forbes bike lane frustrations
jonawebb, I really try to do the same thing, if only for my own personal psychological health. I know I often come across as naive or outright stupid, but I’m only in control of my reaction to the adams’ apples, and my reaction is much milder and healthier when I find excuses, no matter how invalid I know those excuses are. My success rate is less than 100%, but it’s still helpful (to me).
I totally agree that it’s useful to try to see these things from alternate perspectives, and I see where your interpretation could come from based on what I said above. But to break it down further:
1. It’s not like I suddenly appeared in front of him: I had merged well before the incident, at a time when there were no cars visible anywhere behind me in either lane, and he then approached a few moments later. Every other car gave me plenty of space, and drivers go out of their way to remark on how excellently visible my lights are, so there is no good reason why he wouldn’t have seen me in plenty of time to slow down and/or change lanes. Maybe he saw me but still *chose* to maintain his speed and pass me while also choosing to keep part of his car in my lane, or maybe he did veer around me like you said. I don’t actually know which it was. But the only reason he wouldn’t have seen me early enough and would have had to veer around me was if he was doing some serious speeding and/or was seriously distracted.
2. I know some drivers will use small beeps before passing and things like that because they think it’s an okay way to just alert cyclists to their presence or to some danger, but this was not a little “heads up” honk. And regardless, by the time he honked he was already very successfully getting my attention by way of zooming past me with part of his car in the lane I was occupying.
3. I did yell as he drove ahead, but I’m 99% sure he couldn’t hear me. I’m not very loud and have never been able to get a driver’s attention over road noise through a closed window (even other times when I have really wanted/needed to).
4. By the time I actually caught up to him and tried to talk to him, I was flustered and shaky more than anything, and I made a point of keeping the anger to a minimum while trying to calmly explain what dangers I was trying to avoid when I chose to ride outside of the bike lane. It was still obvious that I wasn’t happy about what he did, but I legitimately wanted to have a conversation with him. He showed zero interest in hearing any of that, and it became pretty clear that he was just annoyed that I was in his way. The remarks he threw in about safety came across as extremely self-righteous and condescending, and there was really not a hint of genuine concern from either person in that car, nor any recognition that he should feel even a little bit bad for passing me so close at a high speed when there was a whole other lane available.
Obviously some of that was inferred from subjective cues, but he and his wife used tones and facial expressions that were pretty unambiguous. (The wife’s refusal to make eye contact went along with smirking and shaking her head in a “you dumb bitch” sort of way, not with any cue that she was upset by the fact that I had been in danger.) Plenty of people act angry when they are really scared/flustered, but I’m pretty sure that was not the general mood in that car.
So… yeah. I am usually pretty patient and willing to accept the idea that maybe some drivers actually do want to avoid hurting me but just don’t understand what to do when they encounter bikes on the road and don’t understand how their actions are perceived by cyclists. They can be gently re-educated. But his level of rudeness when I tried to explain my safety concerns made it pretty clear that he was being willfully ignorant and that he didn’t actually care whether I was safe nearly as much as he cared about getting his way.
^But all that said, ejwme is right. In reality, I probably would have come out of it feeling better if I just kept riding and wrote it off to him having a bad day or being unintentionally clueless.
My superpower is being able to look at a car that has just done something like that to me and telekinetically cause it to have two tires blow out.
(In my fantasy life, the timing of those blowouts is specific. And a very gratifying rhythm, I tell you what.)
I haven’t been able to activate this yet, but I know it’s coming.
pearmask – it’s tricky. Because if you can convince yourself that it’s a bad day, or ignorance, or whatever excuse you find for them, then you could then feel motivated to take the opportunity you found to contact the person to see if you could help, or to educate them, or otherwise alleviate the situation that provided the excuse in your head.
That’s when the breakdown happens – when stone cold facts fly in the face of pollyanna self delusions. Contact is part of being human, doublethink seems to be vital to it as well. The two don’t support each other well.
I think you did well, from your description. And if all else fails, at least we now know to stay on Mick’s good side for when he activates his superpower. I think this is a win
So back to negotiating this intersection, what I do:
1. Stay in the bike lane till it ends.
2. Squeeze myself onto the bridge, people do understand that the lane ends and they need to make room for you. Stay in the center lane (when it becomes 3 lanes).
