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Boy, am I peeved


So there I was, just riding along - JRA, in the parlance - on Peterson Road at a pretty good clip the other day when a minivan started to pass me.As it pulled alongside, I glanced left and noticed the right blinker was on.Uh, oh. I was about to get a right hook, a too-common occurrence for cyclists in which vehicles pass, quickly retake the lane and brake just before whipping a right-hand turn. One lapse in concentration by the cyclist can result in big trouble.In anticipation, I started drifting left a bit. I tend to do that when I anticipate getting hooked because it scrubs a little speed and allows me to avoid the turning car better.But then this traffic encounter took a troubling turn. The driver of the minivan braked, sure enough, but then stopped, right there in the middle of 45 mph Peterson Road.No amount of legal leftward drift would allow me to miss this impending badness, so, as I started to brake as quickly as I could, I pondered my options. I considered hopping into the center turn lane to pass on the left, but there was an oncoming car waiting there to turn into the same intersection. To make matters worse, I heard a car quickly approaching from behind. So I was stuck, about to become a hood ornament to the left, a bumper sticker ahead and possibly a cyclist sandwich from behind.All the while the driver of the minivan - and I'm not casting aspersions on women or minivans; I have a fondness for both, but one especially - was looking back at me with a polite close-lipped smile, like she was doing me some favor by not turning in front of me and instigating a four-car pileup with me in the middle instead.In the heat of the moment, I did the only thing I could think to do. I passed the minivan on the right - she wasn't budging - while making sure the oncoming turner stayed put, pedaled through the intersection and didn't look back.That's the worst traffic situation I've been in in a long time, but it doesn't make my list of biggest pet peeves as a regular commuter.After all, that boneheaded blunder was so asinine, I couldn't envision it happening again. Peeves, I believe, have to be recurring to some degree.Here, then, are some of my biggest beefs as a regular cyclist with other vehicles on the road. (In the interest of fairness, my next blog will be my biggest pet peeves about cyclists as a driver, so save your anti-bike venom until then, if you please):The near pass: Car starts to pass cyclist, but misjudges the bike's speed. As a result, both vehicles are side-by-side as they approach a traffic signal of some sort or an oncoming vehicle. Invariably, the car refuses to yield, so the cyclist has to hit the hooks or get run off the road.You go; no, you go: Car and bike pull up to stop sign about the same time. Legally, tie goes to the vehicle on the right. But well intentioned driver insists the bike go first. Biker politely declines. Driver insists. Biker relents, but not before impatient driver rescinds offer. Both pull forward. Both stop. Repeat. Although the driver generally means well, I'd prefer we all just stick to the rules of the road, especially if there are other vehicles involved.Oh, high there: Properly lighted night cyclist encounters oncoming car from a distance. Driver becomes befuddled (apparently from seeing a bike so well lit). Driver pops on the "high beams" to get a better view. Cyclist temporarily blinded.Glomming off my stop: Impatient driver comes to a stop behind - or, sometimes, nearly alongside - bike at a stop sign. Cyclist waits his turn before proceeding. Impatient driver tags along, rather than waiting his turn.I'm bigger than you are: This affront takes many forms, from the aforementioned right hook to the left turn across the cyclist's path to going out of turn at a four-way stop. I try not to predict motivation too much, but I assume many slights can be boiled down to, "Eh, it's just a guy on a bike. He'll slow down or get creamed."


alm77 9 years, 9 months ago

"glomming off my stop" - whoops. Sorry bout that.

I_Bet_They_Were_From_Topeka 9 years, 9 months ago

I bet you're from Topeka. It's called getting off the road.

hail2oldku 9 years, 9 months ago

alm77 (Anonymous) says: "glomming off my stop" - whoops. Sorry bout that.I see cars do that with other cars at Kasold & Harvard all the time, no bicycle necessary.

