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North Virginia's Drivers are GREAT!

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North Virginia's Drivers are GREAT!

Old 07-02-11, 10:43 PM
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North Virginia's Drivers are GREAT!

I was riding the W&OD today and crossed at least 15 roads. I noticed that at every intersection where there were cars, as I slowed for a stop I'd see drivers stop their cars and wave me through so I didn't have to completely stop. In on intersection a driver even assisted me by blocking another lane because he saw a car coming quickly up the turn lane after he had waved me through.

If it was just one intersection I'd think that was cool but this happened AT LEAST 7 times.

I'm guessing that people in NoVA are more familiar with cyclists so they treat them better. Can you think of any other reason why the car/bike culture there is different?
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Old 07-03-11, 12:20 AM
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Like living in Europe?
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Old 07-03-11, 09:44 AM
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be careful when they wave you through, there was an incident where a BF member (from NOVA, incidentally) was hit in just this situation. A motorist illegally drove around a stopped driver and hit him.
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Old 07-03-11, 10:18 AM
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Opinions on this practice vary widely.

When the car has the right-of-way I want the driver to take it.
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Old 07-03-11, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by gcottay
Opinions on this practice vary widely.

When the car has the right-of-way I want the driver to take it.
Agreed. They may be willing to cede their right-of-way, but they have no control over how other motorists around them will behave. And this introduces an unpredictable element unnecessarily.

What annoys me more is how so many MUPs have stop signs at every single intersection with roads, even extremely quiet residential driveways. The mentality of the trail designers seems to be that drivers should not and will not stop for bikes, and that therefore it makes more sense to place all the burden of negotiating the intersections on the bicyclists. That may well be the best idea from a safety perspective, but it certainly reduces the utility of many of these trails as viable transportation corridors (I haven't ridden on the W&OD, so I'm commenting generally on other rails-to-trails MUPs I've used). In general, I think stop signs are way overused in our road system, and should be replaced with yields everywhere that the only purpose of the stop sign is to establish priority of one road over another. The stop should be reserved for places that would otherwise be impossible to negotiate safely without coming to a full stop every time. Its overuse dilutes its meaning because both drivers and cyclists get used to thinking of it as a "suggestion" since it's so often used in places where a full stop is NOT necessary for safety. And while they're at it, I don't think that a lightly used residential driveway or condo entrance should take priority over a heavily used MUP...but the stop signs are almost always on the MUP, not on the driveway.

Bike-specific signals to cross busier roads on MUPs are another option, but I've had several experiences where I've pushed the button to activate one of those only to see car after car just blow through it. It seems like many motorists are either oblivious towards or have no respect for mid-block crossing signals, just like how many of them blow through mid-block crosswalks even when pedestrians are present. I don't know what's worse...the conclusion that many drivers intentionally don't stop at those things, because they don't think they should have to, or the idea that so many drivers are on "autopilot" midblock that they genuinely don't notice the crossing signals.
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Old 07-03-11, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by mnemia
Agreed. They may be willing to cede their right-of-way, but they have no control over how other motorists around them will behave. And this introduces an unpredictable element unnecessarily.

