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Old 06-12-06, 04:17 AM   #1
Carusoswi
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"Encounter" with a dump truck

Over the weekend, I did 140 miles between Saturday and Sunday - 35 mph winds on Saturday, something slightly less according to the weather reports on Sunday, but plenty of wind both days, and, somehow, it seems I always catch it head on.

Anyhow, most of my miles were pleasant. However, at one point, the road took me under a two lane overpass (road passes under, train tracks pass over). Although this is a busy thoroughfare recently repaved, the shoulder through this underpass is an obvious gathering spot for all the rocks and gravel washed there by rainwater. The entire shoulder looks like a rock garden. So, I had to move slightly left of the painted right side line.

There is plenty of traffic on this road in both directions, and cars passing me are slowing to navigate by without incident. Just as I am in the middle of this underpass (it is also uphill in my direction so I'm moving slowly - probably 6mph), a dump truck passes me (one of those big jobs with three double axles in the rear). Just as he pulls abreast of me, I hear a loud crack. Turns out, another large dump truck was coming through in the opposite direction and the two vehicles smacked their mirrors together (or at least the guy passing me smacked his mirror on some part of the other truck).

As he clears, I see broken glass and what's left of a black retaining frame twirling around on the pavement as it came to rest to join the rest of the junk under that bridge.

The driver continues about half way up the hill (this incline is probably about half a mile long) and pulls over. I'm guessing that maybe he's checking to see if the other truck stopped or whatever. Then he continues on and I'm guessing I've seen the last of him.

As I reach the top of the hill, there is a convenience store on the right hand side of the road - there sits this dump truck. As I pass, the driver jumps out, comes in my direction screaming at me that I made him break his @#$@#$% mirror. He's threatening to call the cops. "That's a good idea," I added.

This, of course, only further enrages him. By now, I'm starting to get a little worked up myself. I ask him if he'd like to go back down to the bridge and have a look at the condition of the shoulder - nah, he says I don't belong on the road. "So, what should I do - just not be on the road because you are coming through?" I asked.

He claims I should have dismounted and walked my bike through the underpass. "Right - so, on foot, instead of trying to pass me, you would have used your brakes and waited for me to walk through - sure."

He starts to raise his fist to come at me at which point I'd had enough, so I pedaled away from him. He followed in his truck to the next light - gave me a long blast oh the horn, then, thankfully, turned right as I went straight - end of encounter.

Took me a couple of miles before my blood pressure returned to normal.

I'm sure if he hadn't broken his mirror, he would have passed me without incident.

I certainly don't feel I did anything wrong. This isn't an area where I would have wanted to move further into my lane to prevent anyone from passing me. Traffic moves at around 45 mph and due to the fact that it is uphill at that point, I cannot move quickly through there - and there is also no way I could have predicted that two trucks would happen to pass under the bridge at the time I was passing through, either.

I regret that I took the time to interact with this guy - it would probably have been better if I just kept on going without saying a word - I was just so totally shocked that he would take the time to wait until I climbed that hill just to blow off steam at me - and, while I shouldn't be, I was certainly shocked that he is convinced that I either don't belong on the road, or that I should have walked my bike through that area.

Anyhow, over the balance of the 140 miles, there were no other incidents and it turned out to be a great weekend.

Caruso

Last edited by Carusoswi; 06-12-06 at 04:22 AM.
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Old 06-12-06, 04:27 AM   #2
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Based on your last couple of posts, I think you need to find some better places to ride.
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Old 06-12-06, 04:30 AM   #3
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Good story well told. There's a lot of road rage out there, and you've really got to be careful when interacting with angry people. .

Reminds me of a time I was in a car and the guy in front of me was stopped at a light--even though he had a green arrow. I tapped my horn ever so lightly. He didn't move. I tapped it again. He got out of his car, walked up to me and screamed, "If you do that one more time I'll blow your f**kin' brains out." I think he meant it.
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Old 06-12-06, 04:46 AM   #4
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1. Commend you on your patience.

2. Did you get his company's name?
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Old 06-12-06, 08:22 AM   #5
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Based on your last couple of posts, I think you need to find some better places to ride.
+1 Wow, quite a string of upsetting events. Hope your rides get less risky.
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Old 06-12-06, 08:38 AM   #6
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I'm really sorry to hear of your latest encounter.

We have a lot of construction along with gravel pits and asphalt plants in the immediate area where I live. As the result we have a LOT of dump trucks. I have replaced countless numbers of windshields on my personal vehicles from debris coming from these rolling trash piles.

With my apologizes to any drivers reading this, I've come to deplore the drivers of these trucks. Generally they disregard DOT laws regarding the condition of their trucks. They're very inconsistent about using the covers over the beds of the truck when hauling material. The mud flaps are usually worn out to the point of not doing any good. They are also extremely unforgiving when giving room to others using the road. In general they do not move over as much as other vehicles and I don't think I've ever seen one begin to slow down when going around another vehicle including cyclists. They must feel completely invincible in that rolling tank of a vehicle.

