Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking It Personally or Taking It in Stride?

When drivers behave rudely towards us, we tend to perceive them as being "hostile to cyclists".  But what I wonder sometimes, is whether this is a fair assessment given how drivers behave to one another.

Consider that...
Drivers honk at each other all the time.
Drivers cut each other off.
Drivers roll down their windows and shout "learn how to drive, you moron!" at one another while making indecent hand gestures - even if they are the ones at fault.

Is driver behaviour towards cyclists really worse than their behaviour towards other drivers? And if not, should we just take it in stride, rather than taking it personally? One could make that argument.

Of course, the big difference between intimidating other drivers and intimidating cyclists, is that cyclists are considerably more vulnerable - something I am highly aware of when a driver plays "chicken" with me while turning left at full speed as I am trying to go straight through an intersection, on a green light. Bike lanes and protected bike paths do little if anything to solve this problem if there are no cyclist-specific lights at intersections. It is difficult to take things in stride when the competition is stacked against me both in terms of speed and in terms of safety. But I try to remember not to take it personally.

50 comments:

  1. Yeah, I have to remind myself of that, too. I've grown determined in not letting stressed-out drivers ruin my bike ride. If they want to be stressed, that's their choice!

    Have a lovely weekend!

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  2. I agree that a lot of times it's just the usual behavior (which is quite unpleasant when driving, too).

    And I think this underscores why law is just as important as infrastructure. In the NL they had great separated facilities on busy roads, but besides that, you could feel secure going across an intersection, because you knew that people turning across your path would stop for you - the reason for that, is that they have hell to pay legally if they hit a cyclist.

    So, don't take it personally, but don't necessarily take it in stride either - we need change.

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  3. I observe much more offensive behavior of motorists toward each other than toward cyclists. To help me keep things in perspective is one reason I keep track of scum motorist behavior involving me on my bike. It becomes notable for its rarity.

    Still, our law enforcement tend to give dangerous behavior light treatment which is wrong. It's wrong when motorists do it to each other, too.

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  4. Yes, people are just generally more a-holish behind the wheel, which is one of the reasons I like not needing my car to get to work and do other local errands. But I think it tends to be worse for cyclists, because some noncyclists seem to resent us _as a class_, and therefore there is lower tolerance for perceived (or actual) slights, and a cyclist's mere presence pisses them off. And we live in a relatively "bike friendly" area! So I don't think the fact that drivers can be generally angry behind the wheel explains all of the animosity toward bikes, but it certainly makes it worse.

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  5. I dunno - I always hate the people on country roads that buzz you at 55+ mph. It used to be when I had a mirror, I'd see one coming, and once they got near me, I'd reach out and slap the side of their car. You should see them slam on the brakes as they think they hit me. While perhaps not ethical, it certainly is amusing.

    Anyway, I don't really take it too personally, but I also find that I can relate to the frustration that they feel when I just think back to my pre-bike days...

    Another thing that drives me nuts though is that my home town has a 20 mph speed limit, and people just HAVE to pass me, even if it's just to buzz around to the stop sign 30 feet in front of me, and even if I'm doing over the speed limit. Infuriating, really.

    To put it in perspective though, they also allow golf carts on the streets here, and I LOATHE golf carts, whether driving or on my bike - with a top speed of 15-18 mph, they just hold up traffic, no matter what kind of traffic it is.

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  6. Lately, I've taken to skipping right past discussions of motorists vs. cyclists and the airing of cyclo-grievances. It's kind of the same thing over and over.

    But I'm glad I read this post... you hit on something I don't think I've read anywhere else. Putting motorist-to-cyclist actions in the context of general motorist behavior is a bit brilliant, if you ask me.

    Also a good point about the vulnerability, of course. It's that reality that makes me more likely to take inconsiderate acts in stride while on the bike... not being surrounded by a couple tons of steel does force you to think about how angrily you respond.

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  7. What bothers me about interactions with motorists is not rudeness per se, but still not knowing how to behave in certain situations. For example, after a year and a half of cycling in traffic, I still have not figured out how to make a successful left turn on busy intersections where there is no specific left turn signal. Sometimes cars just will not let me through and I am too scared to call their bluff. When I was a driver, in this situation I'd just inch forward and leftish until the cars would have no choice, but I am not brave enough to do that on a bike!

