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Old 11-30-06, 07:00 AM   #1
substructure
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Ever almost hit a commuter yourself while driving?

So there I was in my 10 year old, beat up, sputtering 626 looking at the mountains to my left as I drove to work on this cloudy Thursday morning. I was wishing that I wasn't just looking at those mountains but biking through them like the morning before. When all of a sudden I spot a familiar commuter that takes this busy stretch of road almost every morning in his road-crew reflective vest and dark blue jump suit. He rides a store bought mountain bike with platform pedals and standard reflectors. But no lights.

This guy rides every morning and every evening to and from work. He does some serious miles on that thing. It doesn't matter the conditions or the time - he's on it. His riding style is unique: Elbows splayed out like his on the verge or popping a wheelie. Head tilted forward like he's looking at something on his front wheel. And pushing the pedals with his whole body, not with his legs. Of course most of the time I see him, he’s climbing some hill. I give the guy some serious props.

But the only thing I almost gave him this morning was an emergency room visit.

As soon as I came to the top of this hill he was there at the edge of the road. And if he wasn’t wearing his vest I might have creamed him. I swerved my car around him as he was actually moving off the road into the grass. When I looked back he was getting off his bike to push it up the rest of the way over the hill. I was thinking to myself, “Did I make him get off his bike? Did he hear me come up fast and notice my headlights weren’t going left, around him?”

I feel like a fool. A real big fool. I should be more aware of cyclists. More than most on the highways.

Last edited by substructure; 11-30-06 at 07:29 AM.
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Old 11-30-06, 07:11 AM   #2
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Geez--that coming from a cyclist. I understand what you're saying. There are major distractions and we cyclist are vulnerable to driver error.

I haven't almost hit a cyclist, but as a cyclist I hit a car. It was embarrassing--luckily I didn't cause damage.
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Old 11-30-06, 07:31 AM   #3
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I almost hit someone once, while I was making a left turn and he was coming out of the sun toward me. I didn't even see him until I had completed the turn and he had passed inches behind me. I felt terrible but I added a couple personal guidelines to my driving habits.
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Old 11-30-06, 07:54 AM   #4
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Yeah, I almost hit a commuter in the parking lot of a grocery store. I was turning left and he came from behind me and passed me on the left. If I hadn't seen him dart around me I would have squished him.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:12 AM   #5
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Next time you see him, hand him a couple of $3 blinkies and tell him he needs them cuz he almost got run over the other day because he wasn't visible. In some cities/states, bikes need active lighting front and rear during low light/low visibility conditions.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:15 AM   #6
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I hit a car once, but it wasn't recently. My brother taught me how to ride a bike by taking me to the top of a hill and putting me on my sister's (brand new) Schwinn Sting-Ray. He gave me a shove, and I started accelerating down the hill, picking up speed way beyond my ability to stop......

.....As I was (at least to me) re-entering the earth's atmosphere, I spotted a house up ahead, with a family cooking out in their front yard. Their car was parked next to the street. Like a big magnet, I was drawn towards i, unable to brake (or to steer, either, apparently). They heard my screaming, and looked up just in time to see me come to an immediate stop, with my bike tire wedged into the wheel well of their car. Fortunately, I stayed on the bike. My hands were so tightly gripped on to the handlebars, they left marks.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:43 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyossarian
Next time you see him, hand him a couple of $3 blinkies and tell him he needs them cuz he almost got run over the other day because he wasn't visible. In some cities/states, bikes need active lighting front and rear during low light/low visibility conditions.

Our state law is to be visible by 300 feet with lighting system.

He not. But I hate the fact that I'm wasn't more aware of him in general - being a cyclist/commuter myself.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:48 AM   #8
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Was he possibly stopped at the top of the hill for some reason? How long is the hill? If he had been moving at all, don't you think you would have spotted him nearing the top before he went over the crest? Sounds to me like he might have just reentered the road at a very bad position.
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Old 11-30-06, 08:55 AM   #9
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I hit a skateboarder once. How many points is that?