Andrew Hartsock 9 years, 9 months ago

twaldaisy:Please don't stop being polite. Politeness out there is far too infrequent, it seems.I'm afraid I wasn't clear enough about the stop-sign situation. If it's just the two of us, I'll gladly go out of turn if waved through and it's safe to do so.My concern is when there are other cars present.I've rolled up to a four-way stop fourth and had the driver opposite me try to wave me through. That leaves the two cars running perpendicular waiting for me, as well as any other cars behind the cars up front. Miffed to have to wait for the slow cyclists, I'm sure the drivers in front of whom I've "cut" would be angry not at the nice driver who waved me through, but at me. If I decline, a standoff ensues. I appreciate the intention, but the execution can be inconvenient at best and dangerous at worst.

twaldaisy 9 years, 9 months ago

Well after this it seems we drivers can't win. I treat a bicycle exactly as another vehicle. I don't get too close, I try not to turn in front of them signaling way ahead. If allowed, when in the right lane I try to give room near the curb when stopped (9th and TN kind of hard to do that as the turn lane is up against the curb), etc. Yet it seems being polite still isn't good enough. As for the bicyclist being waved through on a stop, what is wrong with that as long as it is safe to proceed through? Although I understand the peeve of when waved off people still not going thru and you sit there and then everyone decides to go at once.

twaldaisy 9 years, 9 months ago

Thanks Andrew. I have seen that exact scenario and actually have been waved off by a bicyclist and I just go on thru. Now I understand why. Plus I have seen it with just cars involved too. I think the worst place this happens is at Harvard and Wak with 4 lanes on Wak and just the 2 on Harvard, can make for an eventful time. May you have many continued safe rides and I will be watching for "you".

tvc 9 years, 9 months ago

One time this white car pulled out in front of me and forced me to stop. Now I threaten the life of every person driving a white car. That was the last straw for me. Bumper cars with all white cars!

BrianR 9 years, 9 months ago

Why do the traffic calming devices on many streets force vehicles directly into the bike lanes? Anybody have any insights into this one?

Baille 9 years, 9 months ago

Sunflower and CycleWorks both sell some great headlight/taillight combos that are reasonably priced. These are much better than the lights available at chain stores and they can be easily moved from bike to bike.

jnixon 9 years, 9 months ago

So...bike riders are supposed to follow traffic laws?! I have plenty of friends that ride safely, but I have had so many other idiots NOT follow traffic laws and dart right in front of me instead of yielding or stopping when there is a sign posted. My favorite, however, was the rider that cut across two lanes of traffic right in front of me while I was turning left onto Tennessee from the 6th street turn lane! She came from the park and I clearly had the right of way! Bike riders have to be super careful already, maybe there needs to be some bigger qualification for riding a bike on the roads. Say maybe a safety course...I'm just sayin'!

nobody1793 9 years, 9 months ago

Let's all agree to disagree and focus our anger on running down little old ladies in crosswalks. They make me so mad.

bombshell 9 years, 9 months ago

Ramsfield-I'm sure you've meant that to be taken as a ridiculous statement. Regardless, the bike paths often won't help you commute to where you want to go (i.e., work, your house, etc) unless you happen to live/work off the river levee or what have you. Nonetheless, I'm sure all the bikers you try and run off the road fully appreciate your hilarity.That being said, I have my own opinions of thoughtless bikers, my biggest complaint: riding your bike without a headlight at night! (Captain Obvious, I know) Seriously though, the last thing I want is to pancake a cyclist due to their own stupidity. I park in the alley behind my house (in the student ghetto district) and there have been multiple situations where I start turning into the alley only to have some bike coming at me in the dark. I believe I spotted close to 10 bikes riding sans-headlight this past Saturday night alone...

