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Old 10-28-06, 11:32 AM   #1
RoseInOregon
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Inside the Cager Brain

In another thread, wild animals wrote:

Quote:
Originally Posted by wild animals
with cyclists like that riding around, i think there is, in many situations, good motivation for motorists to get cyclists behind them, so they can't run the cyclists over. i have sped up a couple times to pass cyclists, either to get them behind me or to take advantage of a lack of oncoming traffic. so just because someone speeds up to pass doesn't mean they are being antagonizing or asserting their superiority or whatever. <snip> i know a lot of drivers are dangerous and totally suck, but i bet not all of these people are being jerks.
Similar thoughts have occurred to me. Yesterday I drove to work and to a local shopping mall at lunch (lotta points there, I know), and really paid attention to my "driving mindset." Here's what I think drivers--or me, anyway--have on their minds:

1. Other cars. They're fast and heavy and dangerous, and they far outnumber other moving things on the streets.

2. Signs, signals, lane paint. Don't want to be unsafe, unpredictable, or illegal.

3. Surprises, including peds and bikes. The interesting thing here is that I noticed a distinct twinge of irritation a couple of times when peds and bikers did something that required me to react in some way.

In the case of the ped, he darted out across four lanes of traffic in the middle of the block, and although nobody was close enough to hit him (he did time it for the gap), I muttered a little %$# under my breath as I tapped the brakes just to be on the safe side.

In the case of the biker, he was weaving erratically on a chopper in the bike lane (what is it with choppers and weaving, anyway--is it lack of control because of apehanger bars, is it youthful exuberance--or am I just stereotyping here?). I had just merged into the right lane next to him, and I definitely felt irritated at his presence.

So I tried to analyze these two twinges of irritation, and I think they came down to a version of what wild animals said above: The extreme vulnerability of the biker and the ped meant I had to pay almost complete attention to them and their actions, which meant in turn that I had to relinquish a good bit of the attention I had been paying to other cars and to traffic directing devices. It's a kind of attention management overload, exacerbated by the knowledge that I could very easily be responsible for someone's death if I make even a small miscalculation.

Driving home, I passed a couple of bikers in the lane I use myself when I commute by bike. They were riding in a straight line, they seemed focused and responsible, and I passed them with hardly a second thought (other than regret that I wasn't on my bike).

Maybe responsible and aware biking is the best antidote for hostile cagerbrain.
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Old 10-28-06, 11:55 AM   #2
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Pretty much.

Here's the way I see it: Everyone hates everyone and everything that inconveniences them, be it a bike, a car, a fallen tree, or a demon from the dimension zorgon (assuming it's only doing 55 in the fast lane). Even more than inconvenience, people hate anything that can endanger them in any way (or endanger their stuff, because that leads to inconvenience). Unpredictable riders fall into both categories (as do unpredictable drivers).

This is why I only make note of adults on bikes (especially those who look like they're experienced riders), while I watch kids on bikes like a hawk. It's not that I'd feel worse about running over an eight year old than a 38 year old, it's that I know that eight year olds often do astonishingly dumb and unpredictable things. This is also why the one part of my commute that I find the sketchiest isn't even apparently that bad. There's one spot where at the bottom of a hill there's a manhole cover in the middle of the bike lane that is the equivalent of a two inch deep pothole, and I have to veer into the regular traffic lane to get around it. You won't see it from a car (hell, I can barely see it from the bike until I'm right up on it), and it probably looks to the drivers like some dumbass guy can't stay in his lane, when in reality I'm trying to keep from being launched fully into the lane under some car's wheels. And so the whole way down the hill I'm trying to set things up so I can veer over between two well spaced cars.
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Old 10-28-06, 12:24 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wneumann
...Everyone hates everyone and everything that inconveniences them, be it a bike, a car, a fallen tree, or a demon from the dimension zorgon (assuming it's only doing 55 in the fast lane). Even more than inconvenience, people hate anything that can endanger them in any way (or endanger their stuff, because that leads to inconvenience). Unpredictable riders fall into both categories (as do unpredictable drivers)...
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Old 10-28-06, 04:09 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wneumann
here's a manhole cover in the middle of the bike lane that is the equivalent of a two inch deep pothole, and I have to veer into the regular traffic lane to get around it. You won't see it from a car (hell, I can barely see it from the bike until I'm right up on it), and it probably looks to the drivers like some dumbass guy can't stay in his lane, when in reality I'm trying to keep from being launched fully into the lane under some car's wheels. And so the whole way down the hill I'm trying to set things up so I can veer over between two well spaced cars.
Why don't you actually move well into the traffic lane way before you hit this manhole cover (with signalling and shoulder-checking and all the bells and whistles, of course)? If you're going downhill anyway, the speed differential is probably not even going to be too great.
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Old 10-28-06, 04:40 PM   #5
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What if they have one of these on their bumper?

