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Who is at fault? My first Car/Bike Accident

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Who is at fault? My first Car/Bike Accident

Old 06-15-10, 05:35 AM
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Originally Posted by sudo bike
But what people seem to be saying here is that not stopping for traffic that does not interfere with you whatsoever, while you are riding on the shoulder, is unsafe.
No, what I am saying is that not expecting that person in the travel lane to do the stupidest thing possible and planning your actions accordingly, is not the mark of a safe, competent rider. If he would have been riding in a safe manner, he would have been better prepared for the driver's stupidity and avoided the contact.

I won't even comment on the safety of riding on the shoulder other than to suggest that if you act like a victim, sooner or later you'll probably become one. Cowering your way down the shoulder screams I'M SCARED AND VULNERABLE, PLEASE F ME!
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Old 06-15-10, 06:19 AM
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Meh. Like I said, had he been more aware he probably could have prepared better for the situation, but I don't think he was particularly incompetent. **** happens, and we don't all bring the A game all the time.

And I fail to see how riding on the shoulder makes you a cowering victim, sorry. Seems kind of stupid to me to avoid a perfectly ridable shoulder to prove a point. Confidence while riding doesn't disappear as you cross the little white line onto the shoulder.
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Old 06-15-10, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
I won't even comment on the safety of riding on the shoulder other than to suggest that if you act like a victim, sooner or later you'll probably become one. Cowering your way down the shoulder screams I'M SCARED AND VULNERABLE, PLEASE F ME!
Yes, I was asking to be hit because I was in the shoulder instead of taking the ONLY lane in a 35mph zone during rush hour. Can you honestly tell me you'd be in a different spot in this situation??? Car after Car coming in both directions. There were hardly any breaks in traffic (hence the car having to stop for a significant amount of time to take a left).

And YES... i saw it all coming. The timing of the whole incident SUCKED and I AVOIDED getting plastered to the roadway by anticipating the stupid move... That doesn't mean I could avoid it completely. I did not have time to stop when she passed me, and I don't have the skill or confidence to hammer it past her.. I had my hands on the break and watched her very closely... As she started to take my lane away I swung out.. but she took the entire lane before I was past her bumper. At that point, It was either glance her bumper, or take a trip down the embankment on the right.
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Old 06-15-10, 09:24 AM
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Did you try and signal to her before she passed you? Left arm out look back type thing?
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Old 06-15-10, 09:50 AM
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Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
Yes, I was asking to be hit because I was in the shoulder instead of taking the ONLY lane in a 35mph zone during rush hour. Can you honestly tell me you'd be in a different spot in this situation??? Car after Car coming in both directions. There were hardly any breaks in traffic (hence the car having to stop for a significant amount of time to take a left).

And YES... i saw it all coming. The timing of the whole incident SUCKED and I AVOIDED getting plastered to the roadway by anticipating the stupid move... That doesn't mean I could avoid it completely. I did not have time to stop when she passed me, and I don't have the skill or confidence to hammer it past her.. I had my hands on the break and watched her very closely... As she started to take my lane away I swung out.. but she took the entire lane before I was past her bumper. At that point, It was either glance her bumper, or take a trip down the embankment on the right.
I thought you were on the shoulder. Now you say you were in the lane? Or do you not know that a shoulder is not a lane, and is not considered to be part of the roadway? A "lawyerly" question is whether the driver who hit you has any obligation to check for overtaking vehicles which are not in the roadway.

If a motorcycle or car had done the same thing you did, who would you say was at fault? This is a gray area of the law, IMO, whether bikes should be held to a different standard when that standard isn't written into the law.
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Old 06-15-10, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody
I thought you were on the shoulder. Now you say you were in the lane? Or do you not know that a shoulder is not a lane, and is not considered to be part of the roadway? A "lawyerly" question is whether the driver who hit you has any obligation to check for overtaking vehicles which are not in the roadway.
What state did this happen in?

