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driver behavior over bridges

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driver behavior over bridges

Old 03-09-21, 04:04 PM
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masi61
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driver behavior over bridges

Where I live there is a big downhill on a moderately trafficky road where the motorists will hang back as we descend. I appreciate this and is seems they are looking after safety somewhat. But by the time the road levels out, there is a bridge with a pretty technical metal expansion joint as you enter and exit the bridge. It requires a light bunnyhop which does require good timing as you launch upward off the saddle a bit while the cranks are in the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position (ideally). But the cars have become tired of us by this time so they are blowing by us with little regard for any mechanical malfunction that could crop up.

I have noticed the culture of this bridge is almost always the same. Impatient motorists at the bottom of the hill, endangering us riders as we cross the bridge. The drivers become so impatient to pass that occasionally they are passing a big group of us driving directly into oncoming traffic. One day last year a pickup driver attempting to pass had to take a last minute detour of the pickup truck into the ditch then into the cornfield. It was the guys own fault, I hope he realized that and learned not to be so overzealous (there was a car coming from the opposite direction fast at the time).

So with that past history in mind, I extended my arm the other day as I approached the bridge trying to force a caravan of motorists to give adequate clearance and ended up with the first 2 motorists just speeding up and coming so close that I almost got clipped. The motorists behind these first 2 in the caravan did give my little group of 3 riders some space but it was almost as if the locals were getting their dander up and about to retaliate by rolling some coal on us.

Have others seen this pent up aggression right in the middle of technical bridge crossings being unleashed on us vulnerable cyclists? And what have you done about it?

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Old 03-09-21, 09:36 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
Where I live there is a big downhill on a moderately trafficky road where the motorists will hang back as we descend. I appreciate this and is seems they are looking after safety somewhat. But by the time the road levels out, there is a bridge with a pretty technical metal expansion joint as you enter and exit the bridge. It requires a light bunnyhop which does require good timing as you launch upward off the saddle a bit while the cranks are in the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position (ideally). But the cars have become tired of us by this time so they are blowing by us with little regard for any mechanical malfunction that could crop up.

I have noticed the culture of this bridge is almost always the same. Impatient motorists at the bottom of the hill, endangering us riders as we cross the bridge. The drivers become so impatient to pass that occasionally they are passing a big group of us driving directly into oncoming traffic. One day last year a pickup driver attempting to pass had to take a last minute detour of the pickup truck into the ditch then into the cornfield. It was the guys own fault, I hope he realized that and learned not to be so overzealous (there was a car coming from the opposite direction fast at the time).

So with that past history in mind, I extended my arm the other day as I approached the bridge trying to force a caravan of motorists to give adequate clearance and ended up with the first 2 motorists just speeding up and coming so close that I almost got clipped. The motorists behind these first 2 in the caravan did give my little group of 3 riders some space but it was almost as if the locals were getting their dander up and about to retaliate by rolling some coal on us.

Have others seen this pent up aggression right in the middle of technical bridge crossings being unleashed on us vulnerable cyclists? And what have you done about it?
Can't quite figure out what is happening or not happening on or near this bridge from your description of a so-called culture and past history.

I suggest you rethink your idea that you can force a caravan of motorists (with their dander up, no less) to do anything just by extending your arm, or that motorists will have much awareness, let alone regard, for the mechanical difficulties you may encounter during the bunny hop and launching techniques you choose to use while riding in traffic.

BTW, what are "technical" mechanical expansion joints and "technical" bridge crossings? Also how do you tell if the locals are almost about to retaliate by rolling coal on you? Have they done so in the past at this bridge?
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Old 03-10-21, 09:48 AM
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It's not just bridges.

For some reason, moving one's foot 6 inches from the accelerator to the brake, and back, for a few seconds, really annoys people in motorized vehicles.
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Old 03-10-21, 10:09 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
Can't quite figure out what is happening or not happening on or near this bridge from your description of a so-called culture and past history.

I suggest you rethink your idea that you can force a caravan of motorists (with their dander up, no less) to do anything just by extending your arm, or that motorists will have much awareness, let alone regard, for the mechanical difficulties you may encounter during the bunny hop and launching techniques you choose to use while riding in traffic.

BTW, what are "technical" mechanical expansion joints and "technical" bridge crossings? Also how do you tell if the locals are almost about to retaliate by rolling coal on you? Have they done so in the past at this bridge?
The cars ride in clusters since they are bunched uptown the road at a traffic light so when the light turns green, the whole group sort of tailgates each other mostly despite there being plenty of open country where they could distance themselves and still get to their destination just fine.

