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Old 01-18-05, 09:44 AM   #1
RainmanP
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Strange and spooky encounters this morning

This morning I did not ride either of my usual commuter geek-cycles with super bright and visible lights front and rear. I am lending one of my good road bikes to a racer who will be in town for a few days so I had to ride it in. In addition to my usual reflective vest I had a blinky on back and an LED light in front. Some incidents this morning convinced me that more and brighter lights are definitely preferable. Keep in mind that this is well before daylight, 5:30 AM.

All of this happened within just 100-200 meters except that the last bit was a couple of blocks further on. First, a car passed far too close for comfort. Then just a minute later a BUS passed too close for comfort. This RARELY happens when I have my big bright 54 LED truck brake light on. But it does happen so it's not too disturbing. It was the third incident that, while not as threatening, was spookier the more you think about it. Shortly after the bus passed a pickup passed quite safely in the middle lane (three lanes, I'm taking the right lane.), but he gave a little toot of the horn as he passed. Not an aggravated, more like a toot of recognition by someone who knows you.

A couple of blocks further on I see what I am sure is the same truck pulled over. As I approach he gives a couple of toots so now I'm thinking maybe it IS someone who knows me and pull over. To get out of traffic I go around to the passenger side and motion the guy to roll the window down because I can't hear him. He does not appear agitated or anything. So he gets the window down, and I see the beer in his hand (5:30 AM, remember?). He asks "Are you sure it's a good idea for you to be out here?" I tell him this is not my usual bike, that the other one has bright lights and is more visible. He proceeds to express concern that I am not very visible and he just wanted to tell me to be careful, that someone could hit me then be charged with manslaughter. I thank him for his concern and we depart friends. Now here's the spooky part, in case you haven't guessed - this guy was so completely smashed he was nearly incoherent! The only GOOD thing, for him, about being in a vehicle was that he probably couldn't stand or walk. Yet, he's DRIVING! I debated calling 911 to report him but figured he would be long gone before I could even make the call.
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Old 01-18-05, 09:50 AM   #2
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License Plate!!!
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Old 01-18-05, 09:53 AM   #3
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Try and get a tag number and call anyway. The kids would be at the bus stop soon and you don't want to be writing about what you wished you'd done. Speaking as a parent with kids at the bus stop.
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Old 01-18-05, 10:08 AM   #4
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That's what I was thinking. Wish I had now. I was still shaking my head in disbelief and only got the first few characters of the plate number. Damn!
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Old 01-18-05, 10:08 AM   #5
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I thought it was a crime in New Orleans to drive sober.
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Old 01-18-05, 10:14 AM   #6
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He's that smashed and he still saw you? And passed safetly? Sounds like a professional drunk to me.
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Old 01-24-05, 04:16 PM   #7
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He's that smashed and he still saw you? And passed safetly? Sounds like a professional drunk to me.
I had something very similar happen to me in Brooklyn. The driver swerved around me with more than an ample margin and then stopped at a light up ahead. as I passed, he said I should be careful in a pretty non-threatening way. I replied, "as long as drivers pay attention I will be fine." He said, "yeah, but I almost hit you because I am really wasted, and there are worse drivers around than me!" at this point, he was hanging half out the window, visibly intoxicated.

I sort-of laughed to myself, but got really terrified a few minutes after. It's hard to know how many close calls I have actually had.
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Old 01-24-05, 04:49 PM   #8
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It never occured to me that people would be out drunk driving at 5:30am. I pay particular attention if I happen to be riding or driving between about midnight and 3am.

OT: Hearing this reminded me of a story I heard of a man and his wife driving home. The wife questioned his sobriety, and to prove her wrong, he pulled up to a cop in a parking lot doing paperwork and requested a sobriety test. He blew over the legal limit and was charged with DUI.
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Old 01-24-05, 07:56 PM   #9
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Rainman,

The patron saint of cyclists is watching over you...
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Old 01-25-05, 02:18 AM   #10
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I'm glad you are safe. Doesen't sound like the driver was incoherent or smashed.

I'm suprised with all your clothing those cars passed so close.
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Old 01-25-05, 03:54 AM   #11
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Proof that people don't really pay that much attention to anything other than the car in front of them, and sometimes not even that! Drivers in my area seem to notice me pretty well, I guess because there aren't many cyclists out on the roads at 3am. They're most likely thinking to themselves "what on EARTH is that person doing out at this hour on a BICYCLE?!?!"
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