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Zoethe

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A crash that almost happened [Jul. 15th, 2012|01:09 pm]
Zoethe
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I almost hit a cyclist with my car last night in Lakewood. Why? Because he was riding on the sidewalk, and shot out into the crosswalk from behind parked cars just as I was turning right. He had the walk light, but he was in the blind spot caused by the pillar between my windshield and the passenger-side door, and I simply didn't see him. Fortunately, my passengers saw him and yelled for me to stop. We were all shaken by the close call.

Following that, we were walking on the sidewalk and almost got hit by cyclists three times. They weren't riding recklessly, they were just riding on busy sidewalks, and trying to weave around pedestrians.

This would all have been avoided if they had all been riding on the street where they belonged. It's great seeing so many more bikes out there, but the education of both motorists and cyclists needs to continue. I'm seeing more bikes, yes, but I'm seeing a lot of them on sidewalks, which is dangerous to pedestrians and dangerous to the cyclists.

Sidewalks were okay for bikes when they weighed 40 pounds, had only one gear, and traveled about 8 miles an hour. Now, I can easily be flying along at 15 miles and hour, and I'm not a very fast cyclist. I know people who regularly ride about at 20+ mph.

Do you really want that barreling down on the small children playing in your yard? On your grandma?

Additionally, cars pulling out of side streets or onto the aprons of driveways are not going to be prepared to deal with a bike shooting toward them at 15 mph. Most of my close calls have been caused by the times I foolishly rode on the sidewalk and almost collided with the side of someone pulling up to the intersection from a parking lot. Bikes simply move too fast to be safely on sidewalks.

I'm tempted to counter-program the people who honk at me and yell for me to get back on the sidewalk. I'm tempted to honk and yell at sidewalk cyclists and tell them to get in the street where they belong.

Crossposting from Dreamwidth now. Sigh. If LJ won't let you comment, you can comment here: http://zoethe.dreamwidth.org/796396.html?mode=reply:
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: merle_
2012-07-15 06:12 pm (UTC)
Agreed. It is nice that more people are using better modes of transportation and are getting exercise, but so many of the new bikers are.. well, I have no polite term for them. I've almost hit or gotten hit by so many over the past year that they are giving cyclists a bad name.

Honk away!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 06:52 pm (UTC)
We are definitely in the midst of a transportation paradigm shift. Getting bicycles to be taken seriously is still a struggle.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2012-07-15 11:08 pm (UTC)
Getting new bicyclists to take the paradigm shift in stead is also tough. I have to admit to once having been a jerk who would hop curbs and flow out into the bike lanes. *blushes*

It would be nice if most people lived close enough to work that we could stop relying on gas. On the other hand, there is no way I'm handling eight bags from Target and lugging them around. The mind is willing but the body is very lacking. And in certain areas it is hard to live where work and grocerys and sundry items are all within a convenient distance.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 11:30 pm (UTC)
We are definitely a society that was built around the use of the car, here in the U.S. The suburban deserts of house after house separated by large lawns and no nearby shopping is a paradigm that I would like to think many are coming to regret.

And yet even now I see groundbreaking for the newest McMansionville. I just want to scream.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2012-07-15 11:49 pm (UTC)
Suburbia scares me. Out here we have several "cities" (suburbs) that are declaring bankruptcy due to the banking/financial/whatever crisis. Seeing people driving 50+ miles to work with the price of gas? I am torn between screaming and crying.

It is a sad and weird mega-village we have created. I hope it changes soon. And McMansions.. let us not even discuss it lest we cause nearby people to fear for our sanity.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-16 01:27 am (UTC)
I technically live in a bedroom community, but it's a community--we can walk to everything we need--bookstores, groceries, hardware, two bike stores, a movie theater, department stores, the public library, the public pool and community center, bakeries, and at least 50 restaurants within a mile and a half.

I can't imagine living in one of those houses stranded in a sea of other houses.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2012-07-16 05:26 pm (UTC)
Precisely. One of my siblings lives in an ocean of other houses. I guess it's nice to own a house, but not being able to walk a few blocks to a lot of restaurants and a theater? What's the point of buying such a house?

Two bike stores? You have me beat there. Nice.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-17 01:16 am (UTC)
I would choose to either live in a community like I live in, or WAY out in the country with land. Suburbs like that are soulless.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 06:53 pm (UTC)
Considering that the sidewalk was very congested, that is a problem.