It is OK for a rider approaching a busy 4 way stop to claim their lane (I.e. riding in the middle of the lane, not next to the white line) while in close proximity to the 4-way stop for safety reasons. Generally when I do this, motorists see what I am doing and they get it.

I believe a similar bit of safety logic can be applied to this particular bridge which is potentially quite hazardous because it is narrow, it has the metal joints (yes, they are flat but they can be slick in the rain) and there is some pavement cracking and road debris that accumulates there, so in my mind this is not a good place for motorists to aggressively pass a single rider or a group of riders.

As for “rolling coal”, this practice is super prevalent in my area. I’m pretty used to it and I stay calm and usually just chuckle about it. But occasionally, yes - the drivers have this pre-existing hostility towards the cyclists that can be quite scary when you experience it which I have on several occasions in my area the past few years.
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Old 03-10-21, 10:58 AM
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Can you find a place where you can move over, slow, and "release" those who followed you down the hill, and then take the lane for the bridge itself in front of a subsequent bunch who were not behind you all the way down the hill?
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Old 03-10-21, 01:44 PM
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Regardless of manners, people are only patient for so long. Regardless of road-rules, the drivers think they're doing you a favor by not passing you sooner. Then you get to the transition between hill and bridge, and, in their eyes, you ask for another round of patience. While I happen to think you're perfectly correct, I think you have to play to psychology, not necessarily logic or legality. You have to release the pressure or you have a good chance of seeing something stupid (apparently proven already). Statistically, half of the drivers you encounter are below average drivers (I think it skews left, frankly). Adjust your expectations and play the course wisely. They certainly aren't going to change.
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Old 03-10-21, 01:58 PM
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There aren't many hills down east. But down that way I ride from work at lunch sometimes. There is a higher speed limit road you pretty much HAVE to use and cross a bridge at the bottom of a really potholed hill to get to the "good riding".

You can't bomb the hill at near the speed limit due to the crazy potholes. The potholes drive you further in the lane also. Then you get to the bride and everybody has had enough.

Best I've done is now using my Garmin Varia. If nobody was behind me for a good while before the bridge then they come up, I own my lane for the bride. If they've suffered me down the hill, there's a little width at the bottom. I pull off in the width before the bridge on the wide shoulder and stop and let them go before I get to the bridge. Then, I wait for a huge gap and cross the bridge to climb up the hill the other side.

For some reason around here when you're going uphill, so long as you don't "weave" and appear to be "working hard" people seem understanding oddly enough.
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Old 03-10-21, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Can you find a place where you can move over, slow, and "release" those who followed you down the hill, and then take the lane for the bridge itself in front of a subsequent bunch who were not behind you all the way down the hill?
There are a few traffic circles (roundabouts) here that are going up a pretty steep hill. They are too narrow to NOT take the lane, but I'm usually doing single digit speeds through them.

I try to either pull off before the traffic circle or time it so I minimize holding up traffic, but it doesn't always work. There is one that's a 3 way circle with a wide shoulder on the 'closed' side which also is useful for pulling off and letting traffic by. This is followed by a narrow bridge that's about 100 yards long (maybe a bit more) that I also have to take the lane to be safe.

Most cars get it, but there is the occasional jerk that buzzes me because he couldn't slow down for 15 seconds.

TBF, the around around here, the drivers are better (at least more courteous/deferential) around bikes than just about any other place I've ridden in the US. I don't think in general, the drivers are really any better, but they're nicer to bikes.
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Old 03-10-21, 02:37 PM
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it is really simple. avoid that road.
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Old 03-10-21, 04:03 PM
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I doubt many drivers (who aren't cyclists) have any idea about "technical bridge crossings" so expecting them to understand that you are taking the lane for safety is probably unrealistic.

scott s.
.
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Old 03-11-21, 11:38 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
Can you find a place where you can move over, slow, and "release" those who followed you down the hill, and then take the lane for the bridge itself in front of a subsequent bunch who were not behind you all the way down the hill?
In my mind that place is on the flat on the other side of the bridge.
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Old 03-12-21, 12:00 AM
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Originally Posted by allepunta View Post
it is really simple. avoid that road.
yeah, I think it has come to this. The odd thing is, this downhill/bridge crossing is a part of a well established bike club ride that has been going on for decades. So cyclists riding it is sort of part of the local lore. Kind of hard to give it up really, it has always been a fun, fast hill if it weren’t for this pesky ongoing driver issue. I think that if the drivers would pass on the downhill before the bridge this would actually be safer.

