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Old 10-22-04, 04:35 PM   #1
DanO220
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Almost hit a fellow cyclist - sorry, it's a rant but I'd like to know what ya think

I was driving the same route I commute to work by bike yesterday when I came too close to hitting a fellow cyclist. Itís not that I nearly hit the guy, rather, we simply came closer to tagging one another than was ever necessary. If youíre in the L.A. area you might be familiar with San Fernando Rd. south bound through the Newhall pass - riding from Santa Clarita to the San Fernando Valley. If you arenít, this route involves a fairly strenuous two mile climb. It starts out as a nice wide 4 lane road that eventually narrows to a skinny 2 lanes at the summit.

So anyway, there I am driving in the right hand lane (on the nice, wide 4 lane section). I could be cruising at a faster clip, but visibility is lousy, the sun is just coming over the hills and in my face. Itís making it hard on anyone behind a windshield. Coming out from under the freeway I see a dark form in the lane. Could be a person... could be something else. In the end it wasnít THAT close. About fifty feet away I see itís a bike, wobbling up the incline in the lane, and steer clear.

So what was my cause for concern - and the reason for this thread? Well along this particular section of the road there is a really nice, 6 to 8 ft. wide, paved, perfectly smooth shoulder that I would kill to have all the way to work. I didnít stop to ask, but if I had, Iím fairly certain I would have gotten the olí ďI have every right to be here in the laneĒ speech. Well, you can sit up there in heaven, strumming your harp and singing about how you technically had the right of way, and were well within your legal rights to stand your ground and occupy your lane (instead of wisely maintaining maximum distance by utilizing what is basically a quasi bike lane) but youíll still be DEAD!

Like I said, I ride this same road, at the same time of day, so this isnít the raving of someone who doesnít understand the other side. As a cyclist, I believe I see bikes a lot sooner than most people I might carpol with. And I am so aware of the difficulty people have driving into the sun on this stretch, that I dress bright, turn on my rear blinkers and yes, even ride on the shoulder wherever possible in order to keep my distance from traffic passing at 50+ mph. This guy was doing none of that and he stands a pretty good chance of getting tagged. Itís not weak, itís wise. Itís not capitulation, itís self preservation. I just donít understand this fanatical ďI dare you to hit meĒ attitude. Are you really willing to Ďfall on your swordí when there is a perfectly reasonable alternative?

Of course there are times when we must assert our right of way, simply because there is no other place to ride but in the lane. As I get closer to the summit on the very same climb in question I have to do exactly that. But itís just silly and dangerous to Ďtake the laneí all the time, no matter what. Iím not suggesting that cyclists ride on dangerous road shoulders or duck behind every parked car only to come swerving back out into traffic a few yards on down the road. But I am suggesting we actually use our heads instead of adopting a radical in your face attitude. Most drivers simply see it as inconsiderate and rude - and often they are right. Just like some cyclist believe that all drivers should have to ride a bike in traffic in order to gain a different perspective, I think some cyclists could benefit from being stuck behind some misguided nitwit whoís holding up traffic for no good reason.

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Old 10-22-04, 05:19 PM   #2
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Old 10-22-04, 05:26 PM   #3
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Bad ass rant. I agree whole heartedly. If there is a viable alternative to the lanes, I use them. EXCEPT in this one part of town where if I did use that viable alternative I would get to the end of it and not be able to get back on the street. Or, I would get doored. So, I take the ENTIRE right lane.
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Old 10-22-04, 06:00 PM   #4
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I agree. I use the shoulder if it's there. Luckily on my ride, the roads that are heavily travelled have wide shoulders, the roads with no shoulders are very lightly travelled.

Yeah, I know I'm entitled to the lane, and I take it in 3 or 4 spots on my route when I know it's dangerous for people to be pulling around me, but I don't feel the need to be an ass unnecessarily.
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Old 10-22-04, 06:04 PM   #5
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If the shoulder is good, and not full of crud, he doesn't have a right to be in the lane, according to California law.
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Old 10-22-04, 06:32 PM   #6
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You used incredible restraint. Congratulations! He is lucky such generous drivers even with sun in the eyes decide not to kill him. Probably doesn't even appreciate what you did for him!
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Old 10-22-04, 07:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanO220
I was driving the same route I commute to work by bike yesterday when I came too close to hitting a fellow cyclist. Itís not that I nearly hit the guy, rather, we simply came closer to tagging one another than was ever necessary. If youíre in the L.A. area
<snip>

When was the last time you rode your bike on that road?

I live out in the 909 (Please withhold the snide, elitist 909 comments.), and like most of the rest of SoCal we got quite a bit of rain this week. Oftentimes that makes road conditions considerably less than favorable. Could it be that the normally clean shoulder was unrideable due to mud and debris from recent rains?