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  8. It's generous of you to take near misses with vehicular manslaughter in stride. I have learned to not get too angry when LA drivers nearly kill me in the same way that they nearly collide with other cars on a day to day basis. However, the commute to my last job took me the full North-South length of Glendale and a large number of the drivers there subscribe to the line of thought that Moopheus mentioned. It is with the aggressively anti-cyclist type that I still lose my cool with.

    In Glendale I have been:
    -harassed by a truckload of young men, though I was two lanes away and in no way impeding their travels. I believe what they yelled was, "F*ck you, you f*gg*t motherf*cker."
    -shot at with a BB gun by teens (they missed me, but hit my coworker, also cycling, a few blocks ahead).
    -nearly run into the curb by a woman leaning into the passenger seat to tell me, "It's not safe to ride your bicycle in the street."
    -nearly collided with from behind by a man merging into my lane. After skidding to avoid running me over, he called me a jackass and asked if I thought I was a car. Fortunately, we had a long red light together and I was able to, perhaps uncouthly, alert him to the legal status of bicycles on public roads and critique his qualities as a driver and as a human being.

    Amusing anecdote: another coworker, riding a DI2 equipped Calfee (shockingly expensive bicycle, as built) in full lycra, helmet, clipless, etc. was stopped at a red light when a young woman in a Mercedes pulled up next to him, rolled down her window and asked, "Why don't you get a job?"

    We cyclists are subhuman in Glendale.

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  9. People are going to wonder about your "inch forward" comment. :)

    Left turns are as easy on a bike as they are in a car. Left turns are like a delayed, but scripted dance move that is always smooth and stress-free provided that you can (1) sit still in traffic without getting anxious about people behind you, (2) understand that nobody is required to let you in regardless of how long you've sat still and you may only go once the road is clear, and (3) stop worrying about signal change because the rule is turning vehicles in the middle of the intersection at signal change are allowed to clear before others may proceed. In fact, many left turns are basically "park" and wait for signal change.

    Left turns not at intersections are the same, except the emphasis is on not worrying about people behind you. They know the drill.

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  10. Matt - I am not so much being generous as trying to see things in perspective. At least here in Boston, I am pretty sure that drivers are equally careless/nasty to everyone on the road, just in different ways. Also, see this post if you like reading about manslaughter near-misses.

    MDI - While I agree with all that in theory, I worry that I am less noticeable when stuck in an intersection than a car, and might get inadvertently hit. Also, I notice that other cyclists seem to be more confident and just go ahead and make the left turn even if a car is coming straight at them. The car does stop once it sees that they are definitely making the turn. But I am not confident enough to rely on that. What if the driver is on the phone and won't notice me like they would a larger car, etc.

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  11. Oh, and as Matt points out, in several (or is it most?) parts of the US, drivers would "vehicularly murder" cyclists with pleasure, if only they could get away with it.

    Warning--rant: I drive as much as I cycle now, and even before I started cycling seriously I've noticed that road users are completely dehumanized. The pangs of conscience experienced by "guilty" parties are just veiled fear of punishment. I read stories about driver misbehaviour and relish my cycling experience here in New England. But even in Boston I often feel the unspoken anger toward cyclists obvious from the "body language" of driven vehicles. I dread when cycling comes up in conversation with co-workers because I know I will hear some cyclist-hate or self-interest-driven fear mongering. It's obvious that commuting and traffic stresses are deeply affecting the judgement of drivers who will blame anyone, even cyclists for their own unpleasant experiences on the road. I try not to participate in any of that as best as I can. Privately, if I may, it is my firm belief that only fear of punishment will keep "road rage" in check. Currently transgressions against cyclists are not taken seriously enough by law enforcement and thus the fear or punishment is insufficient in the mind of the driving public. Cycling safety also lies in awareness of our presence on the road, which comes from the sheer number of every day cyclists. We are being selfish when we encourage more people to cycle because it makes our own cycling safer. I am okay with that.

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  12. MDI said...
    "...in several (or is it most?) parts of the US, drivers would "vehicularly murder" cyclists with pleasure, if only they could get away with it."


    I don't think that's so cyclist-specific. There are many people out there who would murder with pleasure, period, if they could get away with it. That is why we have things like the law, scary prisons, and police enforcement. People can do bad things to each other when there is no deterrent in place.