AFAIK, bikes in most states are explicitly allowed to ride on the shoulder (and also AFAIK this does not somehow magically strip them of their rights as a road user when they do). Practically speaking, he's using the shoulder as a lane (and depending on the state, legally so). Regardless, the driver made an unsafe pass and caused a collision. Even if he were in the lane, due to the very nature of the FRAP laws, I can't see how you could make a case that he can't overtake vehicles on the right. AIUI, he would have been perfectly fine had the driver not made an unsafe pass.

Basically, just about no matter what way you slice it - in the lane, on the shoulder - it's still the driver's fault, for different reasons respectively.

If a motorcycle or car had done the same thing you did, who would you say was at fault? This is a gray area of the law, IMO, whether bikes should be held to a different standard when that standard isn't written into the law.
Bicycles are not motorcycles. Like I said, were he in the lane, I think the application of the FRAP law would clear him for passing on the right, and were he on the shoulder (providing it is in fact legal in his state) he would be clear for passing on the right since he isn't even in the travel lane that the car making the left is in!

EDIT: To reiterate, I would point to the very useful post made by Raiden, post #22
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Old 06-15-10, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Roody
I thought you were on the shoulder. Now you say you were in the lane? Or do you not know that a shoulder is not a lane, and is not considered to be part of the roadway? A "lawyerly" question is whether the driver who hit you has any obligation to check for overtaking vehicles which are not in the roadway.

If a motorcycle or car had done the same thing you did, who would you say was at fault? This is a gray area of the law, IMO, whether bikes should be held to a different standard when that standard isn't written into the law.
You never really developed reading comprehension skills, did you?

When did I say I wasn't in the shoulder and instead in the lane... I asked a question, about whether the contributor to which I responded believed I should have been in the lane given the circumstances. I never once said I was in the lane. Reread my post.

When I referred to "My Lane" I'm using that phrase, as many others have, to describe the lane in which I am traveling, which at this time was the shoulder.
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Old 06-15-10, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
Yes, I was asking to be hit because I was in the shoulder instead of taking the ONLY lane in a 35mph zone during rush hour. Can you honestly tell me you'd be in a different spot in this situation??? Car after Car coming in both directions. There were hardly any breaks in traffic (hence the car having to stop for a significant amount of time to take a left).

And YES... i saw it all coming. The timing of the whole incident SUCKED and I AVOIDED getting plastered to the roadway by anticipating the stupid move... That doesn't mean I could avoid it completely. I did not have time to stop when she passed me, and I don't have the skill or confidence to hammer it past her.. I had my hands on the break and watched her very closely... As she started to take my lane away I swung out.. but she took the entire lane before I was past her bumper. At that point, It was either glance her bumper, or take a trip down the embankment on the right.
Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
You never really developed reading comprehension skills, did you?

When did I say I wasn't in the shoulder and instead in the lane... I asked a question, about whether the contributor to which I responded believed I should have been in the lane given the circumstances. I never once said I was in the lane. Reread my post.

When I referred to "My Lane" I'm using that phrase, as many others have, to describe the lane in which I am traveling, which at this time was the shoulder.
Again a shoulder is not a lane, and my reading skills are not really an issue here, are they?
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Old 06-15-10, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by sudo bike
Horse manure. Just because a collision happened does not mean he was operating in an unsafe manner, period. Accidents happen all the time. There is nothing unsafe about passing a car that is in the travel lane while you are riding on the shoulder in and of itself. You are more or less in a different lane. This would be like saying traffic in the right lane should come to a stop because traffic in the left lane is turning... you know, because an impatient driver might pull around to the right.
This wasn't an "accident". It was a performance failure! The driver failed to do their job. Since drivers don't always perform perfectly, you have to act with that understanding and drive defensively. The cyclist got hit in a situation that many people know is a risky one!

There is clearly something unsafe about passing a car on the shoulder because the cyclist got hit!

The cyclist was not driving defensively!

Last edited by njkayaker; 06-15-10 at 10:54 AM.
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Old 06-15-10, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
No, what I am saying is that not expecting that person in the travel lane to do the stupidest thing possible and planning your actions accordingly, is not the mark of a safe, competent rider. If he would have been riding in a safe manner, he would have been better prepared for the driver's stupidity and avoided the contact.
This, very much so!!

