my wife and cousin were also on bikes, about 50 yeards behind me, and the young lady driving the car, I believe, looked to her extreme left for vehicular traffic, saw those two on bikes and decided to get into the road (without stopping) before they got there so she wouldn't get stuck behind them. Unfortunately, I was right in front of her when she saw them and made her idiotic decision.

    BTW, magohn, I don't mean to derail the thread from your encounter - just trying to add to the conversation.
    No derailment whatsoever - anything that makes us think a little harder about safety the better. As for me, yes, I was dumb to believed she noticed me. I certainly "lived and learned".
    It did amaze me though as the area has no street lights for this 1/2 mile and so my lights were just amazingly bright and SO visible for a 100yds at least. I was literally a huge bubble of light - and she saw nothing until I was directly in front of her and I mean DIRECTLY! She actually accelerated as she left her drive and entered the road and at that time I was within 2 feet of her. The front of her car was an inch from my right leg by the time she stopped. If I did not swerve to the left she would have hit me for sure.

    I do wonder, if she did run over me - would she have stopped

  14. #14
    Loves to suffer freighttraininguphill's Avatar
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    Wow! So glad you weren't hit! This is proof that some drivers have tunnel vision. There have been a couple incidents around here where a motorist hit a fire truck that was rolling Code 3 with lights and sirens blaring! If people are so oblivious that they can't see a huge lit-up loud fire truck, what chance do us tiny cyclists have?

  15. #15
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    I've always been, since returning to the US from three years in Germany (near the end of the Cold War), convinced that people drive with tunnel vision aimed at a spot about ten feet in front of their hood ornaments. Still, it amazes me to read your story -- how anyone whose car interior was lit up like you describe wouldn't register that there's SOMETHING else out there... Wow.

    But then, if people DID actually pay attention, 30,000+ wouldn't die every year.

    I just don't get the disconnect, though; I can't STAND not knowing what's going on around me! NOBODY gets within 6 feet of me without my knowing it, from ANY direction. And people who don't have this connection with their immediate world go out and drink to get FURTHER away....

  16. #16
    Senior Member david58's Avatar
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    For whatever reason, it is too easy to get a license, and new drivers typically have no idea just how dangerous a task they have undertaken. Distractions are built into cars that simply didn't exist 30 years or so ago: drink holders, cd racks, video screen touch controls for accessories, cell phones, and movies playing on the screen for the back seat. These distractions add to the fact that the drivers aren't taught to pay attention - "situational awareness" - like they should be. And testing is a joke - the testing isn't really more than a formality.

    We as cyclists are ALERT. We are in a zone where we have to be alert and aware, or we get dead sooner than we want. Our awareness is in stark contrast to the driver, who isn't in such a state of personal hazard.

    Now how often have we, as cyclists, gotten in the car and pulled a *****? Especially if one has been driving the freeway in open country (few distractions) and then find ourselves driving at night or dusk in town (many distractions).

    One reason we see so many "almosts" instead of "dids" is that we are moving slower than the cars - if we are riding through town at 10-12 mph, we see it and are often able to avoid it. In a car at 35mph, that's harder to do.

    Dunno where I am going here, but I suppose I can generalize by saying that drivers are not necessarily cycle haters, latent sociopaths, or out to get us. I think that there is in large part a different set of things to focus on as a car driver, and because we aren't cars and therefore are invisible, we seem to come out on the short end.
    2011 BMC SR02; 2010 Fuji Cross Comp; n+1 on hold today, due to college tuition and a wedding. Some day, some where, over the rainbow, I will get that 29er....

  17. #17
    XR2
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    Senior Member XR2's Avatar
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    My old man told me one thing that stuck. "They are out to kill you. Never assume they see you." He was referring to motorcycle riding but it's held true no matter the mode of transport I use. From 4700 pound lifted Jeep to 24 pound bicycle. "They" pull in front of dumptrucks every day so what makes me special?
    I owe-therefore I am.

  18. #18
    Senior Member david58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XR2 View Post
    My old man told me one thing that stuck. "They are out to kill you. Never assume they see you." He was referring to motorcycle riding but it's held true no matter the mode of transport I use. From 4700 pound lifted Jeep to 24 pound bicycle. "They" pull in front of dumptrucks every day so what makes me special?
    Old man was a wise man.

    I have been thinking on this since a near-hit when I was behind the wheel a week ago...

    Watching drivers, and they way they will pull out stupidly in front of you to get in traffic when you are the last car in sight, and on and on etc, etc, I think part of it is like internet communication. Email, forums, etc....

    I (thought I don't choose to) can be a total ass on the internet, and get away scott-free, because you will never know me, meet me, or have any idea who I am.