But for solo rides there is no safety in numbers. Me getting buzzed to close is going (and has happened). So for my solo training route, your suggestion to avoid this hill is a good one. The alternates are going to add to my ascending though since most of the workarounds I can think of involve more climbing, often on bad pavement.
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Old 03-12-21, 05:39 AM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
In my mind that place is on the flat on the other side of the bridge.
It doesn't seem like the other road users agree with you.

it has always been a fun, fast hill if it weren’t for this pesky ongoing driver issue
That doesn't seem much different from the thinking of an impatient driver. If pesky isn't the word they have in mind there's probably another.

It's not seemingly like the challenge is in the finding a way to get through that section safely, but in getting others to let you "drive" it with the speed carried from hill to bridge you find enjoyable.

Or is there really no place you could let the collected traffic pass earlier? You've seen the situation and I haven't, but the extended drag doesn't seem like a strategic spending of the limited quantity that is driver patience.


Of course it's a common reality that drivers often start out courteous and cautious, and then decide to pass not when it is safest, but when their patience for what they've signed up for by courteously skipping an early good opportunity, leads them to want to go around when they're fed up rather than when it's safe.

Who hasn't looked in the mirror and thought "would you PLEASE pass me before we get to that grate and I have to take the lane again?"

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Old 03-12-21, 11:08 AM
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I ride close to the yellow line in those situations and move instantly once over the bridge. If anyone honks, I pull out my metal water bottle and hold it out to the side. That quiets them right up.
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Old 03-12-21, 12:29 PM
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I haven't noticed any particular driver behavior specific to bridges. Although it's better than it used to be, however, there are drivers who will pass you no matter what. It doesn't matter if that means that they have to go into the oncoming lane on a blind curve, endangering themselves, you and every other driver who happens to be on that road - they WILL pass you.
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Old 03-13-21, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
It doesn't seem like the other road users agree with you.



That doesn't seem much different from the thinking of an impatient driver. If pesky isn't the word they have in mind there's probably another.

That's for sure. I am doing everything in my power in 2021 to be a calm, rational cyclist and not anger anyone because of my own carelessness.

It's not seemingly like the challenge is in the finding a way to get through that section safely, but in getting others to let you "drive" it with the speed carried from hill to bridge you find enjoyable.

To people's credit, the drivers for the most part give us a wee bit of respect so when we hit that bridge we are often going about 35 still. But this moment of being on the bridge lasts all of 1.5 seconds - I should time it.

Or is there really no place you could let the collected traffic pass earlier? You've seen the situation and I haven't, but the extended drag doesn't seem like a strategic spending of the limited quantity that is driver patience.

There is plenty of room on the downhill, if the oncoming lane (opposite direction) is clear, this would be a safer place for the drivers to pass.


Of course it's a common reality that drivers often start out courteous and cautious, and then decide to pass not when it is safest, but when their patience for what they've signed up for by courteously skipping an early good opportunity, leads them to want to go around when they're fed up rather than when it's safe.

I have observed this as well. Unfortunately this late loss of patience is where some of the worst vehicle collisions imaginable occur (cars/motorcycles/bicycles).

Who hasn't looked in the mirror and thought "would you PLEASE pass me before we get to that grate and I have to take the lane again?"
.

I agree. With this logic you would think you could signal them to pass you. In reality, excessive hand signaling to cars (in my experience) is more often than not likely to anger the driver. It is like you the bike rider trying to insert yourself into the driver's domain as some sort of equal party of road use is incompatible with the animal brain's arrogant survival of the fittest mode.
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Old 03-13-21, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
To people's credit, the drivers for the most part give us a wee bit of respect so when we hit that bridge we are often going about 35 still. But this moment of being on the bridge lasts all of 1.5 seconds - I should time it
It's your ride and your safety, so all the rest of us can really do is present a view that might provoke some additional directions of thinking.

I'm personally troubled by the idea of tackling at 35 mph what you described as "requires a light bunnyhop which does require good timing as you launch upward off the saddle a bit while the cranks are in the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position" and especially doing so with vehicles following at 35 mph closely behind.

How fast to cars typically go on this road when there aren't cyclists involved?
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Old 03-13-21, 04:39 PM
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Originally Posted by UniChris View Post
It's your ride and your safety, so all the rest of us can really do is present a view that might provoke some additional directions of thinking.

I'm personally troubled by the idea of tackling at 35 mph what you described as "requires a light bunnyhop which does require good timing as you launch upward off the saddle a bit while the cranks are in the 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock position" and especially doing so with vehicles following at 35 mph closely behind.

How fast to cars typically go on this road when there aren't cyclists involved?
I’d say the cars sometimes exceed 60 mph on this stretch.
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Old 03-13-21, 05:11 PM
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Originally Posted by masi61 View Post
I’d say the cars sometimes exceed 60 mph on this stretch.
That might have something to do with why they don't want to follow you over a bridge at 35...
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