Speeding cars and close calls
Does anyone know why things like this happen?
I have several close call on the Homestead Grays Bridge
I always take the sidewalk heading up the Homestead Grays bridge, for just this reason. I’m pretty comfortable in traffic, but some places are just too much. And the sidewalk isn’t bad so long as you don’t encounter pedestrians.
It happens other places too. Why can’t people be polite and obey the law?
I wasn’t criticizing you for taking the lane on the Homestead Grays bridge, BTW; I was just saying how I handle that particular horrible stretch.
Why? Basically, motorists drive according to what speed the road appears to handle, regardless of the speed limit. The Homestead Grays is four lanes, straight; they’re going to go forty or fifty. And there’s no enforcement, because Pennsylvanaia is the ONLY state that prohibits cities from using radar to enforce the speed limits. There’s a bill to change that, which I hope we’re advocating for.
Yep, a lot of bridges have a similar situation, this happens to be a really long one, so speeds get faster. Bloomfield bridge gives you a similar unwelcoming experience.
The Highland Park Bridge is posted 45. Anyone know what the ambient speed is on it?
The 40th Street Bridge doesn’t seem to have speed limit signs, so technically 55? I’m usually doing about 12-15 southbound, and after 10 a.m., it’s one lane southbound.
I would argue the video is not someone “taking the lane” but rather a cyclist riding to the far right, leaving enough of the lane for some motorists to take the rest of the lane because it was made available.
I agree with Jon that in this situation it would be better for all involved to ride the sidewalk, especially going uphill when the speed differential is the greatest. Just because you can so something does not necessarily mean you should.
I couldn’t tell for sure from the video if @zzwergel was taking the lane or not; it looked like he wasn’t, but then there’s camera placement and angle to consider. Anyway, if you’re going to ride in traffic on a road like that, you want to TAKE that lane. Ideally, you would have a car stuck behind you, honking or not, so you know you’re not going to get run over. I agree, do not ride to the right in a situation like that. Don’t invite motorists to try to squeeze by you. Bicycles and bicyclists don’t squeeze well.
I watched @zzwergel on the Flock ride on Friday. Tends to hug the side sometimes, not all the time.
Zach, take my advice about riding the “40 line”. Imagine a number line across the lane, where zero is the left lane line, 100 is the right lane line (if there was one), and plant yourself at 40. Someone honks, move LEFT to 30. Honks mean they acknowledge you’re there (and that they’re an asshole, but that’s a different story).
This also applies when in the left lane for some reason, with parked cars on the left. Keeping to “40” means you avoid passenger doors opening.
There are a few places I don’t take the lane, but bridges, Fifth and Forbes, Liberty through the Strip, McKnight Road (most of it), yep, just plant myself at 40, and close passes cease to exist. Move to “80” and you immediately start to get close passes.
@stuinmccandless, @jonawebb: Why sprint if you are going to have to wait for a red light anyways at the end of the bridge? The traffic light will turn green at the same time regardless of when any second or third car arrives at the detector loop given that there is one. It just puts more wear and tear on the drive train, transmission, and brakes since you are going to have to stop anyways for the traffic light.
@stuinmccandless: I am still afraid of someone gunning their engine and running me over. Also, I don’t want anyone getting out and shooting or stabbing me with a knife.
I watched your video of someone close passing you on Perrysville Ave., getting out of his car, and shoving you off your bike. What was that about? I don’t want that happening to me.
Also, When I was on 5th Ave. near PPG Paints Arena, Someone had to speed to get to Washington Place when the traffic light was still red. I was yelling “Do you see that red light up there!” This person proceeded to turn despite there being a “No turn on red” sign at that intersection. I think a lot of those signs are stupid, but I still obey them because I don’t want a ticket. Plus, Chatham Sq. from the left has poor sight lines.
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 6 days ago by zzwergel.
Why sprint if you are going to have to wait for a red light anyways at the end of the bridge?
Reminds me of an extended discussion on bicyclists I got into on Nextdoor Squirrel Hill. Somebody complained about passing cyclists who then filter forward and pass at the next stop sign. I pointed out the questionable wisdom of gunning your engine to pass a cyclist, who catches up to you at the stop sign. Why not just stay behind the cyclist? The response: “Are you seriously suggesting I stay behind the cyclist?” SMH
“Ideally, you would have a car stuck behind you, honking or not, so you know you’re not going to get run over.”
