Dangerous Drivers Thread, vol. 2
^Wow. As a car driver I would be hesitant to even pass a stopped vehicle along there. What the hell!
A few years ago I had a drunk driver sideswipe some cars immediately in front of me. It’s hard to feel comfortable on the road (even in a car) after an encounter like this, so I can empathize with your current feelings. I started to change my routes a little after that. Not that there was anything inherently wrong with the roads I was using, but to try to limit my exposure to these types of drivers. And yet, these drivers are everywhere & on every road. I don’t know if that helps (either you OR me), but it’s all the advice I can give – sometimes you can do EVERYTHING correctly and still end up with a bad outcome. See: ‘cars into buildings’ thread.
Very glad you are OK.
Pittsburgh drivers are at their most dangerous when their patience is intruded on, even slightly. This is not just the case with bikes, but anything else on the road. People here will not tolerate what they consider an unnecessary wait.
If ever I see cars not obeying simple following distance guidelines, I immediately assume they’re going to do something stupid in the immediate future. It has never failed me.
I’m not saying there’s anything you could have done to mitigate what happened – and you are lucky you were not seriously injured or killed – but this doesn’t surprise me one bit. I have been the lead car in that situation not once, but twice.
Since using my motorcycle for my out-of-town commute I’ve got pretty decent and working out exactly how some drivers will behave purely on how they position their vehicle -in all speed regimes – in relation to traffic.
I’m sure others have noticed it, but there are very clear patterns.
A few day ago, I was on myu way to Giant Eagle from my house in Aspinwall. I biked all the way down Western Ave. and turned left onto Freeport Rd. Because of 2nd St. having a stop sign at every corner. After I crossed Delefield Rd., I merged left and some black man with glasses driving a white car comes within two feet of hitting me. I slammed on the brakes and yelled “Didn’t you see me?”, He proceeded to call me names and said he could have killed me. I told customer service at the Giant Eagle about the altercation and gave a description of the car and man and that he threatened to kill me. Anyone who knows who this may be should report it to Pittsburgh and Aspinwall police.
To address what Sully said, as one of the tiny fraction of drivers who drives the speed limit, I’ve been illegally passed (on the left as well as on the right) many times – this was just a particularly egregious example given (as Marco pointed out) how narrow the road is, with parked cars on both sides.
Anyways, I didn’t ride my bike at all this week. Logically I know I’m no more or less likely to be killed than I was before this happened, I just need to get it out of my head. And mount that camera.
Long time reader, first time contributor. I decided this morning’s experience warranted sharing and asking for advice. Sorry it’s so long.
Today I was stopped on my morning commute and harassed by a guy who identified himself as a police officer. He was driving a back unmarked SUV and was in plain clothes. After taking his abuse and threats about me breaking the law, I began to ask him for identification and he drove off. It was a black Dodge Durango, PA license HLK-2570.
So either it was a guy who pulled me over pretending to be a cop (which is illegal) or it is a cop who acted very VERY unprofessionally.
Here is the rundown of what happened. I’ve been biking part of the way to work several days a week since December from Millvale Riverfront Park to Downtown. It’s river trail, bridge, bike lane. A fairly easy commute with very little vehicle interaction. This morning was only the second time I tried making the entire trip all the way from home, which involves driving down Anderson Rd in Shaler, down the mountain, through Millvale, and to the river trail.
While traveling Anderson Rd, I noticed a truck coming up on me shortly after I passed the entrance to Shaler High School. It’s also when I began to climb a hill. I moved over to give him as much room as I could to pass me. He passed without incident and I looked over my shoulder to see a black SUV was coming up shortly after the truck. I continued up the hill (which I can’t do fast) and took to level ground, the entire time clinging to the shoulder as tight I could. Knowing the road had some twists I began speeding up a bit, thinking he was waiting to pass safely and gonna give me my 4 ft, following the law. I thought he had a few chances to pass, but in all truth the 4 ft rule would require him crossing the solid double yellow line. When I came to an intersection with a side street, I saw an opportunity to slow down and move over more for him to pass. He didn’t pass. He stayed right on me. And as the side street came to an end I yelled out to myself “come on, now” in frustration, just before he finally passed me, but after the intersection. He passed real close I might add.
