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  1. #1
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    Close call this morning

    Had a close call with some yahoo in a beat up old pickup truck this morning.

    It was on the busiest road of my commute two lanes each direction (3 in a few areas) plus a nice bike lane most of the time (Often green and very obvious). Traffic and lights usually keep car speed down so that biking is slightly slower to a big faster depending on traffic, and there are lots of bikes, particularly at commute times.

    The incident happened after a bike lane merge. After a particular intersection where there just became a third lane, the bike lane ends after the light and bikes merge (this is well marked). This third lan becomes a turn lane. 3/4 of the way down this short block a green bike lane starts between the turn lane and other two lanes. Lights are timed so that bikes almost always get stopped here and slower bikers catch up. Normally when the light changes, a couple cars pass the bikes in the intersection, then there is a gap that the bikes will merge into. It is a wide lane, so some bikes who are turning may stay to the right, but most merge over to the left where the new bike lane will be, letting turning traffic pass on the right.

    As normal today the light change, a couple cars when ahead. as I got to the lane I looked back and saw a big gap, signalled, checked again for space and nobody from the middle lane that might change lanes into me, and I looked good on both accounts. Still signaling I move into the lane, and then, signalling, the the left.

    As I get to the left and right before the bike lane starts I hear a engine rev and look and see this old pickup that was behind me nearly hit me from behind or side as he changes lanes to the middle lane and passes me. Not sure how close he was from behind, but when he passed on my side he was inches away at first. Of course this guy starts cursing me out.

    Luckily it was just a scare and nothing worse. I felt like I was being safe, and even another biker by me commented on it.

    Maybe this guy was in a rush, but that move didn't get him anywhere faster - I passed him at the next few lights, and it wasn't till right before I turned for my office that he finally really passed me for good.

  2. #2
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    Honestly, I read your post twice and I still don't exactly know what happened. Obviously it upset you. Hopefully writing about it will provide some catharsis. Now let it go. If you're doing it right it will happen again, and again. Just like it does when you drive. You do drive, don't you? I call it life among the heathen. Peace.

    H

  3. #3
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Get a mirror..It will help you much.

    Same with a Bright Tail Light.



    Last edited by 10 Wheels; 07-10-14 at 01:17 PM.
    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  4. #4
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    Yes, writing about it was slightly a vent to get it out. Yes I do drive, and know this happens and will happen again. I have calmed down mentally now, but still keep wondering if there was anything else I could do to avoid this in the future or if its just unavoidable. I have had some encounters before but this was the closest and the driver still seemed to act like he felt I was wrong for being there. I was doing what all the other bikers do there and what seems to be the legal and safe thing.

    I do have a bright red blinky, but didn't have it on this morning. I usually turn it on part way into my ride (after the bike path section) but forgot to today. Maybe this would have helped catch they drivers eye. I also didn't have my usual High viz on today as my those jerseys were dirty. I wonder if either of those things would make a difference with him noticing/avoid me better. I tend to my guess is he looked back to change lanes and didn't see me move over).

    A bike mirror is an interesting one. I wouldn't have been caught as off guard by this guy, and might have been able to move over a bit when he started approaching from behind had I had a mirror. I know there are a ton of threads about mirrors, but not sure what type of mirror would work best for me on a road bike with drop bars. I have seen some bar end ones but had questions as to how well they work. Maybe I should just try one, or maybe a helmet one, and see how it works.

    Suggestions on mirrors from anyone who rides a road bike?

  5. #5
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    One thing I learned riding in NYC traffic is a working meaning of the phrase "close only counts in Horseshoes". Biking here is almost a contact sport and we all ride/drive close. As a cyclist you simply get used to it. I don't consider anything a close call unless I hear the screech of a hard braking.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member gregjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    Suggestions on mirrors from anyone who rides a road bike?
    I'm still toying with mirrors. If I had a drop bar, I would be tempted to try one of those bar end types. But...I have a mirror about "drop bar end" height on a bike and the Wald folding basket (think pannier) gets in the way when loaded.

