Buzzed: Ford Explorer – Plate: MG4x58x
After having a Port Authority bus patiently wait 10-20 seconds to pass safely, the vehicle behind it, a Ford Explorer, Plate: MG4x58x [perhaps MG4058x] buzzed me within inches. The mirror may have brushed my jacket.
I yelled an expletive along with “4 feet”, and they braked, but then decided to continue.
Here is the vehicle at on Wilkins, at Shady, about 100 ft from where they dangerously and illegally passed:
I would be very cautious around this vehicle and consider the driver’s actions fully intentional considering the bus it was tailgating was able to pass safety and within the law along with the six cars behind it.
These kind of incidents are making me think it makes sense to take the lane on that stretch of road. Wilkins is just too narrow to allow cars to pass without forcing them to cross the yellow line.
I always take the lane headed uphill towards Shady/Beechwood. Usually if I’m going downhill, I can keep up with traffic.
Glad to hear you are safe. I had a guy yelling out his window at me this weekend around that intersection, but while going down Shady Ave in front of the Children’s Institute. There is space for the buses to park during the school day, so there was plenty of room for the both of us. Still not sure what he was yelling about, but hopefully he aired his grievance and got it out of his system. At least we didn’t have to resort to Feats of Strength..
@jonawebb, riding a feet feet from the cars, you are pretty much taking the lane.
Like I said, the conditions allowed 7 other vehicles to pass safety before and after this one. The driver had to intentionally think to put the vehicle that close to me.
I reported a school van driver to the Baldwin PD the other day for a similar pass. I think the crazy-driver-season is starting early this year. Glad you are ok Nick.
When I go up that stretch I stay close to the curb. I’m moving slowly and the cars really want to pass. Sometimes I’ll even get on the sidewalk – for buses for example.
I had a minor issse on Wilkins going the other directioin on Saturday – taking the lane towards the red light at Negley, some guy went to the other lane to try to pass me, only to realize taht the geometry was that if he went inot teh other lane, he didn’t have space to come back. When I made a left of Negley, after I delayed him some time interval less than two seconds, he cursed me out.
It seems the guy that buzzed Nick would have been equally aggressive regardless of Nick’s placement in the lane.
It would be appropriate if the legal system would remove the licenses of such drivers and be merciless if they drove unlicensed, but that isn’t how things work right now.
I’m glad Nick is safe and I’m also glad that he is angry. Nick’s an effective dude.
When a vehicle is tailgating a van, bus, truck or any other vehicle that is larger and hard to see past, that can be a very bad situation for a cyclist. My guess is this moron tailgating didn’t see you at all. The bus was blocking his/her vision. I suspect you were a surprise to them. I almost got killed on the Highland Park Bridge by this situation and I now don’t ride on the road anymore, I take the sidewalk. I had inches on both sides of me and was on loose stones and debris. I consider myself lucky to be here. The second car didn’t see me because I could hear the passengers yelling at the driver to watch out or whatever. Both drivers were drunk and playing a game of tailgate and speed. I tried to catch up to them, but didn’t
Anyway, glad you are okay. Not sure what to say about those situations.
Yanking someone’s license for deliberately aggressive behavior is appropriate, but probably never going to happen unless it does cause an accident.
Heavy fines paying for a mandatory round of driver’s education focusing on a cyclist’s right to the road, passing etiquette, staying out of crosswalks, etc. would be a big step in the right direction.
I know it’s counter-intuitive, but when I get some guy behind me honking etc. I know he’s at least seen me. It’s a benefit of taking the lane. There’s always the possibility that the guy will snap and deliberately brush you, as also happened to Nick, or even run you down, of course. But in the present case if Nick hadn’t allowed the bus to pass the Explorer would never have been an issue. And I’d guess a bus driver would be unlikely to run you down or brush you, their jobs being at stake and having plenty of witnesses.
BTW I want to make clear I’m not blaming the victim, in this case Nick. I’m just mulling over the incident and thinking about being more aggressive on that stretch of road, which I ride pretty often.
@gg, given the amount of room the bus gave me, I find it very hard to believe that the Police officer did not see me. Either way, they were still 100% at fault.
@jonawebb, you can take the lane and a vehicle can still pass 100% within the law by crossing the double yellow which is completely legal in PA given it is clear to do so.
Having taken bicycle and motorcycle safety courses, I fully understand the concepts behind lane placement and I think my lane placement was well inline with best practices from the League of American Bicyclists, Cycling Savvy, the state, and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation*.
Though MSF’s theories on lane placement don’t consider passing, they do consider things like getting doored, hooked, and having drivers pull out in front of you–all applicable on Wilkins.
Absolutely, I agree the tailgater was at fault. But I’ve never had a bus pass me when I was aggressively taking the lane unless there was another lane travelling in my direction. And not having been there I can’t be sure, but there are enough stops and traffic on Wilkins that I doubt the bus would’ve pulled all the way into the oncoming traffic lane to pass you if you’d forced him to. So I’m thinking you could’ve protected yourself from the asshole behind the bus if you’d ridden in the left half of your lane.