Then it got weird. After passing, he comes to a complete stop in the middle of the road, maybe 30 ft in front of me and puts down his passenger window. I come to a stop about 15 ft back, not knowing who he was or what might happen. I hear him yell out “This is why people don’t like bikes on the road!” I hesitate, but moved forward and asked him what he said. He said, “You don’t belong on the road. I’m a police officer and you are breaking the law.” Upon hearing this, I immediately go into cooperative citizen mode. In my mind, this has just become a traffic stop. I never once yelled or spoke disrespectfully. I tried to ask what I did, but before I could get but a few words out, he goes on a tyrant about how I’m breaking the law for not traveling the speed limit (35mph for those who are wondering). I said, “I’m sorry, I was just climbing a hill back there…” He cut me off again and repeated some of his previous dialogue. He mentioned the no less than 15 mph below the limit stipulation in the law. I said I was climbing the hill and just got on level ground a short bit…” I was trying to tell him I had moved over as far as I could, but he wouldn’t let me get a word in. He did however repeat at least three times that he was a police officer. I was expecting him to issue me a citation with how many times he touted his position and mentioning what I was doing was illegal.
This all happened in less than a minute. And I should point out that though the vehicle looked like an unmarked police SUV, he was dressed in plain clothes. After the last time he threw his police officer position in my face, I was legitimately pissed off, so I asked for some credentials. I said, “Ok, Mr. Police Officer, what’s your license number? What’s your name and bad…” But before I could get out badge number, he just drove off.
My cellphone was dead, so as soon as I got to my office I called 911 to report the harassment by a man who identified himself as a police officer. They took some quick information and told me to expect a call from the Shaler PD. About 20 minutes later I get the call. I told him what happened. He was very polite and kind. A real professional. We discussed the situation and both agreed that the 4 ft rule is tough on a street like that. Which is why I added that I made every effort I could, short of stopping, to let him pass. I said that I wasn’t looking for a citation, but I just want the officer to know that he was not acting professional as a law enforcement representative of his community. And I wanted to know if he actually was a cop. The officer on the phone chalked it up to a verbal dispute, but said he will look into the license plate and get back to me. I got a call back about 2 hours later, and he said he spoke to the other driver. No surprise, the other guy’s account of the events was completely different. I asked if he was indeed a police officer, but the officer on the phone said he wasn’t going to get into that. He told me I could come by the station and pick up a copy of the police report if I wanted it.
So that’s where things stand. I’m not sure how to proceed. I plan to pick up the police report after work, but I doubt if it will tell me if he is actually a cop. And that’s the thing. I can take the abuse from a random A-hole. I’d be a little pissed and get over it. To may crazies out there to hold a grudge. But his guy made this encounter official. He made sure I knew, multiple times, that he was a police officer and that I was breaking the law. This WAS a traffic stop.
Like I said, if he is a police officer I want his supervisors to know how he acted. He didn’t show ID when asked. He verbally berated me on the law and threatened me with what I perceived would be a citation. And he vocally expressed his personal hatred of bicyclist at the exact same time as he was informing me of his status as a police officer. But what if he isn’t a police officer, then this is a case of impersonating one, which is a serious crime. I feel if I let this sit, then nothing is gonna happen.
Any advice…besides following through on the police report?
- This reply was modified 2 years, 10 months ago by KevPgh. Reason: Typo
You can swear out a warrant for his arrest on impersonating a police officer, if he did that. Stu had more info.
First put everything in writing with as much detail as you can remember, including your conversation with the Shaler police officer. Details get fuzzy quickly. Then stop and get a copy of the report and let the officer explain why he will/will-not be following up with the other driver. He might have legitimate reasons for not telling you if the other guy is a cop, or why he can’t charge him. But if you do not feel like your questions & concerns are being taken seriously, or if you think he’s just looking the other way to protect a brother-in-blue, I would look into filing a complaint against either/both officers with the Shaler mayor or borough council.