    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    "close only counts in Horseshoes"
    Horseshoes, hand grenades...............and dancing.
    Disclaimer: It's just an opinion that I have. It works for me. I am not the forum "Police (Of Anything)". Others may disagree. And....YMMV.
    Don't use up any brain cells thinking that I care, you don't like anything anyway.

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  7. #7
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    Suggestions on mirrors from anyone who rides a road bike?
    I can't stress enough how important a mirror is for riding in traffic. Your incident is a classic case of why a mirror his helpful; you would have had a better idea of what was behind you before the engine started revving, and could have pro-actively chosen the best course of action for the situation. As someone else said, you could have faded right a bit to give yourself more room; if that wasn't feasible another thing I've done is simply use the hand signal for slow/stop (and to catch extra attention, open and close fingers kind of like flashing. It's funny how even with an aggressive driver, signaling to indicate you realize they're back there will usually make them back off. The other thing is that once I've made enough room for them to pass safely I wave them around and they usually appreciate that you know you're there and you've given them the all clear to go around.

    As far as mirror recommendations go, I prefer a helmet mounted mirror.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  8. #8
    Galveston County Texas 10 Wheels's Avatar
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    Tried most of them, ended up with this one.

    They all take about Three Days to get use to them.

    MessengerMirror Cycling Mirror

    [SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    I don't consider anything a close call unless I hear the screech of a hard braking.
    I don't mind a close call when I am the approaching vehicle but when a motorist buzzes me it annoys me.
    On the one hand, I'm a bit of hypocrite but on the other, motorists have a terrible sense of space. (I do not mind close passes by bike bikes, scooters, or motorcycles.)
    Last edited by spare_wheel; 07-10-14 at 03:38 PM.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    I can't stress enough how important a mirror is for riding in traffic. Your incident is a classic case of why a mirror his helpful;
    The OP did multiple shoulder checks immediately prior to making the merge so a mirror would not have helped.
    This is why motorists hate us, and why I've given up riding on the road...You should be ashamed yourself, and you should be reviled by cyclists everywhere.

  11. #11
    johnliu@earthlink.net jyl's Avatar
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    Take-A-Look mirror. Mounts to glasses, with a little creativity and a zip tie you can mount it to the visor of your helmet (what I do). Nice glass mirror, adjusts easily, all metal, bends instead of breaking, pretty cheap.
    Robot Check

    I'm used to cars passing me closely, like 12-24 inches. 24 feels like plenty of room, 12 will get my attention but in 5 seconds I've forgotten about it. But that is when everyone seems under control - I'm riding in a straight line, the driver is driving in a straight line, the speed delta is 5-15 mph,often I've seen them coming in my mirror - we're smoothly co-existing in tight quarters. Your incident sounds quite a bit different.
    Your signature contains too many lines and must be shortened. You may only have up to 2 line(s). Long text may have been implicitly wrapped, causing it to be

  12. #12
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    Good Lord, you mirror fanatics are as bad as the Go-Pro zealots. Full disclosure, I use a mirror, I know what it can and cannot do, and it cannot warn you about some cager sneaking up to take you out from behind unless you look! And if you are doing it right, you won't be looking! Your eyes will be on the road where they belong. Or not... maybe that's why most cyclists are injured by collisions with fixed objects than by being struck by other road users... ... Ford spent millions on a laser system that would alert a driver if a vehicle coming up from behind got closer than 8 feet. Hmmm. Given the size and location of all the mirrors in high performance automobiles why do you think such a system was necessary?! Hmmmm? It never went into production btw, like so many of the bright ideas that come out of the brainstorming of engineers. If you aren't sure... stay in your lane? What a concept.

