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Dangerous drivers thread

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Mikhail

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Nov 13 2013 at 12:42pm #

jonawebb wrote:Heavy traffic, approaching red lights, and multi-lane roads where the left lane may be occupied by someone turning left are all spots where it’s important to take the lane.
That said, I also look for opportunities to let motorists pass safely. If I’m in an area where there are wide lanes, I’ll ride to the right, and the same applies when I see there’s no oncoming traffic so the motorist can easily pass safely.

100% Agreed.


ajbooth

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Nov 13 2013 at 1:04pm #

+1 for giving room where possible.

I’ve taken to doing that for Port Authority buses, primarily for my own protection.


andyc

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Nov 13 2013 at 1:40pm #

While taking a lane, I feel like I have a window of safety before I have to get over and allow people to pass (even though I could legally remain – and by get over, I mean get to the side while trickling along and wave people on by)

I think that each approaching driver has patience timer before they turn into a rash a-hole. The people with no patience are the a-holes to begin with. (Note that I don’t want to get into an argument over correlation and causation for this – that’s not my point!) So for my own safety, I try and eventually get out of the way before the timer runs out.

I also try to actively pedal if taking a lane. I don’t feel it’s right to lollygag about on a busy road the same way that I wouldn’t drive along a busy road really slowly just so that I can enjoy the scenery.

Of course, I’m slow to begin with and am generally in no hurry to get anywhere.


byogman

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Nov 13 2013 at 2:03pm #

I think the patience timer analogy is an excellent map to what I’ve seen on the roads. It’s why I never cede the lane when there’s a lane for passing, but off and on will when there isn’t, mainly on uphill segments (though I try to alleviate some of the need for that by getting a jump on the light). Finally, it’s why, when there isn’t room to pass on a single lane extended uphill and when there’s enough traffic density going in the opposite direction, I often choose to bail to the sidewalk.


stefb

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Nov 13 2013 at 2:07pm #

I feel like when I ride at 15mph, drivers are more aggressive. When I am going 20-25 they seem to be less aggressive.


cburch

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Nov 13 2013 at 2:43pm #

Nope. I take the damn lane. It’s mine. You can wait till it’s safe and pass me then. Too many times I’ve tried to be nice and move over for a pass when I thought it was safe only to be buzzed anyway or have some idiot floor it to close the gap that I was trying to get back into after I let a cluster of cars pass. I’ll take predictable over polite any day on the road. Same reason I refuse to make Pittsburgh Lefts or pull through an all-way stop, on my bike or in my car, when it’s not my turn. Even if the driver waves me on. Don’t like it, too bad. I’m riding defensively, just like I drive.


jonawebb

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Nov 13 2013 at 2:51pm #

You have to think of the drivers as having very limited brain capacity. When you don’t take the lane they’re running along, they see a gap their car will fit into, more or less, and they go for it. It takes higher brain functions to think, “What about the four-foot rule? Maybe I should slow down and pass safely!”
When you take the lane, you become an obstruction, like a tractor or construction equipment. It works even better at night, with flashing lights. The motorist’s brain gets activated with something like, “Obstruction ahead. Steer around.” And you get passed with the driver in the other lane. In this case it is actually more work for the motorist to think, “Asshole biker! I’m going to pass close, to teach him a lesson!”
When you take the lane and then yield to get them a chance to pass another part of the brain gets lit up, something like gratitude. They were going slow, and now they can go fast. So they give you more space.
That’s why it works, I think. It’s not a matter of challenging the drivers for the road, it’s more fitting into a model that the driver already knows how to deal with, to your benefit.


cburch

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Nov 13 2013 at 2:57pm #

I’d rather annoy the driver behind me who thinks I’m an asshole for not moving over than get hit by the driver behind him who “didn’t see” me moving back into the lane directly in front of them.


reddan

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Nov 13 2013 at 3:34pm #

One reason I prefer to take the lane unless I specifically choose otherwise: I screw up sometimes.