Originally Posted by chipcom
I won't even comment on the safety of riding on the shoulder other than to suggest that if you act like a victim, sooner or later you'll probably become one. Cowering your way down the shoulder screams I'M SCARED AND VULNERABLE, PLEASE F ME!
This as an absolute statement doesn't make any sense. There are times where it is appropriate to take the lane and there are times when it's less appropriate. And it depends on a lot of factors including traffic, cyclist skill, etc, etc.
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Old 06-15-10, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
Yes, I was asking to be hit because I was in the shoulder instead of taking the ONLY lane in a 35mph zone during rush hour. Can you honestly tell me you'd be in a different spot in this situation??? Car after Car coming in both directions. There were hardly any breaks in traffic (hence the car having to stop for a significant amount of time to take a left).

And YES... i saw it all coming. The timing of the whole incident SUCKED and I AVOIDED getting plastered to the roadway by anticipating the stupid move... That doesn't mean I could avoid it completely. I did not have time to stop when she passed me, and I don't have the skill or confidence to hammer it past her.. I had my hands on the break and watched her very closely... As she started to take my lane away I swung out.. but she took the entire lane before I was past her bumper. At that point, It was either glance her bumper, or take a trip down the embankment on the right.
I certainly would not have been on the shoulder, but hey, if you are a motorist on a bike, I can see where the impatience and refusal to be held up by traffic comes from. The fact that you got hit means you obviously did not see it coming, let alone avoid it.

Sorry, if you and sudo want to operate a bike as incompetently, rudely and impatiently as way too many motor vehicle operators do, don't expect sympathy or hand-holding from me. The lady was wrong to swerve into you, but you were also wrong for being an impatient ass in a hurry...just like the motorists you rail against. But no worries, you are not uncommon and I understand that the problem isn't with the vehicle, it's with the boneheads who operate them.
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Old 06-15-10, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
Yes, I was asking to be hit because I was in the shoulder instead of taking the ONLY lane in a 35mph zone during rush hour. Can you honestly tell me you'd be in a different spot in this situation??? Car after Car coming in both directions. There were hardly any breaks in traffic (hence the car having to stop for a significant amount of time to take a left).
Since he wasn't riding with you, he is in a poor position to condemn where you chose to ride.

Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
And YES... i saw it all coming. The timing of the whole incident SUCKED and I AVOIDED getting plastered to the roadway by anticipating the stupid move... That doesn't mean I could avoid it completely. I did not have time to stop when she passed me, and I don't have the skill or confidence to hammer it past her.. I had my hands on the break and watched her very closely... As she started to take my lane away I swung out.. but she took the entire lane before I was past her bumper. At that point, It was either glance her bumper, or take a trip down the embankment on the right.
Keep in mind that you can't control what actions the driver takes. Since you (the cyclist) are talking, the advice you are being given is about what you can do to keep yourself safe.

It's not unreasonable to expect that you could have done things better. It's pretty obvious that you could have done things worse. Since people here weren't there, they can't know exactly what you should have done. It seems that you might not have anticipated the risk as early as you could have. The real point/value of this discussion is to learn how to better avoid these kinds of issues in the future.
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Old 06-15-10, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
This, very much so!!


This as an absolute statement doesn't make any sense. There are times where it is appropriate to take the lane and there are times when it's less appropriate. And it depends on a lot of factors including traffic, cyclist skill, etc, etc.
One does not have to "take the lane" to avoid riding on the shoulder. But in all fairness, if there is a nice wide, clean, paved shoulder, I got no problem using it...but I don't delude myself into thinking that because it's not part of the roadway that it will automagically protect me from harm either.
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Old 06-15-10, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
One does not have to "take the lane" to avoid riding on the shoulder. But in all fairness, if there is a nice wide, clean, paved shoulder, I got no problem using it...but I don't delude myself into thinking that because it's not part of the roadway that it will automagically protect me from harm either.
Yup!! This makes sense. (You sounded dogmatic earlier.)
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Old 06-15-10, 11:19 AM
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Out of curiosity, I looked this up on Pennsylvania's DOT site (my particular state). I'm struggling to find anything about passing on the right, to see if there is any exception for a bicycle though:

(b) Operation on shoulder. -- A pedalcycle may be operated on the shoulder of a highway and shall be operated in the same direction as required of vehicles operated on the roadway.
Comment: A bicycle may be operated on either a shoulder or on the roadway (the travel lanes). The locations will be based upon traffic volume, the physical condition of the travel lanes or the shoulder, traffic speed, the bicyclist's intended direction, and other safety factors.