Separately, I would try to explain to the Shaler cop that the four foot rule was put into place for exactly the reason he states that it’s hard to follow on a road like this – if you can’t give four feet the road is too narrow to pass safely! The driver is required to wait until it is safe.
You did everything right. Most likely this guy was a cop. And an asshole. He probably doesn’t work for shaler and I doubt he was on duty.
I’d get the police report and then honestly let the whole thing slide. If he’s a cop he’ll get benefit of the doubt. He could be really antisocial and can make your life a living hell.
Karma will bite him in the ass someday. You go on being a good person.
Thanks jonawebb, marko82, and Edronline for the replies.
Edronline, I think you’re probably right. The situation is over and I should probably let it be. The guy most likely was a cop (his haircut and meat head demeanor was a solid giveaway). I did what I should do and report it. It’s very easy to let a grudge and social justice get the better of you. And then I’m no better than this d1ckwad, regardless of how righteous the cause, or how much the guy blows sheep. …there, I feel better now :)
Actually, you ARE better than this dickwad, because you were following the rules. The guy is an asshole. He was an asshole to you. He’s most likely an asshole to many, many people in his life. That’s why let karma do its work. He’s probably not a very happy person if he has to confront a defenseless biker following the rules to feel important/powerful.
You get to bike to work and enjoy beautiful days like today. And you’re probably also nice to your family and friends. And I’m guessing you’re not a dick to others, at least the vast majority of the time.
So the satisfaction of that should be more than enough.
And maybe park back down at Millvale for a few days and enjoy the stress-free ride.
P.S., totally ok to think evil thoughts about him for a while. That’s cool. and doesn’t make you a bad person.
You may not know, but he definitely should know (if he is legitimately a cop), that a motorist may legally cross the yellow line to pass a bike, if visibly safe to do so. Title 75, Section 3301a6. By contrast, 3301a2 is what lets you drive around a fallen tree if visibly safe to do so. Like with a tree, if you cannot pass safely, you wait patiently.
There is no such thing as a minimum speed limit (outside of an interstate highway), and that 15-below thing he mentioned is a fabrication.
I’ve been advocating for years that PA should require passing a modified version of the written test when renewing a driver’s license, specifically checking for things like interacting with bikes, and recent changes to the law.
You probably handled it as well as you could have. The only thing I would have done differently is I would have waved him by when I considered the way forward safe.
I think it is moments like this where cameras really pay for themselves. He probably would have checked his behaviour had you been rolling video.
Anyway, alls well that ends well, he was a dickhead, you’re okay. Just rock on.
StuinMcCandless, I did swing my head once to encourage him to pass. So I guess I check off all the boxes. Thanks for the input.
Even if you pulled over, super apologized,offered him $100 in restitution and detailed his car, he would have been an asshole. Dickheads gonna dickhead.
@kevpgh: Sharing the story publicly is very helpful. Now we have a record, so if you or others see a black Dodge Durango, PA license HLK-2570 harassing cyclists again, we can build a case against this hostile driver. Maybe more of us need to bike Anderson Rd.
And wow: “You don’t belong on the road” … “you’re breaking the law for not traveling the speed limit” … “you can’t travel at less than 15 mph below the limit” — all fabrications! I wonder what other laws this “police officer” imagines.
I do not know where to post this but it’s kind of related.
Squirrel Hill, Bartlett St. and Wightman St. Westbound. Gray or dirty blue car, PA plate number GPJ-7476, White male, 45 to 60 something, wearing glasses.
This son of a bi*** belongs in the pokey. As I was going down hill between Murray Ave. and Wightman St., Horn beeps., At stop sign, I stop. This imbecile passes me and tells me he saw me “…25 times doing this $***…”. I try to tell him I have equal right to the road. He starts cussing and drives off as a pedestrian approaches from the south says that I was right about cyclists having the right to use the road.
After the encounter, I go to BikeTech and tell the clerk about the encounter. He told me to make a Facebook post about it. Since I do not use Facebook, I am posting it here so the Pittsburgh cycling community can see it.
