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Old 09-29-03, 06:49 AM   #1
djs_tx
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Almost hit a fellow cyclist in my car this weekend

First there was the adrenaline dump and then there was the nausea. It was pretty scary, glad nothing bad actually happened.

9pm on Holcombe Road in Houston near the intersection with Fannin. (Medical Center area for those familiar with Houston). I had picked up my wife from work late Friday because the busses had stopped already. She had not had dinner so we were headed to Wendy's.

Noticed a pair of bicyclists on mountain bikes riding on the sidewalks parallel (westbound) on Holcombe. First rider was male, second was female. Both were on mountain bikes and wearing no helmet. Both were wearing what appeared to be fairly heavy backpacks.

When we turned from Fannin onto Holcombe is when I first noticed them, they were ahead of us and traveling down the sidewalks while we were stuck at a light. I commented to my wife that even on a busy street like this, they would probably be safer riding on the edge of the road rather than the sidewalks. I had no idea how prophetic those words would be.

So our light changed and I was in the right most lane, slowly gaining on the two bicyclists. Just as I was about to pass them the female rider is crossing a side street and swerves out completely accross my lane. I lock up the tires and skid to a halt a few feet from her tire. She give me an embarrassed smile and I try to look sympathetic but to tell you the truth I was terrified.

What I think happened (pure supposition) is that the little ramps on the sidewalk went from being parallel with her direction of travel to being perpendicular so she had to swerve to avoid going straight into a curb at speed. When she swerved, I think the heavy back pack threw her off balance (she almost dropped her bike in front of me).

Glad I was paying close attention. Glad my car has decent brakes. Glad I didn't have to clean someone's blood off my car.

David
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Old 09-29-03, 07:32 AM   #2
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glad to hear everything is ok, it's pretty scary even if it wasnt your fault.
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Old 09-29-03, 08:09 AM   #3
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Yikes!

I almost walked right into the path of a cyclist on the street while I was out with my mom shopping on Saturday. The cyclist was doing everything right, and I was just dumb- getting out of the car and crossing in the middle of the street where cyclists are common. I was seconds from getting run down. I sheepishly apologized like 3 times in the 5 seconds, and the guy was pretty nice about it.

We all can get into close calls with a cyclist, I guess. I was more embarrased in front of my mom after telling her how careful I was about cycling, then minutes later, almost doing a disservice to a fellow cyclist!

Glad to hear everyone was ok in your situation, David!

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Old 09-29-03, 10:12 AM   #4
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Glad everyone was ok. Good thing you were paying attention.

I live a couple miles from there. Probably a medical school student - lots of them commute on bike. Sure would be nice to see the city put some effort into safe bike lanes in the area since so many med students commute...
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Old 09-29-03, 10:35 AM   #5
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Kudos to you for being so alert! You may have saved that girl's life by being aware of the situation.
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Old 09-29-03, 12:27 PM   #6
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djs_tx, you done good man, you done good. good Karma on you.

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Old 09-29-03, 02:39 PM   #7
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Originally posted by Koffee Brown
Yikes!

I almost walked right into the path of a cyclist on the street while I was out with my mom shopping on Saturday. The cyclist was doing everything right, and I was just dumb- getting out of the car and crossing in the middle of the street where cyclists are common. I was seconds from getting run down. I sheepishly apologized like 3 times in the 5 seconds, and the guy was pretty nice about it.

You definitely aren't alone on this one. I actually have had more close calls as a cyclist with pedestrians than I've had with vehicles. Just last week I was on the local bike trail and went to pass a jogger when she just did a U-turn without a look behind her. The scary thing was that I only had one hand on the handlebars (not on the drops, so that one wasn't even on the brakes either) becuase I was reaching up to scratch my face. I was just about to say "on your left", when she did the U-turn. Instead of "On your left", it came out as a garbled "oh, s**t!!!", as I frantically reached for the brakes.

While we were both frightened out of our wits, she quickly recovered and gave me attitude by yelling back at me "on YOUR left". So I yelled back, "Might want to look before making a turn like that from now on".

Part of the problem was that I didn't want to say "On your left" too early or she wouldn't have heard it and I dislike yelling it really loud because half the time you scare them by yelling it too loud and they instinctively turn to look back at you and end up stepping into you almost. The other problem is that my bike is really quiet when I'm pedalling and I don't think everyone hears me coming so they don't think to look when they do those U-turns in the middle of the path.