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Old 10-28-06, 04:48 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chephy
Why don't you actually move well into the traffic lane way before you hit this manhole cover (with signalling and shoulder-checking and all the bells and whistles, of course)? If you're going downhill anyway, the speed differential is probably not even going to be too great.
I have a similar predicament, but considerably worse. Again, not a bike lane to be found anywhere near me.

On one busy section of my commute, when the city repaved the road, they paved over and on top of the concrete curbing, where the grates are. Well, this is usually where I'm riding and now the grates are a good inch below street level. I have to negotiate about ten of them in a half mile stretch (going and coming). The lanes are very narrow. If I move out wide enough to miss the grates, I've essentially taken the lane. If I stay over, I have to stand at each grate to minimize risk of rim damage. If I swerve around each one I run the risk of getting run over.

People hate driving on many of these roads at all. I'm sure encountering a bicyclist on them really freaks them out. There's not much I can do since all inbound roads are in similar condition. I typically just push hard and try to clear the area as fast as possible.
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Old 10-28-06, 04:55 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
What if they have one of these on their bumper?

Then you'll know why you were hit as they speed off into the sunset...

My take on it all is that we have a certain amount of attention we can devote to things. Driving takes a good bit of it up. The amount of attention we have remaining needs to be divided between various hazards: the bloke turning left in front of me, the guy riding the side of his lane next to me, the cyclist 2 blocks ahead, the ped 1 block ahead, etc. The more predicable someone is, the less attention they draw to themselves and therefore the more attention I can pay to passing them without creating new hazards and/or problems.
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Old 10-28-06, 05:14 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chephy
Why don't you actually move well into the traffic lane way before you hit this manhole cover (with signalling and shoulder-checking and all the bells and whistles, of course)?
Well, there's no real need for it, as I barely need to cross over the line to avoid it. I figure that establishing myself on the edge of the lane then a slide to the left and a jump to the right (the inverse time warp) has me around it and back in the bike lane.

Though a hand signal might not hurt...
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Old 10-28-06, 06:15 PM   #9
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I drove today to go get a haircut & pick up groceries, and found myself facing a few dilemnas:

1: I was down because I was in my car, and passed several (a half-dozen or so) people on bikes that were being responsible, all in the 7.5 mile drive to the base.

2: It took 30 minutes to drive those 7.5 miles due to the extremely short-cycling traffic lights in this wonderful city, and my wife's curse of the red light (she hits EVERY light red, or causes me to hit EVERY light red, when I can drive all day with only a couple of stops!). This same drive takes me 20-25 minutes on my bike.

3: Frustrations from 1 & 2 caused me to feel a bit "trapped" because I couldn't bypass red lights, nor could I get to the front of the line. As a result, I spent no less than 3 seperate light cycles at more than one light. This is in weekend traffic, which is less than 10% of weekday traffic.

Adding all of these things up really take a toll on the available attention one has to devote to all the things needed while driving. I didn't have to deal with any idiot drivers or peds, and all of the cyclists were being responsible as well, although I did get a bit annoyed - maybe envious - as this 50+ year old man with a soda crate on his rack filtered to the front of the line on my way home, and I ran into him again, but it was 4 lights later.

Bike travel >>> Car travel in cities.
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Old 10-28-06, 07:08 PM   #10
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hey, i'm like, famous!
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Old 10-28-06, 08:01 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffS
On one busy section of my commute, when the city repaved the road, they paved over and on top of the concrete curbing, where the grates are. Well, this is usually where I'm riding and now the grates are a good inch below street level. I have to negotiate about ten of them in a half mile stretch (going and coming). The lanes are very narrow. If I move out wide enough to miss the grates, I've essentially taken the lane.
If the lane is very narrow, shouldn't you be taking it anyway? Especially if there is tripping hazard present such as those grates?

Quote:
Again, not a bike lane to be found anywhere near me.
In this situation, I would consider the absence of bike lanes a blessing. An unusable bike lane is MUCH worse than no bike lane, because it is more likely to provoke cager infuriation ("Why isn't that goddamn fool in the bike lane that was provided just for him?? Why does he have to encroach on MY space?)


Quote:
Originally Posted by wneumann
Well, there's no real need for it, as I barely need to cross over the line to avoid it.
Well, that's up to you, of course; though a hand signal probably wouldn't hurt, that's true. Although if traffic is usually light there and you can always time yourself to avoid that thing when there is a gap, it might not be worth the bother (extra control that both hands on the handlebars provide is good on downhills...)

What is your speed down that hill anyway, and what is the motor traffic speed? And would your speed increase if you didn't have to worry about stuff like that pothole equivalent?
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Old 10-28-06, 08:03 PM   #12
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hey, i'm like, famous!
You bet! How's your commute going anyway? Did you get a different bike or are you still using the Milano? Is it getting any easier and more fun?
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Old 10-28-06, 08:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chephy
What is your speed down that hill anyway, and what is the motor traffic speed? And would your speed increase if you didn't have to worry about stuff like that pothole equivalent?
I'm usually in the 25-27 MPH range at the pothole, traffic is about 35 at that point.
And no, my speed wouldn't increase much because of two reasons:
1) About 2/3 of the way down the hill is a grate that goes across the road, and I prefer to not scream over it.
2) Right at the bottom of the hill, a bit before the manhole is an intersection that has a car at it about 20% of the time. I've never had an issue with the cars inching into the intersection, but I have no faith in humanity, and the faster I go, the less faith I have.

