At the corner of Negley and Wilkins this morning, I saw the light turn yellow; two cars in front of me went through it, and I stopped. Immediately thereafter, a black benz went whizzing by on my right, stopping well in front of the painted “stop” line where I was stopped, and I heard some mumbling from the driver’s window that sounded like “sidewalk”. I decided to pull up to ask what he said, perhaps in the vague hope that he would apologize, or even complement me for actually following the traffic laws I constantly hear drivers complaining about cyclists not following. No such luck, the guy was just a gigantic douchebag who wanted to let me know I should be riding on the sidewalk.
Considering the length of our “conversation”, both of us remained remarkably calm, and aside from me calling him a dumbass on several occasions, it was even somewhat profanity-free. But, of course, he wasn’t interested in listening, he just kept repeating “you should be on the sidewalk”, “you shouldn’t have been in the middle of the road”, etc. I said, “this is a vehicle, and it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk in many places”, to which he responded “that’s not a vehicle, it’s a bicycle”. I’m sure this was one of the times I called him a dumbass, and told him that given his
complete ignorance of traffic laws, he was the one who had no business being on the road… and so it continued until the light turned green.
I didn’t get the plate, but oh well, to what end? I know I shouldn’t let ignorant pricks like that get to me, but it’s still a shitty way to start a Friday. God knows how close he actually came to hitting me – I didn’t really think about it at the time but given the situation there (there are a bunch of construction vehicles and a dumpster parked on the right) there couldn’t have been much space. Yet this dumbass is somehow convinced *I* was in the wrong.
While reading this thread I thought to myself “I wonder how many responses it will take for someone to highlight that he was in a Benz and that is ultimately the cause?” Well Lou, you certainly beat my expectation.
I don’t agree with that, douchebags drive all kinds of vehicles.
I pointed it out in case anyone else has an encounter with a doughy looking middle-aged white dude in a black Mercedes C300 – you can be assured he doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt.
I get honked at, passed and tailgated all the time, on city streets and rural roads by Audi’s and decades old American POS’s. Although when I bike, it’s just honking.
So… yeah. The moral is bike don’t drive, and you’ll receive less hassle.
@sloaps: Except for the idiots on bikes that do things like attempt to pass me on the inside while I’m turning (on my bike). Since the universities have started up again, I have more issues with other cyclists than I do with other road users. But that’s a discussion for a different thread.
@bjanaszek can we call them “cutters”? Duct tape power straps on track bikes?
Cutters it is. Once incident almost caused me to go all Robbie McEwen on the guy and headbutt him into next week.
Some yes, but others, no.
joe – yes, dumb shit like this happens all the time. sometimes it just gets to me, just like everyone else. this was after some other jackass rolled the stop sign at fair oaks and passed me with inches to spare, then this. now I’m maybe 500 feet from my house and already got buzzed twice, by drivers who had to stop at the red light anyways. it’s stupidity. if the guy had kept his mouth shut i’d chalk it up to just another day.
I’m glad you’re a calmer person than me, and I wish I could just let shit go – usually I do for the sake of my sanity, although I’m willing to admit maybe I whine about it more than I should… apparently you’re not immune either: http://bike-pgh.org/bbpress/topic/i-yelled-at-someone-this-morning
Salty, sorry to hear of such a miserable experience. I don’t blame you for being pissed. I too am irked when people treat my life like it has no value.
This is slightly off topic, but I was reminded of it by this post. I saw a large yellow road sign last week, in Lower Burrell, Westmoreland County, that said either “Cyclists have equal rights” or “Cyclists have equal privileges,” with a picture of a bike. Either way, it was IMHO a clearer statement than “Share the road.” I would love it if we could get some of these made and installed in the city (and elsewhere) as it would hopefully make the law clearer for Mr. Mercedes and his ilk. His misconception is one that I’ve encountered all too often.
