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"Is it safe?"

Old 04-29-19, 01:23 PM
  #1  
Jbarcs
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"Is it safe?"

This line from the 1976 film "Marathon Man" came to me yesterday as a way of asking others if they are noticing an increase in aggressive drivers along with the constant increase in distracted driving. It's early in the season for me, but I don't recall any year where I have had this many close calls/near run-ins in an entire year, let alone in just the first quarter of the year. In the last week I have been coal rolled twice, and been passed more times than I can count with less than 12" air between me and a motor vehicle. More honking and overall less tolerance than in the past. Last year in May I rode with a friend from here in the Piedmont of NC to just north of Boston MA and never experienced anything like I have in the lest three weeks. The distracted thing I get. I don't like it, but I get it. But I'm wondering more these days about what seems like an "us vs. them" mentality. I know that I am reading more and more about cyclists being hit. And killed. And too often these are hit and run episodes. Anyone else seeing this kind of escalation?
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Old 04-29-19, 01:27 PM
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I actually noticed the opposite on the part of NJ drivers during my overnight tour this past weekend.
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Old 04-29-19, 01:51 PM
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My latest theory is that commuters are the ones responsible for most my close passes. These are people who drive the road every day and have their commute timed down to the minute and won't tolerate any hold-ups whatsoever. These drivers are best avoided by staying off roads that people commute on, at least during typical commute hours.

Unfortunately, when commuter traffic thins, you have "old people traffic", and some of these people can be quite nasty too, just not as impatient. Then you have evening traffic and weekend traffic consisting of a certain percentage of drunks and, and sometimes bored kids playing pranks, but generally mellower.

So I dunno, pick your poison. I can say though that if you really want some good riding, wake up really early on a Sunday morning, and you will often have some of the busiest roads all to yourself.
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Old 04-29-19, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
I actually noticed the opposite...
My experience as well.

Back in the day, folks would left & right hook you like you were vermin, drive up behind and honk because you were using their road (with an empty lane beside them!) and buzz you like they got points.

These days, I have small traffic incidents because somebody throws the concept of right-of-way out the window trying to be 'nice to the cyclists'.
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Old 04-29-19, 02:29 PM
  #5  
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I've been trying to focus more on pleasant interactions I've had with drivers. It helps a bit with my mental health. I actually have nice conversations from time to time with drivers while we wait for a light.

OTOH, when drivers get in my face, I go absolutely overboard screaming at them, trying to look as nuts as I can (not too hard in my case). I really want them to be nervous the next time they feel an urge to harass someone. I know that goes against the party line, but I gotta be me.
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Old 04-29-19, 02:34 PM
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indyfabz
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Originally Posted by tcs View Post
My experience as well.

Back in the day, folks would left & right hook you like you were vermin, drive up behind and honk because you were using their road (with an empty lane beside them!) and buzz you like they got points.

These days, I have small traffic incidents because somebody throws the concept of right-of-way out the window trying to be 'nice to the cyclists'.
I live in PA. I have noticed that the 4' passing law seems to have made a difference to many.