    Similarly, in a car, one is insulated from the environment, shielded from interaction, and you will likely never be seen again (or so one may think). One can live the "no blood - no foul" life all one wants, because you aren't (usually) going to do a think about it. Add to this the fact that we are invisible, inconsequential, and somewhat inconvenient as cyclists, and we easily get compartmentalized by drivers - even good drivers - compartmentalized into a not-necessarily-malicious corner of the brain that just doesn't consider cyclists (motorized or leg-powered).

    In the end, a huge part of our problem is the general decay of politeness in our social interaction with strangers, and the "features" of cyclists make us just easier to ignore or be impolite to.

    Just sayin....
    2011 BMC SR02; 2010 Fuji Cross Comp; n+1 on hold today, due to college tuition and a wedding. Some day, some where, over the rainbow, I will get that 29er....

  19. #19
    Senior Member bassjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black wallnut View Post
    Glad to hear she saw you in time to avoid hitting you. The next motorist may not see you because of being blinded by some rascall on a motorcycle with his high beams on causing tempory spot blindness due to having a cataract too small to remove. Not to derail the thread but driving with high beams on is just flat dangerous and counter productive; when you blind an oncomming driver I hope you are the only grease splatter he makes.
    I almost never ride at night... Hi beams on during the day. At night, I follow protocol.

  20. #20
    Senior Member magohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bassjones View Post
    I almost never ride at night... Hi beams on during the day. At night, I follow protocol.
    Unfortunately I have no choice at this time of year if I want to keep riding. I wake in the dark to prep for work and I arrive home in the dark. Thats why i bought the MagicShine for extra safety. Who knows, perhaps the 1000 lumens actually bought me a second or so of her reaction time and so a lifetime of more cycling.

  21. #21
    Bulky Bullet Sayre Kulp's Avatar
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    Well don't feel too bad. I almost had a similar situation last night. Riding home from a geocaching excursion, I nearly went under the wheels of a Fed-Ex delivery truck. He pulled out at an intersection and nearly ran me over as I shouted WHOA, WHOA WHOOOOAAA!!! He hit the hooks and my right knee brushed the bumper. Very similar situation. I even had a headlamp on that was looking right at his face, illuminating the cab as I shouted at him.

    On a related note, earlier today I rode past the spot where I had my worst auto/bike accident. I was hit by a car speeding diagonally across a shopping center parking lot. It took my bike out rom under me and I skidded across the parking lot before coming to a broken bleeding rest on the side of the road. The one thing that I'll never forget is how many cars I could hear slowing down to gawk before driving away. I counted each and every one. Eventually a compassionate couple stopped and called an ambulance for me. That accident was in the fall of 2001. I didn't get back on a bike again until fall of 2009. I had a lump in my throat as I rode over the spot where I went down just over ten years ago.
    "Obstacles don't like me very much. I make them look bad."

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    Senior Member Gravity Aided's Avatar
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    Not to mention that we have 2 holidays with lots of parties going on, and a lot less daylight. Everybody, be careful out on the highways and byways of our land .

  23. #23
    Senior Member TJClay's Avatar
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    This seems to be the worst time of the year to ride on the streets, all the drivers have too many other things on their minds besides paying attention.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigB View Post
    Selective focus is what I like to call that, and I think it's what caused my run-in. In my case, my wife and cousin were also on bikes, about 50 yeards behind me, and the young lady driving the car, I believe, looked to her extreme left for vehicular traffic, saw those two on bikes and decided to get into the road (without stopping) before they got there so she wouldn't get stuck behind them. Unfortunately, I was right in front of her when she saw them and made her idiotic decision.

    BTW, magohn, I don't mean to derail the thread from your encounter - just trying to add to the conversation.
    Actually that's a nice point. I drove as a courier for up to 10 hours a day for years. It was surprising how often one barely manageable situation served as a distraction for a second total disaster situation paired up with it. Fortunately I avoided both enough times that I learned not to be totally distracted by the nearest emergency.

    I saw an accident from quite close. A woman talking on her cell, came out of a shopping center parking area, right into the path of a tractor trailer. It was messy and she was taken away in an ambulance. The truck driver said "she didn't even look."

    But it is really difficult to stay clear and focused. I do make enough mistakes. Even though I rarely drive these days, a mistake equivalent to the ones these drivers made is not at all out of my reach.
    mainlytext.com/bike.html Bicycling in winter, the entertainment version

  25. #25
    Commuter & cyclotourist brianogilvie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by contango View Post
    For good measure a lot of people see "bike" and think "8-10mph" and are truly surprised when "bike" actually means "20-25mph"
    I think you're being too generous. In my experience, a lot of people see "bike" and think "stationary object," or at best, "moving at pedestrian speed." When they right hook you, they're as astonished as they would be had that lamppost they passed 50 feet earlier suddenly appeared in their path.

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