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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?


laika 8 years, 9 months ago

The four way stop at 8th and New Hampshire is a regular feature of my ride home and pretty often and people are just flabbergasted if they see me there, especially if I track stand. Maybe they see a bicyclist without their feet on the ground and they think I'm going to bolt through the intersection. Whatever, I love ignoring their insistence that I cross when I don't have the right of way.

number3of5 8 years, 9 months ago

If all cyclists on the streets and highways followed the rules of the roads, then maybe, just maybe car drivers would give them the respect due to them. Some cyclists fail to follow rules and car drivers equate them to all cyclists. Some car drivers think they are the only people on the road or that they own the road and can be very obnoxious, both to cyclists and other drivers. Even if we went back to horse and buggies, rudeness would exist or if we had jet packs to fly to and from work rudeness would exist. We as a people simply need to learn "love for all of our brothers and sisters".

Steve Bunch 8 years, 9 months ago

That second sentence should read "None of the four was unprecedented or especially unusual...." I know you can do better.

Bob_Keeshan 8 years, 9 months ago

It is a much higher percentage of cyclists who follow the rules of the roads than "cars."

I can't count the number of times I have had cars run right through a stop sign without stopping.

But at least it is another fun filled day of ridiculous ranting about "cyclists." Stereotypes are fun!

Andrew Hartsock 8 years, 9 months ago

Alf: Fixed it. I think it used to say, "The four were neither unprecedented nor ... " Must have gotten messed up in the rewrite.

bankboy119 8 years, 9 months ago

When I was riding the last couple of years and was on busy streets with stop signs I would normally go with the car that was sitting next to me. I still stopped at the stop sign, but didn't hold a car up. I was never yelled at once.

Stuart Evans 8 years, 9 months ago

the moral of the story is; 90% of people don't know basic traffic laws. the other 10% don't care.

Soup2Nuts 8 years, 9 months ago

Don't stop....thinking about tomorrow...

puddleglum 8 years, 9 months ago

this stuff happens to me all of the time. you are riding along, coming up to a 4-way stop and someone on the side thinks they are being nice and waves you through-as other cars with the right of way cruise up and don't understand why the 1st car is just sitting there... here's another good one... you are pedaling along down lets say old dragstrip road and a car comes up and gives you the "tour de france-neutral service escort"......they crawl at 20mph behind you as other cars fly up behind them-honking at the car, but yelling at you "use the freakin' sidewalk fa****!" I love that one.

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