3. If the light is green, adjust my speed so it will be red when I arrive. If it’s red…filter.
4. Filter up to the front and dickbutt everyone waiting to make the left.
I just feel as if sometimes us bikers have such an angst and feel like there’s never room to examine a driver’s perspective. I’ve made some anti-biker mistakes while driving without meaning to.
If that intersection is truly dangerous at peak travel times, there’s nothing wrong with walking your bike to a light and reserving your pedestrian rights. It’s truly the safest way.
Most drivers don’t pay attention to where a biking lane ends. From a driver’s perspective, it’s like a car merging onto a street. The car that’s merging does not have the right of way, therefore a driver will not concern themselves with that car because they’ll eventually stop and merge when it’s safe.
Btw, I travel up Forbes to commute and if you feel traffic is heavy, you can always take the sidewalk between Dallas and shady. It’s much safer and there usually are no pedestrians down that far. That’s right where the bike lane ends.
@italianblend… I have to respond to several points in your post and respectfully disagree with some of what you said. I wish I was speaking instead of typing so I could convey tone here and not sound like I was trying to start an argument, but unfortunately we are on the interwebz, so please don’t take this the wrong way.
1. In general:
I have a car. I even drive it sometimes. I started this whole bike commuting thing less than a year ago. I’m sure at some point I’ve made a mistake that scared a cyclist, and I’m not a perfect driver. I will give people a break for making honest mistakes in stressful driving situations.
Like today, a truck passed me kind of stupidly when there was a taxi coming in the opposite lane. Dumb, but normal. The taxi driver was in the process of stopping to wait for a left-hand turn when it happened. Since the taxi driver was flustered by the truck that had swerved into his lane, and since the truck probably blocked his view of me, he just didn’t realize I was there, and so he turned in front of me and forced me to hit my brakes and stop really close to his car. I saw why he was distracted by the truck that passed me sort of carelessly, and he apologized through his window once he realized what had happened, so I just waved, said “It’s okay!” and we both moved along. It was an honest mistake. We’re all human, and traveling on city streets is a demanding task for our little human brains.
However, I consider driving to be a MASSIVE responsibility for a human to undertake, in part because our brains are pretty poorly-equipped for it, and also because one mistake can literally mean life or death. I don’t expect people to be perfect, but I’m simply unable to see the perspective of people who refuse to recognize that they are taking on a serious responsibility when they choose to drive giant metal boxes with potentially-deadly force, so I cannot fathom driving like that guy did or behaving the way he did afterwards.
2. Like I said above, it was not a situation where I was merging and expecting him to yield to me. (This was in the downhill direction going from Dallas to Braddock.) In fact, to avoid having to try to merge suddenly at the point where the lane disappears, I had changed lanes early to take the right lane at a time when there were literally zero cars visible behind me in either lane. This guy came up behind me well after I had already changed lanes. At that point, I absolutely had the right of way, and it was 100% his responsibility (not just according to my opinion, but according to PA vehicle code) to adjust his speed and/or change lanes to avoid hitting the vehicle in front of him.
3. On the downhill part of Forbes, it’s not really practical to walk my bike to a light. Unless my mental image of that intersection is wrong, at the point where the bike lane ends, there’s a barrier between the sidewalk and the road. I would have to come to a full stop, stand with traffic two feet away, lift my bike with loaded panniers over that barrier (which would be a problem because I’m literally not strong enough to pick up my bike with my usual commuting load), walk it through the intersection, and then try to re-enter traffic on the other side of the intersection. That does not sound like my idea of a good time (nor does it sound like a reasonable thing for me to have to do when I’m supposed to have the legal right to just use the road)
4. On a sort of unrelated note (since the incident I was talking about here was on the downhill part of Forbes), I would disagree that the sidewalk is a safer option on that uphill part of Forbes between Dallas and Shady. I ride up that hill every day and also use that sidewalk as a pedestrian pretty often, and the sidewalk/pedestrian situation scares me more than riding on the road in that area, honestly. Totally your call if you prefer it, but I wouldn’t do it.
(Now I feel like a jerk for getting all defensive/argumentative. Sorry.)
+1. I drive sometimes; I used to drive a lot. I have no problem seeing the driver’s perspective, it’s not some big mystery. They’re in a hurry, and anything that gets in their way is an annoyance. It doesn’t have to be a bicycle, another car will do just as well. They’re not necessarily being malicious, but they’ve probably gotten away with doing the questionable thing that saves them 3 seconds so many times in the past that they don’t even consciously think about what they’re doing.
