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A Bicyclist At Risk Tonight

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A Bicyclist At Risk Tonight

Old 09-09-13, 10:53 PM
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A Bicyclist At Risk Tonight

I was appalled by a cyclist tonight.

The road is a four lane arterial. Two lanes each direction, minimum width. No parking lane, no shoulder, no bike lane. If you step off the sidewalk, you're directly in the flow of traffic. Lights synchronized. Typical speed 45 mph. Heavy traffic at most hours.

I have - very occasionally - ridden my bike on this road, for a few blocks at a time, and I'm pedaling as fast as I can, 25+ mph, until I turn off to a quieter street. I'm the rare exception. Hardly anyone rides a bike on this road.

Until tonight. I'm driving along, in thick traffic, 45 mph in the curbside lane, inches from the curb on my right and the SUV on my left, when I see a woman riding an upright city bike in the lane ahead of me. She is not riding fast. Actually she is doodling along, coasting as often as pedaling, maybe 10 mph. She is hugging the curb and cars are passing her at 30+ mph, so closely it makes me wince.

By the way, it is night and very dark. She has a red blinky on her seatpost. No reflectives. No helmet.

I'm boggled that someone is doing this. Instead of passing her, I slow and follow her at 10 mph, figuring that for the half mile I'm on the road, I'll at least protect her a bit. When I turn off, she's still puttering along, and cars are starting to buzz her again.

Comments? Yes I realize she is technically "within her rights" to ride there. Should she be?
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Old 09-09-13, 11:15 PM
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Someone told her PDX is extremely bike friendly and everyone rides everywhere, so she's giving it a go. If someone tries to talk her out of what she is doing, she'll dismiss their advice because she "always does it that way".

Obviously, I'm making this all up. However, I have had some of those conversations with a couple of our local traffic planners. They roll along on dangerous stretches like Mr. Magoo and don't see any problem with the road. They rode it and survived, why am I complaining?

This thread is likely to touch on one of the issues in the thread on Mass. Do we have a functional right to ride on non-limited access roads, or is it limited to those roads with appropriate shoulders, bike lanes, speed limits, traffic volumes, etc. And, who decides what's appropriate?
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Old 09-09-13, 11:55 PM
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The primary problem I see with OP's description is that the motorists are not doing their due duty to show due care and respect for another legal road user, especially one that is incredibly vulnerable to injury or death from the dangerous machines they are operating.

The secondary problem I see is with the road infrastructure in question not being built to accommodate all road users.

And, finally, the lowest problem I see on the scale is the way the cyclist is choosing to ride on that road, not that she is riding on the road, if your going to ride on a narrow high speed road where there is no shoulder edge and the lanes are too narrow to allow safe passing within the lane. You ride no further to the right then the right wheel track, preferably a little to the left of it ~ and you pedal like a mad man (or woman) !!! My personal experience so far at least in my own home area is that motorists tend to get less angry with a cyclist taking the lane and preventing an unsafe pass if they can plainly see beyond a doubt that you are trying your very hardest to go as fast as you can. Doesn't assure they some of them won't still get mad, but it does seem to help reduce the number.
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Old 09-10-13, 12:00 AM
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I see this type behavior fairly regularly both while driving and riding. Some are just unconcious and others are self-rightous. Others are trying to draw a collision. They all are just part of the landscape as far as I'm concerned. But, especially the ones who are deliberately trying to cause incidents can sometimes cause some real excitement.
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Old 09-10-13, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by turbo1889
The primary problem I see with OP's description is that the motorists are not doing their due duty to show due care and respect for another legal road user, especially one that is incredibly vulnerable to injury or death from the dangerous machines they are operating...
Oregon law makes this case rather explicitly. ORS 811.095 mandates that on such a roadway the motorists must give the cyclist room to fall in their direction when they overtake her. Why is it considered odd to expect people to follow the law?
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Old 09-10-13, 12:13 AM
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Also, I do applaud the OP for being one of the few (possibly the only according to his description) motorists who does seem to understand his duty and actually went beyond and played "wing-man" for the cyclist in question. I've had the pleasure of doing same a couple of times myself, it leaves a good feeling.
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Old 09-10-13, 12:18 AM
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Originally Posted by turbo1889
Also, I do applaud the OP for being one of the few (possibly the only according to his description) motorists who does seem to understand his duty and actually went beyond and played "wing-man" for the cyclist in question. I've had the pleasure of doing same a couple of times myself, it leaves a good feeling.
The female cyclist may not share your pleasure to be followed by what appears (to the cyclist) as a motorized stalker up to no good.
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Old 09-10-13, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike
The female cyclist may not share your pleasure to be followed by what appears (to the cyclist) as a motorized stalker up to no good.
Maintaining a respectful distance with hazard lights blinking usually helps with that, plus so far the two times I've done it, it was a guy. You are correct though that it could be misinterpreted.
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Old 09-10-13, 12:25 AM
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If you really want to wince, watch some cyclists' doing that in the daytime, in the D.C.-Metro region. People are always in a rush around here.