Even with my mirror, there have been times when I wasn’t paying enough attention, and didn’t notice traffic behind me. If I’m smack-dab in the middle of the lane by default, I may get an impatient honk or suggestion that I “vacate the paved anal sphincter”, but I’m also not getting a close pass when I don’t expect it due to my own absent-mindedness.


byogman

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Nov 13 2013 at 4:36pm #

A very good point. The move left into a more comfortable lane position can be very dangerous indeed with inattention or misjudged distance on the part of the cyclist or motorist.

I’m always watching very closely when I do it and that need can be the cause of some stress, especially when a douchebag driver guns it to fill the gap that should have been ample for me to ease back into.

It happens sometimes. But I don’t feel stress free claiming the lane and holding someone up when I might not have to be doing that. Maybe I should, legally I’m in the right and all.

But I do think there is some correlation between that and some of the stupidest and angriest motorist behaviors, as andyc said that are more likely to come out with time. It fits my experience as well as my intuition about how feelings spiral in basically a cascading hormonal shit fit rather than according to logic.

I can’t know how to balance these factors. I’ve done ok I guess. In spite of my op-ed I really don’t get much in the way of close passes and don’t feel exposed to much danger (I don’t think). But I guess I’ve just treated each repeated situation as another iteration in a binary search problem on degree of lane claiminess and made corrections (or not) based on what seems would work better (or works already) and is the least stressful.

This probably isn’t all that different than anyone else, I’m guessing we differ more in how we talk about riding than how we ride.


ajbooth

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Nov 13 2013 at 5:11pm #

I should explain more clearly.

First, I’m tired of messing with Port Authority buses. They drive with the equivalent of diplomatic immunity. They can do no wrong, even if they break they law. So I’ve stopped fighting it with them. When I see the bus behind me, I get on the sidewalk or a driveway, let them pass, and then get back into the flow of traffic when I can. It sucks, it takes me longer, but I’m not gonna fight the power any more with buses.

As for other vehicles, on rare occasion, I will do the same thing for a car. Example: I’m wiped out from a long day, and plodding along on my climb up West Liberty Ave, slower than I might like. If a car shows me courtesy, and I can return the favor, I do. But for the most part, I belong firmly in the “It’s my lane and I’m taking it” camp.


paulheckbert

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Nov 13 2013 at 5:29pm #

When I get buzzed by buses in Pittsburgh, I always note the bus number, route number, time, and location, then go to http://www.portauthority.org/paac/CompanyInfoProjects/CustomerService/Feedback.aspx and file one of their Complaints Forms.


Marko82

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Nov 13 2013 at 5:57pm #

^ Paulheckbert, If it’s a traffic incident I prefer to just call 911 and report it as I would any other driver. I’ll use the complaint form for reporting a bus driver not stopping at a bus stop or some other business related issue, but not for a criminal report (ie. their driver breaking the 4 foot law). 911 might transfer you to the PAT police, but that’s ok. You can still insist on filling out a police report and are entitled to a copy and can follow up just like any other police report.

As an analogy, would you call the complaint department to report a passenger getting mugged? Besides, I want the 911 center to record the incident in their records too. The more eyes on the statistics the better.


gg

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Nov 13 2013 at 11:03pm #

ericf wrote:+1000 Mick, some people watch too much MTV. Kind of like “If you don’t play the way I want you to, then leave” idea. Thankfully the Pittsburgh Cycling scene is much more diverse than what exists on this board.
That said, after watching Rusty Red’s video, about 50% of drivers pass me with that amount of space. Although it is not 4 Feet , that is not what I call being buzzed.

Well said.


Mick

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Nov 14 2013 at 12:05pm #

I often pull over to let motor vehicles pass. Sometimes I can’t immediately get back in traffic and get delayed half a minute or so. That’s OK.


neilmd

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Nov 18 2013 at 6:11pm #

On Beechwood to left of lane signaling left turn onto Forest Glen, always slow to near stop because of the bend coming in the opposite direction, drivers generally pass to my right. Tonight one yells “use the bike lane!” !? Fairly tame, but crazy — do people actually believe that cyclists are supposed to take a left out of the bike lane?


