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Stop 'n' go
Over a five-day span earlier this month, I had four noteworthy encounters at four-way-stop intersections that left me scratching my (helmeted) head.
None of the four was unprecedented nor especially unusual, but the fact all happened in such close proximity left me truly amused.
First, one afternoon as I was riding to work, I approached an intersection at the same time as a car across from me. The car clearly was on its way to beating me to the stop, but as he approached, the driver flashed his headlights repeatedly and motioned for me to ride through the intersection ahead of him, apparently without me coming to a stop. I declined. He flashed and waved. I rolled to a stop (or pretty close to it; given the driver’s histrionics, I felt compelled to hurry though the intersection). As I passed, the driver threw his hands in the air and appeared to be yelling at me.
Later that same day, as I was heading home for supper, I rolled up to a busy intersection where there were cars at all four stops. I got in line behind two cars and waited for my turn. When I made it to the front of my line, I came to a stop and waited for the cars at the other three stops to go. As I waited, the car behind me edged closer and closer, engine revving. When it was my turn, I started to roll through the intersection. The car behind came with, and as he roared past me midway though the intersection, the driver yelled out the passenger window, “Get out of the way! Why did you (bleeping) stop?”
A couple of days later, I stopped alone at a four-way. As I started to enter the intersection, a car approached, quickly, from my right. Fearing it wouldn’t stop, I started to slow down just in case. The car hesitated at the stop, then started to roll through. I hollered something, and the driver slammed on the brakes. A started woman yelled, sarcastically, “Nice stop!”
Then the following day, I came to another busy four-way. Again I waited my turn, but this time rather than come to a complete stop when my turn came, I rolled the stop. Mind you, I didn’t go out of turn, but to clear the intersection faster and delay traffic less, I maintained a little momentum. As I rolled past the car opposite my stop, the driver intoned the same sarcastic “Nice stop!” but added a little sobriquet at the end.
So, for those scoring at home, in less than a week, I drew a driver’s ire because I: didn’t blow through an intersection at his urging; stopped and delayed another's drive; appeared not to have stopped to an inattentive driver, even though I did stop; and didn’t come to a complete stop.
Hmm … talk about damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Can’t stop; can’t not stop.
What’s a cyclist to do?