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  13. I don't think cyclists necessarily receive more hostile comments (or thoughts) on the road than other motorists, but they do seem to attract a lot of specific attacks. I think perhaps US transportation focuses on speed and not on safety. (very general statement there) People consider is a 'right' to drive fast, carelessly, etc. Living in Japan I find people driving to be so used to hordes of bikes and pedestrians in the road, that slowing down or stopping for anyone and everyone goes without saying. (also car horns and bike bells are used similarly. In the US I hear car horns more as a way to curse at someone you're upset with. In other countries the horn is a warning so other cars and cyclists know you're coming when they can't see you.)
    Check out Vision Zero, a proposal for redesigning transportation infostructure where success is measured by safety.
    http://www.monash.edu.au/muarc/reports/papers/visionzero.html
    great post

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  14. In response to your response to my comment, I agree that it's good to take an objective view and to not take every near-miss personally. The majority of my scares on the street are the result of being given the same (in)consideration as other cars. However, the minority of cases, in which cyclists' near-misses are the result of certain motorists' animosity toward us, bear calling-out and, as in the case of your earlier post, may bear calling cops.

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  15. On tough intersections, I usually just pull over to the right and position myself in front of the first car waiting at the red light on the intersecting street. This actually usually doesn't even take more time.

    So for example, if I want to turn left onto Marlborough St. from Mass Ave., I don't wait in the left lane to turn, instead I pull over to the right and make a little U-turn in front of the first car waiting at the light. With the timing of the lights and intensity of traffic at that intersection, it takes me *exactly* the same amount of time and cars don't have to wait.

    I find this technique a life saver at many other dangerous intersections: Mass Ave. and Washington St., Mass Ave and St. Botolph's St., Commonwealth Ave and Harvard St, Beacon St and Harvard St, etc.

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  16. Velouria said...
    Matt - I am not so much being generous as trying to see things in perspective. At least here in Boston, I am pretty sure that drivers are equally careless/nasty to everyone on the road, just in different ways. Also, see this post if you like reading about manslaughter near-misses.

    The other reason it makes some sense to report the incident even though no one was hurt is the driver may get reminded of it with each insurance bill due to an increase in premium.

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  17. Herzog - I do that too sometimes, but I always feel like I'm doing something wrong and have "failed" at managing the intersection properly. Good to know that others do it too.

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  18. I suppose the difference between honking or shouting at another driver and at another cyclist is that when shouting at a driver they're shouting at another tin box, whereas with a bike they're shouting at a person - which makes it a little more personal and hence a little more unpleasant to receive. But it goes both ways, of course - on bike or on foot I often say things to the anonymous flanks of cars that I'd never say to the driver inside them in person (something I'd do well to remember in the summer when people have their windows open and can hear me...)

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  19. I've found myself veering away from such a cynical attitude about the broader driving public, which admittedly i was fairly strident on before. I simply think they represent a broader cross-section of society whereas we cyclists are a very particular breed, and a minority, even though those numbers are inching up slowly. There are a lot of unpleasant and angry people who you'll never change. It just so happens that some of them drive too and take their gripes with them. It's good to put in perspective that there are also a lot of good people too. I'm am always saying that for all the good people here who make such an effort to accommodate me on the road, it's only the idiots that i'm left with the memory of. That's a shame.

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  20. In downtown Toronto traffic, (which exists!) - I think most of the folks that are driving cars and behave badly towards bicycle riders do it out of jealousy.

    Most cyclists only slow for stop signs, few signal their turns, and many, for the sheer convenience of it, will go the wrong way down bike lanes, down one way streets, ride on sidewalks...

    Cyclists get away with breaking all the rules because they're so often able to without fear of consequence.

    Being pulled over and ticketed riding a bike is almost unheard of, here.

    I understand the frustration many drivers feel towards cyclists that don't respect the rules of traffic.

    Being passed on the right and left at an intersection by someone who has a vehicle small enough to squeeze by you cannot be pleasant, especially when you've been stuck trying to get through that city block for the past 25 minutes.

    Jealousy - and the self-denial that they too could be riding a bike instead of sitting in traffic - terrible stuff.