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Old 06-15-10, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
One does not have to "take the lane" to avoid riding on the shoulder. But in all fairness, if there is a nice wide, clean, paved shoulder, I got no problem using it...but I don't delude myself into thinking that because it's not part of the roadway that it will automagically protect me from harm either.
I appreciate insight. But instead of bring a critical ass, why don't you enlighten us on the technique you would have used to travel down a roadway with a standard sized single lane and a 2-3ft shoulder, HEAVY traffic in both directions at 35+mph, and your average speed is 17.5mph.

Would you have taken the lane (by cutting in front of a 35+mph car since there were no breaks) in order to avoid a situation where someone would use the shoulder to go around another driver?
Would you have just ridden 3ft into the lane, slowing traffic to 17.5mph? Remember traffic in the other direction is steady and constant was well. (No passing)

I'm sorry we're not all perfect. I'm new to this form of exercise. I find it fun. I'm looking for advice rather than nonconstructive criticism.
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Old 06-15-10, 11:31 AM
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I would have been driving in the shoulder assuming the traffic lane had a stream of traffic, the shoulder was wide, debris/hazard free and no intersections immediately ahead.

Then at first notice of the left turning car ahead I would have assessed traffic conditions behind me and started to evaluate the optimized point to insert myself into traffic flow. At that point I would have started to signal and look back, gaining attention of a driver behind me. There would be a period of negotiation and variance depending on driver reaction and distance/time until the potential conflict point, but I would be prepared before this point to either ideally have a driver slow to let me merge left and control the lane or as the safe bailout be stopped before the potential conflict.

Describing this makes it sound more complex that it is. It is something I do multiple times every day where lanes end, narrow, cars are parked on roadside, etc.
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Old 06-15-10, 11:34 AM
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Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
Would you have taken the lane (by cutting in front of a 35+mph car since there were no breaks) in order to avoid a situation where someone would use the shoulder to go around another driver? Would you have just ridden 3ft into the lane, slowing traffic to 17.5mph?
Was traffic slowing down before passing the car on the right? If so, that's your opening. Signal and move in. Join the cars in passing on the right. A mirror can really help here if you don't have one.

And sometimes you have to slow down traffic. I had a stretch last winter where traffic was stuck behind me going about 10 MPH because I had no shoulder, no safe place to pull off, and they couldn't get around me. They used their horns, but they dealt with it. It lasted for maybe 5 minutes.
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Old 06-15-10, 12:17 PM
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bosoxmrkn, I think I understand your scenario.

Don't be too concerned with some of the internet lawyers here.

If I understand correctly, the OP was
-riding on a 2-3 foot wide shoulder* of a two lane road in New Hampshire.
-riding to the right of a white fog line and off the "travel" lane portion of the road. He is lawfully allowed to operate either there, or on the main portion of the roadway too. NHRSA 265:144 (XI)
-He was going at a fair and reasonable pace ~15-20mph for a bicycle.
-The motor traffic was progressing at or above the posted limit of 35mph, in the travel lane
-The traffic conditions were heavy, and the lighting conditions daylight and good, road surface dry.
-At some point the OP noticed a vehicle in the travel lane stopped and attempting to make a left hand turn into a driveway.
-As the OP approached the stopped/left turning motor vehicle, he made the conscious (?) decision that he could safely pass on the right in the travel space he was occupying.
-He is lawfully entitled to pass a motor vehicle on the right pursuant to NHRSA 265:144(VII)
-Suddendly and without warning, a motor vehicle passed OP on the left, and without it being safe to do so, turned into his lane of travel. In so doing the motor vehicle left the travel portion of the roadway, failing to maintain her lane, and proceeded into the fog lane, where there was existing traffic (to wit the bicycle), failing to yield to existing traffic.
-The OP had no time to react other than to take emergency braking maneuvers.
-At the time, the motor vehicle struck the OP on his left with the front right quarter panel/bumper.
-This caused the OP to fall against and across the hood of the motor vehicle.
-The OP was able to maintain his balance and did not fall or crash off his bicycle, but instead was able to complete his braking and stop safely off the side of the road.
-The operator of the motor vehicle, did not stop and identify herself after the contact, and instead continued down the road, see NHRSA 264:25
-The OP was able to get a vehicle registration number.
-The incident was observed by several witnesses, including a local police lieutenant.