Baille 9 years, 9 months ago

"Later, I checked with a couple law enforcers and both said he should not have been on the sidewalk. "We need more facts, but it sounds like the officers are wrong. Lawrence Municipal Code § 17-702 governs when and where bicycles are prohibited from riding on sidewalks in Lawrence. In short, bicycles cannot be ridden on sidewalks within 100 feet of a store, business place, or place of assembly. These things are not defined, but one would think that distance would be from the building itself; however, leaving "place of assembly" and "business place" undefined is just poor drafting. The section also makes it illegal to ride upon sidewalks within any "business district." Again, "business district" is left undefined by the Code, which is poor drafting.(It shall be unlawful for any person to ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk within any business district within the City or upon any sidewalk within a distance of 100 feet from any store or business place or place of assembly or where specifically prohibited by posted sign. It shall not be unlawful for police officers or other law enforcement personnel assigned to bicycle patrol units to ride upon sidewalks while in performance of their official duties. (Ord. 5172, 17-702, Ord. 7557)A sidewalk is defined by the Lawrence City Code as any portion of a street between the curb line and the adjacent property line intended for the use of pedestrians. (Sect. 1-102.) We also know that Kansas law treats cyclists as pedestrians when they are riding on the sidewalk.The sidewalks around both the Dillons on 6th Street and the one on 23rd are more than 100 feet from the buildings housing the business. Not sure about the one on Mass, but from what I can recall I think it is more than 100 feet from the sidewalk as well. Under the Lawrence Code it does not appear to be illegal to ride on those sidewalks. Of course, I suppose one could argue that these buildings are located in "business districts" but I don't know how that would be established without going to some external source. In any event, the Code certainly does not appear to give sufficient notice to the citizens of Lawrence about what is meant by "business district" or "place of assembly."Oddly enough, some of the bike paths and multi-use paths in Lawrence steer cyclists into riding on sidewalks that appear to be within 100 feet of a business.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 9 months ago

No amount of legal leftward drift would allow me to miss this impending badness, so, as I started to brake as quickly as I could, I pondered my options.---AndrewAndrew Hartsock,this line was nicely written. I really liked the emotional content. ***oh I see Ramsfield has got his grumpy shirt on again! if he hadn't that experience on 59 (whether or hallucination), he'd make up something just to justify his personal grudge. he seems to define himself by his own anger and sense of having been abused.

nobody1793 9 years, 9 months ago

"stay on the bike path"If there were a network of bikepaths where you can ride for more than 5 minutes before it ends, I think a lot of cyclists would. Illinois, Wisconsin, and a lot of other states have great paths where you can actually go 40 or 50 miles. Kansas is terribly lacking in that regard. I wish there was a bike path you could take all the way around Clinton lake. If you build that, and a bike path between my office and my house, I'll gladly stay off the roads.

Gina Bailey-Carbaugh 9 years, 9 months ago

No no, bikes do not belong on sidewalks. I almost collided with an old guy on the sidewalk in front of Dillons. He was riding opposite traffic so I didn't see him. Later, I checked with a couple law enforcers and both said he should not have been on the sidewalk. Still rattles the nerves when something like that happens.

Ken Miller 9 years, 9 months ago

Phil Gramm was right. "Nation of Whiners."

Kirk Larson 9 years, 9 months ago

I love visiting my brother in Ft. Collins, CO. They have trails that take you to various parts of town, bike lanes that are a full lane wide and that are strictly enforced, and lots of racks to lock up. They have a "bike library" where anyone with an ID and an e-mail address can check out a bike for (I think it was) ten days. And most convenient of all, Ft. Collins is FLAT. I love Lawrence, but the few bike lanes there are are narrow, they end abruptly, and often don't go anywhere worth going. I ride on sidewalks whenever I have to, i.e. narrow, high traffic streets. And the truth is, getting behind the wheel of a car drops your IQ by at least 20 points (I'll include myself in that). Can't do anything about the hills.

tvc 9 years, 9 months ago

The buzz is what irks me. There are so many things that could happen when a vehicle is passing that the driver should give plenty of space. My riding partner and I almost always ride single file unless we have problems with people buzzing us, then we will take up the lane and make people pass us in a lawful way. Thanks Ram for playing Russian roulette with my life.

tvc 9 years, 9 months ago

It is ironic that a cyclist was just hit riding on a sidewalk, and people are still telling us to ride on the sidewalk!

Jim Phillips 9 years, 9 months ago

One of the greatest thrills of all time is to be driving at the speed limit toward Lone Star Lake and popping over a hill or rounding a curve only to find bicyclists riding five or six abreast in my lane. Trying to miss all those bikes while avoiding a head on is a real rush!

Baille 9 years, 9 months ago

Ramsfield * Location: Lawrence * Hometown: None of your business * Occupation: Professional DrinkerWhatever.

alm77 9 years, 9 months ago

Isense, I agree that this happens both ways, but I think the point is that it's more dangerous and unnerving when these things happen to one on a bike. I believe the point of this blog is for the readers to gain some perspective on what it's like atop a bike.

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