This would be ideal, but I’m paranoid about a second car slamming into the back of me when the first car gets tired of my moving roadblock and switches lanes to pass. If that second driver is not paying attention, is speeding, is texting, is talking on the phone, has bad brakes, has poor vision, is drunk, is stoned, is otherwise drugged or impaired, misjudges speed and/or distances, or just doesn’t drive well, you find yourself in a really dangerous spot. I stopped riding outbound on Liberty Avenue for this reason, despite being mostly able to hold 20+ miles per hour. Having been hit three times from behind – once on a motorcycle and twice in vehicles, and despite the 3 drivers having hundreds of yards to stop – I have no trust in drivers under these circumstances. And that was before I practiced criminal law and saw the mind-numbing amount of people who routinely drive drunk, stoned, drugged, or otherwise in some screwed-up mental state, and often with no or minimal insurance or other assets. Take whatever advice you feel is best, but be aware that you are sharing the road with a lot of people, on any given day, whose mental state and attention to your safety are very different from your own.
@jacob McCrea: Also, What happens if there was a horse and buggy on Forbes. I Ave. in Oakland? Will people driving a car honk at it because it is moving slower then they are?
It’s hard to say. The bottom line is that some small percentage of drivers will bully bicyclists, probably because they can do it without consequence, and some other percentage of drivers are operating a vehicle under one or more of the circumstances I listed above. You have to decide what the likely risks are, and which ones are worth taking, in any given situation. I don’t put myself in the middle of a 40 mph road for the reasons I outlined above, which in summary is a situation where I feel that my safety is largely in someone else’s hands, and my safety is dependent on a lot of factors which may or may not be present.
Jake’s description of what might happen is one reason I take the sidewalk when riding up the Homestead Grays bridge (another reason: a driver, seeing a long line of cars in the left lane and and an apparently empty lane on the right, decides to switch lanes, running into me).
On the other hand, if there was no other choice and I had to take the road, I would be as visible as possible, red lights flashing, and I would fully take the lane, as Stu described.
Stu’s advice works for rational actors, but unfortunately we do not have such. I’ve found myself in far more dangerous situations from belligerent drivers trying to make a point with their 3000 lb metal cages as they angrily pass me than those who honestly try to pass but end up less than 4′ away.
His stated success rate of his strategy seems to be contradicted by his numerous posts of dangerous encounters with drivers while doing exactly what he espouses. Less than 1% of the population is going to feel comfortable and confident enough to take the lane in a manner that encourages drivers to back up behind you, and I’m certainly not one of them. I’ll keep riding center-right, thanks.
Stu’s advice is based on real statistics that analyze the causes of accidents. John Forester’s book “Effective Cycling” delves into the arguments in detail. But, basically, making yourself visible is the best guarantor of motorists driving safely around you. Riding to the right encourages drivers to pass you in lane, putting your safety at risk when they pass too close.
And, BTW, Stu’s accounts of angry interactions with drivers who are frustrated at having to wait behind him are a record of him forcing motorists to drive safely, when they are otherwise inclined not to. They are not a record of close calls; they are a record of him making drivers not attempt them.
Please, dear god, do not cite John Forester in cycling advocacy…an abject failure based on concepts from the 1970s.
I don’t agree with his anti-bike lane advocacy, but his book still stands as the best advice for riding safely in traffic, when you have to.
First, I don’t believe that there is any one “correct” way to ride, but usually I ride in a similar way as Jon & Stu. Videos of cyclist from the car’s perspective located on this site http://cyclingsavvy.org/hows-my-driving/ has convinced me of that.
Zach, I encourage you to watch the videos, read the explanations and then make your own decisions on how you want to ride. Better yet, please consider taking the BikePgh safe cycling class that I mentioned in another thread of yours.
There is no one magical way of cycling that works for all roads, and sometimes you can even change your strategy on the same road under different conditions. Only your own on-bike experience will tell you which way works best. And nothing will save you from an irrational/drunk/high/incompetent driver – even if you are on the sidewalk!
Also, I document interactions in the event I have a repeat encounter. If I do have to go to the cops, or a magistrate, I can provide evidence that it isn’t a lone case.
I am also building a case for a change to state law that would set up a bounty system for turning in dangerous or belligerent drivers. Different topic; I have no desire to talk about it at length now.
They list a class fee of $20 on the website,
I think you’ve said before that you were not currently employed, so you may want to ask them if you could perform some volunteer hours (stuffing envelopes, table sitting at an event, etc.) in place of payment. They allow you to do this to become a member so I can almost guarantee that they will be willing to help.
Yes to bounty system. In fact, such system is already in place in Taiwan: http://www.bikepgh.org/message-board/topic/traffic-violation-report-system-in-pittsburgh/#post-332609
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