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  1. #1
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Cyclist tells me I'm not a car

    This tale (from last night's ride home) is four blocks long. The intersection at the end of each block is controlled by a traffic signal. The first two blocks are westbound, the second ending at a "T" intersection. The next two blocks are left (southbound).

    The intersection at the end of the first block is with a major arterial, and I rarely get the green here. But yesterday I noticed there were already 4 cars waiting, and one cyclist, and figured I might get lucky with the timing. As soon as I stood up to accelerate, of course the light turned green. I still made it and was just able to catch some draft from the last car as it accelerated away from me after I crossed the intersection into the 2nd block.

    Because the first block is slightly downhill, I was going around 25 mph when I passed the cyclist -- a guy in his 30s or 40s on a commuter "hybrid" bike -- about half way to the next light. As I approached that light, the 4 cars were now waiting to turn left. This is the T intersection, so there is a left turn lane and a right turn lane, separated by a triangular shaped gore. Most cyclists seem to use the debris-filled gore as "stay out of the way space", but I took my normal position behind the last (4th) car. A bit later the cyclist I passed now passed me, on the right, on his way to stop in the gore at the stop line. As he passed, he said something, softly... You're not a car. I wasn't 100% sure, and couldn't quite believe it, but that's what it sounded like. The light turned green, and, as I expected, the driver of the first car hesitated, obviously made nervous by the cyclist next to him. Once the cyclist got going, then did the drivers, and, finally me.

    The 3rd block is slightly uphill, and I didn't catch the commuter-cyclist until the red light at the end of that block. Normally I stay out of the bike lane to give right turners space here, but he was already stopped up ahead (in the crosswalk) blocking traffic, so I figured I would bend my rules, carefully, and filter forward in the bike lane up to him. When I stopped I clicked my brake lever so he would know I was there, a bit behind him and off to the side, but he didn't turn around. So in the nicest and most disarming tone I could muster, I said, "Excuse me, did you tell me I'm not a car?" At this point he finally turned his head to acknowledge me, and there was a scowl on his face, but it instantly disappeared, perhaps because he saw the smile on my face.. "Yeah, you're not a car. You're fast. But you're not a car". At this point the light turned green, and we both started off, as I passed him I said, "Yeah, I know I'm not a car... I'm a driver... Same rights...."

    Now the 4th block is interesting because it's four lanes and the outside lane has a bike lane, but it's also wide enough for cars to share side-by-side... if the right-turners encroach into the bike lane, which they normally do, especially at rush hour. Turns out this is where I turn right, and this other guy needed to go straight. Anyway, there were many cars backed up waiting to turn right. I filtered forward, passing on the left side of the outside lane, then found a good spot to wait behind the 3rd car turning right. As usual, I turned around to nod and "say hi" to the driver I was stopping in front of. She nodded to me. Now, there were only a couple of cars going straight, so this other guy passes me and stops behind the second car. Note that he's out in the street in a line of cars, to the left of another line of cars. As the light turned green and we all started going, I yelled "you are a driver!"
    Last edited by Helmet Head; 03-15-07 at 11:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Interesting story Helmet Head. The truth is, too many bicyclists only want to be vehicles when it suits them. I always do my best to obey all traffic laws and and red lights, rather than sneaking up the right side to the light, I go into traffic and take my turn waiting in line.

    It's not only good for safety but for good relations.

  3. #3
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    i'm not sure i'd have been able to stay upright for laughing so hard if another cyclist told me that!

  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i'll bet he had NO CLUE what you were implying.

    Why didn't you help the guy out with some appropos lane positioning safety advice?

    like "sometimes its better to claim the lane"

    One brilliant aspect of bicycles is they can act both like vehicles AND bicycles while slicing and dicing urban traffic.

    on MY commute today, I passed two or three congested clogups today by a combination of riding between cones passing a line of stopped traffic; split stopped lanes of traffic as a light was turning green- watch the cross signals at the lights, people; used a bridge walkway across a six lane, 50 MPH, half mile long bridge; and avoiding a large dumptruck blocking traffic by jumping up onto the curb and sidewalk, passing city buses blocking in the process on the way to work.

    and then took the long way home tonight in the dark- it was nice and not too rainy- and came up on some construction stopping traffic- I filtered forward to the construction signperson and taking the front of the line thru the construction zone.

    These assorted scenarios from todays' commute where I distinctly DIDN'T ACT LIKE A "DRIVER"- I acted like a BICYCLIST.


    but funny stuff, mr. head.