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  21. Velouria - Yes! I totally used to feel like I've "failed" at navigating the intersection. But then I realized it's easier, safer, more convenient for motorists, and usually equally fast. So whatever.

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  22. NorthernMike,

    I'm sorry, but there's a little snag in your argument -- motorists brake as many laws as cyclists and do so more dangerously.

    I could go on and on about all the motorists who broke the law in the last few days, endangering my life, like the guy who blew a long-red light at the crosswalk on Arborway at full speed, like the cab driver who almost hit me as he swerved into the bike lane to pass traffic on the right, like the family that almost hit me while taking an illegal left turn. I could go on and on, but this debate has played out in many other venues already.

    I wouldn't be surprised that drivers are jealous of cyclists at times, but it is supremely ignorant to suggest that cyclists break more rules than motorists.

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  23. As someone who cycles for transportation - to work 10km and back each day, for all errands and for pleasure as well - I can only claim to know what I've experienced.

    I was doored by a cab last year, and nearly killed. He was charged, and his insurance replaced my clothing, my bike, and two days' pay. I thought that to be fair, under the circumstances.

    Had I been driving a car, I would likely have taken his door off, and his arm with it.

    A bad scene, either way. Negligence sucked, that day.

    As for my observations of laws being "braked", those are my own - if they make me ignorant in your eyes, so be it.

    I'm hoping and working for awareness and tolerance by and for everyone on the road. I am well lit, predictable, courteous, and aware, out there.

    If it means slowing down through intersections, taking high-risk lefts by crossing and waiting at that light, that day, so be it.

    Cars are an evil deemed so necessary by so many, it's a hell of a battle with all of them trying to get somewhere at the same time.

    Pedestrians can be inconvenient, too. (!)

    I'm not defending "motorists", I'm just reacting as humanely as I can.

    Sorry if I offended anyone.

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  24. I wish I could convince myself that motorists are jealous of me when they see me stopped at red lights on my bike, but I suspect it is more likely that they pity me and think I am too poor to afford a car or too stupid to realise the risks of cycling. Even the sympathetic comments I get are often to the effect of "boy, you must be awfully cold in that wind / wet in that rain / hot in that heat, poor thing!" Granted, the pity may be just a way of justifying their own choices or discomfort ("I may be stuck in traffic, but it sure beats being rained on like this poor girl"), but it sure seems like the dominant emotion.

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  25. NorthernMike--I am glad you are out there, being reasonable.

    Kieron--I think you're right, what I said earlier was pretty cynical.

    Herzog--I think drivers violate a lot of rules, sometimes endangering others in the process whilst the cyclists primarily endanger themselves, but at least they don't routinely ride wrong way on the sidewalk without slowing down for a steady red light tagging pedestrians and colliding with infrastructure. Cyclists break the rules more because the cops enforce them less. If the cops stopped enforcing motorists, we would soon have people driving down the park in the middle of Commonwealth Ave. :)

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  26. I regret being rude in my previous comment. Sorry.

    Though I still have some issue with using the word "more" in this context. What metric is being used? Is exceeding the speed limit for 5 minutes in a car equivalent to riding a quarter mile the wrong way on bike? Is one person "braking" the law "more" than the other?

    The most reasonable, though far from satisfactory, metric I can come up with is how much each action endangers other road users.

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  27. about the left turn thing- totally don't feel bad about having to turn right and u-turn back to cross with the signal change. in fact, I'm pretty sure that that option is illustrated in my city's commuter 101 handbook.

    Not to start up the gender debate, but I truly do believe that I get treated with more care in general than my male cycling peers. So for everyone giving me room, not cat calling me when I'm in a skirt, not throwing things at me, not yelling at me, thanks, you don't suck. For the few who still pass too close and too fast and the guy who proceeded through the 4-way stop as if I weren't there, you have some work to do.

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  28. When bicycles were first becoming popular, pedestrians were scared $@#%less of them, did you know?

    Cyclists were called all manner of names, for example, the paved smooth section between streetcar tracks being referred to as the "Devils' strip" for those "Hoopdrivers" scorching around the roads!

    We still startle the bejesus out of unsuspecting pedestrians, it's only after a hundred-plus years of practice that we've come to share public space as well as we do.

    So though the velocity-and-mass endangerment factor is low - compared to the potential posed by a car - when a cyclist takes to the sidewalk, the realm they're invading is no less threatened.