-Trevor
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Old 10-22-04, 10:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanO220
Most drivers simply see it as inconsiderate and rude - and often they are right. Just like some cyclist believe that all drivers should have to ride a bike in traffic in order to gain a different perspective, I think some cyclists could benefit from being stuck behind some misguided nitwit whoís holding up traffic for no good reason.
And how much time did you actually lose while overtaking this guy? 10 seconds? 15 seconds? Oh the tragedy of it all! How much time did the next red light cost you? If you're really worried about being held up, I think I know where you should be directing your fury. And as Trevor said above, passing a scene in a car rarely provides the same perspective as cycling through it does at that time.
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Old 10-25-04, 12:20 PM   #9
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I just got back into work today and I don't know if anyone even gives a rant... but just in case.

Trevor; I ride that road 2 or 3 times a week, and yes, even after bad weather. I'm intimately familiar with it and know the cyclist in question could have been much farther to the right. So did the guy on the recumbent trike who was riding the shoulder a few hundred yards farther up the road. (My original rant got so long I left him out of it.)

Chris; I never claimed that our wayward rider slowed ME down (though I did mention that motorists are delayed by cyclists sometimes towards the end of my rant). I only said that he placed himself in harm's way unnecessarily. And I wasn't angry, just concerned - concerned for the safety of an individual and concerned for our image as a whole. If I had been pedaling behind him I would have definitely encouraged him to reconsider his position in relation to motor vehicle traffic.

All the best. DanO

Last edited by DanO220; 10-25-04 at 02:23 PM.
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Old 10-25-04, 03:12 PM   #10
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The cyclist has to look out for himself. If you are riding into a low sun, you have to look in your mirror for cars coming up behind you. If you think they cant see you it is safer for you to be in the ditch than in their path.
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Old 10-25-04, 03:30 PM   #11
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If I read your post correctly... @50mph or traveling about 70' per second. If you saw the guy at 50' that's less than 1-2 seconds reaction time.

I agree with Dano...that's not enough reaction time (given several lanes of traffic). Sooner or later the guy will probably get hit.

Thanks for having the guts to face this crowd and maybe save a life.
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Old 10-25-04, 03:59 PM   #12
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And maybe the real problem is that many people are dumb enough to drive 50mph into a setting/rising sun when they can't see far enough ahead to avoid collisions.
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Old 10-25-04, 05:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
And how much time did you actually lose while overtaking this guy? 10 seconds? 15 seconds? Oh the tragedy of it all! How much time did the next red light cost you? If you're really worried about being held up, I think I know where you should be directing your fury. And as Trevor said above, passing a scene in a car rarely provides the same perspective as cycling through it does at that time.
I think you're missing the point. Why is the cyclist occupying a lane full of fast moving vehicles when there is a much safer and secure area for him to riding in. Just because we have the privilege/right doesn't mean we have to be stupid. Bravado is all good and well but max points are awarded for arriving alive.
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Old 10-26-04, 04:05 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanO220
Chris; I never claimed that our wayward rider slowed ME down (though I did mention that motorists are delayed by cyclists sometimes towards the end of my rant). I only said that he placed himself in harm's way unnecessarily. And I wasn't angry, just concerned - concerned for the safety of an individual
An individual, whom I presume, is a grown adult and quite able to make his own decisions. Fact of the matter is, there are many many situations where taking the lane is the safer option. He was the one riding out there, so he was the one who had to make an assessment of the conditions, and was the one best placed to do so.

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and concerned for our image as a whole.
What exactly does that have to do with it? Why does everyone perpetuate this "they give us all a bad name" everytime a cyclist does anything that upsets them? The fact is, people's perception of you or any other cyclists will always be coloured by their own prejudices, this is something that none of us have any control over.

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I think you're missing the point. Why is the cyclist occupying a lane full of fast moving vehicles when there is a much safer and secure area for him to riding in.
Is the area much safer? Just because someone painted a line across it doesn't necessarily make it so. As I said earlier, the cyclist in this case was the one best placed to make that assessment. If he assesses that the lane is the safest place to be, that's his decision. It's quite a valid assessment in the eyes of the law. In the end it's not "restraint" to prevent from running him over, it's just the same common courtesy that would be expected of us in any other aspect of life. Do you run up and flatten people in front of you in the supermarket queue just because they're smaller than you?
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Old 10-26-04, 05:24 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chris L
Do you run up and flatten people in front of you in the supermarket queue just because they're smaller than you?
What has that got to do with the price of Nixon's china? If you're dumb enough to put yourself in harms way then you've got nobody to blame but yourself.
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Old 10-26-04, 11:48 AM   #16
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I do have to say that I am encouraged by this thread. Frankly, I expected a lot more people would take the militant, fanatical stance that Chris, Ďevery lane is a bike laneí, so unflinchingly and steadfastly espouses. It is clear that he decided long ago which far side of the issue he stands on, and is willing to parse words ad nauseam in order to prop up his argument - regardless of the facts.

