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Ass Clown Driver (or Rider?) Your Opinions…

This topic contains 92 replies, has 21 voices, and was last updated by  Val 1 yr, 6 mos.

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rsprake

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Mar 18 2013 at 8:57am #

Marko82 wrote:Everyone please watch this whole 4 minute video. Then comment on why you would do it any differently.

I am not saying I would do it any differently but we don’t all ride that fast. I’ve been almost hit and maliciously treated on Penn Circle near Target when controlling lanes in the same way so it’s not as if taking the lane is a cure all.


steevo

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Mar 18 2013 at 9:20am #

that intersection is shit.
You cant even turn right onto ridge from the two right turning lines with
a garage on the left and one way forward. Its a dumb intersection.

However, anytime you are going at a reasonable speed, dont put
yourself in a situation to get right hooked.


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 18 2013 at 9:36am #

This all seems to boil down to a fear of being in mixed traffic. Not the slightest bit uncommon, especially for people who don’t ride on the street that often. I figured Val to be an experienced cyclist, and so a little less likely to do something that sooner or later will put him in a dangerous situation. Like nuclear plant meltdowns, bad stuff does not happen in isolated situations; it takes a series of connected failures for bad stuff to happen.

Yes, this intersection is a bad design, but we’re not getting that fixed anytime soon. Probably looking at $50 million to redesign and rebuild that whole thing, if it ever happens. (Unless we guerilla-style take the damn thing over and force traffic into two lanes, and just make it a standard T intersection.)

Do we need to get our hands on a timing device and gather some stats on how many people speed and what lane they’re in? Roll some video for a couple of hours? Do we need to stomp into the P.D. with a petition?

Or rather, do we merely need to educate people about how to ride in traffic? As most people here have stated, absent doing something stupid, you’re pretty safe here. Just know how to do it properly, and do that, and there’s far less concern all around, even if some jackass decides to fly through a school zone at 40 mph.


byogman

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Mar 18 2013 at 10:31am #

Val, I think there’s unanimous agreement about needing to be in the right lane of travel for the turn (or lack thereof) you’re planning in the upcoming intersection. I strongly, strongly urge you to make that change to your riding at least. Nobody wants to see you flattened, and based on your description of this and incident and the commonality of near misses in your riding, esp right hooks, I’m worried that this may be in your future if you don’t make a change. Be safe out there.

I think there’s more debate about and more room for the debate about riding toward the right vs. claiming the lane. I started with “if you can keep up”, but that’s just the starters really. I also claim the lane on most multi-lane roads most of the time (generally easy enough for them to pass in the next lane), when there isn’t room to pass me in-lane (this is a large fraction of Pittsburgh roads, at least once you account for street parking and door zone. I don’t tend to look for gaps in the street parking on the right except when I’m going pretty slow, and it takes a stern hill where I’m crawling along at < 6 mph for me to contemplate riding in the door zone), when I don't think it would be easy to merge back to appropriate lane position (or lane) by the next intersection, or when traffic is so thin there's nobody for me to hold up (I check my rear view periodically and move right to let them pass when they get closer). YMMV, but I think that's a pretty reasonable starter list. Will check the videos when I get home.


Val

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Mar 18 2013 at 10:54am #

Please do NOT be hurt or offended if I don’t accept your particular input. I just wanted some opinions and I got plenty. Perhaps I should’ve stated beforehand: my own particular coping/riding mechanisms are NOT based solely on traffic laws but what my instincts tell me to do, and I have been riding on the open roads since The Year of Our Lord, nineteen and eighty-five and during that time, have truly no idea of how many times I’ve almost died. Not a Newbie, here, but still don’t quite know it ALL, either.

I have made it through enough situations that I’ve come to trust my Spidy Senses but also realize that sometimes it’s good to step outside my personal bubble and get other input from the rest of the Superfriends. Those who usually ride alone will likely appreciate where I’m coming from. Likewise, I’ve learned to value Local Knowledge.

But just because I state that I reject riding in the middle of a sporadically busy thoroughfare is no reason to be upset, offended or otherwise butt-hurt. It’s really not a personal rejection of you, your experience, local knowledge or worth as a person. It’s just Bicycle Talk.

I was hoping against hope that someone might sprinkle some pixie dust on the situation and provide me with a plausible solution or possibility of one; cburch answered the call. As we’ve agreed, that intersection or others like it won’t be changing any time soon , and I wanted a solid option. Now I have it. Thread Success. Can all Threads claim such?

