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Old 05-02-02, 11:51 PM   #1
IowaParamedic
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Yield to emergency vehicles on your bike

I have noticed that most bicyclists do not yield when an emergency vehicle approaches. It shouldn't be surprising that 50% of cars don't pull to the right either. (cell phones, radios, distracted drivers, better sound proofing, air conditioning, etc.)

Most people in the forum are educated cyclists, so I expect to hear most replies stating "I pull over all of the time".

I will also assume that most cyclists never see a flashing warning signal, but unless you have a hearing problem, a cyclist should hear the siren.

So, I am wondering, why is this happening? Education, awareness, or enforcement? Anyone have ideas on what they have seen on the road?
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Old 05-02-02, 11:55 PM   #2
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You guys move faster than we can react.
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Old 05-03-02, 02:33 AM   #3
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Hi Iowa,

I always get off my bike and get onto the pavement/sidewalk. I guess alot of those cyclists who don't move, think they're not in the way?

Strange they don't get out of the way though...I'd be scared I'd be flatted by the Fire truck, Ambulance etc

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Old 05-03-02, 02:48 AM   #4
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I have almost been hit by cars getting out of the path of emergency vehicles, or when they are pulling out onto the road after they pass. Whenever I hear the siren, I keep well out of the way, and watch out for any drivers who are distracted.
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Old 05-03-02, 03:44 AM   #5
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Originally posted by MichaelW
I have almost been hit by cars getting out of the path of emergency vehicles, or when they are pulling out onto the road after they pass. Whenever I hear the siren, I keep well out of the way, and watch out for any drivers who are distracted.
Ditto.
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Old 05-03-02, 09:07 AM   #6
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If I'm on a long, wide stretch of road (no turns or whatnot), I'll hug the curb, leaving tons of room for the guys in the darwin wagon[1]; if there's any real traffic, or I'm coming up on a turn, I'll unclip and stop until they pass.

It just makes sense; after all, I'd feel pretty stupid to get creamed by an ambulance...

When I'm driving, I've noticed that many drivers don't pull over; it's really irritating. Since cagers[2] don't seem to care about the results of their actions anyways, it probably won't make much difference that their lipstic/shave, cell-phone, fast-food rap session while on the road could kill somebody without them running people over, by getting in the way of an emergency vehicle.

[1] Most of the ways I've seen people get injured or killed involve the words "Look at this, man!" or "Hey, if it wasn't safe, they wouldn't have showed it on teevee!"

[2] All cagers are drivers; not all drivers are cagers.
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Old 05-03-02, 09:18 AM   #7
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ok.. i'm all into the stereo thing in my car and i listen to mine fairly loud alot of the times (not defeaning loud like those stupid punk kids at 3am driving around the block) and i've spent some money and several hours trying to "sound proof" my car so to speak, so that outside noise doens't come in and inside noise doesn't go out.. and i can still hear a siren coming up easily.. i dont think that makes for a good excuse for motorist. They should hear you coming if they dont move then they're just a colorful metaphor, or really not paying enough attention to whats going around them as they're driving, and if they aren't paying enough attention to hear a siren and see big flashing lights then they shouldn't be driving.
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Old 05-03-02, 09:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rich


I always get off my bike and get onto the pavement/sidewalk.



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Old 05-03-02, 09:18 AM   #9
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Iowaparamedic, I'm sure as you know that in Iowa a cyclist is afforded the same rights as motorists on our roadways, except on a highway or interstate that has a minimum posted limit. But we also have to follow the same laws as motorists.

That said, I was always told and taught that when any emergency vehicle comes up from behind or on coming with either lights or sirens going to pull to the right and stop if possible. If I can not not pull to the right then stop where I am at and wait. The emergency vehicle driver will find a way around me. This is regardless of what kind of vehicle I am driving or riding for that matter. A good example of this would be if me or other drivers are in a left turn lane waiting to turn. How does a emergency vehicle driver expect us to move to the right. What I do is stop and wait until the emergency vehicle has past me. Even if the driver of the emergency vehicle has to turn left while I am in the turn lane as long as traffic is stopped they can find their way around and through the left turn. This has happened. And I have asked fire fighters, and EMT's what to do in a situation like that, everyone of them told me the same thing. Stop and wait and we will find our way around your vehicle.