Situations like this remind me why I need to buy a decent helmet cam — unfortunately they can range in the hundreds of dollars — not just to embarrass them on the Internet but also to use as evidence if it came to that. However, I know Pennsylvania has some odd “wiretapping” laws, so it might be wise to inform someone that you’re recording your encounter.
@bjan I check my right just as often as I do my left anymore after a close call with a fast-filtering cyclist.
The problem is invariably with the driver and not with the vehicle. Would you be equally likely to give a d-bag riding (say) an older Prius (complete with politically correct bumper-stickers) a hard time, or would you assume they were having a rough day?
I believe the most useful thing to do is to post the license number as part of your incident description, to establish a paper (bit?) trail. If the driver is a chronic douche, the mentions will accumulate and any eventual legal action will be able to use them (I think).
Before someone else brings it up: the various websites that supposedly allow you to post this kind of information seem kind of useless; unless you’re really into it, it’s not part of your daily browse. Car on bike reports are more useful in a forum like this one: it reaches the right audience as part of their usual info stream.
yeah, but it’s a slight on them. i’m not saying people who impolitely pass @bjanaszek are bad people, i’m just saying we should refer to them with an impolite term.
speaking of slang: salty cyclist had salty words with salty driver. eh?
The type or make of car matters not to me aside from a form of identification – if there’s a pattern I certainly haven’t seen one. I can assure you that all of them are perfectly capable of killing you.
There’s this guy who has a helmet cam and occasionally posts videos of cars passing too close, etc. He got one of a guy clipping him and got a ticket himself for his trouble. So, I’m not totally enamored with that approach, or posting plates, etc.
I know some people read this and think “so what – shut up and ride, that crap happens to me all the time”. Which is kind of the point, I don’t complain about it because I think this is some isolated incident and “look what happened to me”, but because I know it happens to everyone, and it’s ridiculous especially when you get a bit of confirmation that no, the driver’s don’t necessarily care. But, it’s ok, I’m sure after they actually hit someone they are very very sorry about it… at least when they’re talking to the cop.
apparently you haven’t watched the premium rush trailer enough times…
I almost hit a man yesterday, because I turned my car into a gas station and he was riding his bicycle on the sidewalk (and out of view until the very last minute due to landscaping). I always want to yell at bicyclists when I see them riding on the sidewalk. Sometimes it’s a matter of perspective. Hopefully just informing the douchebag that riding on sidewalks is illegal was enough to get him to keep his mouth shut in the future, when a less knowledgeable rider may have listened to him and end up dead because of it.
IANAL, but I believe that riding on the sidewalk is legal except where expressly prohibited (business districts, for example).
That said, I don’t think it’s a good idea to ride on the sidewalk most of the time, and an even worse idea to hop on and off the sidewalk as the mood strikes you.
I almost hit a cyclist in my car on Thursday. I was coming up 24th Street, towards Liberty Ave. Even though Penn is one way, coming from my left, this guy was going against traffic, on the sidewalk, and did not even slow down as he crossed 24th about ten feet in front of my bumper. If I had not looked left, right, left, and one final look right (even though it is one-way coming from my left) I would have hit him, or at least been much closer.
That being said Salty, I’m sorry you had such a crappy start to the day. I hope karma intervened and gave dough-boy in the Mercedes an even worse day. And I’m glad it didn’t escalate. Those doughy drivers typically don’t exercise as much as we cyclists do, and you might have pushed him over the edge!
Hey Jake, I know the sign you’re talking about, it’s right here:
I’ve never seen another. I wonder what the story is behind it.
I’ve been encountering oblivious cyclists daily as I bike to/from work, entirely along Penn Ave. Mostly, people silently zipping past me within two feet on my left or right as I take the lane thru the strip. I’ve informed a few about how dangerous not announcing their presence is (Imagine if I had to evade a pothole right as they fly past) but it doesn’t seem to make a difference when they have earbuds in.