Ahlir

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Nov 18 2013 at 8:10pm #

Short answer: Yes.
Of course the street markings don’t help.

My own peeve is Bouquet between Forbes and Clemente. It should really be sharrowed since people (at least me) need to turn left onto Clemente. And, yes, people do yell “get in the bike lane”.


edmonds59

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Nov 20 2013 at 7:29am #

This seems to be the best thread for this, this morning. Be extremely wary of drivers with frosted over windshields when riding this morning!!! Once the sun comes up it will be even worse.


Benzo

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Nov 20 2013 at 1:27pm #

Ahlir wrote:My own peeve is Bouquet between Forbes and Clemente. It should really be sharrowed since people (at least me) need to turn left onto Clemente. And, yes, people do yell “get in the bike lane”.

I almost always turn left on to clemente or Joncaire. I always take the lane here. Havn’t yet had the pleasure of getting barked at by a driver here yet.

I have nearly been in an accident with a jay walking pedestrian on roberto clemente drive a few times. Typically people on cell phones hopping out from between parked cars without really paying much attention. At least I can see folks crossing on Bouquet st, but the tall-ish SUVs hide pedestrians well on clemente.


ericf

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Nov 21 2013 at 12:46pm #

gg wrote:No the worst advice is not having a mirror to see a pickup like that coming from behind,

Sorry dude, but statistics indicate that only about 10% of car on bike crashes are by cars overtaking the cyclist. So even though your mirror technique may work, the majority of the danger is not coming from behind.
(http://www.wright.edu/~jeffrey.hiles/essays/listening/home.html)

Also, I have always felt that the Four Foot Passing Law provides a false sense of security.


gg

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Nov 21 2013 at 2:14pm #

ericf wrote:Sorry dude, but statistics indicate that only about 10% of car on bike crashes are by cars overtaking the cyclist.

I’ll take the 10% for the win. Thanks. There are other aspects of using a mirror that can be used, not just cars from behind. Just knowing where everyone is around you can be used as an advantage and timing certain things with traffic from behind that can make your ride more pleasant. Anyway, there is no way I would trust everyone texting, putting makeup on, surfing the web and playing with their navigation/hifi all at the same time behind me.


Mikhail

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Nov 21 2013 at 2:32pm #

gg wrote:

ericf wrote:Sorry dude, but statistics indicate that only about 10% of car on bike crashes are by cars overtaking the cyclist.

I’ll take the 10% for the win.

Bicycle mirrors in current implementations require an individual to refocus which is pretty slow operation. And it leads to the point that one is temporarily loosing site of whatever is going in front you and on sides. Technically speaking it’s equivalent to looking at you cell phone to see who called you when you raise phone in front of you.


gg

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Nov 21 2013 at 2:48pm #

Mikhail wrote:Technically speaking it’s equivalent to looking at you cell phone to see who called you when you raise phone in front of you.

I agree that there is a split second to look at your surroundings with a mirror, but it certainly doesn’t equate to messing about with a cell phone. Timing is everything and it does take practice. I don’t think a mirror would be for everyone, since you need to poses certain skills, that may not be there for all. Stick to what works for yourselves. I would have gotten hit on the Highland Park Bridge a year back without a mirror due to some drunken fools chasing each other in their cars and coming within inches of me. Thankfully, at the last second, I moved as far as I could on the stones/debris to get out of their way. I now ride the sidewalk across that bridge, but it might save me again someday. Better safe than sorry, but as I stated, it isn’t for everyone.


andyc

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Nov 21 2013 at 4:01pm #

When the options are:

1) Focus in mirror
2) Turn head all the way around
3) Ignore what’s behind you

I’ll choose #1.


jonawebb

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Nov 21 2013 at 4:34pm #

I know it’s unlikely, but getting hit from behind worries me more than anything else. I really like having a mirror to check now and then.


Mick

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Nov 21 2013 at 5:12pm #

I don’t use a mirror – but maybe I should.