If the above is correct, from what I can glean from the OP's posts, I fail to see any fault with the OPs operation of his bicycle.

I emboldened one section of my list: This is essentially no different from a motor vehicle "right hooking" you.

I just want to explain, that for the situation at hand, there may be two different things going on:
1) What was legal and apportionment of fault; and
2) What the OP could have done to operate "defensively" and proceed more safely in a similar and common situation. After all we all have to drive/ride like no one sees us, 1st rule of defensive driving.

As to 1) I fail to see any fault on the OPs part. Indeed, the left turning vehicle is largely irrelevant, other than it was part of the scenario. It in no way allows an approaching vehicle to pass unsafely on the right. The Bike had the primary position and could pass safely. The car did not, as is evidenced by her having to leave her lane and come into contact with another vehicle (OP's bicycle) who was lawfully on the way.
As to 2) There have been some suggestions. Taking the lane as approaching is what came to my mind too, but I can see how the OP was a bit trepidatious given that he didn't think he could merge into the heavy and 2x faster motor vehicle traffic. I think sitting up a bit making yourself change position and becoming more visible and giving a hand signal to the left, or a slow down signal may have helped but who knows.

I hate to speculate, but what are the odds that the mv operator was chatting on her cell phone at the time?

* Maybe we should be clear about the reference to a "shoulder:" Generally, in these neck of the woods, the shoulder is also the fog lane. It is generally a level and paved portion of the way, that is indistinguishable from the road surface/travel lane other than it being separated from the travel lane by a white line. Shoulders are also often referred to as breakdown lanes, parking lanes, fog lanes and sometimes bike lanes. Some roads have them, some do not. It appears from the OP that his was so separated from the travel lane, and was about 2-3 wide. Note, NH has no requirement for a rider to use the shoulder, or even a designated bike lane, if one so exists. But in the same vein, a motor vehicle MUST yield to other vehicles (and specifically bicycles) utilizing, and established in, these lanes.

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Old 06-15-10, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by bosoxmrkn
I appreciate insight. But instead of bring a critical ass, why don't you enlighten us on the technique you would have used to travel down a roadway with a standard sized single lane and a 2-3ft shoulder, HEAVY traffic in both directions at 35+mph, and your average speed is 17.5mph.

Would you have taken the lane (by cutting in front of a 35+mph car since there were no breaks) in order to avoid a situation where someone would use the shoulder to go around another driver?
Would you have just ridden 3ft into the lane, slowing traffic to 17.5mph? Remember traffic in the other direction is steady and constant was well. (No passing)

I'm sorry we're not all perfect. I'm new to this form of exercise. I find it fun. I'm looking for advice rather than nonconstructive criticism.
Best advice I can give you is to quit thinking like an impatient motorist, as well as the advice that has already been given...to plan for Murphy. Had you done one or both, you would not have placed yourself in a position for that woman to cause you grief, prompting your OP.

Personally, if the lane was wide enough to share, I would have been sharing it...but coming upon a left turner with traffic backed up behind it's pretty much a no-brainer that one or more are going to try to cut around to the right to get by...so I sure as hell would not be putting myself in their path. Instead I would negotiate my way back into the lane and followed traffic around. If the lane had not been wide enough to share, I would have already been in the lane and again, following traffic around. It's really not that hard, I've only been doing it for 2 or 3 decades.