I love that Lakewood is working so hard on a bike-friendly plan. There needs to be more of that kind of planning underway, and enforcement to follow up on it.
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[User Picture]From: jmfunnyface
2012-07-15 07:34 pm (UTC)
My Mom hit a cyclist a few years ago. She was pulling out of an extremely busy shopping center & had the right of way. He was on the sidewalk going into the intersection on a red with no helmet on. Luckily she was going like 7 miles an hour making the turn so he wasn't seriously hurt (or worse), but it was terrifying.

I wish the police would crack down on cyclists for doing things that are dangerous (riding on sidewalks, not wearing helmets, riding down the middle of the street). It's so common in my town, I cannot tell you how many close calls I've seen.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 09:22 pm (UTC)
For riding on sidewalks, there needs to be serious education of riders. A lot of people just plain don't know or understand the laws.

I'm not sure what you mean by "riding down the middle of the street." When I am riding on a relatively narrow four-lane street, I take the right lane because I am allowed by law and because it is much safer than hugging the shoulder and giving drivers the temptation to try and squeeze around me. They still have another lane to drive in, and yeah, it may take them a minute to get around me, but if there was a slow-moving vehicle or a UPS truck parked there, it would take them a little time to clear that, too.

I try to be as courteous and cooperative as possible, but I have to think of my own safety.
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[User Picture]From: jmfunnyface
2012-07-16 12:11 am (UTC)
That's one of those things clearer in my mind than when I write it. We get a lot of cyclist in Cville that ride down the middle of two lanes on the dotted line (does that make sense?)--so neither in the right lane or the left lane but between the two. I had a cyclist try to make a left hand turn while riding between the two lanes in front of me last week, and I completely freaked out because it was insanely dangerous. If I hadn't been paying attention, I would have turned into him.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-16 01:28 am (UTC)
Okay, well, that's just stupid. They should be ticketed.
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[User Picture]From: naath
2012-07-16 09:35 am (UTC)
I had a cyclist try to make a left hand turn while riding between the two lanes in front of me last week

Sounds to me like the nervous cyclist had understood the instruction to move into the left lane in order to turn left and had tried to do it, but been too nervous to actually, y'know, BE IN THE LANE. Many cyclists don't understand that it's (usually) safest for them to be in the middle of the lane that they want, because that's (normally) where motorists are expecting to see other road users.
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[User Picture]From: voiceofanangel
2012-07-15 08:11 pm (UTC)
I almost hit my best friend's wife and her best friend once because they were riding on the sidewalk, in all black, at 2 am, and entered the intersection on a walk signal when I had a turn signal. A cop pulled me over right after, and I explained the situation, that I knew them, and that I was calling her wife to basically tell on her. Thankfully, the cop let me go. But I was seriously shaken.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 09:30 pm (UTC)
I don't ride at night without lights. People are incredibly foolish at times.
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[User Picture]From: voiceofanangel
2012-07-15 08:18 pm (UTC)
I have a question for you:
At one point, I was told that cyclists should ride against traffic to see oncoming cars. What is the current law/verdict on this? Should they ride with or against traffic?
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[User Picture]From: finding_helena
2012-07-15 08:32 pm (UTC)
For every cyclist I see who is obeying the laws and is properly dressed (i.e. helmet), I see another who is doing something dumb. And the dumb ones contribute to motorists not taking cyclists seriously, which contributes to cyclists not feeling safe on the roads, which contributes to them taking the sidewalk. >:(
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 09:44 pm (UTC)
While I am irritated with the cyclists who do dumb things, the fact is that motorists do an incredible number of dumb things and we roll our eyes and go on. We notice cyclists because they are fewer and we aren't as accustomed to them.