    Imagine your neighbour's two year old running out on that sidewalk to chase a birdy.

    The sidewalks a safe place, right?

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  29. NorthernMike--I don't think any experienced cyclist would advocate casual riding on the sidewalk, so I firmly believe your point is shared by all of us here. Pedestrians are also used to collisions with other pedestrians to be slightly embarrassing but at least not painful. Introducing bikes into the pedestrian equation brings up all of the points you mention.

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  30. I agree with velouria on the left turn action. I hate it. I admit I get nervous doing left turns in a car- but in a car as mentioned I can zoom in fast ( in the case of roads where there is ALWAYS a long line of cars coming toward you and they keep coming til the red light- the only way to make it is to be forceful and zoom left at the hint of green or to jam through loosely spaced cars but they are usually loosely space enough for a car speed not a bike....

    On bike I do feel the heat of the cars behind me. I tend to like a lot more space from oncoming traffic as my start up is slow and it takes me time to get going and moving ( on 3 and 2 wheels) Once I was at a left turn lane where the left turn arrow did not go on ( a rarity and unsure why- it usually does when I'm on a bike) and I was stuck and I had cars decided to jam around me which made me miss my oppurtunity. It's hard to not be cognizant of slowing people down...

    I think the part where I take it personally is when people attack my safety efforts. I was riding down a road at night with my bright light out on front and red light on back. Granted I was wearing dark clothing but my lights were full on. A Mini van rolls up and hovers next to me ( a huge pet peeve of mine esp since I was actually trying to get in the lane of that minivan and was waiting for him to pass me so I could do so) and he rolls his window down and says " you need a light". So then I was all shakey and paranoid to my destination and made my friends watch me on the bike from behind to see if my light showed. To which they agreed I was fully lit up. So what gives? was he being an asshole. He couldn't see me well and decided to tell me so? But actually he clearly did see me and I know from hearing him come up to me that he was never in danger of hitting me ( I was watching as I was planning on switching lanes when he past....)

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  31. i, for one, can honestly say that i probably make more traffic violations as a cyclist than i do as a motorist (as a motorist, i have not been involved in an accident of any type in 20 years, and for that one 20 years ago i was judged not at fault. the only other ones i had were before that, when i was 16 and 17 years old... typical young male driver!). in the car, it's easy to follow the rules, but on a bike, without clearly defined cycling infrastructure, it's all too easy to interpret "gray" areas any way i wish, when it's convenient to me. i also take more liberties as a cyclist, such as going through a red light after stopping, if it's clear that there are no cars visible in any direction, on a sunday morning. that's something i wouldn't do in a car. honestly, i rarely break any rules as a driver (okay, okay, i do go fast on interstates... guilty there).

    mamavee said: "A Mini van rolls up and hovers next to me ( a huge pet peeve of mine esp since I was actually trying to get in the lane of that minivan and was waiting for him to pass me so I could do so) and he rolls his window down and says " you need a light". So then I was all shakey and paranoid to my destination and made my friends watch me on the bike from behind to see if my light showed. To which they agreed I was fully lit up. So what gives? was he being an asshole. He couldn't see me well and decided to tell me so? "

    not sure what to make of that driver, it doesn't necessarily sound like he was being an a**hole, and that he was concerned about your safety (and perhaps his own liability). but i may have done the same thing as a motorist if i felt that i could have hit you because you weren't visible enough to me.

    i experienced a driver do something very similar to me, and i was grateful: a woman pulled up beside me and stopped in front of my house as i was pulling into the driveway. she had been behind me before i pulled in. it was just past dusk, and she told me that she almost hit me because she didn't see me slowing down to make the right turn into the driveway (despite me doing everything "right": headlight, taillight, hand signal). without fully comprehending the how and why, and realizing that she was holding up traffic, i simply said "thanks". after lugging my bike up the steps, i checked all my lights, and sure enough, my taillight was so dim as to be barely illuminated (i had remembered turning it on and seeing it illuminate before riding home). turns out the battery had gotten corroded and the contact was poor (as a result of this event, i now make it my own personal policy to have at least two taillights on, one down low on the fender and one up high on my helmet.. on some of my bikes i have three!). if she hadn't alerted me, it may have taken me days to figure out that my taillight was wonky. i didn't feel like i was being attacked for not being visible, and i think that when some drivers experience this sort of thing, they might not know exactly what to say in the moment... it's not like she had time to park, get out of her car, and approach me with a proper "excuse me, sir, but i happened to notice...". at least she wasn't rude, and it doesn't sound like the guy who made the comment to you was being at all rude, either.

    since you said your light was working, did you check to see that it was properly angled? many taillights are designed with a directional beam, and have to be properly aimed. too many times i see people with taillights clipped to some random spot on their backpacks or messenger bags, and i can barely see them because they're aimed at the ground, or at the sky!