I was also told that in Iowa a emergency vehicle has to be either audible, meaning sirens, or visible, lights flashing when responding to a emergency call. Typically unless a police officer is running silent to keep the bad guys from knowing he is coming, emergency vehicles are always visible with lights flashing, but sometimes their sirens are not going. So I'll buy the fact that drivers can not hear the sirens because of music, etc. But not the fact that they can not see the emergency vehicles. You guys have enough lights on your vehicles that it is very obvious that you are coming.
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Old 05-03-02, 11:51 AM   #10
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I try to get out of the way. On a bike this is easy (although the vehicle may be past and gone before I can do much). Some times in a 4 wheeled vehicle it is better to speed up. I've checked with the local rescue/fire/police and they agree that speeding up is often the right thing to do for a short time untill I can get out of the road and not block it. Just out side the Phonix airport I was in a left turn lane (wanting to turn left) when a police car and fire truck came up so I ran the red light making a U turn (which traffic allowed, but it did not allow a left turn). The cop waved thanks so I asume that in Arizona, like Virginia it is also leagle to do anything safe to get out of the way.

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Old 05-03-02, 11:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by IowaParamedic
Most people in the forum are educated cyclists, so I expect to hear most replies stating "I pull over all of the time".
I pull over all the time.

In my car too.
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Old 05-03-02, 12:01 PM   #12
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Ok, I've got a question regarding getting out of the way.

You are on a one way street. You pull up to a red light and notice a car accident just left of the intersection. All lanes have at least one car in them and you are the only one in the left hand lane when a fire truck comes up behind you. (See Picture)

What should I have done because this did happen to me?
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Old 05-03-02, 12:15 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by kobyj
Ok, I've got a question regarding getting out of the way.

You are on a one way street. You pull up to a red light and notice a car accident just left of the intersection. All lanes have at least one car in them and you are the only one in the left hand lane when a fire truck comes up behind you. (See Picture)

What should I have done because this did happen to me?
first let me start that I always get out of the way or do whatever necessary to let them pass. In this case Kobyj, it really doesn't matter where you go, just get out of the way so the paramedics can get where they are going. A lot of drivers simply stop when the see an emergency vehicle, this is inncorrect, the object is to get out of their way, and sometimes stopping can block them. It really is a case to case situation, but by all means you need to get out of the way however you can.
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Old 05-03-02, 12:24 PM   #14
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kobyj, your post is the type of scenario I was speaking of. You would have no choice but to pull to the left since you are in the far left lane, hopefully the cars to your right would move right as far as they possibly can leaving enough space for the fire truck to get through. Another possibility and only if your light is green or if you are waved through by a police officer who is already on the scene you could also go straight through the intersection.
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Old 05-03-02, 12:43 PM   #15
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I guess I forgot to put what I had done.

I was already next to the curb on the left. When I saw the firetruck, I immediatly assessed the condition[1] and found that in my opinion, the best route was to pull to the right. I did it in such a way that I blocked the other 2 lanes of the road I was on, but did not block the lanes of the intersecting road. The fire truck took the position I was previously in. Once my light turned green, I turned to the left to get back into a lane and proceeded as normal.

I was giving a friend a ride at the time. I had noticed the fire truck way before he did. As soon as I saw it, I said, "This is going to be interesting." This confused him a little. Then, when I pulled out across the lanes, ths confused him even more until he saw the fire truck.

[1] ALWAYS ASSESS THE CONDITIONS!! If you have an emergency vehicle coming up behind you, don't immediatly yank the car/bike/tractor/whatever to the left or right. Make sure to take a quick glance around. Even during emergency stops in my truck, I have time to glace in the rearview mirror to see what is behind me. If you practice glancing at the mirror everytime you hit the brake, you will instinctivly glance at the mirror during emergency stops.
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Old 05-03-02, 01:46 PM   #16
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It is normally easy to get out of the way, since I am almost always on the shoulder or as close to the right side of the road as possible. I have had trouble with emergency vehicles twice, one of which still (it was in 1995) make me think how close it was.

