Monday, June 14, 2010

Intersection Interaction

There's a letter on the Idaho Statesman website today, that got my interest.

Polite drivers might get cyclists killed

Bicycles are subject to all the rules and privileges of the road, just like cars. As a biker, sometimes drivers try giving me undeserved right of way. That needs to stop.

Often, bikers will be at a stop sign, and cross-traffic will randomly stop and wave them on. However, the well-intentioned driver doesn't mind the car behind him or her that isn't stopping. Accepting that courtesy would then end in disaster, as the biker rides out into moving traffic.

It's irresponsible to wave someone on in front of you if you can't be 100 percent certain that every single other driver is also stopping. The only person who can best be sure that the way is safe is the one who bears the risk of being hit, not you.

Also, the time it takes for the driver to stop, for me to realize he or she is stopping for me, and for me to double-check for not-stopping traffic is actually greater than if the driver had just gone through the intersection without interruption and I had gone normally. It's a nice thought, but it's ridiculous.

Don't give me right of way that isn't mine. It's illegal, confusing, and it will get people killed.


Mr. Roemer makes a good point, and I agree. In fact, the topic has arisen before on this blog.

I've seen the same thing - the occasional well-meaning motorist who has the right of way, but waves me through.

Although the kind gesture is appreciated, it is rarely helpful. A transportation cyclist anticipates side-traffic at the next intersection and times his approach carefully, to mesh as smoothly as possible. If I have a stop sign up ahead, I'll speed up or slow down so as not to arrive at the intersection at the same time as cross traffic. If the guy coming from the side slows down even though he has the right of way, it puts the entire ballet in jeopardy!

I'm sure part of the reason is, these nice motorists deal with clueless bicyclists on the roads (since bike laws aren't enforced in this town and there's no formal education), and want to give us every advantage to survive.

But - as Daniel's letter said (previous blog entry), "You can rest assured that I'm paying far more attention on the road than you are — that's how I survive daily, year-round cycling." As for the clueless cyclists, it could be that they've developed an "entitlement mentality." They've come to expect motorists to compensate for their incompetence. Bad situation for everybody! Sometimes I wonder if we'd be better off if the herd were thinned a little.


Clancy said...

I liked you other interpretation. - Interupted Dance

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh YES YES YES!!! When I do shout obscenities at drivers, THIS is precisely what causes it. Driving wrecklessly is bad for everyone, and that's precisely what this type of behavior is.