    I really cant see what he did wrong except accuse you of not being a car, which IS apparant.

    you and he must not share cycling philosophies.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 03-16-07 at 12:03 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  5. #5
    pointless & uncalled for
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    So let me get this straight. HH acts like a cyclist. Another cyclist tells HH that he is not a car. HH concurs.

    HH, I'm glad you didn't read me stories as a kid.

    Joking aside. True, you're not a car. Also, you're not a driver, you're a rider. I know they rhyme and there are other similarities, but ultimately riders and drivers are different entities. You are also correct in stating that you have the same rights. However, in the context provided, this doesn't quite work. Stopping behind a line of traffic isn't a right. To have accurately reflected matters, you should really have tempered this by also stating that riders have the same responsibilities.

    Some of the other differences between riders and drivers that you should take into consideration are our very different set of vulnerabilities, capabilities and opportunities.

    Out of interest, what do you genuinely believe that the other cyclist took away from your exchange and how will that make them a better rider?

  6. #6
    Fred
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    "A man convinced against his will.
    Is of the same opinion still."

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    Maybe this was one of the bike forums posters always arguing with and about John Forester.



    Actually, I think you were doing everything exactly right.

  8. #8
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    In similar situations, I usually say, "section 183" to which most give a blank stare, but if they don't know the Motor Vehicle Act, who's being ignorant?

    (sec. 183 says, a person operating a cycle on a highway has the same rights and duties as a driver of a vehicle)

  9. #9
    Senior Member garysol1's Avatar
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    I was riding in Ft Lauderdale a few months ago on A1A. I was stopped at a red light when an older homeless (I think) gentleman rides by on an old beach cruiser. As he passes me on his way through the red light he yells at me saying " WHAT THE F**K ARE STOPPING FOR?" I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

  10. #10
    Prefers Cicero cooker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    Turns out this is where I turn right, and this other guy needed to go straight. Anyway, there were many cars backed up waiting to turn right. I filtered forward, passing on the left side of the outside lane, then found a good spot to wait behind the 3rd car turning right.
    I didn't understand this last part about turning right. If you were turning right, why were you to the left of some of the cars?

  11. #11
    Faster but still slow slowandsteady's Avatar
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    It sounds like you broke all kinds of traffic laws. It also sounds more like adaptive cycling than VC.
    "Ride lots." -- Eddy Merckx

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    I think this is where I admit I did not read it that carefully.

  13. #13
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Yesterday I was waiting to turn left on a similar street as HH in the same position as the hybrid cyclist. As we all waited for interminable traffic that was never going to let up so we could go, the lady in the car waiting to turn left spoke to me, "I don't think we're ever going to go."

    I spoke to her, "I have a secret weapon." I dismounted from my bike and walked over to the crosswalk. I walked slowly across the crosswalk so that traffic was stopped long enough so the lady in the car could go too, and then I got on my bike and continued along my way.

    Adaptive cycling can help more than just the cyclist.
    ~Diane
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  14. #14
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    When I was making a left turn at an intersection a few days ago, I had a cyclist in his mid teens yell at me " You're a bicycle not a car, use the crosswalk", all the while, this cyclist was riding in the street and going against traffic. I wasn't so much concerned about his remark at the time, but more to his possible attitude toward cycists in the road when he his able to drive.

  15. #15
    N_C
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    HH, the other cyclist was in the wrong in at least one, maybe 2 ways. First was in regards to his safety. It is safer for a cyclist to take the lane & fall in behind a car, not pull along the right side as he did. The other possible way was he may have been violating the law. I do not know the laws in your area but in mine it is illegal for a cyclist to do that. We have to fall in behind the car in front in the lane. There is nothing in the ordinance stating we have to take the lane or anything saying that we can not. It does say as far to the right as practicable. That judgment is best left up to the cyclist. As a general rule of thumb most cyclists in my community take the lane when stopping, whether behind a car or first in line at a stop sign or light. Motorists are supposed to fall in behind us as well, no matter how far to the right the cyclist is. But if a cyclist is far over to the right motorists always pull along side the our left. That is why we take the lane.

  16. #16
    N_C
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowandsteady
    It sounds like you broke all kinds of traffic laws. It also sounds more like adaptive cycling than VC.
    How did he break traffic laws?

  17. #17
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    it's illegal to share lanes in iowa? wild.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  18. #18
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    I'm not a car?
    I'm so confused. I always thought I was a 72 dodge challenger with an 8-track player.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  19. #19
    N_C
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    it's illegal to share lanes in iowa? wild.
    Depends what you mean by share lanes. If you're talking about a cyclist & motorist being in the same lane, with the motorist on the left of the cyclist, then yes. Because bicycles are legal vehicles of the roadway. It would be like 2 motorists trying to do this in the same lane. Not only that it is unsafe.