Fact is, as a commuter who is intimately familiar with the stretch of road in question, I am qualified to render a judgement as to the suitability of the shoulder in this case. Chris simply seems to refuse to accept this reality.

Fact is, I admitted this was a specific instance where our wobbly climber would be well advised to take advantage of the shoulder, even though he would indeed need to take the lane further on up the road. I am a staunch proponent of our right to use the roadways - even if my own survival instincts dictate that I personally mingle with motor vehicle traffic only when absolutely necessary.

Fact is, I accept that he is an autonomous adult, entitle to make his own decisions and chart his own course. I realize that he has every right to ride in whatever lane he chooses - just as he has every right to climb atop the bridge we had just passed under and jump off. I simply think it would be a shame if he were injured or killed unnecessarily.

Fact is, when a motorist does see a cyclist or group of cyclist up ahead, their initial response is often colored by past encounters. As much as we might like to think we judge everyone on their own merits, human nature often dictates otherwise.

As it stands, there are already too few of us in this car crazed culture. I am heartened that the reasonable and safety minded outnumber the militant and uncompromising.

DanO

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Old 10-26-04, 12:12 PM   #17
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An individual, whom I presume, is a grown adult and quite able to make his own decisions.
So, where do you stand on the use of cocaine and heroin? I think people should neither ride in a lane used by cars going 80kph when there's a clear shoulder, nor use cocaine. Unfortunately, a fair number of people make the dangerous choice in one case or the other.
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Old 10-27-04, 04:44 AM   #18
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So, where do you stand on the use of cocaine and heroin? I think people should neither ride in a lane used by cars going 80kph when there's a clear shoulder, nor use cocaine. Unfortunately, a fair number of people make the dangerous choice in one case or the other.
Depends. Do you espouse going up to every cocaine addict you see and lecturing them on the "dangers" of what they're doing?
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Old 10-27-04, 04:57 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by DanO220
I do have to say that I am encouraged by this thread. Frankly, I expected a lot more people would take the militant, fanatical stance that Chris, Ďevery lane is a bike laneí, so unflinchingly and steadfastly espouses. It is clear that he decided long ago which far side of the issue he stands on, and is willing to parse words ad nauseam in order to prop up his argument - regardless of the facts.

Fact is, as a commuter who is intimately familiar with the stretch of road in question, I am qualified to render a judgement as to the suitability of the shoulder in this case. Chris simply seems to refuse to accept this reality.
That's not what I said at all. What I said was, this cyclist is the one best placed to make a decision on which section of the roadway was the most suitable for riding at that time -- not someone who was driving past and had, at best, a distant, fleeting view of the shoulder. I'm assuming, from the fact that we haven't had another "cyclist killed" thread posted over in Advocacy and Safety from this incident, that the guy survived (contrary to the expectations of some). So perhaps his decision wasn't so wrong after all.

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Originally Posted by DanO220
Fact is, I accept that he is an autonomous adult, entitle to make his own decisions and chart his own course. I realize that he has every right to ride in whatever lane he chooses - just as he has every right to climb atop the bridge we had just passed under and jump off. I simply think it would be a shame if he were injured or killed unnecessarily.
We all face risks in every human activity we undertake. That is really beside the point here. The point is, it was his decision as to whether he perceived he would be "killed unnecessarily". Tell me, do you go around lecturing everyone else who undertakes an activity that you perceive as "dangerous"?


Quote:
Originally Posted by DanO220
Fact is, when a motorist does see a cyclist or group of cyclist up ahead, their initial response is often colored by past encounters. As much as we might like to think we judge everyone on their own merits, human nature often dictates otherwise.
This is, in fact, a slightly differently worded version of what I said before. However, regardless of the wording, it's something that none of us has any control over. I know cyclists like to think that "lecturing" anyone who does something that might "piss off" a driver somewhere is somehow going to make all the crap we get on the roads disappear. Fact it, it's not. I've long accepted the fact. For one thing, lecturing one cyclist is not going to make that much difference (even if you do influence their behaviour, which is, at best, highly unlikely). For another thing, it is not going to make irrational prejudices go away, which is usually the motivation for cyclist abusers.
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Old 10-27-04, 05:54 AM   #20
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[QUOTE=Chris L]That is really beside the point here. The point is, it was his decision as to whether he perceived he would be "killed unnecessarily".

