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  1. #1

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    Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    I'm not sure where this belongs yet with our new forums and all, but I'm sure if this is not the right place, someone will find it.

    This is in the manner of a vent, I guess, but I thought this might at least start a decent discussion/

    I'm not a bicyclist, I am a motorist. We share the surface streets, and do our best to get along. And I will be the first to admit that motorists (including myself) do some pretty silly things.

    But I am seeing more and more bicylists in my little corner of the world blow right through stop signs. Some think that one-way streets don't apply to them.

    Today, I was approaching a major intersection in Ventura (one of the many in the city that have red light cameras).

    As I was pulling to a stop at the intersection, a grown man on a bicycle came storming out of the gas startion on my right and just flew throigh the crosswalk against a definite red light.

    I narrowly averted hitting the man, and he never even saw me. And of course, on a bike , in the crosswalk, he didn't trigger the camera that would have sent me a bill of 400-plus if i had done what he did.

    Can't we all just...get along?

    I'll be "on assigmemt" a few days. But your thoughs
    ar most welcome here.
    Last edited by Radiobarry; 09-08-2007 at 06:24 PM.
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

  2. #2

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    OK, Barry, I'll take this on. As a motorist, I never run stop signs or red lights. As a cyclist, I ride with the flow of traffic, share lanes with cars, and try to ride cooperatively with the cars around me. In a car vs. bike confrontation, the bike always loses, regardless of who is at fault.

    But...

    I do run stop signs pretty regularly, but only under certain conditions, and I'm always ready to stop if conditions change:

    1. When there is clearly no traffic approaching the intersection from any direction.
    2. When a car that has stopped waves me through. (You'd be surprised how often this happens.)
    3. When I've reached the intersection first and approaching traffic is yielding the right-of-way. If I can safely cross without stopping completely, I will.

    Traffic lights are another matter. I don't run red lights except in some rare circumstances.

    1. When I'm waiting for light that never changes due to the fact my presence is undetected and I can safely cross.
    2. At certain "T" intersections where there is no road on my right and traffic is non-existent or very light.

    I've seen some cyclists perform some pretty stupid maneuvers in traffic--the worst of which is riding against the flow. I consider that far more dangerous.

    But here's my pet peeves regarding motorists:

    1. Aggressive driving. Passing too closely. Throwing objects at cyclists from the car. Hitting the horn right behind a cyclist. Attempting to force the cyclist off the road. (Some of this is felony assault with a deadly weapon.)

    2. Making a right turn directly in front of a moving cyclist. This happens to me at least once a month, and once it resulted in a collision.

    3. Underestimating the speed of a bike. I've been cut off by cars cutting in front of me because they didn't realize how fast I was traveling.

    4. Impatient drivers frustrated with losing a few seconds of their precious time because they are "stuck" behind one or more bikes. If we are in a pack, it takes a few moments to get ourselves organized into a single file to ease their passage. But that doesn't keep the impatient one from horn honking or yelling "Get off the road!" or obscenities in passing.

    Finally, my pet peeves regarding road design and maintenance:

    1. Bike lanes and shoulders with clutter and hazards.

    2. Painted bike lanes that make no sense.

    3. Busy roads with narrow lanes and no shoulders.

    One thing American traffic engineers use too little in road design are traffic circles. They allow cyclists and motorists to pass through intersections and change directions safely without the need to come to a full stop or (for the cyclist) crossing oncoming traffic. I have seen many intersections with stop signs or traffic lights that would be safer for cyclists and just as efficient (maybe more so) for all traffic if they had been designed with traffic circles instead.

    OK, end of rant. (for now) Most drivers are courteous, cooperative, and patient.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.


  3. #3

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trekkie Dad View Post
    Most drivers are courteous, cooperative, and patient.
    And this is much appreciated, whether one is in a car or on a bike.

    You said pretty much everything I was going to say! Only better.

    Barry, what that cyclist did sounds dangerous and stupid. Please don't hold it against the rest of us.
    I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.

  4. #4

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    What gets me is when I am driving the mtn and there are cyclists... Like there are turns where you're literally going 270 degrees and it's insane because as you're turning you don't see the cyclists. Also timing.... don't bike the mtn when it's dark or dusk.

    But then again I hate drivers too! Today I was driving up the hill and out of nowhere a giant "bro" truck came up in an area where there's no turn outs, got on my tail, flashed his high beams and wouldn't get off my tail. So when I got to the passing lanes he whizzed by me and gave me the finger. Dude. I hadn't done anything. The 330 sucks but the fastest way to get to my house.

  5. #5

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    I live in bike-friendly Portland, so not only do we have more cyclists than most cities, but we have more bike lanes and signs telling all of us what to do and where to be.