Of course, one of the advantages of being on a bike is that you have other alternatives that a car does not have. One could jump the sidewalk, take a quick side street detour, cut through parking lots, or even use the shoulder to bypass stopped traffic...IF IT IS SAFE TO DO SO. Again, in your case, the fact that one or more cars might try to cut right across your path should have been apparent. So sometimes you just gotta slow or stop like the rest of the traffic....I know this is a foreign concept in our hurry up society.

So to review:

1. Don't be an impatient motorist on a bike
2. plan for Murphy
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Old 06-15-10, 12:38 PM
  #71  
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Originally Posted by chandltp
And sometimes you have to slow down traffic. I had a stretch last winter where traffic was stuck behind me going about 10 MPH because I had no shoulder, no safe place to pull off, and they couldn't get around me. They used their horns, but they dealt with it. It lasted for maybe 5 minutes.
And that's one of the bigger lessons to be learned about riding in traffic. Like Critical Mass says: we don't foul up traffic, we are traffic. Drivers have to wait for other drivers all the time, and occasionally having to wait for a bike won't kill them, either. You don't want to make people wait for the fun of it, but you have as much right to be on the roads as anyone else. Don't give up your safety to avoid angering other road users for a few minutes when it's necessary to.
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Old 06-15-10, 01:08 PM
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Old 06-15-10, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by chipcom
Sorry, if you and sudo want to operate a bike as incompetently, rudely and impatiently as way too many motor vehicle operators do, don't expect sympathy or hand-holding from me.
Any minute now you'll explain why riding on a shoulder is incompetent or rude, right?

If you are legally allowed to operate on the shoulder, and the shoulder is in ridable condition, why would you not ride on the shoulder? Riding in the lane in a situation where you have a perfectly reasonable alternative isn't advocacy, it's being a ******. Why contribute to traffic congestion when it just isn't necessary? To prove some sort of point?

The lady was wrong to swerve into you, but you were also wrong for being an impatient ass in a hurry...just like the motorists you rail against. But no worries, you are not uncommon and I understand that the problem isn't with the vehicle, it's with the boneheads who operate them.
Horse manure. There's a difference between being partially at fault for an accident and not having operated to the best of your ability. Not operating at your A game does not automatically make you partially at fault.

He proceeded in a legal fashion. And the act of passing a left-turning car that you aren't even in the same travel lane as is not particularly unsafe. Indeed, it's a big reason why we have multi-lane roads. When bicycles are entitled to ride on the shoulder, it practically turns the shoulder into a shared-use bike lane.
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Old 06-15-10, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by njkayaker
There is clearly something unsafe about passing a car on the shoulder because the cyclist got hit!
This is bogus logic.

Imagine, if you will, the same situation, but instead of the shoulder our cyclist is in a bike lane. Now, would you expect the bike to stop behind a left turning vehicle not in his lane in this situation? Why not? Because it's dubbed the name "lane" instead of "shoulder"? And if he was hit in this situation, does that mean it's unsafe to pass cars while riding in a bike lane? I mean, if he was hit it's clearly unsafe, right? Sorry, the correlation/causation doesn't fly here...

If you are legally allowed to ride in either, why does it matter? For all intents and purposes, the shoulder becomes a bike lane. There is no good reason for not passing a car turning left while you aren't even in the same lane. And regardless, it's legally allowed as was posted already. Whether a particularly safe practice or not (which I think it is), it's really beside the point. The cyclist was operating his bike in a legal fashion, and a motorist made an unsafe pass. End of story.

The cyclist was not driving defensively!
Perhaps. We weren't there, so it's hard to judge that well. He must have been driving somewhat defensively because he isn't a smear at this point. Perhaps not as defensively as he could have been. Who knows?
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Old 06-15-10, 01:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest
And that's one of the bigger lessons to be learned about riding in traffic. Like Critical Mass says: we don't foul up traffic, we are traffic. Drivers have to wait for other drivers all the time, and occasionally having to wait for a bike won't kill them, either. You don't want to make people wait for the fun of it, but you have as much right to be on the roads as anyone else. Don't give up your safety to avoid angering other road users for a few minutes when it's necessary to.
Agreed; BUT, at the same time, if you are able to operate safely in a manner that will let traffic flow more freely, why wouldn't you? As long as you aren't sacrificing your own safety, I don't see why not...
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