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  32. velouria said: "What bothers me about interactions with motorists is not rudeness per se, but still not knowing how to behave in certain situations. For example, after a year and a half of cycling in traffic, I still have not figured out how to make a successful left turn on busy intersections where there is no specific left turn signal. "

    i experience this at certain intersections in the area, the most notable in my daily routine being beacon and washington in somerville (by dali). i *still* don't feel comfortable as a cyclist waiting to make a "proper" left onto beacon coming from harvard square on washington. i do it, but without a designated left lane, cars and trucks whiz by me to my right, leaving as little as inches between us. then, once the light turns red and i have the "legal right" to proceed with my left turn, the cars that have just gotten the green light aggressively start into the intersection before letting my make the turn! sometimes when traffic is really bad, i use herzog's method.

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  33. I am paranoid about tail lights, too.

    I used to have a bunch on my Pashley, but the attachment points weren't great, so I am down to one factory tail light. My road bike has one light, too. I need to figure out how to have backups again.

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  34. somervillain--I know the turn you mean, obviously. Maybe you can avoid this place altogether coming from Harvard square by turning on Irving and coming up Park. That's what I do even when I drive. That intersection sucks (and so do many others along the Somerville silk road--Beacon from Porter Sq, then Hampshire past Inman all the way to Broadway and Longfellow Bridge...)

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  35. MDI, on my road bikes, i hang a taillight from the saddlebag, trying to keep it aimed somewhat level. on my city bikes, i typically have a fender-mounted light. on my shogun, i have a fender light and a rack light.

    i may eventually add more permanent fender taillights to my road bikes, not sure... vanity, ya know...

    and i've always got my helmet light, regardless of bike!

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  36. i sometimes do irving, but it means turning left onto washington first (which can be tricky without a light, as i like coming down line street). but i suppose i could get off line street earlier and wind my way to washington, and cross over to irving...

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  37. MDI, just get a battery powered fender mount.

    The stock Batavus one is OK, that's my "backup".

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  38. Somervillain- I hear you. He wasn't so much an asshole but at the same time he freaked me out and sped off before I could say anything so in a way the interaction was not helpful. I was wondering about direction of light as well and did all sorts of can you see me now things with my friend who is a cyclist herself- so I am not sure what happened. I am planning on buying a reflector vest to throw on over my dark coats for added visiblity. I guess I wish there was a 2 sec handshake for things like that that says " hey I bike and thus am giving helpful info" rather than you are doing things the way I want you to do it so I'm going to tell you about it...

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  39. It's true that some drivers are knuckleheads. But I think many more simply don't understand things you said in this post, e.g., that we're more vulnerable. There are still lots of drivers, at least here in the US, who never rode bikes or haven't ridden them since they were kids.

    As for the ones who are knuckleheads, all you can do is hope they'll change.

    As for how to turn, change lanes and such: I have found (I hope I don't seem condescending when I say this.) that with more time on the road, you gain confidence. That gets cyclists (well, me anyway) through as much as technique.

    One thing that still gets my heart racing, for a moment, is when a driver pulls up alongside me when I'm riding alone. It doesn't happen often, but most of the time, the driver asks for directions. But I've had a couple of scarier situations, which I may write about some time on my own blog, as they would make for longer responses than I should post here.

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  40. It's not just the one way street that seems to be shown by the posts here. What about the dangerous, rude and aggressive actions of cyclists too? Some of what I've seen makes me understand why motorists are sometimes rude to cyclist. Completely ignoring the rules of the road and self-survival seems to occur by quite a few cyclists too- of all sorts from the lycra clad brigade through to kids, including youths. Possibly a smaller percentage of utility cyclists from their 20's and up, decreasing as they get older. Perhaps the others didn't survive, or moved on to similar actions in cars?
    I'm of the same opinion as our host- try to remember not to take it personally.