    I think the cyclists here are pretty aware that they can be a pain to deal with (lots of media attention), so I find them really respectful of traffic laws. And those of us in cars are really respectful and take care of our cyclists (one less car on the road!).

    It's a cycling culture here. I can't imagine being a cyclist anywhere else, quite frankly. Most cities aren't set up for it.


    Portland, Ore.
    Voted No. 1 Best Overall city for cycling by Bicycling Magazine, Portland has close to 230 miles of bikeways, with 400 more on the way. Recently, it invested $34 million to build a bikeway on the new Eastside Esplanade, the longest floating walkway in the United States.

    Portland's Create-a-Commuter program is the first project in the United States that provides low-income adults with commuter bicycles as well as a session on commuter safety. The bikes come outfitted with lights, a lock, a helmet, a pump, tool kits, maps and rainwear.

    Portland has set six criteria for a bicycle-friendly community, five of which are targeted at curbing automobile use and traffic. The criteria include good facilities for bicycling, an urban design oriented to people and not automobiles, traffic restrictions in residential neighborhoods, stricter enforcement of traffic regulations, better traffic education for motorists and nonmotorists, and restrictions on automobile use.
    "There is less congestion [and] traffic, and there are no vast parking lots," said Jen Fox of the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh, who lived in Portland for a year and a half before moving back to Pittsburgh. "Portland is a role model."

  6. #6

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trekkie Dad View Post
    OK, Barry, I'll take this on. As a motorist, I never run stop signs or red lights. As a cyclist, I ride with the flow of traffic, share lanes with cars, and try to ride cooperatively with the cars around me. In a car vs. bike confrontation, the bike always loses, regardless of who is at fault.

    But...

    I do run stop signs pretty regularly, but only under certain conditions, and I'm always ready to stop if conditions change:

    1. When there is clearly no traffic approaching the intersection from any direction.
    2. When a car that has stopped waves me through. (You'd be surprised how often this happens.)
    3. When I've reached the intersection first and approaching traffic is yielding the right-of-way. If I can safely cross without stopping completely, I will.

    Traffic lights are another matter. I don't run red lights except in some rare circumstances.

    1. When I'm waiting for light that never changes due to the fact my presence is undetected and I can safely cross.
    2. At certain "T" intersections where there is no road on my right and traffic is non-existent or very light.

    I've seen some cyclists perform some pretty stupid maneuvers in traffic--the worst of which is riding against the flow. I consider that far more dangerous.

    But here's my pet peeves regarding motorists:

    1. Aggressive driving. Passing too closely. Throwing objects at cyclists from the car. Hitting the horn right behind a cyclist. Attempting to force the cyclist off the road. (Some of this is felony assault with a deadly weapon.)

    2. Making a right turn directly in front of a moving cyclist. This happens to me at least once a month, and once it resulted in a collision.

    3. Underestimating the speed of a bike. I've been cut off by cars cutting in front of me because they didn't realize how fast I was traveling.

    4. Impatient drivers frustrated with losing a few seconds of their precious time because they are "stuck" behind one or more bikes. If we are in a pack, it takes a few moments to get ourselves organized into a single file to ease their passage. But that doesn't keep the impatient one from horn honking or yelling "Get off the road!" or obscenities in passing.

    Finally, my pet peeves regarding road design and maintenance:

    1. Bike lanes and shoulders with clutter and hazards.

    2. Painted bike lanes that make no sense.

    3. Busy roads with narrow lanes and no shoulders.

    One thing American traffic engineers use too little in road design are traffic circles. They allow cyclists and motorists to pass through intersections and change directions safely without the need to come to a full stop or (for the cyclist) crossing oncoming traffic. I have seen many intersections with stop signs or traffic lights that would be safer for cyclists and just as efficient (maybe more so) for all traffic if they had been designed with traffic circles instead.

    OK, end of rant. (for now) Most drivers are courteous, cooperative, and patient.

    As a frequent motorist and part-time cyclist - I appreciate what you say. More of us, regardless of our conveyance, should pay attention to the law and look out for each other.

    One thing though - In Sacramento, the city has traffic circles complete with stop signs. Stupid design...







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  7. #7

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Quote Originally Posted by Trekkie Dad View Post
    OK, Barry, I'll take this on. As a motorist, I never run stop signs or red lights. As a cyclist, I ride with the flow of traffic, share lanes with cars, and try to ride cooperatively with the cars around me. In a car vs. bike confrontation, the bike always loses, regardless of who is at fault.

    But...