I want to add here that Stu, I will help you with some traffic project some time if you ever need the help, just because I admire your methodical approach and appreciate your ingenuity and concern. I promise I won’t try to be your friend, I just like your style. As for EVERYONE else that took the time, I want to extend my sincere appreciation for YOUR time and effort expended on this thread. Stay Alert! Stay Alive!

PS: Two things: there are some tongue-in-cheek comments embedded in almost everything I write or say, it’s up to the reader to decipher them but I can assure you I’m not looking to knock the chip off of anyone’s shoulder. So some of you may now relax, and take a deep breath. Secondly, I’ve been living vicariously through that entire Tag-o-rama thread and waiting for the right day to get in the game. I’ve been scouting some challenging tags, so get ready to work for it…


ajbooth

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Mar 18 2013 at 10:56am #

I’m not calling anyone an ass-clown. I know the intersection a little, and I assume all drivers to be ass-clowns who WILL do what you think they won’t–it’s safer that way.

My two suggestions:

1) Take the center of the right-most lane possible. In this case, I would have taken the third lane from the right–or the right-most lane designated for traveling in the direction I wanted to go.
2) Invest in a mirror. I have mirrors on every bike I own, and I am always aware of what’s coming behind me.

I commute on West Liberty Avenue both ways, from Mt Lebanon to the end by the Tubes. I take the center of the right lane the entire way. I’ve had some close calls, but my mirror has saved my ass a few times. But since I started taking the entire lane, the number of “buzz-bys” has dropped dramatically.

Take the lane, you have every right to do so, and it is safer.


edmonds59

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Mar 18 2013 at 10:58am #

“Anywhere they plop down the equivalent of freeway on/off ramps in the middle of a city it is complete shit design.” I heartily second that.
I ride through there very infrequently, but I completely get the point about limiting your exposure in terms of the direction from which threats can come, i.e. 180 dg as opposed to 360. Also, sometimes, I go 10 mph or less, 10 is a happy, happy speed for me. So I am sometimes hesitant to take a lane in the middle of a 4 lane configuration like this. Having said that, if I was toodling along, and staying to the right, I would be acutely aware that I would be crossing 2 lanes of traffic at effectively an acute angle, that it would be appropriate to stop if necessary and make sure nothing was coming behind. I would certainly not assume it is clear and be going fast enough to require a power slide to save my ass. If you’re going traffic-fast, just take a lane.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 18 2013 at 11:04am #

“Name That Ass-Clown”: This should be a regular feature, with a different scenario each week.


Val

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Mar 18 2013 at 11:04am #

@AJ, byogman and Edmonds, you guys have me playing air guitar. Right now I’m shredding Into The Lungs of Hell by Megadeth, and thinking about fucking that intersection up! Maybe all I needed was just a swift kick in the nuts, and someone to yell at me to stop sniveling like a rat shitting razor blades, and apply more aggressiveness to the entire situation. You guys just accomplished the virtual equivalent of a Group Ride. The first beer I drink tonight will be tipped in your general direction…


Val

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Mar 18 2013 at 11:10am #

AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe wrote:“Name That Ass-Clown”: This should be a regular feature, with a different scenario each week.

I like that but think we might should go with ‘Who’s The Clown’, much in the spirit of the old ‘You Make The Call’ of NFL yore and lore. It is shorter and also catches the attention by posing a question. It puts vigilant readers on notice and piques their taste for blood in the water… I like it. I also thought about starting a I Saw You Thread, where folks could just slap a paragraph about another rider they saw that was kicking ass or being funny, whatever, it could be a pedestrian. I have a habit of people watching and there are some funny ones!


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 18 2013 at 11:17am #

Or a self-reporting thread (kind of like your OP): “If the Ass-Hat Fits, Wear It.”

Conversely: “If the Ass-Hat Does Not Fit, You Must Acquit!” (Let’s see who all remembers who Johnny Cochran was…)


Val

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Mar 18 2013 at 11:19am #

AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe wrote:Or a self-reporting thread (kind of like your OP): “If the Ass-Hat Fits, Wear It.”

Conversely: “If the Ass-Hat Does Not Fit, You Must Acquit!” (Let’s see who all remembers who Johnny Cochran was…)

Well then, I might have to appeal this case. ” The Truck (ball) was on the line! Let’s see who can finger that reference!?