    But... ... lets say I don't know my @$$ from a Shetland Pony. Let's imagine that despite your attention being focused on the woman coming out of Starbuck's in a Vampirella costume, a mirror actually could override your temporary discombobulation and allow you to take efficient evasive action. Let's say that was actually possible. Do you think the best tool for that task would be a mirror 3/4" in diameter? I scoff in your general direction. Were I the o.p. looking for a new weapon in the war against terror, I would consider no less a piece of ordinance than the helmet mirror from Efficient Velo Tools. 2.75" of no nonsense rear view and it is the same distance from your eyeball as the dentists mirror is. Yeah baby! You might actually see something coming in that mirror that you weren't expecting, but I doubt that. Your ears will tell you more about what is or what isn't overtaking you than even the amazing "Safe Zone" mirror by EVT. A mirror is very useful for making attractive (to onlookers) lane changes and other maneuvers without having to twist like a pole dancer at the Jungle Room while doing it. Any other powers or attributes are (dangerous) artifacts of your febrile imagination. FWIW.

    H

  13. #13
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    ^ Agreed, but your ears don't work with electric cars. I've been surprised by a Prius more than once. Buses are bad too, since their engines are in the rear. The bus is next to me before I hear it.

  14. #14
    Team Water Andy_K's Avatar
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    If I've read the first post correctly, I've got an intersection just like this along what used to be my normal route. It looks like this:



    It used to have a bike lane on the right all the way to the turn, at which point bikes had to take to the sidewalk and use a traffic island to get across the intersection. When it was first re-painted as shown above I exchanged several e-mails with an engineer at the county who assured me the new configuration was the safest possible. His suggestion for how to safely navigate the disappearing-reappearing bike lane was exactly as described in the first post. I've ridden through there a good number of times since, and I think it's generally safer than it looks, but my ultimate solution has been to find a different route to avoid this completely.

    Maybe I'm jaded, but it sounds to me like the close pass in the OP's case was intentional. A lot of drivers seem to take a no-harm-no-foul approach to driving and when provoked they will intentionally buzz a rider, thinking (incorrectly!) that a close call sends a message without doing any real violence to the cyclist.

    As for how this can be avoided, minimizing your invisibility is never a bad thing. If my suspicion about the drivers' intent is correct, you still might be able to reduce the chances of this happening by trying to look shaky -- maybe wobble or weave a little as if you don't have complete control of the bike. If a driver isn't confident that you are going to hold your line, he's less likely to buzz you intentionally. Otherwise, long hair helps a little (if you're that committed). Someone here recently suggested riding around with a baby carrier behind your seat, which is a devilishly clever idea.

  15. #15
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
    The OP did multiple shoulder checks immediately prior to making the merge so a mirror would not have helped.
    You'd be surprised.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
    I can't stress enough how important a mirror is for riding in traffic. Your incident is a classic case of why a mirror his helpful; you would have had a better idea of what was behind you before the engine started revving, and could have pro-actively chosen the best course of action for the situation. As someone else said, you could have faded right a bit to give yourself more room; if that wasn't feasible another thing I've done is simply use the hand signal for slow/stop (and to catch extra attention, open and close fingers kind of like flashing. It's funny how even with an aggressive driver, signaling to indicate you realize they're back there will usually make them back off. The other thing is that once I've made enough room for them to pass safely I wave them around and they usually appreciate that you know you're there and you've given them the all clear to go around.

    As far as mirror recommendations go, I prefer a helmet mounted mirror.
    I was hand signaling, and for a long time. I do tend to try to let drives pass when safe. In this case the driver was changing lanes and not paying attention to me on the bike in front of him in the process. I think a mirror would have alerted me to this situation sooner (I would have seen the quickly approaching pickup before I heard it) however it wouldn't have changed much besides maybe giving me a few seconds to potentially move back right further from him.

    This may have convinced me to try a mirror though, something I have never really seen the need for before. My only fear with a mirror is I will then be to focused on the mirror more than the road ahead

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
    The OP did multiple shoulder checks immediately prior to making the merge so a mirror would not have helped.
    Yes, I did multiple shoulder checks, so the mirror wouldn't have helped with me moving in the lane. I was already in the lane and even far left in the lane at this point to enter the about to start bike lane between the turn lane and lanes that went straight. The only thing a mirror would have done was let me know sooner that I had a fast paced lane changing truck coming up my rear, maybe giving me some time to move out of its path, but maybe not.