    I do run stop signs pretty regularly, but only under certain conditions, and I'm always ready to stop if conditions change:

    1. When there is clearly no traffic approaching the intersection from any direction.
    2. When a car that has stopped waves me through. (You'd be surprised how often this happens.)
    3. When I've reached the intersection first and approaching traffic is yielding the right-of-way. If I can safely cross without stopping completely, I will.

    Traffic lights are another matter. I don't run red lights except in some rare circumstances.

    1. When I'm waiting for light that never changes due to the fact my presence is undetected and I can safely cross.
    2. At certain "T" intersections where there is no road on my right and traffic is non-existent or very light.

    I've seen some cyclists perform some pretty stupid maneuvers in traffic--the worst of which is riding against the flow. I consider that far more dangerous.

    But here's my pet peeves regarding motorists:

    1. Aggressive driving. Passing too closely. Throwing objects at cyclists from the car. Hitting the horn right behind a cyclist. Attempting to force the cyclist off the road. (Some of this is felony assault with a deadly weapon.)

    2. Making a right turn directly in front of a moving cyclist. This happens to me at least once a month, and once it resulted in a collision.

    3. Underestimating the speed of a bike. I've been cut off by cars cutting in front of me because they didn't realize how fast I was traveling.

    4. Impatient drivers frustrated with losing a few seconds of their precious time because they are "stuck" behind one or more bikes. If we are in a pack, it takes a few moments to get ourselves organized into a single file to ease their passage. But that doesn't keep the impatient one from horn honking or yelling "Get off the road!" or obscenities in passing.

    Finally, my pet peeves regarding road design and maintenance:

    1. Bike lanes and shoulders with clutter and hazards.

    2. Painted bike lanes that make no sense.

    3. Busy roads with narrow lanes and no shoulders.

    One thing American traffic engineers use too little in road design are traffic circles. They allow cyclists and motorists to pass through intersections and change directions safely without the need to come to a full stop or (for the cyclist) crossing oncoming traffic. I have seen many intersections with stop signs or traffic lights that would be safer for cyclists and just as efficient (maybe more so) for all traffic if they had been designed with traffic circles instead.

    OK, end of rant. (for now) Most drivers are courteous, cooperative, and patient.
    Trekkie, You said it all right here. I could write a book on all the ignorant morons that have assaulted those on a bike, including me.

    Most cities are moving to remove bike lanes (coming from an East Bay- Nor Cal planner) because it gives a cyclist legal grounds to take action against a county or city.
    Some cities have acted too late (most of California) so they expand the roadways to two to three "Auto" lanes each way, eliminating bike lanes entirely. Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties are in the process now.
    Sorry to see that this happened to you Barry. It's like anything else not all cyclists are like this.
    1st Amendment-Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  8. #8

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Interesting you should post this last night because last night I hit a bicyclist with my car.

    it was night, and he was riding in the other lane, very slowly. His headlight may or may not have been on. He suddenly cut into my lane, still going slowly, didn't look, and I slammed on my breaks and THOUGHT I'd miss him but I hit him. He was ok, just sore and his rim was broke.

    Bicyclists pull this stuff all the time. Drivers can drive horribly, but in this case, I was'nt doing anything wrong. Bicyclists seem to think they own the road as much as cars do. Heck pedestrians too.

    The sad part is it happened about 20 feet or so from a crosswalk. And he even said he thought he was close enough to the crosswalk.

    And that's EXACTLY why I never EVER cross in the middle of the road - you can look and not see a car and BOOM there one is. You never know.
    Good morning, son
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  9. #9

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Too bad that both have to share the same road. We already have too many cars for the amount of lanes here in SoCal.


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  10. #10

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeverNeverland View Post
    Interesting you should post this last night because last night I hit a bicyclist with my car.
    ...
    Bicyclists pull this stuff all the time. Drivers can drive horribly, but in this case, I was'nt doing anything wrong. Bicyclists seem to think they own the road as much as cars do. Heck pedestrians too.
    In the long run, it's safer for us to be in the lanes sometimes. Plus, bicycles are considered vehicles in California - we do have a right to the lane. We don't have a right to do stupid stuff, like cross in front of a car, but we do have a right to the lane.

    Times I'm in the lanes- when turning left, when going forward past a "right turn only" lane, or if the street is too narrow to permit a safe pass by a car.

    I'm sorry you hit the cyclist, and those things do happen even when you're doing everything right. That must have been upsetting. I'm glad the guy's ok.
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  11. #11

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    For the most part I don't have issues with bikes. If I have to pass one I make sure to leave plenty of room just in case they do something stupid.