That has to be the most ******** statement I have ever read. It's ok if he thinks it's ok? Never mind the fact that he's creating a hazard and endangering himself and others.
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Old 10-27-04, 07:00 AM   #21
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Tell me, do you go around lecturing everyone else who undertakes an activity that you perceive as "dangerous"?
The original poster (and myself) didn't go give the cyclist in question a lecture. We are merely arguing that he did something dangerous. Having public discussions about what's dangerous and what's not and giving examples of dangerous activity is not a bad thing.
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Old 10-27-04, 09:07 PM   #22
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[QUOTE=dobber]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
That is really beside the point here. The point is, it was his decision as to whether he perceived he would be "killed unnecessarily".

That has to be the most ******** statement I have ever read. It's ok if he thinks it's ok? Never mind the fact that he's creating a hazard and endangering himself and others.
No he isn't. As I've already related, what he did was perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the law, he has as much right to be there as anybody else (incidentally, I wonder what the law says about the speed the other vehicles were travelling, but that's another argument). Whether he was creating a hazard is entirely subjective. He evidently didn't think so, and what makes everyone else more qualified to judge? Those following only needed to show a moderate amount of care and concentration to avoid "running him over".

Which "others" did you have in mind? Occurrences of people being killed by bicycles are actually very rare. The same can't be said of those driving 1200kg steel boxes down the road, and I have to ask just who is creating the real hazard here? If we're talking in pure terms of saving lives, I know who I'd be removing from the road, and it wouldn't be the guy on the bicycle.

However, it's becoming increasingly apparent that this is not the case in this thread. It looks more to me like the usual self-righteous whinging that is becoming increasingly common around here. Hence I will conclude my involvement in this thread with the following:

If you think the roadway is too unsafe for cycling, nobody is forcing you to use it. However, in this case, none of you were in a position where that decision was yours to make. The decision as to whether the roadway or shoulder were safer at that moment for cycling belonged to the person riding that particular road at the time. Whether he's right or wrong I don't know, I wasn't riding it. Would I have done what he did? Perhaps not. However, I would have made that decision on the basis of what I saw before me at the time and place -- and not on the basis of what a passing motorist told me I "should" be doing.

In view of the above, I think some of you need to look at the real reasons that you were all getting so upset with this guy.

Now whine on boys and girls!
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Old 10-27-04, 10:28 PM   #23
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What the cyclist was doing wasn't perfectly acceptable in the eyes of California law. If there's 6-8 feet of shoulder, the cyclist should've been there, not in the lane. The only reason not to be there would have to do with a hazard which forces them to use the lane. Ie debris, parked car, etc. From the sounds of it, the shoulder (6-8 feet) was fine for a bike at that point in the road. Seeing how there was another bike on the shoulder further up. Yes, we have the rights of a car, however if we're not moving at the same speed as traffic, we have the right to be as far over to the right as practicable. Usually about a bikelanes width from the curb. Here's a CVC refresher...

Operation on Roadway
21202 (a) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway at a speed less than the normal speed of traffic moving in the same direction at that time shall ride as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway except under any of the following situations:
(1) When overtaking and passing another bicycle or vehicle proceeding in the same direction.
(2) When preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into a private road or driveway.
(3) When reasonably necessary to avoid conditions (including, but not limited to, fixed or moving objects, vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians, animals, surface hazards, or substandard width lanes) that make it unsafe to continue along the right hand curb or edge, subject to the provisions of Section 21656. For purposes of this section, a "substandard width lane" is a lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
(4) when approaching a place where a right turn is authorized.
(b) Any person operating a bicycle upon a roadway or a highway, which highway carries traffic in one direction only and has two or more marked traffic lanes, may ride as near the left-hand curb or edge of that roadway as practicable.



FWIW, 21202 is the one you quote to the Sherriff's deputy when they pull you over for not being in that bike lane that is next to parked cars. Been there, done that, didn't get the ticket. Remove the parked cars and I'll use the lane.
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Old 10-28-04, 07:55 AM   #24
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He evidently didn't think so, and what makes everyone else more qualified to judge
So once again, it's his decision alone to make? If he thinks it's ok, everything jake.

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Which "others" did you have in mind? Occurrences of people being killed by bicycles are actually very rare. The same can't be said of those driving 1200kg steel boxes down the road, and I have to ask just
It's called collateral damage. In an attempt to avoid our wobbly rider, the driver swerves. Swerving autos tend to strike others.

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like the usual self-righteous whinging that is becoming increasingly common
Hello Pot
This is Kettle
You're black
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Old 10-28-04, 10:36 AM   #25
DanO220
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Hello Pot
This is Kettle
You're black
That's excellent! Dobber's summed it up better than I ever could at this point.
I'm jumping off. Thanks everybody. DanO
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