I happened to see video on the news of the bicyclist from Westmoreland County who has been jailed for holding up traffic while riding his bike and violating related court orders. In the video, he was taking the lane on a road where there was not much ability for anyone to pass and had a line of 8-10 vehicles plodding along behind. It occurred to me that there is, or perhaps used to be a traffic regulation that a slow moving vehicle holding up traffic must pull over and let others by. Does anyone know whether this is a traffic regulation that is still on the books?
A) from what I’ve read in the paper the Westmoreland county guy is questionably mentally ill but he refused a psych eval.
B) Maybe this?
The relevant statute, 75-3364b2, is subjective. Smith was being an ass about it. Most of us can figure it out somehow.
Why was he on that street anyway? Bartlett St. is a narrow, one-way, residential street posted speed limit 25 MPH. It is not intended as a through street. plus, why speed if there is a STOP SIGN 100 feet ahead and are going to have to STOP at it??
Intended or no, it is unfortunately a handy feeder street to the park road that becomes Blvd of the Allies, so gets a lot of traffic.
In any event, I see this incident as more a matter of being inconsiderate and unpleasant rather than dangerous, but thank you for grabbing the plate. Establishing a history is important if this same car turns up again in similar or worse situations.
Anonymous 08/14/2017 at 3:30pm #
Anybody know an older white man who drives this Kia Sportage? Angry expression, spittle on lips, yelling something about how there was a four-foot rule that I was somehow breaking by not moving over in the lane on Forbes near the Cathedral so that he could try to perform the magic trick of fitting his SUV, four feet of air, my bicycle, and me into one lane?
Also got yelled at by some teenagers in a beige SUV who wanted me to get on the sidewalk on Forbes, but—shocker—they turned right in a block or two anyway before ever needing to get in front of me.
I really won the Oakland driver lottery today.
I am totally glad to see cyclists on some roads like Panther Hollow Rd. and Washington Blvd.
Today, I went to Oakland from Squirrel Hill to catch the 75 Ellsworth bus back to Aspinwall. When I was in Squirrel Hill, My bike was parked on the squirrel-shaped rack in front of Rite-Aid. When I left the JCC, I waited until the traffic light on Murray Ave. at Forbes Ave was red, Put my bike in the lane, mounted, and rode toward Darlington Rd. I did not take Bartlett St. because of last Friday’s asshole as well as being difficult to cross Wightman St. I proceeded to Beacon St. and turned right. As I was going west on Beacon St. the light at Wightman turned green and I shifted into high gear and i was able to get up to 22-23 MPH until the curve in Beacon St. I stopped at the stop sign and turned Left onto Hobart St. I had to stop for a red light. After the light turned green, I continued onto Panther Hollow Rd. and Reached 13-14 MPH climbing the small hill. Once over top, I really started moving and shortly thereafter, took the ramp down to the Panther Hollow Bridge. I slowed down at the yield sign to let cars go by and crossed into the bike track on the left hand side of the road. I continued to follow Panther Hollow Rd. and onto Schenley/Frank Curto Dr. Upon Reaching Bigelow Blvd Ext. I had to use the crosswalk to cross onto it. At the crosswalk between Forbes Ave. and 5th Ave., I turned into the bus shelter and waited for the bus.
So much for sharing the road! Nice views of the city and it ends up at my alma mater ;-)
Today I had the closest and scariest encounter I’ve ever had while biking.
I was biking toward downtown on Butler st. between 48th and 49th when a driver in an off-white Chevy Impala, PA plate KGH-2931 accelerated and came within inches of swiping me. They had the entire other lane to move over into, but not to use any of it. I yelled out of surprise, and caught up with them at the light at 48th. I stayed behind the vehicle, but to the driver’s open window calmly but vocally reminded them of the 4′ law. They responded to this by raising so as to be visible through the rear windshield a black pistol. Then they pulled over across the street from New Amsterdam. I went past and then took residential streets home, checking over my shoulder more than usual.
