LJWorld.com weblogs Rolling along
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."