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 19 2013 at 5:44am #

“Are you kidding me?”


Val

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Mar 19 2013 at 8:23am #

AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe wrote:“Are you kidding me?”

Well played, Maestro, well played indeed…


Mick

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Mar 19 2013 at 10:27am #

Threads like these are hard to reply to. The written word is full of vaguery. Two different situtations, one OK, one asshat, could be described with the same words. There could be two descriptionf of one situtaiton where one appears OK and oen asshat.

That said, here’s coupel comments. I dislike riding in the middle of the road, too. But sometimes it’s the best choice.

Also, “Is the driver an asshat?” Who knows?

If you are on a bike, though, you have to assume any driver will be an intoxicated jerk with an attitude. You’ll be wrong most of the time, of course, but that’s OK.

“Abuse of power is never a surprise.” -Jenny Holzer.

Don’t let it surprise you.


Pierce

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Mar 19 2013 at 4:20pm #

Lots of information on why riding in the middle of the lane makes sense:

http://cyclingsavvy.org/hows-my-driving/

“Driving in the middle of the lane actually protects cyclists against the most common motorist-caused crashes: sideswipes, right hooks, left crosses, and drive-outs. ”

Your scenario of getting hit on both sides just doesn’t jive with reality. Cars will see you in the middle of the lane and will usually recognize they can’t fit in half a lane so will move into the next full lane over.

I’ve been riding on 885 for about five years and I see the results every morning. About 99.5% of cars move over the whole lane. If you stay on the side, they’ll try and skim to the side putting both you and other cars in the adjacent lane at risk.


Val

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Mar 19 2013 at 7:17pm #

Taking a page from Stu’s book, I sent a screen grab of that intersection yesterday, from Maps. I snapped some photos today to email. He’s an Engineer and at present, completing his degree in VA. His group is studying intersections, highways and driverless systems for future implementation.

I’m trying to talk him into using this intersection as a group project and do a complete target folder on it. That way, (Stu) someone actually could go the City with a product and of course, justification.

Right now I’m thinking that any modification of that segment of road would be more likely to happen if it was argued from the School Zone standpoint. The posted limit is 25 mph through there but the school empties right out on the street. It seems like bracketing the school with speed tables would be optimal for slowing traffic. Then you could pour one of those low, curving barrier/islands to help channelize drivers turning Right.

Placement of the downstream speed table could be finalized with an eye on the desired effect you’re looking for, for the Ridge Ave. intersection. Thoughts, anyone? Stu?


Val

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Mar 19 2013 at 7:24pm #

Pierce, that’s a good presentation but doesn’t really jive with the template for the scenario. Thanks!


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 19 2013 at 11:01pm #

I’d like to say I really know what I’m talking about, but I am not trained in traffic engineering, but given that the trainERS of traffic engineers have been thinking carscarscarscars for umpteen years, I’m not sure that’s necessarily any seal of approval.

Four lanes along there, any side of that monstrosity called Allegheny Center, are unnecessary. Two I can see. Maybe some space for parked school buses. But a road diet, à la East Liberty Blvd, is called for, plus a dedicated bike lane. The peel-off onto Ridge — along with the other three analogous turns — need a total re-do.

Sure, grab a couple screen shots. Do the same for Federal (north), East Ohio, and Federal (south) as well. As a cyclist, bus rider, motorcyclist, pedestrian, and car driver through here, all on a fairly regular basis, I think I can offer some intelligent input. The one thing I cannot offer is the point of view of someone who parks, works, or lives in Allegheny Center.


Mick

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Mar 19 2013 at 11:57pm #

@ Marko82: Everyone please watch this whole
4 minute video. Then comment on why you would do it any differently.

There is a lot that I would do differently. Partly due to my infamously slow speed.

At 1:54, I might have stopped at the curb and let the car pass and go behind it.

3:10, I might have let the white truck pull in front of me (a car in front of you is your friend. A car behind you is trying to kill you.)

In the multi-lane left hand turns, I might have stayed to the right, passed the cross street, then waited by the curb for the light in the direction of the cross street.