Last edited by Chris516; 09-10-13 at 12:59 AM.
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Old 09-10-13, 12:31 AM
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Apart from the red blinky on the seatpost, did she have a strong headlight?
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Old 09-10-13, 12:32 AM
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Don't you mean some motorists do that? Don't they have the primary responsibility to pass safely?
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Old 09-10-13, 01:42 AM
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The blame was on the drivers for buzzing her. Round here Amish drive on roads like that all the time doing the same speed. Are they too in the wrong?

Some more lights may not have been a bad idea though.
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Old 09-10-13, 02:35 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl
The road is a four lane arterial. Two lanes each direction, minimum width. No parking lane, no shoulder, no bike lane. If you step off the sidewalk, you're directly in the flow of traffic. Lights synchronized. Typical speed 45 mph. Heavy traffic at most hours.
Speed limit 45? Where?
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Old 09-10-13, 05:19 AM
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45 mph is typical speed, not posted speed limit. 39th (Cesar Chavez) southbound from Glisan to Hawthorne. Last night around 8 pm.

No headlight noticeable from behind her; might have had a front blinky, I couldn't tell.

There are alternative north-south routes nearby, including the marked bike route on 42nd, just a couple blocks over.
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Old 09-10-13, 06:10 AM
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I see this sort of thing when the students come back every year. I figure it's just that they don't know that there are better alternative routes nearby. A person that isn't an experienced cyclist may not have thought to go looking for routes.
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Old 09-10-13, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by katsrevenge
The blame was on the drivers for buzzing her. Round here Amish drive on roads like that all the time doing the same speed. Are they too in the wrong?

Some more lights may not have been a bad idea though.
Yeah, the buggies typically have headlights and rear blinkies, and that big reflective triangle on the back.

OP, if you see her again, maybe offer her some lights or a hi-viz vest. Or suggest the alternate route. She may be new to cycling and not be aware of the danger she is putting herself in.
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Old 09-10-13, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree
Oregon law makes this case rather explicitly. ORS 811.095 mandates that on such a roadway the motorists must give the cyclist room to fall in their direction when they overtake her. Why is it considered odd to expect people to follow the law?
From the standpoint of taking responsibility our own safety, the question is different. Since there will always be some unknown drivers who do not follow the law, what can we do to make our rides as safe and smooth as possible?
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Old 09-10-13, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by gcottay
From the standpoint of taking responsibility our own safety, the question is different. Since there will always be some unknown drivers who do not follow the law, what can we do to make our rides as safe and smooth as possible?
Road position and/or, riding as close to the speed limit as possible and/or, bright reflective attire and/or, better than average lighting. Finally, Not going on roads you don't feel comfortable on for your skill level.

But all that has been mentioned in countless previous threads.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:02 AM
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I honestly don't see the problem. The OP saw her, as did hundreds of other cars which passed her without incident. She had a blinky, was riding generally appropriately -- probably should have been out in the lane further, but what the heck. No helmet is a non-sequitur.

Doesn't sound to me like she was in much danger at all.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:04 AM
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I have a similar road like that a block from my house. 5 lanes, speed limit is 50 mph, opens to 6 and then 7 lanes for a 1/4 mile at the west end, no shoulders - I AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. With the 50 MPH speed limit I get passed in my car when driving it by people doing at least 60 if not 70 mph. I still see bicyclers on it on occasion.

And here I await getting blasted both barrels by the biker zealots: Just because you HAVE the right to "share the road" on any road that allows bicycles doesn't mean that it's smart, prudent or expedient to be ON that road. Some roads are just TOO dangerous. The one in my neighbor hood has wide 7' sidewalks on either side, set right against the curb. If I HAVE to get to somewhere this road leads I go ahead and ride on the sidewalk - VERY SLOWLY and keep watch like a hawk, it still gives me the creeps to be near it. If a pedestrian come my way (which few do as it is scary being that close to traffic) I get over for them, THEY have the right of way.

