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Old 02-07-06, 08:21 PM   #1
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Apparently, I'm invisible...

It's 6:20 p.m. and the sun has been down for about 30 minutes. It's dark. I'm riding home along on my usual route, the road is dry and there is now snow, rain, dust or other vehicles. I see a car approaching from the right. Out of habit, I'm looking at the car to see if it stops. It's a T-intersection and the car has a stop sign, also unobscured. Both of its headlights are functioning. The car comes to a halt with its blinker on to turn left. I have no stop sign and continue merrily along my way. I have the right of way.

Lo and behold, the car launches toward me turning left, as I'm in the middle of the intersection. I instinctively unclip my right foot and start swinging it out of the way, as it would appear that I am about to be hit. The car comes to a sharp halt about 12 inches from me, the right headlight lined up to impact just ahead of my bottom bracket.

Time slows down - I can see the driver is a ~35 year old woman with chin-length black hair and brown eyes. She is wearing a dark red wool coat with a white loosely-knit scarf. She is not wearing gloves. The vehicle looks to be a late-90's Toyota [Corolla?] sedan in a red/burgundy colour with a tan interior. I am approximately 7 feet from her, counting the length of the car hood and the twelve inches from my pedal to her bumper. I am shining my helmet-mounted 13W HID headlight [equivalent to ~40 Watts of focused halogen] directly at her. As I coast by the front of her car, she looks to the right, then left, but never in my direction - directly in front of her car. She drives away, and I am left with a combination of fear, anger and righteous indignation for the rest of my ride home.
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Old 02-07-06, 08:25 PM   #2
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Bah, you had your foot unlcipped, you shoulda removed her headlights

Seriously though, glad your ok.
And yes, we are literaly invisible, and non threatening to cagers.
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Old 02-07-06, 08:41 PM   #3
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Glad to hear you're ok. I've recently come to the conclusion that ped and cagers don't view cyclists as a threat because they don't think we move fast enough to be a threat. In your case, the woman may have seen you, but assumed there was no way you could move fast enough to close the gap between you and thus she figured she had enough time to make the turn.
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Old 02-07-06, 08:53 PM   #4
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excuse my newbness, what is a cager?

Pinkrobe: Glad everything came out in a good way for you. Except your mood. Although moods and broen bikes are easily fixed and or replaced; a broken bone is not.

Good job on your reaction to stop.
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Old 02-07-06, 09:08 PM   #5
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excuse my newbness, what is a cager?

Pinkrobe: Glad everything came out in a good way for you. Except your mood. Although moods and broen bikes are easily fixed and or replaced; a broken bone is not.

Good job on your reaction to stop.
cager = lightheartedly derogatory slang for the driver of an automobile, which kind of resembles a cage when compared to a bicycle

Glad you're alright, pinkrobe. I put together a homebrew halogen setup over the past few weeks (plenty of leisurely revisions and improvements as I went along) and I've had at least two instances now where cars literally stopped and waited like 15 seconds at cross-street stopsigns for me to approach and pass. I guess they can't figure out what the 50 watt light zigging towards them is and don't dare judge the speed lest it turn out to be a motorcycle or a freight train or something. I keep the 50 watt MR16 pointed pretty much straight ahead for getting the attention of absentminded drivers, and I have a 20 watt spot aimed down to cast a nice beam on the 30 feet in front of me. Handlebar-mounted switches to control system power and flip between high and low beams.
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Old 02-07-06, 09:55 PM   #6
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Yikes! Do you use a blinker along with the bada55 HID?

I have to agree with posts above suggesting that non-cyclists don't get how fast we can go. It happens all the time to me during the DAY, drivers acting as if I'm tooling along at a snail's pace when I am in fact going quite fast. Scary stuff ensues.
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Old 02-07-06, 10:13 PM   #7
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Sigh. I have a hard time staying mad at anyone, and I'm mostly glad I didn't get run over. I switched from a 10W to the HID halogen light at the beginning of January, and cars really do treat me differently [for the most part]. In the last month or so, I've had cars pull off to the side of the road as I approach on half a dozen occasions. They don't pull out in front of me [for the most part].