How many drivers understand the cyclists’ perspective? Not many, or they wouldn’t do the dangerous dumb shit that they do. I’m sure our driver in this story rides his bike – on the trails. He obviously doesn’t ride much on the street or he wouldn’t have advanced such a nonsensical argument to justify his own dangerous behavior.
Yes I agree that drivers don’t have the cyclist perspective. We are the minority and have that disadvantage. I understand all you’re saying and I’m glad we can have the discussion.
I think part of the rift is that driving rules are so rigid. You stop at a stop sign and not doing that is wrong. But bikers have varying degrees of what is the right thing to do in many situations. See my bike quiz thread for proof.
But bikers have varying degrees of what is the right thing to do in many situations.
That applies to most arbitrary subgroups of people, not just cyclists. See also “speed limits.”
I’d venture to guess that a major part of the problem isn’t the rigidity of the rules, it’s the pervasive attitude that ‘rules should always be followed by other people, but it’s ok for me to break them’ so long as I can justify it to myself. And that attitude, again, is not limited to any one subgroup.
Less worry about rules, more concern about responsibilities, IMO.
See also stop signs, turn signals, lights, etc. Italianblend’s thread was interesting as it shows that cyclists will be honest about their behavior. I am willing to bet that if you asked drivers who just rolled through a stop sign what they just did, most would say they stopped. I can sit and watch car after car roll through the 4 way stop with painted crosswalks outside my office. The overwhelming majority roll straight into the crosswalk before looking at what’s there.
As for getting off and walking on Forbes, it’s not safe at all to get off your bike where the bike lane ends. You would be in 45 mph traffic at that point if the traffic is moving. As for him not knowing that the lane ends, there is one of these where the bike lane ends, with I believe “merge left” below it.
He may not have seen it, but if he knew enough to give a damn about a cyclist not using the bike lane, he has driven the road before and should know that the bike lane ends by now.
So i’ve seen in the past (don’t ask me where, I have no idea) painted arrows on the road surface indicating that the disappearing lane must move into the neighboring lane, sort of pointed on a forward slant.
Depending on where you paint them, and where signs like the one up there are placed, the arrows either remind the person in the disappearing lane that they need to signal and get over, or remind the people in the continuing lane that their neighbors need to join them.
Putting aside the very real issue of drivers not understanding how to drive with cyclists on the road, could painting arrows like that help this situation? Surely PADOT has guidelines on how/where these arrows should be painted – perhaps if it looked more like a “regular” merge point, drivers might be able to respond to it … at least as well as they do when cars merge?
(And a reminder, car drivers can’t handle merging cars, so at least part of it is my-lane-itis unrelated to bikes, bikes are just a scapegoat/red herring)
I think sharrows in both lanes before and on the bridge will do the job.
There wouldn’t be half the problem there is now if the speed limit was enforced. In pearmask’s situation, the guy HAD to have been speeding.
I’d like to see some speed enforcement done with an unmanned speed measuring device on a tripod, beaming info forward to a cop or two or five about 300 yards farther down the street.
heh, a cop parked in the bike lane?
I like speed humps. Snow ploughs are a perceived problem with them (though Monroeville has clearly solved that problem). But I really like speed humps. Passive and permanent law enforcement is incredibly effective.
Anonymous 06/06/2012 at 6:28pm #
I ride in the Forbes Avenue bike lane approaching Braddock Avenue sometimes around 6 PM. I am making a right onto Braddock Avenue:
1. Use the bike lane and the shoulder on the bridge.
2. Traffic is usually queued up from the signal at Braddock Avenue, so I stop, move onto the sidewalk and cut through the corner of Frick Park there.
3. But, if I was going to make a left, I might activate the pedestrian pushbutton which would bring up the all-pedestrian phase for the signal (all the vehicular signals are red) and just walk (probably ride actually) through the intersection. I ‘m guessing this not what all cyclists would recommend, but that all-ped phase there can be convenient.
I think sharrows in both lanes before and on the bridge will do the job.
I agree with this. I also think it would help if, outbound, the white line delineating the bike lane ENDED when the bike lane ended, instead of tapering closer and closer to an insurmountable curb.
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