    Generally I don't think i need a mirror to change lanes, I feel much safer with shoulder checks. A mirror would let me know if something is approaching me quickly from behind that I didn't know about when NOT changing lanes and therefor not doing a shoulder check.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Andy_K View Post
    If I've read the first post correctly, I've got an intersection just like this along what used to be my normal route. It looks like this:



    It used to have a bike lane on the right all the way to the turn, at which point bikes had to take to the sidewalk and use a traffic island to get across the intersection. When it was first re-painted as shown above I exchanged several e-mails with an engineer at the county who assured me the new configuration was the safest possible. His suggestion for how to safely navigate the disappearing-reappearing bike lane was exactly as described in the first post. I've ridden through there a good number of times since, and I think it's generally safer than it looks, but my ultimate solution has been to find a different route to avoid this completely.

    Maybe I'm jaded, but it sounds to me like the close pass in the OP's case was intentional. A lot of drivers seem to take a no-harm-no-foul approach to driving and when provoked they will intentionally buzz a rider, thinking (incorrectly!) that a close call sends a message without doing any real violence to the cyclist.

    As for how this can be avoided, minimizing your invisibility is never a bad thing. If my suspicion about the drivers' intent is correct, you still might be able to reduce the chances of this happening by trying to look shaky -- maybe wobble or weave a little as if you don't have complete control of the bike. If a driver isn't confident that you are going to hold your line, he's less likely to buzz you intentionally. Otherwise, long hair helps a little (if you're that committed). Someone here recently suggested riding around with a baby carrier behind your seat, which is a devilishly clever idea.

    Yes, very similar, except that the bike lane actually ends before crossing the first intersection and you are merged into a single lane with cars a bit longer before the bike lane starts again on the left. Our bike lane here is also bright green and there is a bike merge sign, but I guess many drivers don't pay attention to signs anyway.

    It is supposed to be safe as it avoids right hooks (a TON of cars and buses make this right turn as its a major road into downtown). Most of the time it seems very safe, except for the occasional driver trying to enter the turn lane late or illegally turn from the middle lane (both have happened to me but in front of me so I could stop/slow down. This was the first time I had a problem with someone from behind like this.

    I suspect driver didn't realize I was going to keep going to the left where there was a bike lane about to start, and then looked back to check for cars to change lanes himself.

    I like the baby carrier idea, but not sure its worth the weight when i climb

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
    One thing I learned riding in NYC traffic is a working meaning of the phrase "close only counts in Horseshoes". Biking here is almost a contact sport and we all ride/drive close. As a cyclist you simply get used to it. I don't consider anything a close call unless I hear the screech of a hard braking.
    so true. NYC riding gets you very comfortable with proximity to motor vehicles. Happily, there are more and more protected bike lanes. Hope the trend continues.

    I just ordered a mirror to help me survive. One of these:
    Last edited by peskypesky; 07-10-14 at 08:19 PM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Null66's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 10 wheels View Post
    get a mirror..it will help you much.

    Same with a bright tail light.



    x2!

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    Quote Originally Posted by peskypesky View Post
    so true. NYC riding gets you very comfortable with proximity to motor vehicles. Happily, there are more and more protected bike lanes. Hope the trend continues.

    I just ordered a mirror to help me survive. One of these:
    Wow...ok, now, that looks like it's actually a mirror!

    Wonder if it works as well on a bike? Looks like the demo video is on a standing elliptical bike.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by PaulRivers View Post
    Wow...ok, now, that looks like it's actually a mirror!

    Wonder if it works as well on a bike? Looks like the demo video is on a standing elliptical bike.


  23. #23
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    Had a close call with some yahoo in a beat up old pickup truck this morning.............
    ..........Luckily it was just a scare and nothing worse.
    Traffic can be a scary place. I'd spend some time in retrospection to better understand why this event, at this time, caused a scare significant enough.... that it came home with you. I think most of us that bicycle in traffic [as well as those that drive in traffic] regularly have close calls. Just my guess.... but I'd say most such "scares" are discarded... with the next exhale.