^ I’ve encountered almost the opposite situation a couple of times in the last few weeks. I’ll come up behind a much slower cyclist in traffic; I’ll slow down and ride a bike length or two behind them (not drafting) and wait for a safe place to pass. Invariably the lead cyclist will notice my presence or I’ll give them an “I’m behind you – take your time” announcement and then they get nervous and start weaving all over the place. I find that not passing them right away is making the situation worse. This has happened on Ellsworth, Neville, and Forbes – mostly college kids, although at least once it was a more mature fellow.
Any suggestions? What do you do?
Re: passing slow cyclists
Most roads I ride have stop signs / red lights often enough that I can stop next to them at the sign, then hurry and accelerate faster than them to pass. If they don’t stop, I’ll invariably catch up to them again and let them know they’re riding unsafely.
@Marko, this comment is not directed at you, or at group ride situations, but I find it kind of creepy when a cyclist is riding too close behind me or for too long. I hate the feeling of holding someone up, but I’m also wondering if it’s a friend or foe behind me. I like it when people either keep their distance or shout out “passing on your left” before they’re beside me. I suppose cyclists can be tailgaters, too. Its a bad idea when driving yet people do it all the time.
Yesterday some girl ran about 5 stoplights, and I kept passing her after they turned green, and she would draft me till the next red light. That pissed me off. If you stop for lights, you may draft me.
Thus demonstrating that the whole “teaching by setting a good example” thing is a complete fail?
@edmonds – that’s a much bigger questions than can be answered by that narrow example. And besides, if we stop trying to do things the right way (or what we feel is best or safest), where would we be. Just because the girl in the story above didn’t get it that time, doesn’t mean she wont get it the next.
“Teaching by setting a good example” is a cumulative process.
“Teaching by setting a good example” is a cumulative process.
Yep. Enough exposure, and you’ll eventually see the effects.
Much like lead poisoning.
(…much like lead poisoning…)
I would expect nothing less from a man who rides his La-Z-Boy, er, bike in the prone position.
Technically, I ride in the supine position. Prone would be face-down, and I’ve only used that position in my ill-fated mountain biking experiments.
Adhering to vehicle code is somewhat like using good spelling and grammar. Most of the time, people don’t notice, and it has little effect on improving the habits of those who don’t use it.
The majority of people can put up with quite a bit of error in themselves and others, again, most of the time. Only when it exceeds some subjective level of badness does it garner any attention, and even then, most of those times it doesn’t do any real harm.
“Let’s eat, Grandma!” differs from “Let’s eat Grandma!” by one comma.
“He was last seen with a woman known now to be his wife.” differs ever so slightly from “He was last seen with a woman known not to be his wife.”
Bottom line, to me, sometimes you just have to point out the errors if you want the errors not to recur.
I’m temporarily closing this topic for today. I’ll reopen it first thing tomorrow, but there are a lot of potentially new donors coming to the site today and on the homepage we have “recent comments” in the forums and they all say “Dear Douchebag” which isn’t the best impression for us to make. I wish I could just disable the recent post thing, but we need our web guy ClickNathan to do that and he’s sometime tough to get a hold of. Thanks for understanding.
whew, good thing none of those donors will ever think to check back after yesterday…
@Ahlir: If they haven’t been scared off after a day of the _usual_ witty banter, methinks “douchebag” is unlikely to bug ’em too much.
well now i feel like the douchebag for posting with this headline to begin with. i’ll put a dollar in the jar.
I can’t say I digagree with shutting it down for a day. While I wouldn’t necessarily be offended by the thread title, I will say that when I first checked out the board the top threads were all about close calls and accidents and it did scare me off. I came back and checked the board again in the following months from time to time, but I would say that that did in fact delay my involvement by a year or so. It was just very negative and very overwhelming to hear about as someone who hadn’t biked the city extensively and hadn’t had any experiences like that. It made me more afraid of riding to read it instead of making me feel more confident in handling situations.
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