Actually, I felt bad and replaced his board. I had that happen a few times when I skated and no one replaced my board. It was a simple pulling out of a parking lot and did not see the skater coming down the sidewalk due to the sun. Pulled out and he ran into my car. Apparently, my brother knew him and this guy had no skills. Not that they would have helped him any.
Everyone makes mistakes. It's just a matter of owning up to them and hoping that they do not hurt or kill you or anyone else.
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Old 11-30-06, 09:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joejack951
Was he possibly stopped at the top of the hill for some reason? How long is the hill? If he had been moving at all, don't you think you would have spotted him nearing the top before he went over the crest? Sounds to me like he might have just reentered the road at a very bad position.
He looked as if he was getting off to walk the rest of the way up or I scared the bejesus out of him and he pulled over to check his undies.
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Old 11-30-06, 11:01 AM   #11
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How long is the hill that he was climbing? Is there a flat spot on the hill which would have put him out of your sight for a short section? I'm trying to figure out how you ended up not seeing him until the last second assuming he was actually moving up the hill.

Somethings not making sense because if it was a long hill and he had just crested at the top, you would have had a long chance to see him on the way up. If there was a flat spot on the hill that hid him from your view, how did you not see him before the flat spot and/or why was he stopping at the flat spot? The only way it makes sense that you suddenly saw him was that he was stopped on the side of the road at the crest of the hill and re-entered without being able to see oncoming traffic, or ignored it.
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Old 11-30-06, 11:28 AM   #12
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Regardless of the conditions, I second the idea of buying him some blinkies. If you are comfortable 'fessing up, I would consider apologizing and presenting the blinkies as making up for the close call, which might be more acceptable to his ego than simply being preached at (from his point of view) about visibility from a stranger for no apparent reason. It still might seem condescending, though...
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Old 11-30-06, 11:55 AM   #13
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I almost hit a kid who was riding at night with no lights or reflectors - ninja style with a black hoodie. He ran a stop sign and cut in front of my car. I chased him down and stopped in front of him to tell him to please ride more carefully and get some lights. He probably thought I was getting out of my car to kick his ass cuz he was awful apologetic.

A few of the bike paths around here cross through car-trafficked streets and it gets pretty hairy in the spring/summer when bikes and cars mix it up. Cars are supposed to yield to the cyclists going through but good luck testing that. When I do drive I look way up and down the path before I go through. My wife though has had a lot more unfortunate encounters with cyclists but she drives more.
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Old 11-30-06, 12:05 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joejack951
How long is the hill that he was climbing? Is there a flat spot on the hill which would have put him out of your sight for a short section? I'm trying to figure out how you ended up not seeing him until the last second assuming he was actually moving up the hill.

Somethings not making sense because if it was a long hill and he had just crested at the top, you would have had a long chance to see him on the way up. If there was a flat spot on the hill that hid him from your view, how did you not see him before the flat spot and/or why was he stopping at the flat spot? The only way it makes sense that you suddenly saw him was that he was stopped on the side of the road at the crest of the hill and re-entered without being able to see oncoming traffic, or ignored it.
I wasn't paying attention at all. I was gazing off at the mountains to my left, he was on the right. When I looked up *poof* there he was. I saw his reflective vest and I went around him. The speed limit on the road is 55, so I was clipping along pretty fast too. Plus it was dark out. I guess my headlights didn't make contact with his vest until later on the hill. The hill is real long and he was practically at the top.

But, I'm not trying to blame him at all. I was at fault for gazing off and not paying attention to my surroundings.
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Old 11-30-06, 12:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by substructure
I feel like a fool. A real big fool. I should be more aware of cyclists. More than most on the highways.
The lesson isn't just to be aware of cyclists, but to be aware of everything on the road. Over the years, I've encountered kids in the dark in the middle of nowhere, animals, debris, stranded vehicles, etc. We all lapse sometimes, but you want it to be as rare as possible.
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Old 11-30-06, 12:17 PM   #16
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"I was zoning out while driving to work the other day and I almost hit you. I'm really sorry about that, I feel totally torn up about it. It was not my intention to come close to causing you injury. When I think about the the effects I may have had on you or your family, I get, well, concerned. I got you some blinkies to show, in a small way, my desire to apologize and help keep both of us safe."

