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Educating Drivers

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Educating Drivers

Old 04-15-11, 10:44 AM
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Educating Drivers

I think sometimes we have to give a break to drivers because they aren't dumb or trying to be obnoxious, they are just ignorant. As a perfect example, I was approaching a stop sign on a very rural two lane road - had a nice tail wind, so I was cruising along at about 25 mph. I could hear a car approaching from the rear. So as I usually do as I approach stop signs, I glanced back to ensure the car was far enough behind me and I slid from the right tire groove to the center of the lane to clearly stake my position at the stop sign. I could hear the car approaching, but I kept at my speed, trying to be sure that he didn't try and swing around me. We arrived at the stop sign at the same time. Me in the center of my lane and he in the opposite lane. I glanced at him, giving him the what are you doing look, and he was giving it right back to me.

He clearly had no idea what to do. He wasn't trying to be obnoxious, he didn't honk or roll down his window to yell at me. Bicyclists in my area aren't very common, so knowing how to share the road clearly isn't something that ever occurred to him. Logically, to him, it makes perfect sense - approach something that is moving slow, and just go around it. The problem is he didn't judge my speed correctly and ended up in the wrong lane, potentially facing oncoming traffic.

My son's drivers ed instructor spent some time talking about how to share the road with cyclists, but it wasn't a part of any mandating curriculum. He was just teaching it on his own. Having mandated curriculum for drivers education and even a section on drivers tests would go a long way towards education drivers on how to share the road.
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Old 04-15-11, 11:10 AM
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The driver's ed program at the high school where I teach covers some tips on sharing the road. But the other teacher and I who commute regularly probably talk to the kids about the nuts and bolts more than driver's ed. And some kids do understand cyclists rights, but they get soooo annoyed that they have to slow down a fraction of a second or turn the wheel a smidge to go around bikes. It's kind of depressing how there is so antipathy towards cyclists, yet dog-walkers or joggers are generally tolerated with a shrug. The girls are generally more conscientious, but the boys can be frighteningly awful -- both in driving skill and lousy attitude, especially when they're pretending to be in a NASCAR race or a high-speed chase. Actually, some local teenagers just died from an accident racing down rural roads.

As far 'educating' drivers on the roads, it seems like the guy at the stop sign just didn't know what to do. I always assume drivers will misjudge my speed. I'm a fan of intuitive hand signals (rather than those weird ones they taught me in the 80's, sooo confusing!) and eye contact On my rural rides the only drivers who are truly hopeless are the octogenarians who buzz by only six inches from me. But those guys are usually so old they have no frame of reference for the three-foot rule.
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Old 04-15-11, 11:25 AM
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I agree that much of it is just ignorance and inexperience in driving around cyclists. Drivers' ed programs are being cut many places from the schools, and in any case most adults are never required to go through any kind of retraining once they learn how to drive. That seems absurd to me, but it's the situation we have. The main thing I think that we as cyclists can do to help the situation is to always ride in a predictable and consistently assertive fashion. That way, drivers will gain the right kind of experience over time and learn how to predict what a cyclist is going to do.

Also, it probably helps not to visibly display anger when people do stupid stuff like the driver at the stop sign in the OP. That probably just makes them defensive about their driving (which most of them think is already great). If you have an opportunity and they seem receptive, a calm discussion might be fine to help educate some of the merely ignorant drivers. My wife does that successfully a lot more often than I do, I think because the drivers feel less threatened by her as a woman talking to them than by a male approaching their window. The other day, she had a car illegally and dangerously attempt to pass her while both of them were executing a right turn (the car left the right turn only lane and went around the blind corner in the opposing lane in order to try to pass her without waiting). My wife gestured to her to "wait", and then had a nice roadside chat with the woman driving the car about why that wasn't a good idea and what she should do in similar situations in the future (basically, waiting for the cyclist and treating them the same as another car ahead of them in the RTO lane). Then the driver actually apologized to her and said she wouldn't do it in the future, and no voices were raised. I have trouble believing it would have gone that way had it been me instead of my wife, as I've never had a driver react that way to me if we got into a verbal "discussion".
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Old 04-15-11, 01:41 PM
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"Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

You can act like the driver of a vehicle all day long, but being treated like the driver of a vehicle is another story altogether.

I can be as predictable as the sun, but I have no actual control over what others using the road around me may do.
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Old 04-15-11, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by badbradclark
I think sometimes we have to give a break to drivers because they aren't dumb or trying to be obnoxious, they are just ignorant.
There is no excuse for ignorance when operating a couple tons of dangerous equipment.
Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.
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Old 04-15-11, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by CB HI
There is no excuse for ignorance when operating a couple tons of dangerous equipment.
I agree, but right now in our culture driving isn't being taken seriously by a lot of people. There's no excuse, but the fact is that there ARE a lot of just plain ignorant drivers out there. All we can do is chip away at it.
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Old 04-15-11, 09:13 PM
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Originally Posted by badbradclark

...He clearly had no idea what to do. He wasn't trying to be obnoxious,...
He may not have been trying to be obnoxious, but he was being aggressive and performing an illegal maneuver. Just because he isn't compounding his aggressive attitude and behavior towards cyclists by adding to it verbally, he still warrants no break. In fact, the attitude that some motorists have in which they feel no obligation to obey the law as it pertains to humans they see or motor vehicles or humans that are temporarily hidden from view (as in overdriving their vision) is a significant part of the danger on our roads.
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Old 04-16-11, 06:35 AM
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I think about this all the time. Most drivers simply don't know what to do around cyclists. It happens to me on every ride, and in the large majority of the cases the drivers are doing things they think are accommodating or courteous... and a minority are doing the opposite. Probably not much we can do about the latter, but for the former, explanatory PSAs would be very helpful.
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Old 04-16-11, 06:46 AM
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I love the one you describe, happens to me periodically and then most times the driver will start waving me across or onward in front of him or her. I just wait for them to move on, as there's no way I'm riding in front of them or turning left across them when they've established a higher priority right of way. Cracks me up if it happens with oncoming traffic or someone else trying to turn into the now-blocked lane. I do the same thing, by the way, of working to be centered (if straight through) or left of center (if turning left) at intersections, except for the part about 25mph.
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Old 04-16-11, 01:02 PM
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Yes, I photographed this sign last week. How many drivers can understand it? Not many, not many out there...

Feel free to copy this photo. I believe this photo should be Public Domain, and I hereby grant a "Creative Commons License" to re-use or reproduce it, in whole or in part.

I was going to start a new thread, but this one, with the title "Educating Drivers", seemed most appropriate .

Here is a zoom out view, where you can see to road is edged with cobblestones. This Road was NOT built for Automobiles!

BONUS Question:
Where is this speed limit sign? First one to answer correctly gets a smiley face on his or her report card.

Last edited by hotbike; 04-16-11 at 01:03 PM. Reason: forgot something
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