They're the vehicle I am most concerned about while riding. Like cars, bicycles and other vehicles they have every right to use the road. I just wish they would share it with others.........
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Old 06-12-06, 10:14 AM   #7
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“Based on your last couple of posts, I think you need to find some better places to ride.”

The road on which I encountered the dump truck is a designated bike route. The way is marked with those little green signs with a symbol of a bike and an arrow showing the direction to go in order to follow the route, and there are numerous signs showing a bike rider and a car with the caption “Share the Road.”

I am convinced that this incident and the one last week are isolated events that just happened to occur in a short span of time.

I’ve passed under that overpass 20 or so times and never had a problem before. I do wish they would clean up the shoulder. The pavement is in good shape – it’s just totally covered in rocks, gravel, and debris to negotiate on a bike or on foot.

The incident involving the brush with the car is, I’m convinced, the result of impaired driving. While that route is no designated bike route, it is a semi-suburban rural road. The lanes are wide, the shoulders ample, the pavement smooth. Both roadways are in scenic Bucks County – and both would seem to be far safer than the roads that run along the Delaware River (on both the NJ and PA sides – those roads are heavily traveled by autos and bikes alike). For me to eliminate the two subject roads and others of similar condition would be to give up road cycling all together. Even though a brush with a car was frightening and this dump truck incident infuriating, I think I’ll continue riding both roads and similar roads for the foreseeable future.

Only one really rude driver in 140 miles isn’t too bad, I don’t think.

Caruso
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Old 06-12-06, 10:36 AM   #8
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"The road on which I encountered the dump truck is a designated bike route. The way is marked with those little green signs with a symbol of a bike and an arrow showing the direction to go in order to follow the route, and there are numerous signs showing a bike rider and a car with the caption “Share the Road.”

Wow! That really annoys me. I can't tell you the number of places I see these signs and think, "What are they crazy? This is one of the most unsafe routes in the area." I strongly suspect that the people who determine where these signs go, don't ride these routes.

Given you're in PA, I wonder if that portion of the road is "sponsored" by anyone. As you know, Carusoswi, these sections of road are to be kept clean by the organization/group.etc. that sponsors them. If it is sponsored, it may be worth a friendly call to the sponsor to let them know of the danger created by the debris.
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Old 06-12-06, 10:58 AM   #9
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I'm a truck driver. No, you did nothing wrong. I encounter cyclists all the time in narrow spots. Drivers just have to watch for them. Maybe because I cycle I'm more aware. Alot of cyclists are pretty stupid. I agree that dump drivers as a group, tend to be more hell-bent than most. Often, they are under production pressures that can lead to a habit of recklessness, i.e., no sweep before departing. No excuses.

The fact that he kissed the other guy's mirror indicates that he was trying to avoid killing you, though. He just blamed you for it. The oncoming truck driver undoubtably was not concerned with you, he was hoping and praying there would be room enough to pass without touching. OOPS! KaKa Passa.

It ain't easy driving one of those things. You get crapped on by everyone and road rage is not linited to dump drivers. I've seen suburban housewives become spluttering, screaming, purple-faced monsters. Cyclists, too. I would recommend to all cyclists to check behind them when approaching a choke point. Be aware and use good judgement. Know the difference between your rights and your survival. We can't control other drivers, only ourselves.

Practice Defensive Riding. A good defensive rider is a strategist. Know where you can be assertive and where you can't win. Know your choke points ahead of time if it's a regular route. Be aware that they come in both directions.

Glad you made it.
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Old 06-12-06, 11:06 AM   #10
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This is a tough one. On one hand one doesn't want to cause any more problems with their health--either blood pressure or physical--as in getting run over or beat up. On the other hand, this type of behavior is dangerous, against the law, and could possibly get worse if left unchecked.

I personally feel that a phone call to the employer of the driver is called for. While it was commendable that he tried to make room for you (I'd let them know this--shoot, commend the guy for this), the threating behavior is uncalled for, and ultimately the employer is going to be held responsible for any actions of their driver. Let them know that this time you don't want to make a big issue out of it, but that next time you will call the cops and you will file a complaint. Several things happen when you do this; one, it put them on notice that they have problems with one of their drivers that could be more of problem later if left unchecked, and two, it puts that driver on notice that he's being watched. If anything ever happens again...anything.. you got it backed up that this is an ongoing issue--or possibly even retaliation.

Another possibility is that the driver might simply need a refresher on road laws and what better place for it to come from than his employer? He certainly doesn't want it from the cops. This is a nice, friendly way of saying that this was a rather unfortunate incident, but next time that truck comes within 500 yards of you, you'll charge the driver and company with assault, you'll fill a report with the dmv and DOT and go after his license--and theirs, since they aren't on top of their drivers and their loads (uncovered), and you'll go after the contractor that should keep the area clean. You know, nice doggie--now you wanna' see my big stick?