I talked with a cop once and he agreed even though it is not "officially" town policy, that if you must use this road to bike then he said to use the sidewalk. My local LBS is at the other end, if I don't back the bike on the car rack I will ride it on the sidewalk to get there.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jyl
45 mph is typical speed, not posted speed limit. 39th (Cesar Chavez) southbound from Glisan to Hawthorne. Last night around 8 pm.

No headlight noticeable from behind her; might have had a front blinky, I couldn't tell.

There are alternative north-south routes nearby, including the marked bike route on 42nd, just a couple blocks over.
Was there an event going on? I only ask because I feel safe on nearly every road in this town at 8pm, including Chavez. The roads with tracks are pretty much the only ones that I tend to avoid 100% of the time.

I don't have any problem with this rider despite your irrelevant descriptors (i.e. upright bike, no helmet, no reflectives). Sometimes when I pass these ladies, I feel like the wussy. "Here I am too insecure to ride at the pace I'm comfortable with in order to appease people sitting on their butts pressing a gas pedal" is usually the thought running through my head.

Sure there is an "alternate" route. This city is a grid, but it's not an equivalent alternative. Must be some reason the majority of motorists aren't using these alternative routes. Could it possibly be that they don't enjoy having a stop sign every major block, want to avoid crossing traffic without a signal every major block, and don't like having to negotiate 6 turns (https://goo.gl/maps/pirZC) where this main route allows them to accomplish the same thing by driving in a straight line? I wonder.

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Old 09-10-13, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Rootman
I have a similar road like that a block from my house. 5 lanes, speed limit is 50 mph, opens to 6 and then 7 lanes for a 1/4 mile at the west end, no shoulders - I AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. With the 50 MPH speed limit I get passed in my car when driving it by people doing at least 60 if not 70 mph. I still see bicyclers on it on occasion.

And here I await getting blasted both barrels by the biker zealots: Just because you HAVE the right to "share the road" on any road that allows bicycles doesn't mean that it's smart, prudent or expedient to be ON that road. Some roads are just TOO dangerous. The one in my neighbor hood has wide 7' sidewalks on either side, set right against the curb. If I HAVE to get to somewhere this road leads I go ahead and ride on the sidewalk - VERY SLOWLY and keep watch like a hawk, it still gives me the creeps to be near it. If a pedestrian come my way (which few do as it is scary being that close to traffic) I get over for them, THEY have the right of way.

I talked with a cop once and he agreed even though it is not "officially" town policy, that if you must use this road to bike then he said to use the sidewalk. My local LBS is at the other end, if I don't back the bike on the car rack I will ride it on the sidewalk to get there.
50mph/6-7 lanes in NW Arkansas? There should be 'road' trade. There is on 50mph road a couple miles north of my house. It is only a 4-6 lane road. Since I am in the D.C.-Metro region, where practically everyone has a 'me first' attitude once they get in their vehicle, I would have expected 6-7 lanes here. Not in NW Arkansas.

While I don't like the twin pipes on some motorcycles. The momentary noise is far better than being passed within a foot by an ignorant driver on four wheels who feels they can bully a cyclist out of their way.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:42 AM
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Sounds like a daily bike ride to me......

If my bike said Harley and my jacket said Hell's Angels would you still be appalled....?...

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Old 09-10-13, 10:51 AM
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I don't see a problem either, I've ridden in traffic and streets like that a lot over my 40 years including Los Angeles before there were adequate bike paths and lanes! If those types of roads scare you then don't ride them but don't tell someone else they shouldn't.
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Old 09-10-13, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Rootman
I have a similar road like that a block from my house. 5 lanes, speed limit is 50 mph, opens to 6 and then 7 lanes for a 1/4 mile at the west end, no shoulders - I AVOID IT LIKE THE PLAGUE. With the 50 MPH speed limit I get passed in my car when driving it by people doing at least 60 if not 70 mph. I still see bicyclers on it on occasion.
39th (Cesar Chavez) is not that road. It has a 30mph speed limit and traffic is typically moving at 35 mph. Excluding rush hour, this would be a prime stretch of biking road where I'm from (Tampa Bay area, FL)
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