Looking at a mirror takes a tiny fraction of a second. I’m not sure what you can do with phone in that time interval.

Like, I suppose if you phone is a different color or flashes after you get a message, you could see that in the time it takes to glance in a mirror. A peek at a mirror would take less time than checking out an area code, though, and much less a whole 10 digit number.

Mirror = on my “to get” list.


Mikhail

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Nov 21 2013 at 8:12pm #

gg wrote:but it certainly doesn’t equate to messing about with a cell phone.

In terms I described it — yes, it does. You have t refocus and recognize. I am not talking about answering, texting — just a look at the phone if it attached at fixed place where eye movement is enough to reach.


Mikhail

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Nov 21 2013 at 8:13pm #

andyc wrote:I’ll choose #1.

I prefer #2. :) I dropped all my mirrors due to a very limited pictures and necessity to refocus.


StuInMcCandless

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Nov 21 2013 at 8:20pm #

I should get a mirror. I’ve been using one on the motorcycle forever. I think I’d prefer one that clips on the helmet.


Mikhail

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Nov 21 2013 at 8:23pm #

Mick wrote:I don’t use a mirror – but maybe I should.

Like, I suppose if you phone is a different color or flashes after you get a message, you could see that in the time it takes to glance in a mirror. A peek at a mirror would take less time than checking out an area code, though, and much less a whole 10 digit number.

Look at the mirror and recognize a car(s) behind is less then recognizing area code? Nope.

Set 30 fps camera in front of you (60 is better). Set mirror and phone in positions that eye movement is enough, ask someone to csms you at sometime three digit number and look to the mirror so you can tell if car behind you is moving or parked (better both) person opens your mirror (you should look forward before). And after you should be able to tell number and describe situation behind you — so it’s jsut a glance but you prove you recognized everything. I cannot claim that I have statistics but my numbers were very-very close. :) Actually I found out that for me there is no difference between glance to cell and digital clocks.


stefb

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Nov 21 2013 at 8:25pm #

I tried helmet mounted and handlebar-end mounted mirrors. The helmet was too distracting/I felt like it got in the way and the handlebar mirror did the same. I ripped the handlebar mirror off in pieces without disassembling it correctly because it pissed me off so badly.
I prefer to use my sense of hearing and my direct sight (turning my head). I think it is safer to focus on cross traffic and traffic/road conditions in front of me, which as stated above, seems to be where most collisions come from.


Mick

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Nov 21 2013 at 9:10pm #

Mikhail, I don’t accept you argument at all – mvement in the mirror announces cars behind. Three digits? Maybe if they are large. And moving. (Kind\a like a car in both respects) Probably not. No way ten.

Iredcaoll something vaguely like what Stef said – on the other hand, that wasn’t any time near this century, for sure, and it might not have been near the end of last century. Maybe in 1349 or something, like when I was just getting to be middle aged.

So, I think I should give miorrors a go. Look even geekier than I do (who ever would have thought that possible?)


Ahlir

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Nov 21 2013 at 9:24pm #

People tell me to get a mirror, but I’ve resisted.

I pretty much agree with stefb’s approach: most of the problems are up ahead. For example dooring. I’d rather concentrate on what’s coming up.

Sound is useful but not always. If I get nervous I look behind me. But actually this mostly means a quick glance and relying on peripheral vision to identify fast-closing objects. Of course your neck muscles need to cooperate. Glancing backwards is not (as most of us realize) turning your head around, it’s more of a duck down and towards your shoulder and pretty easy to do fast, and without any of those refocusing issues.


HiddenVariable

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Nov 21 2013 at 11:54pm #

cognitively, reading a few numbers is considerably more difficult than noting the relative positions of a few large and moving shapes.

that said, i think mikhail is undermining his own argument by claiming a bigger victory than there is, and in my experience, he’s still got the victory. it is true that finding the mirror requires a significant cognitive task, and i find turning my head around to be a lot more affective.

it could be, though, that this is from prior training. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve had a coach tell me i need to “keep [my] head on a swivel.” it might come down to experience; i have no studies on this topic to cite.