(I just changed a whole lot of “would’s” to “might’s” because it’s hard to really estimate distance and speeds on a video. I’m not sure of the traffic patterns in that town. )


edmonds59

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Mar 20 2013 at 5:30am #

^Yay! Another slow voice heard from!

http://www.slowbicyclemovement.org/2008/09/vote-for-manifesto.html

But seriously, the way to get more people using bikes is to make it comfortable to go 10 mph or less and unnecessary to go faster. Whatever makes that possible.


Marko82

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Mar 20 2013 at 7:55am #

@mick, thanks for your comments. I understand how riding slow makes taking the lane seem like a really bad thing and maybe it is, I don’t do it that way very often, but when I have taken the lane while riding slow I have not had any issues. I think what you describe works for you because you are very willing to come to a complete stop or alter your traffic pattern to become a pedestrian, and you do so frequently (I know this because I’ve ridden with you). But keep in mind that the bicyclists speed is rather irrelevant to most motorists. I say this because to them there is no difference if you are going 20mph or 12mph – you’re going slower than they are and they want to get past you. Also, I have had lots of people pass me when I’m doing 5mph over the speed limit (downhill), so there is that whole must-pass-the-bike thing too. Aggressive drivers are going to be dicks no matter how you ride your bike, and they will still be dicks even if you are driving in another car – so what you want to do is maximize the interactions you have with the good drivers. Be seen, be predictable.


Val

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Mar 20 2013 at 8:16am #

@Marko, I finally sat down and watched the video. The first thing that caught my eye (especially for a cyclist training video) is that the rider demonstrates a lane change almost as he’s about to proceed through an intersection. I can’t speak for PA but strictly by the book, changing lanes is illegal within 100 yards of an intersection when traveling by motor vehicle. Of course this only matters if any cyclist is attempting to follow the rules of the road.

Secondly, as mentioned previously, traveling speed may render this video useless for some. I ride different bikes sometimes and on my road bike, I am faster and act more like a car. But oftentimes I’m on my cross rig and can’t go as fast, and end up interacting more than I’d like to with autos.

That said, I did take cburch’s suggestion and turned Right yesterday, then hooked a left on Merchant, I think. I’ll continue to tweak and improve my route but I can already say I enjoyed the alternate one. It gave me a little perspective and I learned a little bit.


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 20 2013 at 8:24am #

Remember Lolly Walsh? Worked at Bike-Pgh for a while? Slow cycling is what she’s blogged about several times. I believe she’s in D.C. now, though we stay in touch.


salty

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Mar 20 2013 at 8:40am #

Val wrote:changing lanes is illegal within 100 yards of an intersection when traveling by motor vehicle

This is not a law AFAIK. You are not allowed to change lanes across a solid white line (although that is almost never enforced). I don’t see anything about distance, and 100yd would be pretty unreasonable IMO, that’s a pretty long distance.


Mick

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Mar 20 2013 at 8:55am #

@ marko82 –
I often take the lane, even at my speed, but I’m leery about changing lanes in front of a moving car.

True even if I’m going downhill at roughly MV traffic speed. (That is, 5 mph over the speed limit.) Now, I do it as many days as not – making a left off of Fifth onto Gist St, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Also, my impression is that Pittsburgh drivers in those traffic conditions would be going 10 to 25 mph faster than the cars in that video. (and Pittsburgh isn’t really fast for a city.)


Mikhail

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Mar 20 2013 at 8:56am #

Val wrote:I can’t speak for PA but strictly by the book, changing lanes is illegal within 100 yards of an intersection when traveling by motor vehicle.

Val, where did you get this info? Every state has its own Code? Are you speaking about US? North America? World? As Salty mentioned above PA does not have anything about 100 yards. I think OH does not have it either (it was long time ago I’ve read OH code).


jonawebb

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Mar 20 2013 at 8:59am #

While investigating I ran across the following from PA Vehicle law Chapter 33 A § 3301:
“Pedalcycles.–
(1) Upon all roadways, any pedalcycle operating in accordance with Chapter 35, proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place and under the conditions then existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway, except when overtaking and passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection or into an alley, private road or driveway.
(2) This subsection does not apply to:
(i) A pedalcycle using any portion of an available roadway due to
unsafe surface conditions.
(ii) A pedalcycle using a roadway that has a width of not more
than one lane of traffic in each direction.”
It seems to me this prohibits taking the lane. Is there a loophole I’m not seeing here?