And keep some inexpensive blinkies on hand for next time you see him.

I almost hit a cyclist while driving once. It was raining hard, like "I can barely see the lines on the street" hard. He(?) was ninjafied and going the wrong direction. I'm glad I'm observant...I bet he is, too.
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Old 11-30-06, 12:30 PM   #17
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I don't think a gift is appropriate. A sincere appology is what's needed.

There is no doubt that if you hit him you'd be suffering for it. It would haunt you. This is a private matter that you need to deal with. I'm glad you brought it up, as it makes me want to be doubly cautious driving the car and to teach my kids the same.
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Old 11-30-06, 12:53 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by substructure
I wasn't paying attention at all. I was gazing off at the mountains to my left, he was on the right. When I looked up *poof* there he was. I saw his reflective vest and I went around him. The speed limit on the road is 55, so I was clipping along pretty fast too. Plus it was dark out. I guess my headlights didn't make contact with his vest until later on the hill. The hill is real long and he was practically at the top.

But, I'm not trying to blame him at all. I was at fault for gazing off and not paying attention to my surroundings.
Ok, so it was just you being distracted and not something to do with the geometry of the road. I've yet to encounter road geometry that put me in a dangerous position but if you had come across something of the sort, I was curious to hear about it.
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Old 11-30-06, 02:48 PM   #19
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Yes, I've come close. But, so far, it's been the cyclist who could have done a better job of being visible at night, rather than me not paying attention. I drive an 18 wheeler in urban environments every night. In Redmond, WA. no less. Everyone instinctively knows that Redmond is the Cycling Center of the Universe. They're everywhere.

Absolutely astounding to me that there are so many that don't use illumination of any kind.
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Old 11-30-06, 03:20 PM   #20
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I never hit a commuter, but I do have a sad story to tell of a guy who was riding with his girlfriend down a parkway back in the mid 70s. We drove up next to them and started hitting on the gal, the guy said something to us, so one of my buddies in the back seat opens the rear door and sends this guy flying, as the rest of us continue along trying to talk sh_t to his gf. The ironic thing is, the gal ended up becoming the wife of my buddy who was driving the car that day. Don't know whatever became of the guy we hit like a pinball.
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Old 11-30-06, 03:22 PM   #21
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Roads are tight around here and people double park like they get paid to do so, so buzzing a cyclist (usually a wobbly one) is unfortunately the norm. With that said, I commute over the same road and always wear a reflective vest over my back-pack with front/rear blinkies, reflective ankle straps and saddle bag. Just call me Fred.
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Old 11-30-06, 03:42 PM   #22
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Never hit a commuter.

But I do get pangs of guilt when I drive, and on the way home I sometimes pass my Road 1 instructor as he bikes his way home.

I never see him when I bike, but I have seen him a few times when driving.
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Old 11-30-06, 06:16 PM   #23
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I almost hit a commuter who decided it would be a good idea to run a stop sign without even bothering to look. (I was already halfway across the street when he ran the stop sign.) He is lucky that I was actually paying attention to where I was going.

As a cyclist, just like many of you, I try my best to give cyclists and commuters as much room as possible.
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Old 11-30-06, 07:06 PM   #24
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I saw a biker on the sidewalk and it looked like he was approaching the yeild at the same time I was. I slowed a bit to make sure we wouldn't get there together but I guess he did too. I remember telling my passenger "Oh Oh, Oh Oh, look at this, look at this" We just missed each other.
Issues do go both ways but I try to think like Randomus,
"I try my best to give cyclists and commuters as much room as possible".
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Old 11-30-06, 07:53 PM   #25
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All of a sudden, this thread and the thread about the 19 yr old that killed a cyclist while downloading ringtones make me think both the cyclist and the OP were real lucky.
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