On the plus side, at the top of the hill is an intersection with a light (which seems to stop me about 90% of the time...), and the traffic that continues through is actually aimed at the left lane after the intersection with only about 33% of them moving into the right lane before the bottom of the hill, so I don't usually have any real problems finding a slot to fit in.
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Old 10-29-06, 12:55 PM   #14
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Cagers, and when I use that term I mean @ssholes who drive cars, are cowards and bullies. They see bicyclists as weaker than them and will f@ck with them because they can. Car v bike the car always wins. The buzzing, cutting off etc that they do to bicyclists, they would like to do to other cars, but they hesitate to do so because car v car is a fair fight.
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Old 10-29-06, 01:05 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoseInOregon
In the case of the biker, he was weaving erratically on a chopper in the bike lane (what is it with choppers and weaving, anyway--is it lack of control because of apehanger bars, is it youthful exuberance--or am I just stereotyping here?). I had just merged into the right lane next to him, and I definitely felt irritated at his presence.
Well sometimes I swerve just for the joy of it, and I have a road bike, but never when anyone's near me.
And I have not yet driven a bike with ape hangers but I can't imagine it's that hard to do, unless you're a new cyclist.
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Old 10-29-06, 01:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bikepacker67
What if they have one of these on their bumper?

Hmmm...I wonder how one of these would end up on somebody's bumper...

BTW, I'm not saying nobody in a car is an a$$hole--heck, I've got one on my own block. But if I thought everyone was like that, I wouldn't leave the house, much less get on my bike.

San Rensho, when you say by cagers you mean @$$holes in cars, do you mean that all drivers are bullies, or just that a select few are? Couldn't really tell from your post.
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Old 10-29-06, 09:41 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RoseInOregon
San Rensho, when you say by cagers you mean @$$holes in cars, do you mean that all drivers are bullies, or just that a select few are? Couldn't really tell from your post.
It's worth remembering that it's only a select few who abuse or try to assault cyclists. I think these are the bullies that he might have been referring to.
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Old 10-29-06, 10:17 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chephy
You bet! How's your commute going anyway? Did you get a different bike or are you still using the Milano? Is it getting any easier and more fun?
hello chephy!
it was going pretty well until i got tendonitis. i had to take a couple weeks off. once my rain jacket shows up, i'm going to get back on the bike and see how my tendons fare! i'm still on the milano and it isn't a speed- or hill-demon but we do all right i'm getting faster at changing clothes even if i don't get any faster riding to work.

thanks for asking!
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Old 10-30-06, 08:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
It's worth remembering that it's only a select few who abuse or try to assault cyclists. I think these are the bullies that he might have been referring to.
I agree with your statement and I didn't mean all car drivers are assh@les, I meant that those poeple who drive like assh@les are cagers. This was to avoid the inevitable polemic and finger wagging from some whenever the term "cager" is used. To some, saying cager is equivalent to using the "N" word.
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Old 10-30-06, 09:13 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by San Rensho
Car v bike the car always wins.
I agree that the car would win, but you find a lot of them are very concerned that you might scratch their paintwork. If you look like you might, you get a lot more room!
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Old 10-30-06, 03:39 PM   #21
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Just a note about the choppers/apehangers - In our old town, there was a crazy middle-aged lady with what looked like a vintage chopper with apehangers. I've encountered this lady on the road more than a few times, and she was always swerving all over the place. I don't think it has much to do with her age, but more to do with the actual physics of steering a bike with her hands over her head. It drove my wife and I nuts, in the fact that although she had very little control of the bike, she still rode it all the time, I guess to be what in her mind amounts to "cool."

The Equation:

Middle-aged + chopper bike x apehangers = the opposite of cool (negative cool?)
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Old 10-30-06, 03:57 PM   #22
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Cager stream of conciousness-
Whoa dude I love this song! Time to turn it up..... Whoooa, what a stupid &*&^*$&[B]^ riding his &*%^*&^ bike in my way, I almost hit him. Oh shoot is that the cellphone? Better answer it, oops, better steer with my knee while I turn the radio down. Aw shoot, I think that light was red, oh well. Dude I almost hit that dork that doesn't know how to use a cell phone and drive! Man this commute would stink if I couldn't talk on my phone the whole time. Awww, &*^*&^*&$ I clipped the curb on that last turn, but you should have seen the look on the pedestrian's face that was standing there! Oh crap, I'm going the speed limit, I'm gonna be late if I keep this up..................
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