    However, I do HATE when the insist on riding in the car lane. Cars can go the speed limit faster than a bike and all it does is jam up traffic. Use the cross walk. Thankfully that rarely happens where I live. We hardly have any bike riders where I live, even though we have some bike lanes....which by the way does not include the car lanes or left turn lanes. We have a few which are not even on the street, but a separate area off of the street.

  12. #12

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    It was so rough living in San Francisco during the dot-Commie boom. I rode the Muni or more often than not rode my bike when the weather was good (most of the time). It was roughest downtown, where the streets are usually one lane in either direction, no shoulder, cars parked on either side of the street and crowded sidewalks...imagine a UPS truck parked on one side of the street and a Hummer parked on the other, effectively making one lane into a .5 lane (!)

    I killed me when people would hit me deliberately with their wing mirrors or 'fake' opening their car door, making me brake and endo or nearly smash my crotch on the stem.

    Drivers can be SUCH idiots. My boss was killed on his way to work by a driver who tried to time the light as he was crossing. His defence was that he shouldn't have been in the road in the first place. He ended up with just probation and my boss's kids have no father.



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  13. #13

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Quote Originally Posted by alphabassetgrrl View Post
    In the long run, it's safer for us to be in the lanes sometimes. Plus, bicycles are considered vehicles in California - we do have a right to the lane. We don't have a right to do stupid stuff, like cross in front of a car, but we do have a right to the lane.

    Times I'm in the lanes- when turning left, when going forward past a "right turn only" lane, or if the street is too narrow to permit a safe pass by a car.

    I'm sorry you hit the cyclist, and those things do happen even when you're doing everything right. That must have been upsetting. I'm glad the guy's ok.
    I didn't realize that bicyclists could ride in the middle of the road then chance lanes w/o signaling. My bad. If he'd have been a car and did that, I would have hit the car, no question. I don't understand why ANYONE would ride bike one the road when there's a sidewalk. Just seems safer to me, but I haven't rode a bike in years. lol It was a, I guess 4 lane? - there were 2 lanes in each direction. I was DEFINITELY glad when he stood up almost right away. It as pretty scary for both of us.
    Good morning, son
    In twenty years from now
    Maybe we'll both sit down and have a few beers
    And I can tell you 'bout today
    And how I picked you up and everything changed
    It was pain
    Sunny days and rain
    I knew you'd feel the same things...





  14. #14

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeverNeverland View Post
    I didn't realize that bicyclists could ride in the middle of the road then chance lanes w/o signaling.
    Bicycles are supposed to signal, and to have a light at night. Just because we can ride in the lanes when necessary doesn't give us the right to do stupid things.

    Sidewalks are horrible to ride on, not to mention significantly cutting my speed (8 mph with trees, upheavals, signs, telephone poles and guy-wires, vs 17 mph on relatively smooth pavement and nearly no obstructions). Crosswalks are even worse - using a crosswalk means it takes two or three turns of the light to make a left, rather than one. In a left turn lane, I can keep up with the cars in front of me long enough to make it over to the bike lanes. I'm not slowing anyone down at that point.

    I do ride in the lanes if it's narrow. My other option is to be hit as the car tries to pass in too narrow a space. I don't do it often, and I do try to stay out of the way. And when it's safe, they can pass, or if there's somewhere I can pull over, I'll let them pass.
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  15. #15

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    Re: Seeing red: motorists and byclists...can't we all just get along?

    Quote Originally Posted by NeverNeverland View Post
    I didn't realize that bicyclists could ride in the middle of the road then chance lanes w/o signaling. My bad. If he'd have been a car and did that, I would have hit the car, no question. I don't understand why ANYONE would ride bike one the road when there's a sidewalk. Just seems safer to me, but I haven't rode a bike in years. lol It was a, I guess 4 lane? - there were 2 lanes in each direction. I was DEFINITELY glad when he stood up almost right away. It as pretty scary for both of us.
    Just like a motorist, a cyclist needs needs to signal when about to change lanes or move into the lane from a shoulder. BTW, it's perfectly legal for a cyclist to move into the left lane when making a left turn. (Though in some cases, it's safer to execute an "L-turn" by crossing the intersection first in the right lane and then changing directions.)

    There are many legitimate (and legal) reasons a cyclist may "take the lane," including avoiding hazards, making turns, moving at the speed of traffic, or when a lane cannot be safely shared. And did you know that cars are supposed to leave at least three feet of space when passing a bike? Few motorists seem to know that.

    Riding on a sidewalk is far more dangerous than riding on the road (unless you are a child riding slowly). There are several reasons for this, but mostly it has to do with speed and the many driveways that sidewalks cross. The same reasons apply to adjacent bike paths, which is why you may see faster cyclists choosing to ride on the road.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.


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