As our numbers grow, we will need to be policed, educated, and brought into line by peer pressure as well as the law. That's a good thing.
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[User Picture]From: finding_helena
2012-07-15 10:00 pm (UTC)
True. I think there are plenty of dumb motorists as well, but you don't usually notice motorists going the wrong way on the street or driving on the sidewalk.
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[User Picture]From: merle_
2012-07-15 11:11 pm (UTC)
General stupidity does not seem to be limited to any form of transportation. Some modes, though, are more deadly, whether to self or others. Being deadly to others counts as wrong in my book.
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[User Picture]From: finding_helena
2012-07-15 08:34 pm (UTC)
Cyclists are vehicles and are supposed to ride in the same direction as other vehicles. (Except when walking a bike, then they count as pedestrians. Which actually means a cyclist can legitimately get off the bike and walk at an intersection to make, say, a left turn at an intersection where it isn't allowed.) I almost hit a cyclist riding against traffic on a narrow two-lane road. I couldn't go around him because there were cars in the other lane. If he'd been going the same direction as me, I could have just slowed down to his pace until I reached a stretch where I could pass him.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 09:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, this exactly.
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[User Picture]From: kuangning
2012-07-15 09:27 pm (UTC)
Cyclists should ride with traffic, as part of the flow of traffic, so that drivers know where they'll be coming from. If your state is one of the more enlightened ones and allows it, the safest place for you on your bicycle is near the middle of your lane. Yes, the drivers hate it because you go slower than they prefer. But everyone can see you, and if you follow the traffic signs and lights, you become just another predictable vehicle, and that's best for everyone -- they don't have to guess what you're doing next, and you don't have to count on them not being too distracted to notice you.

(Edited because it doesn't appear to be nesting correctly. Sorry about that.)

Edited at 2012-07-15 09:29 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 09:37 pm (UTC)
Yup yup yup!
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 09:34 pm (UTC)
NEVER!!!!! That is the worst advice possible! Always ride with traffic, as a vehicle.
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[User Picture]From: badspock
2012-07-15 10:35 pm (UTC)
What I wanna know is when they started teaching cyclists to ride into traffic instead of with it. And they give me a look as if yo say "GTFO MY way!!" every time they barrel straight at me, riding in the wrong lane. I wonder who would be cited in a collision? I'm guessing me, since I'm the one in the car. :(
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[User Picture]From: badspock
2012-07-15 10:37 pm (UTC)
LOL, and that's what happens when I don't read all the comments first.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 11:27 pm (UTC)
I don't know where anyone is being taught that, but it is insane. And certainly not how we teach here.
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[User Picture]From: alexmegami
2012-07-16 04:40 am (UTC)
I definitely remember being taught to ride against traffic as a kid (Canada, 1990s).
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-16 04:03 pm (UTC)
That's crazy dangerous. I'm gobsmacked.
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From: simulated_knave
2012-07-16 07:55 pm (UTC)
And I remember being taught to ride with traffic in Canada in the 1990s. :P
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[User Picture]From: kibbles
2012-07-15 11:19 pm (UTC)
There was little sidewalk riding back in Brooklyn, and I don't really think I've seen it here in Dubuque at all. When we get to Madison that's supposed to be a really bike friendly city, and we want to get Teddy a tandem tricycle.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-15 11:33 pm (UTC)
Madison is supposed to be very bike friendly. That will be great.
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[User Picture]From: ithildae
2012-07-16 03:16 am (UTC)
In our county, riding your bike on the sidewalk is illegal. It is not often enforced. I have had close calls with cyclists riding on sidewalks when traffic was heavy. Waiting for an opening in traffic to pull out, then looking forward at the bike right in front of your car. I remember taking a bike class put on by the local police in the early 70's, even then we were told not to ride on the sidewalk.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-16 03:21 am (UTC)
Comprehensive education is needed. Because it's crazy how many people have no idea what they are doing.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2012-07-16 07:31 am (UTC)
Hmm, I've been riding on the sidewalk for years and have never had a close call with a car. But I'm very careful...Oh and I have never come close to hitting a pedestrian, but I don't ride on busy streets either...
Honestly, I'm scared of riding on the streets because a car could wipe me out. But when I'm riding I tend to cross the street the same way I would if I were walking....and I keep my eyes ahead of me instead of right in front of me.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-17 01:09 am (UTC)
What speed do you ride at? I can't imagine riding 15 miles per hour on the sidewalk.
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[User Picture]From: tormentedartist
2012-07-17 01:12 am (UTC)
Lol. I'm not that serious like you are I'm probably going 5 miles an hour or so...or I was when my bike was working. It was used an only two gears worked so its not like I was speeding along. And when I was younger I had a BMX bike...which has a single gear.

So many this doesn't apply to me?
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-17 01:19 am (UTC)
5 mph is a speed that's better for the sidewalk, no doubt!
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[User Picture]From: natf
2012-07-17 04:58 am (UTC)
In my opinion/experience as a pedestrian, cyclist and driver, cyclists riding on busy sidewalks, and trying to weave around pedestrians are exhibiting one definition of riding recklessly but YMMV, of course.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2012-07-17 01:27 pm (UTC)
I absolutely agree. Bikes belong on roads.
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