I think this makes like 4 times now that a walker/jogger has done a U-turn right in front of me. I've started saying "on your left" a bit earlier, but I always wonder if they've heard me or not. I usually say it about 3 to 5 bike lengths behind them. What do others do? I've had some bikers wait to say it til they are almost even with me. At that point I figure "what is the use?". I've already seen you by then, why tell me you are passing.

Sorry this is a bit of a hijack.
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Old 09-29-03, 06:21 PM   #8
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I'll ride along with that hijack!

I'm in NYC, and I DEFINITELY have more trouble with pedestrians than with vehicles. There are two types I see nearly hit every single day: the fellows who think the bike lane exists only to give them a place from which to hail taxis (and step out into it without even glancing at traffic), and the tourists who think the bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge is the best place to get their photos taken - and who also almost never look for traffic before stepping out (or, in one case last week, suddenly lying down across the whole lane in order to take a funny-perspective photo of a friend!)

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Old 09-30-03, 07:13 AM   #9
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Originally posted by djs_tx
Glad my car has decent brakes.
well if you lock up the wheels like that, it doesn't matter how good your brakes are...
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Old 09-30-03, 07:53 AM   #10
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True but being able to lock them up quickly helps. I know you can stop more quickly if you don't lock up your brakes but panic overrode the reaction.

David
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Old 09-30-03, 08:53 AM   #11
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P.B.-

W&OD? That seems to happen a lot out there. There is so much traffic, both pedestrian and bike, that it is bound to happen sooner or later. I am with you as far as "on your left." I always say it, but half the time it startles the person and they turn to look, falling off their line.

It's kind of a no-win. Just a lot of traffic.
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Old 09-30-03, 10:29 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by P. B. Walker


While we were both frightened out of our wits, she quickly recovered and gave me attitude by yelling back at me "on YOUR left". So I yelled back, "Might want to look before making a turn like that from now on".
If your riding on bike paths you need to have a bell.

A quick "bling bling" would have alerted her someone was coming.

Matter of fact Bells are required in Germany for that reason. (I'm a hypocryte(sp?) cause I don't have one either) But I try to stay off "bike" paths.
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Old 09-30-03, 10:44 AM   #13
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Another vote for a bell here and I'm not a hypocrit. Put bells on my kids bike, and one on my own. It's amazing how confused some people get when you say "on your left". I found myself often saying "NO your other left" even to adults. The younger kids have no concept of their left from their right, tried "Passing" that wasn't much better. Bells do the trick, ring them back away's and folks know your coming, a ring closer lets them know where you are. We've noticed a lot of folks saying thank you and waving since we have installed the bells and see that as an asset too. And IMO it seems to be far less startling for the folks we pass and a little more universal in that a bell typically means a bicycle!
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Old 09-30-03, 06:17 PM   #14
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Ohio Trekker, I agree whole-heartedly. I don't know how many times I want to yell, your other left! And I ride with my wife and usually lead, many times I yell on your left and just as I'm passing they step back left almost into my bike and the wife has to take evasive action. I always yell two on the left now.
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Old 10-01-03, 09:39 AM   #15
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The first time I was on a city bike path, another cyclist came up behind me (I saw her in my helmet mirror) and said "on your right" as she proceeded to pass me on my left. She was gone before I could explain it to her.
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Old 10-01-03, 03:04 PM   #16
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bells are no good if the rider is hard of hearing... like me.
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Old 10-01-03, 10:04 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by wza97
P.B.-

W&OD? That seems to happen a lot out there. There is so much traffic, both pedestrian and bike, that it is bound to happen sooner or later. I am with you as far as "on your left." I always say it, but half the time it startles the person and they turn to look, falling off their line.

It's kind of a no-win. Just a lot of traffic.

Yep W&OD. I think I've had it happen once or twice on the Mount Vernon trail, but they are usually more savvy about "on your left" it seems. I think it's because there are more bikers there and the trail is narrower for the most part. But the W&OD seems to be the worst.

I think I might try saying "passing" instead. Can't hurt. It's true that some people just don't know what you mean when you say on your left. I've had some people MOVE left. If the "passing" doesn't work, looks like I'll need to look into getting a bell.
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