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Old 08-27-10, 09:02 AM   #1
CptjohnC
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Near Misses

This morning, right near the end of my ride (at the West Falls Church Metro, for the DC area cyclists), I had what I thought was a bizarre experience with a motorist. I was in the left turn lane, behind two cars, but very much in the lane. As I began my left turn, a car turned with me, immediately on my right, squeezing me even further to the left, and causing me to have to adjust quite quickly in terms of where I was going to go so as not to eat the median. Because the metro station is a low speed environment, and because I had a pretty good Mad on, I caught her before the next turn, and as her window was open, I admit to shouting at her ... probably not the best thing for cager/cyclist relations.

I had thought she just figured she could go faster, and I was small, so heck, she'd go around, like the rude motorist I took her for. Her response was almost more disturbing -- she said she didn't see me. Is it really possible not to see a bike in the middle of your lane, in full daylight? I don't think I was tucked in behind a car, or anywhere other than fully in the lane when I began the turn (a protected left with the left turn arrow). I admit that I am not huge on conspicuity gear; my helmet has reflective strips, my backpack and shirt both wear some reflective stripes, the bike has reflectors, etc... but no blinky in daylight, no reflective vest, etc...

I guess I might need to reconsider my visual cues, esp. as autumn approaches, and more of my riding is likely to be in less bright situations.

But honestly -- is it really possible that she didn't see me? (And yes, I know the answer is 'sure!' -- people apparently can't see my big red van sometimes, either) But honestly -- she had to have been right behind me, with her window open, as we both started from the light. Had to have been. How come she didn't mow me down in the left turn lane?

Sorry -- I just needed to vent to folks who have been there.
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Old 08-27-10, 09:13 AM   #2
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That could very well be a programmed response... either that, or she was texting, or looking through the turn.
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Old 08-27-10, 09:19 AM   #3
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I had someone do that to me just the other day.
I was in the middle of the lane with the advance turn light and a clown in a SUV decided to go around me in the middle of the turn. I know he could see me as I have a Radbot 1000 on the back of my rack and it was turned on and he made eye contact with me as he went by.

I like to think he was a doctor and he did it to rush to the hospital to save a life, but it is more likely he was just a redneck JA that thought is would be OK to endanger my life to save 4 seconds on his commute home.
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Old 08-27-10, 09:29 AM   #4
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Zombie driver, programmed response. A well placed slap on the car window/ fender or a blast of an air horn or even a good yell would have waken her up... maybe... glad you're able to tell the story.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:05 AM   #5
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+1 on the programmed response...but it's quite possible that she didn't see you because some people just don't look very carefully - just a quick glance, and if they don't see something the size of a Mac truck, it must be clear.

I've felt like the invisible man this year, especially in the last several weeks. I've had at least six close calls with drivers turning into a collision course with me, only to notice me at the last second and jam on their brakes. They either didn't see me because they didn't look carefully enough, or they didn't realize a cyclist could move that quickly.
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Old 08-27-10, 10:24 AM   #6
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As a long time motorcyclist, I am very conscious of the problem of vehicles turning left across my bow when I proceed through intersections because I am invisible, and I take lots of extra care in those situations (including, of course, 4 way stops). Likewise, I don't expect people to notice me as they pull out of driveways, step off the curb, etc..

But I think this is the first time I've EVER had someone turn with me and just ignore my existence.

I am a big fan of the well placed slap, and use it when I can. In this instance I was a bit too busy looking for my escape route/ ensuring I wasn't eating pavement to get a hand up and on her flank. The worst part was how genuinely unapologetic she was when confronted. Ugh!
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Old 08-27-10, 12:05 PM   #7
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I have ridden motorcycles and bikes for 30+ years. This happens all the time. As long as they miss, I sort of welcome it.

Please let me explain, I welcome it because it keeps me sharp, and lets me know that I am alive. Not some drone that is thinking about other things as I roll down the road.

I yell, scream, cuss (although I'm trying not to), but it makes my heart beat faster, and makes me more aware of the things around me.

Glad you are alright.
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Old 08-27-10, 12:12 PM   #8
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Airzound would have been very helpful here. If she didn't see you, good chance she will hear you.
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Old 08-27-10, 12:55 PM   #9
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Just trying to visualize your situation....did you start the turn to the left of the cars (on the inside of the curve)? Maybe I'm doing it wrong but when making left-hand turns while in the turning lane I usually ride the outside of the curve to avoid somebody squeezing me like you described. that way I'm right back riding along the curb on the right. The only thing I then need to worry about is somebody making an immediate right after negotiating the left hand turn.

Either way it's not the best situation because people are often times not paying attention.
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Old 08-27-10, 01:00 PM   #10
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This just made me think of the phrase "near miss", when really it should say "near hit". A "near miss", literally speaking, indicates that you almost didn't get hit. The idiosyncrasies of the English language I guess.
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Old 08-27-10, 01:00 PM   #11
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relax, they just wanted you to 'share the road' with them

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Old 08-27-10, 02:45 PM   #12
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Maybe a rear blinkie during the day might help. However this sounds like an isolated incident, although it is still disturbing.
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Old 08-27-10, 02:49 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by megalowmatt View Post
Just trying to visualize your situation....did you start the turn to the left of the cars (on the inside of the curve)?
Megalowmatt: I've been trying to replay it pretty much since it happened, to see if I could figure out what went wrong. I was stopped in the lane, probably just left of center waiting for the light to change. When I started moving, I probably took an inside (shorter) line, because I've never had a car do this to me before, so it didn't occur to me. I'm going to have to be more possessive of my lane, and sacrifice my line, obviously.

Jr59: yeah -- I felt alive. My heart sped up and my blood got hot!

Chandltp: I guess I think of "near miss" opposed to "far miss" but who cares about a 'far miss'?
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Old 08-27-10, 05:06 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by CptjohnC View Post
Megalowmatt: I've been trying to replay it pretty much since it happened, to see if I could figure out what went wrong. I was stopped in the lane, probably just left of center waiting for the light to change. When I started moving, I probably took an inside (shorter) line, because I've never had a car do this to me before, so it didn't occur to me. I'm going to have to be more possessive of my lane, and sacrifice my line, obviously.
Were you turning into a one lane street or was it a multiple lane? I could see how it was possible if you were turning into a multiple lane street. You had several cars ahead of you. Sometime we follow the car ahead of us and they are keeping left while that car behind you wanted to get to the right lane. It probably didn't matter even if it was a single lane because in the mindset of the lady behind you, she might have been thinking to stay on the right side after the turn without realizing wether or not the street she was turning into had multple lanes or not.
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Old 08-27-10, 06:55 PM   #15
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Megalowmatt: I've been trying to replay it pretty much since it happened, to see if I could figure out what went wrong.
what went wrong is that you were passed by a person that really should not behind the wheel.
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Old 08-27-10, 08:30 PM   #16
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I live right down the street and grew up in DC. The earfull you gave probably isn't enough, but it's a start.
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Old 08-27-10, 08:33 PM   #17
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Were you turning into a one lane street or was it a multiple lane?
One lane -- fairly wide, but still only one lane. We'd probably have been fine if she'd stayed further to the right, I suppose, though I'd still have been pissed. We'd also have been fine if she'd been moving out with authority -- then she'd have passed me early enough in the turn that I'd have had plenty of room. As it was, the median was looking more and more like my destination.

Quote:
Originally Posted by unterhausen
what went wrong is that you were passed by a person that really should not behind the wheel.
Honestly, this was where I was, and I'm still not convinced it isn't true.

Maybe, though, I need to get a serious blinkie even for daytime. But I'm not entirely sure it would have helped.
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