  20. #20
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    HH, the other cyclist was in the wrong in at least one, maybe 2 ways. First was in regards to his safety.
    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    That judgment is best left up to the cyclist.
    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    he may have been violating the law
    Quote Originally Posted by N_C
    I do not know the laws in your area
    Neither cyclist did anything wrong or illegal. Granted, the guy on the "hybrid" may not make the best judgment calls by waiting by the curb at intersections. But he sounds like a big boy who can make his own decisions (like later when he passes to the left of the right turners).

    The only points of "interest" are the "You're not a car" remark which was silly, and the assertion (to indicate that not taking the lane confuses drivers and slows down traffic) that:
    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    the driver of the first car hesitated, obviously made nervous by the cyclist next to him.
    The driver hesitated, is that how you knew he was obviously nervous? or from your position 4 cars back you could see him agitatedly biting his nails and saying "homina-homina-homina" Could he have just been allowing the cyclist to go first?
    I am a mutated sig Virus. Please put me in your sig so that I can continue to replicate and mutate, blah!.

  21. #21
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    the guy was just jealous of your mad cyclist skilz and speeed, HH.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  22. #22
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ignominious
    So let me get this straight. HH acts like a cyclist. Another cyclist tells HH that he is not a car. HH concurs.

    HH, I'm glad you didn't read me stories as a kid.

    Joking aside. True, you're not a car. Also, you're not a driver, you're a rider. I know they rhyme and there are other similarities, but ultimately riders and drivers are different entities. You are also correct in stating that you have the same rights. However, in the context provided, this doesn't quite work. Stopping behind a line of traffic isn't a right. To have accurately reflected matters, you should really have tempered this by also stating that riders have the same responsibilities.

    Some of the other differences between riders and drivers that you should take into consideration are our very different set of vulnerabilities, capabilities and opportunities.

    Out of interest, what do you genuinely believe that the other cyclist took away from your exchange and how will that make them a better rider?
    Some very astute observations. I appreciate that.

    That I'm not a car is a fact. Whether I'm a driver is a semantic issue (revolving around the meaning of "driver"). I prefer to define driver broadly, and include cyclists who ride in accordance to the vehicular rules of the road in it. See the Cycle View videos thread for video clips of cyclists demonstrating what it means to be a driver while riding a bike, in the sense that I'm talking about.

    The reason I think noting that we have the same rights is appropriate in this context is because I believe most cyclists, including this one, think we don't have the right to stop in the middle of the lane like that, unless there is no other practical alternative. They think the "keep as far right as practicable" obligation applies everywhere, even at intersections, even at intersections where they are turning left.

    As far as the other difference you cite between "riders" and "drivers", the terms I've seen used in the field of bicycle transportation are "cyclists" and "motorists".

    I have no idea what the cyclist took away from it. That another cyclist felt compelled to tell me I was not a car simply cracked me up, and that was the point of sharing this story.

  23. #23
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zeytoun
    The driver hesitated, is that how you knew he was obviously nervous? or from your position 4 cars back you could see him agitatedly biting his nails and saying "homina-homina-homina" Could he have just been allowing the cyclist to go first?
    All I can tell you is this: whether I'm driving my car or on my bike, if a cyclist filters ahead and stops anywhere near the front of the line of cars, I can practically guarantee a discernable and significantly long hesitation at the front when the light turns green.

    That's not to say that there is never such a hesitation when there is no cyclist present, nor that there is a hestitation absolutely every time, but the correlation is very, very high. That's not scientific evidence, but I've observed it enough times and with enough consistency to have no doubts about it. Also useful to note is that the cyclist who moves up front and causes the hesitation he is causing is likely to be totally unaware of it. I know i was oblivious to it when I used to ride in that manner. Now that I know to look for it, however, it's very obvious.

    Of course, I don't know if the cause is "nervousness". That's admittedly a guess. But it doesn't really matter why, i just know the presence of a cyclist up there almost always causes a delay.

  24. #24
    Non-Custom Member zeytoun's Avatar
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    That's admittedly a guess.
    I'm just giving you a hard time, hence the smile

    Like you, I think a lot of this can be improved by a little non-verbal communication (eye contact and a hint where you'll be going when the light turns green). But surly commuters on mtn bikes (with headphones?) hate to communicate...
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  25. #25
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rando
    I'm not a car?
    I'm so confused. I always thought I was a 72 dodge challenger with an 8-track player.
    And are you playing Styx, Lover Boy, or Led Zepplin?
    ~Diane
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

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