I used to run an LED blinkie on the handlebar, but it became sort of moot after I got the HID. My wife had the same LED on her handlebars, and you can't see it from the side, and it's barely visible from the front past 10m. I made her take my 10W light. In terms of visibility, my pack, gloves, jacket, helmet, pants and shoes all have 3M reflective stuff on them, and I run a blinkie on my back all the time. I've been told that even under a weak light, I'm lit up like an x-mas tree from pretty much any direction.
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Old 02-07-06, 10:21 PM   #8
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what the OP described definitely would have elicited a loud "WHAT ARE YOU DOING???" from me

glad you're alright though

do you wear a reflective vest/legbands/armbands in addition to your lights? if not, you'll find drivers give you even more respect if you have those things... at least that's what happened in my case
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Old 02-07-06, 10:27 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by o-dog
do you wear a reflective vest/legbands/armbands in addition to your lights? if not, you'll find drivers give you even more respect if you have those things... at least that's what happened in my case
I'm afraid they'll think I'm a city worker and aim for me. Seriously though, things have been a lot better since I started running a headlight. Like I posted earlier, I'm covered in the reflective stuff, the same material they use on the vests.
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Old 02-07-06, 10:38 PM   #10
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Glad you are OK, good bike handling!

That's a typical driver move, expect a lot more. They do it in the day, to motorcycles with the headlgihts and turn signals on and other cars too. Even huge trucks. Expect it to always happen, stop if you have to.
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Old 02-07-06, 11:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by o-dog
what the OP described definitely would have elicited a loud "WHAT THE #$%@ ARE YOU DOING???" from me
Fixed.
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Old 02-08-06, 06:26 AM   #12
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I think the speed thing is right on. Most cyclists I see on the roads around here are the types who can't afford a car. They go so slow I'd almost have a hard time balancing at that speed. Probably 6-8 MPH. I pass them going 2-4x their speed and I'm not a racer. If drivers are used to that, someone doing 25 MPH on a bike might be a surprise.
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Old 02-08-06, 08:01 AM   #13
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It is weird that so many people who screw up when driving NEVER LOOK at you afterwords.
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Old 02-08-06, 08:17 AM   #14
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She was embarrassed, that's why she did not acknowledge you afterwards. I've had that happen to me in close call situations. Some people get confused, don't know what to do, so they pretend you don't exist and that nothing much happened.

It gets funny when they have someone else in the car, shouting "WHAT ARE YOU DOING" or similar at them, with you doing the same outside. The "let's all move along, there's nothing to see here" routine becomes even more challenging, but some people will do their best to pull it off even then.

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Old 02-08-06, 08:42 AM   #15
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so i've always wondered, can you report people like that for wreckless driving? i've had near death experiences like that and have been steamed beyond anything, but while, on the bike, i'm actually afraid the cager is gonna run me down for shouting. seems like something should be done.
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Old 02-08-06, 08:58 AM   #16
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GEESH!!! Whoa! yeah, really glad you're ok
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Old 02-08-06, 11:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkrobe
It's 6:20 p.m. and the sun has been down for about 30 minutes. It's dark. I'm riding home along on my usual route, the road is dry and there is now snow, rain, dust or other vehicles. I see a car approaching from the right. Out of habit, I'm looking at the car to see if it stops. It's a T-intersection and the car has a stop sign, also unobscured. Both of its headlights are functioning. The car comes to a halt with its blinker on to turn left. I have no stop sign and continue merrily along my way. I have the right of way.

Lo and behold, the car launches toward me turning left, as I'm in the middle of the intersection. I instinctively unclip my right foot and start swinging it out of the way, as it would appear that I am about to be hit. The car comes to a sharp halt about 12 inches from me, the right headlight lined up to impact just ahead of my bottom bracket.

Time slows down - I can see the driver is a ~35 year old woman with chin-length black hair and brown eyes. She is wearing a dark red wool coat with a white loosely-knit scarf. She is not wearing gloves. The vehicle looks to be a late-90's Toyota [Corolla?] sedan in a red/burgundy colour with a tan interior. I am approximately 7 feet from her, counting the length of the car hood and the twelve inches from my pedal to her bumper. I am shining my helmet-mounted 13W HID headlight [equivalent to ~40 Watts of focused halogen] directly at her. As I coast by the front of her car, she looks to the right, then left, but never in my direction - directly in front of her car. She drives away, and I am left with a combination of fear, anger and righteous indignation for the rest of my ride home.

Dang it! Almost the exact thing happened to me the other day. When the driver came to a halt, it was facing traffic going the opposite way. (good thing they had a red light). I was just passing through since I had the right of way, and then this idiot (who was doing a left turn) starts coming right at me. I thought he was trying to knock me down...
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Old 02-08-06, 12:00 PM   #18
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Glad you're OK. I ride a motorcycle also and took a safety course to get my MC lisence. The one, most important thing I got out of the course is to always assume that you are invisible and that any car is going to pull out in front of you and be ready for it. That might make for overly cautious riding but it's saved my skin a number of times on the bike and the MC.