What annoys me more is how so many MUPs have stop signs at every single intersection with roads, even extremely quiet residential driveways.
Yep, driving or cycling I hate to take a yielded right-of-way since it's unpredictable. Unfortunately here on Cape Cod it appears to be the only way people drive. You can't go 2 miles without having someone cede right-of-way ( for driving in a car as well ). They also have the problem with stops on the MUP with "cyclists must dismount" when these stops occur far too frequently and, in one case, where the road is blocked. At every one of these stops the drivers will come to a quick stop and let you cross despite the fact that they have the right-of-way and I have a stop. I seem to be one of the few that even bothers to slow down at many of these intersections.
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Old 07-03-11, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Brontide
Yep, driving or cycling I hate to take a yielded right-of-way since it's unpredictable. Unfortunately here on Cape Cod it appears to be the only way people drive. You can't go 2 miles without having someone cede right-of-way ( for driving in a car as well ). They also have the problem with stops on the MUP with "cyclists must dismount" when these stops occur far too frequently and, in one case, where the road is blocked. At every one of these stops the drivers will come to a quick stop and let you cross despite the fact that they have the right-of-way and I have a stop. I seem to be one of the few that even bothers to slow down at many of these intersections.
What I think may help produce this dynamic is the unpredictability that is actually created by the unnecessary and ill-advised MUP stop signs. The MUP designers put so many stop signs on the trail unnecessarily that cyclists just start ignoring them. Then some of the drivers start stopping every time because of experiences with cyclists blowing through the unnecessary stop signs. That, in turn, encourages more cyclists to just blow through, because so many of the drivers will wait for them. And you've got a full-blown feedback loop affecting behavior by both the motorists and cyclists. This is why it's really important that the people placing the signs actually evaluate whether it REALLY makes sense to put a stop sign there, or whether a yield would be better. Or maybe a stop sign on the road rather than the MUP. Instead, most of them just take the ultra-lazy approach of putting stop signs on the MUP every time it crosses any place a car might conceivably be, rather than actually performing a real traffic evaluation and accounting for real-world human behavior. It's probably also a convenient approach for reducing liability, even if it actually makes things more dangerous for trail users, because then they can just blame the cyclists in any instance where they get hit crossing a road.
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Old 07-03-11, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by gcottay
When the car has the right-of-way I want the driver to take it.
Me too, but I also recognize that they're being nice, which makes me happy and is worth a wave or a smile.
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Old 07-03-11, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc
Me too, but I also recognize that they're being nice, which makes me happy and is worth a wave or a smile.
They're being "nice", but being nice isn't always a safety benefit for us.
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Old 07-05-11, 01:46 PM
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Most of the W&OD Trail intersections with roads have stop signs for the trail, some even where there is a controling stoplight with pedestrian walk signal. But then again, cars are supposed to stop for pedestrians and cyclists in the intersection. It leads to a lot of indecisiveness on the part of all users.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen
be careful when they wave you through, there was an incident where a BF member (from NOVA, incidentally) was hit in just this situation. A motorist illegally drove around a stopped driver and hit him.
Incidents like what you mentioned above, are why I don't trust motorists ANYWHERE, in the D.C.-Metro region. Trusting them, leads to a cyclist's complacency and inattention to ones' surroundings, when on the road. This ultimately leads to a cyclist getting killed.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:10 PM
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Originally Posted by iconicflux
I was riding the W&OD today and crossed at least 15 roads. I noticed that at every intersection where there were cars, as I slowed for a stop I'd see drivers stop their cars and wave me through so I didn't have to completely stop. In on intersection a driver even assisted me by blocking another lane because he saw a car coming quickly up the turn lane after he had waved me through.

If it was just one intersection I'd think that was cool but this happened AT LEAST 7 times.

I'm guessing that people in NoVA are more familiar with cyclists so they treat them better. Can you think of any other reason why the car/bike culture there is different?
That is not my experience.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by dougmc
Me too, but I also recognize that they're being nice, which makes me happy and is worth a wave or a smile.
Even if they are being nice, they are being impolite, and creating a hazardous situation to boot. A polite person takes the time to understand the rules of interaction in a given situation (in this case, traffic rules) and does their best to abide by those rules. It has nothing to do with being "nice". It is perfectly possible to blunder around being super-nice and impolite as hell at the same time.

Cheerfully rude people have a special place reserved for them in hell.
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Old 07-05-11, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by corvuscorvax
Even if they are being nice, they are being impolite
...
Cheerfully rude people have a special place reserved for them in hell.
Man, I'd hate to be paying for your high blood pressure medication ...

Personally, I try not to take offense when offense is clearly not intended, but whatever floats your boat.
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Old 07-05-11, 07:43 PM
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Originally Posted by mnemia
They're being "nice", but being nice isn't always a safety benefit for us.
I despise the little pas de deux that results when a driver tries to wave me through.

OP, it's _Northern_ Virginia. You must be new to these parts...
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