    Mirrors are good things. I ride with a mirror. I also ride with the knowledge that cycling most certainly does and will attract ouchies.

  24. #24
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spare_wheel View Post
    The OP did multiple shoulder checks immediately prior to making the merge so a mirror would not have helped.
    While one may not agree with the utility of a mirror, it's always disheartening to me to read of active discouragement of the practice, in this case based on one incident. IMO shoulder checks also have their drawbacks, such as limited rotation of the head and torso, distraction of forward vision, possible deviation of the handlebars as one twists; whereas a mirror does allow easy and frequent rearward monitoring to anticipate problems.

    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    … The only thing a mirror would have done was let me know sooner that I had a fast paced lane changing truck coming up my rear, maybe giving me some time to move out of its path, but maybe not….

    A mirror would let me know if something is approaching me quickly from behind that I didn't know about when NOT changing lanes and therefor not doing a shoulder check.

    Quote Originally Posted by mstraus View Post
    … I think a mirror would have alerted me to this situation sooner (I would have seen the quickly approaching pickup before I heard it) however it wouldn't have changed much besides maybe giving me a few seconds to potentially move back right further from him.
    Maybe is better than not at all.

    I wear two rearview mirrors, right and left, Take-a-Look eyeglass mounted mirrors.
    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 07-11-14 at 04:49 AM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member ill.clyde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leisesturm View Post
    Good Lord, you mirror fanatics are as bad as the Go-Pro zealots. Full disclosure, I use a mirror, I know what it can and cannot do, and it cannot warn you about some cager sneaking up to take you out from behind unless you look! And if you are doing it right, you won't be looking! Your eyes will be on the road where they belong. Or not... maybe that's why most cyclists are injured by collisions with fixed objects than by being struck by other road users... ... Ford spent millions on a laser system that would alert a driver if a vehicle coming up from behind got closer than 8 feet. Hmmm. Given the size and location of all the mirrors in high performance automobiles why do you think such a system was necessary?! Hmmmm? It never went into production btw, like so many of the bright ideas that come out of the brainstorming of engineers. If you aren't sure... stay in your lane? What a concept.

    But... ... lets say I don't know my @$$ from a Shetland Pony. Let's imagine that despite your attention being focused on the woman coming out of Starbuck's in a Vampirella costume, a mirror actually could override your temporary discombobulation and allow you to take efficient evasive action. Let's say that was actually possible. Do you think the best tool for that task would be a mirror 3/4" in diameter? I scoff in your general direction. Were I the o.p. looking for a new weapon in the war against terror, I would consider no less a piece of ordinance than the helmet mirror from Efficient Velo Tools. 2.75" of no nonsense rear view and it is the same distance from your eyeball as the dentists mirror is. Yeah baby! You might actually see something coming in that mirror that you weren't expecting, but I doubt that. Your ears will tell you more about what is or what isn't overtaking you than even the amazing "Safe Zone" mirror by EVT. A mirror is very useful for making attractive (to onlookers) lane changes and other maneuvers without having to twist like a pole dancer at the Jungle Room while doing it. Any other powers or attributes are (dangerous) artifacts of your febrile imagination. FWIW.

    H
    Can't believe this, but I agree.

    While mirrors have their place, they're not a panacea. I've toyed with the idea, heck I even bought one to attach to my helmet, but I've never installed it.

    For me, I don't mind looking back over my shoulder (and mercifully I'm still flexible enough to do it). I also believe that if I monitored a mirror everytime someone passed me I'd be mortified, especially since a lot of my riding is in an urban setting. I also worry that watching a mirror might make me drift to the left, into the car(s) that are about to pass me. I'd rather rely on my ears and trust drivers.

    And lastly ... I sort of believe if it's your time to go, it's your time (or even to just get injured) and there's a part of me that doesn't want to know. Morbid, I know.

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