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Old 02-08-06, 12:07 PM   #19
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so i've always wondered, can you report people like that for wreckless driving?
Reckless, maybe. Wreckless is a good thing.
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Old 02-08-06, 12:16 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aadhils
Dang it! Almost the exact thing happened to me the other day. When the driver came to a halt, it was facing traffic going the opposite way. (good thing they had a red light). I was just passing through since I had the right of way, and then this idiot (who was doing a left turn) starts coming right at me. I thought he was trying to knock me down...
I've said it before and I'll try once again. Beside the speed perception problem, the biggest problem is you are simply not seen from the left or right sides. This is a leading cause of car-bike accidents.
Find a building with lots of glass and as you ride by at night see how much people can see of you with no lights shinning on you.

Steps that work for me with night riding:
Active
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1. front fork side light on blinking mode
2. 2 handlebar lights, flash back but also give side lights, blinking mode
3. rear light with side light, steady and blinking mode [Cateye 1000]

Passive
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1. reflective jacket
2. reflective sidewalls
3. reflective tape on rims and frame and helmet
4. reflective shoes


Naturally the biggest safety issue to is assume you are invisible. But with changes like I made, you will be hard pressed to say not seen with 8 bright LEDs: 5 yellow and 3 red. Usually the drivers around me, slow down to see the circus light show.

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Old 02-08-06, 12:36 PM   #21
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pinkrobe... others have already complimented you on your bike-handling skills, and i want to add that you write just as well as you ride. i don't know about you, but i find it therapeutic to write about such incidents after they happen. i hope you felt some relief just from recounting and sharing it.

glad you're alright.

edit: i also have to agree that the single most important safety consideration i make when riding is that i assume i'm invisible. i'm an aggressively defensive rider.
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Old 02-08-06, 12:38 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Juha
She was embarrassed, that's why she did not acknowledge you afterwards. I've had that happen to me in close call situations. Some people get confused, don't know what to do, so they pretend you don't exist and that nothing much happened.
Also, she may have been scared. I try not to yell at motorists, but after a really close shave like what happened here, I've been known to yell something like "JESUS CHRIST!!!!" (yeah it's lame, but I try to stay under control).

After a close call the adrenaline can really be flowing. The level of agitation and enhanced strength is obvious to the driver and they're probably scared of what you'll do. About 8 years ago after being hit by a van, I instinctively ripped the door open and was about to pound the guy into dog food. When I saw the sheer look of terror in his eyes, I realized I was out of control and calmed down so I could politely ask him to please watch for cyclists. I doubt he forgot that encounter. I used the experience to remind myself that accidents happen and that I need to come to terms with that.
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Old 02-08-06, 02:06 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicomachus
pinkrobe... others have already complimented you on your bike-handling skills, and i want to add that you write just as well as you ride. i don't know about you, but i find it therapeutic to write about such incidents after they happen. i hope you felt some relief just from recounting and sharing it.

glad you're alright.

edit: i also have to agree that the single most important safety consideration i make when riding is that i assume i'm invisible. i'm an aggressively defensive rider.
Thanks, I try to be eloquent when I'm angry. There's another thread that got started by somebody who was having a hard time dealing with a stressful ride. As I said there, I find it helps if I write about it. I also agree with the "ride like you're invisible" comments. I ride pretty agressively most of the time, but I make a concerted effort to stay out of driver's blind spots, always keep a hand on the brakes, etc. I don't trust cars and their ilk, and last night's episode justifies that.
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Old 02-08-06, 08:08 PM   #24
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I get that constantly. That's why now, if I don't make eye contact, they automatically get right of way. It doesn't help at night, but I'd prefer to be on the safe side at night and just focus on riding more carefully and being very aware of my surroundings.

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Old 02-08-06, 08:20 PM   #25
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Most people will not want to make eye contact with the offended party after making a bone-head move in traffic. She was embarassed that she almost killed you and couldn't bare to look you in the eye.

I have the opposite problem. Yesterday, I'm in the left turn lane waiting on a light. It turns green. Not an arrow mind you. Just a green light. I'm waiting on the car at the light facing me. They have the right of way. We look at each other for 5 or 6 seconds before they decide I'm not going. Maybe its just "Minnesota nice". Its bad manners to run over a cyclist, so just give them the right of way all the time (even if the rules of the road don't indicate to do so)?
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