And trying to be nice does cause some problems for those of us who anticipate that people will take their turns. I know they are trying to be helpful, but it can create confusion in many cases. Same with pedestrians who don't assert their rights at crosswalks. Frustrating when I am both cycling and driving.
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Old 04-29-19, 02:37 PM
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99% of car drivers are fine or even great! It's the rest you need to worry about... We in California FINALLY passed a law requiring cars sold from a dealer to have a paper plate until the permanent plates arrived. I'm hoping that cuts down on some of the hit and runs that seem to be so prevalent these days. So many cars driving around with no plates. Heck, Steve Jobs used to buy a new car every 6 months so he wouldn't have to have a plate. Go figure.
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Old 04-29-19, 04:20 PM
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It's worse now than long years ago because of distracted driving. We had a new law passed this year against using cell phones or any hand held devices while driving. Majority of road accidents could be prevented if people stopped using their cell phones and stopped playing with their infotainment systems while driving.
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Old 04-29-19, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
It's worse now than long years ago because of distracted driving. We had a new law passed this year against using cell phones or any hand held devices while driving. Majority of road accidents could be prevented if people stopped using their cell phones and stopped playing with their infotainment systems while driving.
A vehicle needs 4 gauges - fuel, speed, oil, temperature. Even without a cell phone cars THEMSELVES are a distraction with the video screens for things.
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Old 04-29-19, 04:46 PM
  #10  
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I couldn't agree more with the "courteous" driver who wants to give the poor guy on the bike the right of way when it's not appropriate comments. All they do is add confusion to the situation instead of keeping the flow going. Especially when other drivers that were 'put out' by the 'nice guy' take it out on the guy on the bike... I'm wearing that T-shirt proud!
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Old 04-29-19, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by TrojanHorse View Post
99% of car drivers are fine or even great! It's the rest you need to worry about... We in California FINALLY passed a law requiring cars sold from a dealer to have a paper plate until the permanent plates arrived. I'm hoping that cuts down on some of the hit and runs that seem to be so prevalent these days. So many cars driving around with no plates. Heck, Steve Jobs used to buy a new car every 6 months so he wouldn't have to have a plate. Go figure.
Hopefully next, they'll crack down on those dark tinted side windows. In CA tint can't block the whole side window, but about a third of the cars I see have it, and often you can't even see the driver. I'd hate to be a cop walking up to a car like that during a traffic stop.
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Old 04-29-19, 05:29 PM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Hopefully next, they'll crack down on those dark tinted side windows. In CA tint can't block the whole side window, but about a third of the cars I see have it, and often you can't even see the driver. I'd hate to be a cop walking up to a car like that during a traffic stop.
Those that take the duty to serve also take on the many risks that come with traffic stops. Window tint or not, a criminal will do what a criminal does at the end of a day.

A panel van has no side rear windows, how would enforcing a tint law benefit the police for such van?
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Old 04-29-19, 05:39 PM
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I just like being able to see that there's an actual human driving, and get an idea of whether they see me or not in certain situations, like at 4 way stops, or if someone is backing up in a parking lot, or trying to squeeze past me or whatever. Also, people use tinted windows to keep from getting caught texting (or worse) while they're driving.

I'm fine with changing the law though, but I don't wanna see everyone breaking it if it is the law, that breeds a general disrespect for all laws. Besides, I'm really pissed that I had cops ticket me for ridiculous stuff when I was younger, but these days, cops don't seem to ever cite anyone, even people driving around with no license plates.
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Old 04-29-19, 06:31 PM
  #14  
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When a person is looking at you & still runs the crosswalk in a non tinted vehicle, no matter how it's worded, a law cannot prevent stupid from being behind the wheel.

You cannot induce prejudice from your history to try & make up for how the world operates nowadays.
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Old 04-29-19, 06:59 PM
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I used to ride in the morning between 0630 and 0800. Never had any dust ups with cars, but folks in the morning are just not paying attention and they, on occasion, would pass closer than I was comfortable with. I rode on the two lane blacktops here in Iowa for a lot of years and just accepted the risk, but about three years ago the little voice in my head told me it was time to leave the highway and ride the bike path. I love the farm to market highways here, but I just didn’t feel safe any longer, particularly as distracted driving with cell phones has risen so sharply. YMMV

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Old 04-29-19, 07:25 PM
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If you run with the bulls you have to accept that you'll get the horns once in a while. When riding on the road with 2+ ton vehicles that move 2x or more faster than you, with drivers who may be distracted, maybe unaware of law for safely passing cyclists, maybe harbour some level of disdain for cyclists and won't pass up the chance to let them know about it, well, you get the picture. Even if 99.9% of drivers are undistracted, courteous, and considerate to cyclists, in a typical week of commuting I might still encounter a couple of yahoos. That's just the odds.
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Old 04-29-19, 08:07 PM
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i second Lemond1985's post (#3). the commute time home seems a little worse for cyclists than the commute time to work but it's close. it's really difficult on high speed thoroughfares/3-4 lanes wide streets...
especially when there's no dedicated bike lane/shoulder. it's just best to avoid those avenues amap. sure, sometimes it's nearly impossible to avoid jumping onto one or two for a short spell during those
times but you quickly realize (if you didn't know before) you need an offramp/alternative. the safest way for cyclists is rarely the straightest line.
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Old 04-29-19, 08:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Eric S. View Post
A vehicle needs 4 gauges - fuel, speed, oil, temperature. Even without a cell phone cars THEMSELVES are a distraction with the video screens for things.
I went to the auto show for the first time in years. I was shocked at how complicated and non-intuitive the secondary controls have become, actuated by a touch screen that required eyes because it gave no tactile feedback. Cool sitting in the showroom, but this is the wrong design direction for operation in the real world.
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Old 04-29-19, 08:58 PM
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What I've noticed about commuters is that they're on autopilot, and not watching. They've driven the same route every day, and ignore anything that isn't part of the normal traffic patterns.