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  41. I hope everybody forgives me for being content with the way things are but I am. I am 52 and have ridden bicycles of some sort or another on the road for most of my life. Today I try to commute as many days as I can and generally rack up between 3K and 4K miles a year depending on the winter weather. I have always conformed to the laws of physics rather than the vehicle code. I understand where my bicycle and I stand in the road using food chain. Any grace I receive from motorists is appreciated but never expected. Rarely a commuting day goes by that I couldn't get worked up about something a motorist has done that effected me. I am grateful for the improvements that have been made to roads and intersections that are designed for increased cycling safety but also understand that it's still up to me to get through an area safely. I am quite sure that I have upset some motorists over years and I know that I have upset faster cyclists by blocking a narrow route. Anger is a human thing and I am sure that we will all be exposed to cyclist on cyclist rage someday in the future as cycling density increases in any given area.

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  42. I have been bike commuting part time (2 - 3X/wk, not so much in Winter) for about 2 1/2 years now. I would say that, aside from a couple of near misses from people making left turns in front of me, I have had less problems with my bicycle commuting than I had when I commuted with a motorcyle. I suspect the speeds involved may have something to do with it, plus the fact that we have a lot of dedicated bike lanes in Denver, and a new law that requires cars to give bikes at least 3 feet of space. FYI I commute 6 miles each way, going straight into the middle of Downtown Denver.

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  43. The type of left turns that some have described here is what is very common at major intersections in Copenhagen. There, they have created a spot where cyclists can wait beyond the pedestrian crosswalk for the light to turn green. If there are no cars, you can proceed before the light turns green, but usually there's so much traffic at these intersections that you have to wait for the light to change. These are specifically at large junctions which all have the separated cycle tracks, so it's not possible to cross 3,4 lanes of traffic to get into the left-turn lane; it wouldn't be practical for 5, 10, 15 cyclists to do this, all the while having to watch for an opening in the often near-endless stream of traffic.

    You can argue that this makes it slower for cyclists wanting to make a left turn, but you have to put it in the context of Cph's traffic. There's a lot more cyclists and of all skill levels there. And plus at these large junctions, the left-turns signals are separated from the straight + right turn phases. So then it is actually quicker than having to wait another entire cycle in the left turn lane for the light to change to green again.

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  44. There's people and there's drivers--and the two are NOT the same species.

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  45. Well for me it would be a lot easier to not take it personally if I had something to throw at their windows as they cut off in front of me. Have been considering the idea for a while, actually, bcs it's not easy chasing down the mofos on a bike, unless it's stop and go city traffic. But trying to murder me with your car will not be taken lightly by yours truly if I can help it. Sorry to go against the flow but that's my 2¢. Maybe if we all did it the byciclist might get a bit more respect.

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    1. You read my mind. I was thinking more along the lines of a baseball bat, but a good sized rock does have better range.

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  46. I've had things thrown at me, screamed at, honked at, and cutoff. People get crazy once they close their car door. It's best to let this stuff slide if you can...it's not worth fighting a car door or bumper.

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  47. I keep my heavy u-lock @ forward of my frame, strapped in place w/ a large, quick release climbing buckle. I keep dog spray in my right pocket.

    Not every cyclist is a pacifist. ;-)

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  48. Two points:

    1. Many years ago I was watching a TV show about a world chess championship. An interviewer was talking to the

    English player Bill Hartston. They were discussing the antics of some of the prima donna grand masters, one of

    whom had agents in the audience beaming disruptive thoughts at the opposing players. Another insisted on using a

    board with green and yellow squares. The interviewer asked Hartston if he went in for any of these mind games.

    "No," replied Hartston, "I just play the little pieces."

    I think all road users would do well to adopt that maxim: Just play the pieces. Don't make it personal. I try to

    do so myself, but I can't claim I always succeed.

    2. The majority of my miles are commuting: mostly rural, with some suburban and some urban miles. While there

    might be one driver in a hundred who cuts me up/shouts at me (rare)/overtakes in a dozy place, that means that 99%

    of drivers are careful and considerate, and I take my hat (cycling helmet?) off to them.

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