Monday, August 16, 2010

Intersection Encounter

Last week I was bicycling on a one-way arterial-type street (16th southbound, near "the connector"). I was in the bike lane on the right side of the pavement.

As I approached an intersection, a car that had been stopped (at a stop sign) began pulling out from the left side, on an apparent collision course with me. Assuming that the driver hadn't seen me (it happens!), I used my horn substitute - I shouted "HEY!!" - and covered the brake levers, ready for evasive maneuvering.

The driver slowed down about halfway across the intersection, allowing me on through. It was a woman - and her face was contorted in an expression of barely-suppressed rage. (Think "Cruella DeVille.") Her mouth was moving 100-miles-a-minute... thank goodness I'm not a lip reader!

I don't know if Cruella was angry because of my mere presence on the road, or because I hollered, or because I was holding her up and wasting her valuable time. (Or maybe she was mad about something totally unrelated to the intersection situation... who knows?) But she and all motorists have to understand something.

If I don't know whether you intend to proceed into my path, or slow down and allow me on by, or what... I have to anticipate the worst. It's not a matter of courtesy as much as a matter of survival. I'm confident if Cruella had pulled out as another car was approaching the intersection, she would've got at least honked at!

When you start rolling out into the intersection, you waste everybody's time, besides being the cause of unneccessary anxiety on everybody's part. Be a good roadway citizen and just wait patiently until it's your turn to proceed. Thanks!


Mark said...

Shout at cars? I do it too when I feel threatened or believe that they haven't seen me. The one thing I know for sure if I ever get hit by a car I will lose the encounter. I try to ride with that in mind, but also I am not bashful about letting people know I am there.

Clancy said...

I had an issue the other day. I was at the intersection of Americana and 27th going towards the river. The bike lane is very skinny and was on the white line while waiting for the light. A guy in a Toyota pickup behind me honks then tells me I need to be on the sidewalk. I proceed to tell him I am legal where I am currently. He gets mad and pulls around me and proceeds to make a right hand turn onto 27th St. I probably should of taken a plate number and reported him, but no harm no foul. Even if this guy would get a ticket, it would not change his preception of cyclist and probably make it worse.

Bob T said...

Clancy, at that intersection I find that it works best to leave the bike lane and move to the left side of the right lane. That way vehicles who wish to make a right turn can still do so, but many just wait behind me for the green light.

If you need to get to the Greenbelt a way to avoid this intersection completely is to go through the former Michaels Furniture parking lot to 17th then cross 27th to the parking lot where there is a Greenbelt entrance. Bikeboy showed me this route on our way home from the Ride of Silence in May.

Bikeboy said...

Isn't it amazing that you can be in a bike lane - that's a BIKE LANE - on your bike, and some yokel will instruct you that you're in the wrong place.

There's a good chance he wasn't signaling his intention to turn. Many motorists obviously don't realize that a signal is required by law, to notify other roadway users of your intent. (I totally respect people who are signaling at that intersection, but if you're not signaling, I will assume you're not turning, and will pull up right next to you.)

Clancy said...

Bob, Thanks for the heads up. I have used that route for going downriver. I happen to be going up river on the Greenbelt and the Northside is closed