Here's one I've noticed: A two-way stop just before a traffic light. Drivers will consistently blow through the stop sign if they see that they can make it through the green light further on. I'm super cautious about this situation, which occurs twice on my commute to work.
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Old 04-29-19, 09:35 PM
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Evening gravel. All the midwesterners here are having dinner and I practically have the road to myself.

I don't ride the paved roads here because the pavement (such as it is) literally ends at the white line so you MUST ride in the lane. On a 55mph road. Ok on Sundays and such, but not during busier hours.
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Old 04-30-19, 07:33 AM
  #21  
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It is getting more and more dangerous in Metro Atlanta.

As someone previously mentioned, you have to pick the right time and place to ride. Sunday mornings are good and never on busy streets.

Prefer MUPs like the Silver Comet Trail.
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Old 04-30-19, 07:38 AM
  #22  
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
wake up really early on a Sunday morning, and you will often have some of the busiest roads all to yourself.
Around here the danger hours are Sunday morning between 9:00AM - 10:00AM and 12:00PM - 1:00PM.
They happen to coincide with people going to and coming home from church.
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Old 05-01-19, 07:46 AM
  #23  
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I make it a point to nod or finger flash wave when a driver gives way to me. Just as a thanks for paying attention.
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Old 05-01-19, 08:45 AM
  #24  
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Two years ago, I gave up riding on the road alone. This isn't really an issue as have tons of group rides, gravel rides, mountain biking, MUPs, running to do.

I gave up riding alone because I got hit by a car and decided it wasn't worth it. Only a very small minority of people driving are irresponsible jerks. The much bigger issue is that there are too many people out there that don't take driving seriously enough, lack situational awareness or distract themselves while driving. Lots of people just don't look. Lots of people have terrible spatial sense and lots of people lack common sense. They pass too close because they don't know how wide their car is. They sloppily cut corners while turning because it takes more effort to turn properly. They fail to recognize and prepare for possible dangers. They are surprised by any non-car user of the road. They lull themselves into complacency behind the wheel and tune out. They sort of drift around aimlessly on the road. I see it while driving as well as when I'm riding a bike.
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Old 05-03-19, 04:01 AM
  #25  
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I bike about 4-5,000 miles per year in the Maryland/DC area but I also drive about 20,000 miles per year. Over 40 years of doing that, from the view on the bike I really haven't seen much change at all. The same stretches of road are bad for cycling, the drivers on the roads I do ride on seem to be about the same level of close pass, right hook/left hook, etc. kind of behavior - which is actually a pretty small percentage of drivers. Pretty close to the percentage of cyclists doing dumb stuff, but the percentage is applied to a much higher volume with a much higher damage potential.

Driving my car, I drive on many stretches I rarely bike on and I want to say driving habits have definitely gotten worse - but I think everyone who gets older has said that for the past 100 years! Probably more - I bet in the 1800s they were saying "These young fools don't know how to ride a horse..."

But, the greatly reduced use of turn signals seems real to me, and the driving while texting is noticeable and new, too.

As a cyclist, so many of the roads around here have gotten better, with wider shoulders, bike lanes or just wider riding surfaces, that much of my cycling feels safer than it ever did.

The one major change for the negative: more dual lane traffic circles vs. traffic light controlled intersections. Traffic circles (roundabouts) are fine for cycling on single lane roads, but making a left turn around a two lane traffic circle is no fun to me! But around here they seem to invent intersections just to put new traffic circles in! I try to route around those where possible but they are popping up in a lot of new places on my established routes.
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