Person threatened you with a gun. I’d call the police. At the worst they’ll run the car owner for warrants and maybe a stern talking-to. At the best they’ll file charges.
Today, I turned into the left lane of Forbes Ave. between Bouquet St. and Bigelow Blvd. so that I could get to the 7-11 store. Some idiot lays on the horn and passes me with two feet to spare. Why can’t they move right another lane and pass me? I was in the left most lane for a good reason.
Do we have signs like this?
As I ride around, I see these everywhere and it occurs to me the motorcycle community does a pretty good job of raising awareness for itself. I would put something similar in my yard, near the road, pertaining to raising bicycle awareness.
(Disclaimer – This is not my yard)
- This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by fultonco.
Check with Walk Bike Shaler. I think both they and Walk//Bike Ross were putting together a sign campaign.
PennDOT promotes car driver awareness of motorcycles. Note that page 2 (the page inside the front cover) of the Pennsylvania Driver’s Manual devotes a full page to warning drivers to take extra care around motorcycles. See http://www.dot.state.pa.us/Public/DVSPubsForms/BDL/BDL%20Manuals/Manuals/PA%20Drivers%20Manual%20By%20Chapter/English/PUB%2095.pdf
Does PennDOT do anything similar for bicycles? No!
On pages 54-55 of the manual, we’re told, among other things:
- re pedestrians: “Be patient with elderly pedestrians and pedestrians with disabilities”
- re motorcycles: “Obstacles that may prove minor to a motorist can be deadly to a motorcyclist/moped driver”
- re bicycles: – (no sympathy for cyclists)
On the positive side, this 2017/6 edition of the Driver’s Manual eliminated the horrible diagram that showed cars passing bicycles with 1 foot of clearance (attempting to illustrate the 4 foot law)! I think my tweets to them about the bad diagram might have caused them to drop it! See http://www.bikepgh.org/message-board/topic/pa-bicycle-laws/#post-341934
@kolo has gotten mad when I’ve said this before, but call the police? Maybe someone is medically not able to drive? Police could force him to have a test/get cleared by a doc. So many families are afraid to pull licenses from their older loved ones.
Passed within 1 foot up to jail trail by parking authority vehicle. Followed them into the municipal garage and gave them a talking to.
A white work van with a 1-800 telephone number on the back nearly went head on with a pick up truck on Nobles Ln. Van tried passing me around a blind corner and the truck had to go off the road to avoid a collision.
While Yale and I were standing on the sidewalk of Smallman St where Marty’s Market used to be (between 23rd & 24th Sts), Oct 27 around 4pm, car traffic eastbound on Smallman was heavy and slow. Recall that there’s a stop sign at 24th St. A cyclist was biking east on Smallman, taking the lane, moving almost as fast as any of the cars, but the driver of the car (SUV?) behind him was yelling at him. It went kind of like this:
Driver [yelling out car window at cyclist in front of him, as he drives at 10mph]: Get on the sidewalk!
Cyclist: What? [Stops in middle of lane, sets bike down there, stands in lane facing driver] I can ride where I am!
Driver [stops car, stays seated]: You belong on the sidewalk!
Paul [wearing spandex and bike helmet, on sidewalk nearby, walks to the curb, chimes in] Cyclists can ride in the roads!
Driver: Says who?
Paul, Yale: Pennsylvania law!
Driver: There are no marks on the road.
Cyclist / Paul / Yale: You don’t need marks … Learn the law … Cyclists are allowed on all roads …
[Cyclist mounts his bike and proceeds east, Driver follows, as do the cars backed up behind them]
The above happened quickly, maybe 20 seconds total. Perhaps Yale remembers other details. I think the moral of the story is that a lot of drivers think that sharrows indicate which roads cyclists are allowed on, and they belong on sidewalks or trails otherwise. Yikes! We need to get all of those people out cycling!
The cyclist continued on …in front the vehicle. The driver must have thought the cyclist was a hermaphrodite as he suggested the cyclist should self-fertilize–though not in so many words…At the next block the motorist passed the cyclist by passing into the opposing lane…but had to move quickly as there was traffic coming the other way.
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