Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Training - Living with Cars

This'll be sort of a road rights rant. It's not "bicycle road rights", it's more a " 'right to use the road' road rant". People, including cyclists, ought to respect the rules of the road, both written and unwritten. People need to have common sense, they ought to be aware of what's going on around them.

I was taught to try and do things the best way possible. I listened to an interview the other day and the (politician) interviewee said some stuff that really struck me. When asked about the legality of something or another the interviewee replied that what happened in that case was wrong.

The legality was vague but he, a former prosecutor of some sort, emphasized the fact that what happened was wrong and it shouldn't have happened.

End of story.

For me one of the daily things that I do, that we do, is drive our cars. If we're going to drive our cars, we might as well drive them properly. That means no lazy steering, where we drift across into the oncoming lane simply because it takes bit more effort to turn the wheel properly.

Just the other day I watched as one of my neighbors almost t-boned another one of my neighbors. The first neighbor was turning left into the housing area. The second neighbor was waiting at the stop sign. The first neighbor was so used to cutting the corner that she almost hit the second neighbor simply sitting at the stop sign. I'm not talking "almost took the bumper off" cutting corners, I'm talking "almost rammed into the passenger door" kind of cutting corners.

That first neighbor is simply doesn't care enough to drive properly. The driver doesn't care that they're crossing the yellow line 10 or 15 feet away from the intersection. My take on the situation is that if you have to take evasive action because someone else is driving properly then you're not driving properly, even if there is no other driver around.

You should drive such that another legal/normal road user would not change your chosen path, and likewise another legal/normal road user wouldn't have to change their path to avoid you.

It means stopping at stop signs. It means stopping when there's a sign that says no turn on red. It means giving "vulnerable road users" like walkers, runners, and cyclists, enough room.

My second ride outside this year sort of demonstrated just how tough it can be for people to drive properly.

Trailer passing me. Properly.

The problem with trailers is that you can't hear them, and unless you look for a while, you can't really see them when they're behind you. In my case I noticed the large pick up truck following me but waiting to pass me. I tried to stay right but there was oncoming traffic so I figured the driver was being careful.

Ends up I was right. When the driver finally passed me he was pulling a trailer. He passed me on the widest section of that part of road - it's a few feet narrower in the previous few hundred yards and the following 200 yards or so. After a stop sign (yes, I did a full stop) it remains pretty narrow.

Having towed a trailer I now know just how much tougher it is to drive with one. Therefore I gave a wave to the driver. I'm not sure the driver saw me but that's okay. If it were me I'd be busy focusing on the next significant road event in front of me.

Impala passes somewhat closely.

I thought maybe I was being picky so I looked up the width of an Impala. It's a touch over six feet wide, so the car would have to pass giving half its width clearance to me. The picture above shows that it did leave a bit more than half its width clearance.

To the curb.

I'm between it and the curb.

Given that I'm more than about a foot wide the Impala passed me a bit closely, especially considering there's no oncoming traffic.

There's no comparison to the closest I've seen, which was on a training ride with teammate and friend SOC.

This is close.
No 3 foot law so no laws broken here.

So, yeah, it's all relative.

I stopped at a major intersection a short while later. It's a biggie - many fatalities here, due to the big hill to the left. They even have a very short, very technical runaway ramp for those big rigs that lose their brakes.

I'm extremely careful here as it's a high publicity place for cyclists (in other words a lot of people will notice a misbehaving cyclist), it's dangerous, and the road isn't in good shape.

Of course what happens?

A cyclist going the wrong way crosses the waiting traffic just as they get their green light.

The cyclist is about center of picture.

Not a good thing.

The drivers didn't do much better.

We have a green. That means the light turned red for the turning vehicles.
The truck (barely) made it into the intersection before the light turned red for it.

My understanding is that if your light turns red but you're already in the intersection then you need to clear it. It's why many people creep up for a left turn even when there's no chance of them making the left. Once the light turns red they can go, otherwise they're blocking the intersection.

However entering the intersection after the light turns red doesn't count.

This Honda didn't make it into the intersection before it turned red.

People will justify running a red. "Well, I was right behind the truck that made it." Or whatever.

I don't want to live in a Spain kind of place where my mom (when my parents lived there) cautioned me that when I get a green light I should wait for the other cars to stop running the red. Typically 3-4-5 cars would run the red before someone actually stopped.