I was on a tour with two friends when we came to a road construction. One lane (the right one) had just been given a new layer of tarmac for about three kilometres. There were traffic lights at each end of this stretch since there was only one lane left. We realized that we probably wouldn't make it through before they let on on-coming traffic, but figured we would hear them and be able to pull over. Also worth mentioning is the fact that there was a height difference (4-5 cm) between the old tarmac and the new.

There we were riding along, all cars going in our direction long gone, waiting for on-coming traffic. Suddenly an ambulance came around a corner no more than 40 metres ahead of us, doing more than 100 kph. Despite the complete silence (there were no other cars for a kilometre in either direction) we didn't hear the sirens until we saw the car. We all managed to get the bikes up on the new tarmac, but it is one of my closest calls yet.

The other time was more of a misunderstanding when touring in England in 1997. I had got out of the way, but in a somewhat exposed situation. So I delayed two police cars and one police bus for a couple of seconds. Since that incident I have tried to be clearer with my intentions in such situations, but it has happened that I haven't heard sirens almost until they pass me (and there is nothing wrong with my ears ).

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Old 05-03-02, 02:56 PM   #17
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We have a street in Iowa City that is for buses and bikes only on the west bound side. This is because it is the main bus interchange and people are always stepping out from in front of and behind buses to cross the street. The buses always stop when passing one another to check for pedestrians and peds know this. Cyclists are the only real threat, but they are ususally going slow and looking. One night I had passed in front of a bus to cross on foot. As I got to the sidewalk a cop car came around the corner into the no-car zone and floored it. He went past one of the stopped buses where someone colud have popped out (like me) at probably 30 miles and hour and accelerating. No lights and no sirens. Scared the bejeezus out of me and I was on the sidewalk. Better of been one heck of an emergency for that kind of driving,but I doubt it. So don't expect emergency vehicles to announce themselves, that's a false sense of security.

Wasn't it Paul McCartney's newish girlfriend who got nailed while walking by a speeding police motorcycle? She lost her leg as a result. These situations are the real safety issues for peds and cyclists around emerg. vehicles.

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Old 05-03-02, 07:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by IowaParamedic
I will also assume that most cyclists never see a flashing warning signal, but unless you have a hearing problem, a cyclist should hear the siren.
Unless you are as deaf as a snake, you'll put your fingers in your ears whenever you hear a siren approaching.

I get the h*ll out of the way, no matter what anyone else does.

It never ceases to amaze me that people don't do what they know is right, especially when it's easy.
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Old 05-03-02, 08:33 PM   #19
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I think the bikers who don't move feel that the emergency vehicle can go around. We are pretty small. Which is why i ALWAYS get off the road. I rarely ever go on any large roadways, (its always more fun to take a different route everytime) but if i am, i get my bike on the sidewalk or the curb. I have no problem moving, what kind of person wouldn't have the decentcy to move?
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Old 05-04-02, 09:40 AM   #20
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I donít pull over when an emergence vehicle is coming up from behind, when Iím on my bike. Iím over as far as I can.
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Old 05-04-02, 11:20 AM   #21
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Pull-over, get out of the way, stop - whatever is most appropriate.

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Old 05-06-02, 09:04 PM   #22
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At 60 mph and above, the siren becomes useless. The ambulance/fire truck/police car is actually moving faster than the noise from the siren.

Don't be surprised if you don't hear us coming on the highways.
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Old 05-06-02, 09:20 PM   #23
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I always thought the speed of sound was 660 MPH
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Old 05-06-02, 09:30 PM   #24
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I always thought the speed of sound was 660 MPH
Ah yes, but large sounds like sirens have extra wind resistance to contend with. I suspect with a good headwind, a siren would struggle to get above 60mph.
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Old 05-06-02, 10:56 PM   #25
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Sorry to say but a big ass fire truck WILL NOT travel faster than sound. Sound only varies a little depending on the temp. of day, & this goes for other emergency vehicles as well. The sound that they make is penetrating the air easier than you know. How many times have you heard the siren and couldnít find the emergency vehicle thatís producing it.
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