Mikhail

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Mar 20 2013 at 9:24am #

jonawebb wrote:as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway

Already discussed and even before it became a part of the Code. And specifically for this phrase. Conclusion was that “as practicable” could mean “in the middle of the lane”


jonawebb

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Mar 20 2013 at 9:32am #

K, I guess I remember that…


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 20 2013 at 9:37am #

Looks to me like (2)(i) specifically allows for taking the lane.

The law could be clearer.

And we need more dedicated bike lanes.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Mar 20 2013 at 10:49am #

“or when preparing for a left turn at an intersection ”

“Preparing” = gray area, open for interpretation.


edmonds59

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Mar 20 2013 at 2:38pm #

Lolly was cool.


Val

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Mar 20 2013 at 7:08pm #

I meant to say 100 feet.


Steven

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Mar 21 2013 at 4:22am #

Whether 100 feet or 100 yards, there’s still no such rule in PA, as far as I can see. You can change lanes as close to an intersection as you like, as long as it’s not prohibited by traffic control devices (like white lines) (section 3309(4)) and it can be done safely (3309(1)). You can search the vehicle code yourself here.

The problem with Title 75 section 3301(c) that Jonawebb quoted is not in positioning within the lane. It pretty clearly allows you to ride anywhere in the rightmost lane when there are multiple lanes (“in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or “), and doesn’t apply at all when there’s one lane (3301(c)2 ii).

The problem is it forces you into the right lane inappropriately, for instance when the right lane is right-turn-only and you’re going straight. The previous version of the law had some text about how you don’t have to stay in the right hand lane if it’s not going the way you want, but it was deleted when they added the 4-foot rule and replaced by wording that enumerates all the reasons it’s OK to leave the right-most lane and leaves some out.

As far as I can tell, cyclists on a road with a right-turn-only lane are technically not permitted to go straight, at least until Harrisburg fixes their little blunder.


StuInMcCandless

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Mar 21 2013 at 7:03am #

This would be more of an issue where the road starts to get wider ahead of a white-line lane split for a right-turn lane. Outbound Babcock Blvd from Millvale to Three Degree Road has six of these. I’ve learned to guess which is the better approach, at any given time — either to stay to the right until forced to get left, or just get waaay the hell left, four feet off the yellow line, and force people to slow to my speed. As you might expect, this is chancy, and the law is not on cyclists’ side. If traffic on Babcock was any heavier, this would make that road much more difficult, and I think is a better example of what Val’s OP was really about. Babcock at Thompson Run Road is probably the worst of these. It’s posted 35 (and most people drive at that speed).


jonawebb

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Mar 21 2013 at 8:21am #

@Steven, thanks for explaining that.
I guess according to that understanding, the answer to the question that started this thread is clear — @Val should have stayed in the rightmost lane the whole time, and turned right at the intersection. He should never have attempted to go straight.


salty

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Mar 21 2013 at 8:38am #

Steven: I believe you are correct, I forgot about that, but now I remember objecting to that change before the law passed. It’s really unfortunate that change was allowed to happen, it clearly makes no sense and I would have expected some lawyer who looked at the thing to object.


Val

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Mar 21 2013 at 8:55am #

Man, you guys are thorough. I really appreciate the effort and time to pare this down. You know how it can be with old dogs and new tricks, but I am looking at my routing through there and will eventually dial it in to where it’s as fun and conflict-free as I can make it. It took a good long while to get the Brighton area and some of the North Hills down, Downtown will take longer…

I am STILL looking for my ‘best’ way to get from north of the Mon, to the Furnace Trail for my usual trip to Oakland and around. The other day when I took Cburch’s navigation advice, I was going across the high ground through Forbes/5th area, to get to Oakland that way. I am looking to find an optimal route through that high ground to Oakland, preferably something North of Forbes by a few blocks.

Thanks again, I will gladly spring for a couple of beers if and when I ever run into you guys (if you drink beer)…


Val

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Mar 21 2013 at 9:00am #

Mick wrote:@ marko82 –
I often take the lane, even at my speed, but I’m leery about changing lanes in front of a moving car.

True even if I’m going downhill at roughly MV traffic speed. (That is, 5 mph over the speed limit.) Now, I do it as many days as not – making a left off of Fifth onto Gist St, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Also, my impression is that Pittsburgh drivers in those traffic conditions would be going 10 to 25 mph faster than the cars in that video. (and Pittsburgh isn’t really fast for a city.)

@Mick, there is Iron and Fire in your words…

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