Again, not blaming you, the victim — just thinking about how I might ride in that area, given your experience.
Wilkins is an incredibly frustrating stretch, because we’ve got nice bike lines starting/ending right at Shady. But those bike lanes are pretty well useless unless you are continuing onto northbound Shady. Wilkins is narrow and has a ton of traffic. I hate riding on it.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t ride on it; the city should be taking steps to fix this issue. There’s almost no point in having the bike lanes on Wilkins east of Shady if there’s no bike infrastructure (practically anti-bike infrastructure) on Wilkins west of Shady.
what can be rather infuriationg is that streets like Wilkins could very easily support a bike lane on each side, but because the residents park on the streets the lanes do not exist.
When the majority of the houses there were build, they were jammed so close together as to make the most of the lot size, and most people did not have cars (or more than one per household) so garages were not commonly build for those properties.
its far to common thruought the city.
@pbeaves – Much of Wilkins has parking on one or both sides, but the section where Nick was buzzed (~5860 if I understand correctly) is narrow with one lane in each direction and no parking.
There would not be much room for bike lanes there, without widening the street.
I’d support widening the steet there for a bike lane, but I suspect the people who live there might not.
Nick, I get buzzed quite a lot on that stretch – in fact some a-hole in a white Benz squeezed between me and the oncoming traffic this morning. I stay far enough from the cars to not get doored, so he didn’t have room to pass. But, I think I need to move further left.
I’ve also been subjected to the bus + tailgater thing. In fact, I’ve had it happen quite a bit even when the first vehicle is not a bus – the second car often seems to pass closer.
jonawebb – I have seen a bus go fully into the other lane on numerous occasions. I have never had a problem with a PAT bus going up or down the hill but the #4 Westmoreland Transit buses are another story – they have passed me too close a few times.
Mick – there is definitely parking there. At some point coming up to Shady there is a “no parking” sign but people routinely park a few more cars past it. And, at least that part I believe is mostly non-residents – Chatham students, park & riders, and I see a lot of contractor trucks. There are not that many cars parked there overnight.
I think it would be a fantastic place for a bike lane, although I’d be happy with an uphill lane only. It’s not hard to go 20-25 downhill, although as Mick points out that doesn’t stop people from passing even when it’s not safe.
@nick, was it the police vehicle that buzzed you? I was actually passed close by a squad car on that stretch in December, although definitely not an Explorer. I sounded my air horn and signaled him to pull over (to get his badge number), which he unfortunately declined to do. Didn’t get the plates. Anyhow, if it was the police, I’d definitely report it somehow, especially if this is becoming a trend.
After that incident, I did some research and concluded that if you are on that stretch of Wilkins and staying a safe distance from parked cars, the average passing car must be about 5 ft in the other lane (i.e., almost completely) in order to respect the 4′ law: 5′ dooring buffer + 2′ bike width + 4′ buffer leaves only 1′ of passing car that can share your lane (assuming a 12′ width of Wilkins eastbound, guesstimated from Google maps).
Definitely take the lane going both directions–westbound (uphill, in particular), people will inevitably try to squeeze between you and oncoming traffic unless you are in the middle of the lane: e.g., 2′ curb buffer + 2′ bike width + 6′ passing car width = 10′ lane width… so you can see the temptation to drivers who realize they can almost squeeze through without hitting you.
Judging by the description of this street, it sounds like a real priority for the cycling community is to remove on-street parking on one side of Wilkins, esp between Fifth and the top of the hill.
Really gotta ask the question, if you live in that part of the city, what do you need a car for, anyway? Where would you drive TO that the only way there is by car? (sorry for the threadjack; it probably deserves its own thread)
Dammit, that “edit” tag expires in a hurry. Five minutes, tops. Can we make it at least 10, please?
Anyway, here’s the new thread: http://bike-pgh.org/mb/topic/where-do-we-most-need-another-bike-lane/
I have never had a problem with a PAT bus going up or down the hill but the #4 Westmoreland Transit buses are another story
I completely agree. I have had trouble with PAT on Ellsworth, but I haven’t had issues with PAT on Wilkins besides just stopping a bit too close at the lights.
Because of the lights and people slowing or stopping to make turns, there is rarely the opportunity of reason to go much faster than 15-20mph and I think the PAT drivers understand this.
When there was construction at Wilkins and Dallas, I saw a Westmoreland Transit bus almost hit the cop directing traffic. I don’t know what is up with those drivers, it’s not like saving a few seconds in the city is going to impact their overall travel time.
@pvernaza, yes it was a Pittsburgh School District cop. Based on their behavior after I yelled, they was fully aware of what they did. However, based on multiple attempts to file complaints against LEOs, I am fully aware that it is a futile effort.
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