HiddenVariable

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Nov 21 2013 at 11:59pm #

Ahlir wrote:I pretty much agree with stefb’s approach: most of the problems are up ahead. For example dooring. I’d rather concentrate on what’s coming up.

also: this. i have a friend who can’t believe that a headlight is more important than a tail light. while, viscerally, being hit from behind presents a greater fear (and thus more stress, and thus it occupies more of our attention), we are far more likely to be “unseen” from in front. a significantly higher proportion of my “conflicts” (let’s call them) have come from in front of me. which makes sense, since that’s the direction i’m traveling.


salty

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Nov 22 2013 at 1:32am #

I used a helmet mirror for a few years and I thought I really liked it. When I got a new helmet I had to do without until I got replacement adhesive, and in that week I decided I didn’t really need it after all.

No doubt, it is nice to see what’s behind you. I didn’t think finding and refocusing was much of an issue, it’s not much different than scanning your mirrors in a car. But, similar to stef, I thought the part of my forward vision it was blocking seemed more useful than being able to see behind me. Maybe I should try some kind of bar mounted mirror (tough since I have barcons) which wouldn’t have that particular problem.

Although, I also have severe doubts you’d be able to tell the difference between “that car is going to pass me” and “that car is going to hit me” soon enough to do anything about it.


edmonds59

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Nov 22 2013 at 6:30am #

I have a tiny little Zefal h’bar end mirror on my commuter bike that I find incredibly useful, although it has upright riser bars that put the mirror higher and more forward in my normal view. In combination with my ears, I can instantly see what is coming up behind me, and how much berth the vehicle is giving me. The most helpful condition is, on some of the 4 lane roads that I ride on (sections of Steubenville Pike) I can tell if one or a pair of cars is coming up, which my ears have not been able to tell me yet. If 2 cars are coming up behind, side by side, I will actually drift farther to the center of the lane to make sure the curb side car doesn’t even consider squeezing through.
The mirror becomes part of my normal constant sweep of the view, and doesn’t detract at all from attention to conditions in front. More often than not, the most dangerous thing I need to watch for are holes and cracks in the pavement, rocks, and logs that could pitch me, and turning my head around to check for cars greatly increases the chances that one of those bogeys will get me.
I have not found an adequate equivalent for drop bars, bar end mirrors on those DO require an inordinate amount of re-focus from things going on in front. I occasionally will use a Chuck Harris eyeglass mirror, just because I love the aesthetic, but those require a LOT of getting used to.


reddan

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Nov 22 2013 at 7:51am #

My peripheral vision is terrible, so mirrors help me feel more aware of my environment.

I’ve used mirrors on my helmet( way too much vibration), mirrors on bars, and mirrors on my eyeglasses.

The eyeglass mirror works best for me when I’m riding an upright, at least partially because it fits into the same “glance into the rear view mirror” position of the scanning pattern that I learned as a novice driver.

On my ‘bents, mirrors mounted on the bars are already at eye level, so I can glance without needing to move my head significantly away from an eyes front position.


StuInMcCandless

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Nov 22 2013 at 9:00am #

@edmonds59 said: If 2 cars are coming up behind, side by side, I will actually drift farther to the center of the lane to make sure the curb side car doesn’t even consider squeezing through.If 2 cars are coming up behind, side by side, I will actually drift farther to the center of the lane to make sure the curb side car doesn’t even consider squeezing through.

This is critical. I think one of the main reasons I have had so few “conflicts” is because of this: I sense that someone is back there, automatically determining if the vehicle is close enough to really be a problem, and if not, edging a bit left, for precisely the reason stated.

If they’re paying attention, fine. If they’re not paying attention, there is precious little I can do about it, regardless of my lane position. (Think flip-flop boy.) The real problem is getting these idiots out from behind the wheel in the first place.


Ahlir

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Nov 22 2013 at 9:23am #

No, wait. There’s a high-tech solution to all this.

Google Glasses + video camera glued to the back of your helmet (plus a bit of logic to factor out random head movement).

Problem solved!

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