It's the above justification carried out logically. It's not a good justification.

Honda passes closely.

The above Honda was flirting with the 3 foot rule. I don't have a yardstick sticking out to the left so I can't judge. You can see once again that I was as far right as practical. The car has room to move left, even with the oncoming traffic. As the car passed me it was moving in.

The Honda further on - why cross the shoulder line?

Here's where driving properly comes in play. Why drive over the shoulder line? I appreciate that it helps push the sand out of the way. Heck, I do it intentionally sometimes, in certain situations, to help move sand (you should see me when I check the course at Bethel), but never when I just passed a cyclist or pedestrian or any other person on the side of the road.

The car behind the Honda, the silver Ford (?) passes me with plenty of room. No oncoming traffic, wide enough lane that it could even stay on the proper side of the double yellow.

Why pass now?
This is the furthest the SUV came to passing me - I was next to its rear wheel/bumper.

Why pass a cyclist when coming up to a red light?

This is a bit of a head scratcher. I picked the frame where the white SUV got as far past me as it could. I'm not going fast, but then neither is the black car in front of both of us. I'm turning right, on red, as is legal in this intersection, and I am waiting to signal until after this driveway.

If someone tries to pass me when it's really close to a stopped line of traffic - there's no law being broken here, just the law of common sense - I'll just repass the car. If someone passes me well before the intersection then I'll stop behind that car, unless I'm turning right on red. I don't want to force someone to pass me again.

(If I'm on a particularly busy road I'll pass everyone waiting at the light, wait until the light turns green, cross the street as quickly as possible, then stop and let all the cars go by.)

In this case I made a legal turn on red after making a full stop. I had a chaperone - a police car sat second in line at the light, right turn signal on. I would hope the officer would have pulled me over if I'd done something wrong.

Approaching a big intersection. Right lane is right turn only so I stay on the white line.

One car turns right through the red light, a legal right on red. I'm going a bit faster than normal since I see the the car turning left (coming towards me) is waiting for me to clear the intersection. I want to clear the intersection as quickly as possible since that would allow everyone to keep doing what they were doing.

There's no law saying I should do that, it's just common sense.

Rolling into the intersection.

The first car is on the road now. Partially on the shoulder (that lazy steering) but the driver had enough time to turn onto the road before I got there.

The Volvo is in the spot where drivers make the decision to stop or go. The white line is far enough back that your vision may be obstructed, so it's natural to move forward to see better.


Car never stops.

Well believe it or not the car kept rolling as I got closer to it.

Technically I could have slowed hard or stopped, but in this case I wanted to let the oblivious driver know that they'd messed up. I couldn't tell if they looked at me, if they saw me, but I was pretty close to them. Remember the helmet cam makes things look further than they are, so the car is maybe 20 feet away.

Hard to miss seeing a cyclist from that far.

I would give them a "jerk break" if they really went fast. Maybe their kid just threw up in the back seat, maybe they're running late, whatever. If they enter the intersection and blast away then I figure there's something going on, even if there isn't.

In the Volvo's case they just rolled into the intersection. The driver had to have been rolling slowly because I  ended up next to the car and I was going about 22-24 mph. Maybe the driver saw me? Hence they were on the shoulder?

Looked at the driver.

I didn't swear or give them the finger or anything. I just looked at them the way I look at Junior when he does something wrong and he knows it. He doesn't need me to say anything.

After the fact I realized a "pointing to my eyes" with my fingers in a v-shape gesture might have been appropriate, one that says "hey, look around before running a red light."

From what I can tell from the clip the car never stopped at the red light. If it did it stopped out of sight of the intersection so there's no way the driver could have made sure it was clear before going.

Volvo passes me. With plenty of room. At a good clip.

The driver of the Volvo obviously felt some kind of shame or embarrassment based on his/her future actions. They gave me plenty of room - even on a super wide section of road they were near the yellow line. They let the car in front of it get some distance before passing me. And they passed me quickly and decisively. So that's good. And I hope that the driver is more aware of their surroundings at the next red light (and hopefully they won't run it).

I spammed the following article on Facebook, through my own FB, the Bethel FB, and the blog FB. It's a good article on group ride etiquette, and it was put up by a cycling advocacy group.

"Changing Group Road Ride Behavior".

Read it.

And stop with the lazy steering.

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