I abhor confrontation--I certainly don't need it. But I don't need to get hurt or worse because some jerk thinks that he owns the road. In all fairness to the driver, he tried to move over, he just broke a $500 power mirror that's going to come out of his paycheck, he's going to have to explain it to his employer, he could get reprimanded or even fired if he's had other incidents--so he may have been having a really bad day. I feel bad for him, I have friends who drive trucks. But the threatening actions pushed a bad situation to a whole 'nother level.

my opinion
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Old 06-12-06, 12:31 PM   #11
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I am sorry you had such an unpleasant encounter. The truck driver, in keeping distance away from you, misdjudged and got his mirror smashed. Because he took the evasive maneuver and got his mirror smashed for it, he took it out on you. After all, he wouldn't have had to maneuver if you weren't there. This, I think is the logical thought pattern he had and is typical for people who tend to project whatever they do wrong to outside forces beyond their control.

I particularly like what jcm had to say. I practise defensive riding as a matter of course. Accidents I've actually seen happen were almost exclusively caused by a judgement error by someone. I am not saying all accidents are like that, it's just that I've never seen an accident that occurred due to circumstances beyond anyone's control.

You did nothing wrong, in fact, you followed the law in the riding safely by avoiding the road hazards. The truck driver had a lapse of good judgement, in my opinion. Maybe the other driver had some culpability, too, but that is the way lawyers think and I'm no lawyer.

May you always have good luck on the road.
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Old 06-12-06, 12:48 PM   #12
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Gem/Old:
Good posts. I tend to agree with everything said. The guy didn't honk me or act rudely as he tried to pass - and, perhaps, if I had not tried to make room, he wouldn't even have passed. The section of the road that passes under this over/underpass can be a really tough spot for cars and bikes to "interact." It's on a slope, so, if you are proceeding in the uphill direction on a bike, you are going to lose speed. It's lengthy enough that you aren't going to zip through there, and it is on a curve and the speed limit is 45 mph - so there really is no way for anyone (car or bike) to predict or plan on what they will/will not encounter.

I know some truck drivers - and I know how seriously they take keeping their driving record clean - not just from traffic violations, but also from damage to their vehicle - so, I can imagine that the guy was pretty upset over having broken his mirror.

Even though I feel I was in the "right", there was no pleasure to be had from this interaction with that driver. Given how strongly he came on, there is no way I was going to hang around until I could get my phone out of my bag, ride around to the back of his vehicle, get his license, and call the cops.

I knew there was no way he could catch me on foot, and I certainly didn't feel as though there was any danger of him actually trying to run me over in his truck - so, I just moved on - and, while I'm sure this further frustrated him for a moment, in the end, he moved on, also.

On any other day, this guy is probably a good guy. He just blew his stack in this circumstance.
In his defense, there is no way he could have seen the other truck coming. On the other hand, I guess he should never have pulled so close to center in a blind situation. In the end, we just have to accept that this was an accident - minor to be sure.

I won't be bragging about my end of our little "conversation" anytime soon - often in these types of situations, I find myself second guessing how I might better have handled my end of the exchange. In this instance, I told the guy to try his brakes next time - probably not the best response - but then, I'm no less human than he.

Next time through there, I'll check those signs to see if the road is being sponsored by any company or group.

Caruso
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Old 06-12-06, 02:07 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcm
Practice Defensive Riding. A good defensive rider is a strategist. Know where you can be assertive and where you can't win. Know your choke points ahead of time if it's a regular route. Be aware that they come in both directions.

Glad you made it.
Bravo!
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Old 06-12-06, 02:09 PM   #14
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I work in the truck trade and I think we have a different ethics code over here with truck drivers. Doesn't matter what they do, They are always in the wrong. Most drivers work for someone else- and as such- they are responsible for their truck. If they are owner drivers- then they pay the bills. Any damage and they have to get it repaired ASAP, as the police are on the lookout for dented trucks- broken mirrors or any thing else they do not like the look of. If they pull you over- they will find something wrong, even if it is only a dirty no. plate or broken bulb in one of the 14 lights on the things.
Vehicles in a workshop do not earn any money, so Trucks, and truck drivers do not act silly. If they do- a quick phone call to the company and the driver is in trouble. Company owners do not like their name to be used in a derogatory manner. Even My company has delivery vans and Although we will listen to our drivers version of events- We have sacked drivers for abusing other road users. A quick phone call to the company concerned and in the UK it will bring instant gratification- Even if the driver was not in the wrong.
Now as to the idiots on their bikes blocking the highways in a stupid places? There are two sides to a story- But in an argument- bike versus Truck- who comes of worse. In the Uk it will probably be the Truck driver so it does not happen.

Truck drivers are the best drivers in the UK. Except for the one that is out to get you.
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