Cycling from a drivers viewpoint

Discussion in 'Commuting and Road Safety' started by spiffalski, Jul 12, 2004.

  1. spiffalski

    spiffalski New Member

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    I'm not here to flame cyclists. I can understand why you get enjoyment from cycling. I do like cycling. In my case I throw the bike in the boot of the car and drive somewhere to use the bike off main roads.

    What often annoys me is cyclists on the country roads (in my case in Scotland). I would like to hear the cyclists point of view.

    It seems to me that cyclists on these roads are simply creating a danger. Cyclists are slow moving vehicles on roads with speed limits of 60mph which often have corners that allow a driver to emerge and be faced with a 5mph uphill cyclist going his way and a car coming the other way. Cue slamming of brakes - near miss this time.

    Drivers get agitated and want to overtake. Therefore some idiots often , so very often, overtake cyclists too close to corners leaving the driver coming the otherway faced with a head-on-collision. Cue slamming of brakes - near miss this time.
    This latter one is the more common scenario though sometimes exasperated by cyclists waving drivers past.

    So often I would have liked to stop cyclists (nicely! i'm no road rage maniac) and ask their opinion.

    Do you think driving on country roads is safe?
    Do you think that on certain roads (twisty for example) the cyclist is being irresponsible?
    Do you think that the drivers are being selfish by driving too fast and the road is for everyone to share?
    Would you use a single track path beside the road or a path built specifically for bikes separate from the road?
     
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  2. Squeaker

    Squeaker New Member

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    Hi Spiffalski,

    Nice to come across a driver who actually cares what cyclists think! My own answers to your questions would be:

    Qs 1 and 2: I'd personally stay off country roads where possible, as I don't think the visibility is good for drivers if the road is very twisty. Mind you, I'm an urban commuter and don't ride in the countryside much anyway. People do the "overtaking too fast/too close - near head-on collision" thing to me all the time in town. It seems to stem from a lack of patience on the driver's part rather than the nature of the road. On speed, all but the fastest cyclists will always be slower than a car, so being overtaken is part of cycling - it's just frustrating that as the "overtakee" I can't do much about it if a driver decides to pass carelessly. I wouldn't normally take it upon myself to wave a driver past as I can't control the behaviour of other road users nearby who may not be willing to let him/her through. The only exception is if I'm going uphill alongside a line of parked cars with a vehicle right behind me, and can duck into a gap in the parked cars, stop and let the vehicle pass without deviating from its own lane.
    Q3: A minority of drivers are extremely selfish and seem to be happy to endanger me when passing safely (or whatever) would be easy. The majority seem to be sensible, and it's much appreciated. I do think the roads are for everyone, but also think that I should abide by normal traffic rules. I don't think motorists (or any other road user) should have to remember one set of norms for motor vehicles and another for cyclists.
    Q4: Cycle paths can be a mixed blessing - if they're poorly designed they can be more dangerous for a cyclist than riding on the road (e.g. by removing you from drivers' mental list of things to take account of, and then suddenly and unexpectedly restoring you to their field of vision). Personally I don't much like shared-use paths for cyclists and pedestrians as I feel I'm invading the pedestrians' space. I mostly find that riding with the traffic and sticking to the rules of the road seems to be best.

    Anyway, waffle over! Be interested to see anyone else's thoughts.
     
  3. MARKGW

    MARKGW New Member

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    Easy one first - if people are waving you by it is usually for one of two reasons.
    1. They can see further than you and it is safe to pass.
    2. They feel that your proximity to their rear is endangering the and therefore they do not give a flying **** if you plough head first into the boy racer coming the other way. ie. they're scared of you and want shot ASAP.
    (OK reason three - they just don't care any way)

    If you find yourself being waved past in potentially dangerous situations on a regular basis, examine your driving because you may be causing point 2.

    Secondly, on twisty roads. I live in a rural area and know what you are talking about. You say:

    Cyclists are slow moving vehicles on roads with speed limits of 60mph which often have corners that allow a driver to emerge and be faced with a 5mph uphill cyclist going his way and a car coming the other way. Cue slamming of brakes - near miss this time.

    I say - cyclists are NOT the slowest things on a country road. If the above is happening then imagine the cyclist as a herd of cows (much slower than a bike), a fallen tree (MUCH MUCH SLOWER... ) or someone walking a dog. When driving country roads, please drive at a speed from which you can come to a safe stop if you encounter a STATIONARY object around the corner. If it's the tree then it's your own damn look out, if it's a family walking the dog then, sadly it's theirs.

    60 limits are a maximum NOT a minimum.

    If the scenarios mentioned happen to you on a regular basis, then think about your driving, consider what could be done differently by you and/or the other party (if it was a tree, maybe it should have stayed upright...) and put the result of this into practise next time you drive.

    This was written as a driver of a LARGE car on SMALL roads, a motorcyclist, a dog walker, a father and, of course, a cyclist. I try to put the above into practise, but no-ones perfect. If you do the same then you may well be less annoyed at other road users - local councils maintain rural roads so we all pay for them, not just the box tax. If you don't then I hope it's the tree and not the family that you hit, oh, and please stay in Scotland - we have enough people down in Somerset who own the road already.

    This was not a rant - it was meant as friendly, if harsh, advice.
     
  4. starship

    starship New Member

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    I feel much safer on a country road, that the bike lane on a busy street.

    On my main training route, the road has a bike lane, and many intersections to parking lots. Eye contact can not be counted on, it’s a risk every time. 90% or better of bicycle / automobile accidents are at intersections.

    On the open road with traffic, passing has not been a problem. And if I’m getting ready for a turn, I’ll take the lane right down the center. Yes, some poor soul might have to slow a bit, but there has never been a problem.

    One last point, Have some of those good Scottish Fish & Chips for me. (and maybe a brown ale) I’ve been in Scotland, and loved it! :)
     
  5. cd667

    cd667 New Member

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    I don't believe that cyclists are being irresponsible. They have as much right to be using the road as a car, although many drivers seem to forget this (including me in the days when I was a lorry driver). I know it's irritating being stuck behind a cyclist, but please try to remember this:-
    People driving cars forget how fast they are - sixty miles an hour is eighty-eight feet per second. This isn't a natural turn of speed for anyone, if they're driving a car, riding a bike or walking a dog. It certainly isn't a suitable speed to be driving along a twisty country lane.
     
  6. Brunswick_kate

    Brunswick_kate New Member

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    There's a pretty obvious situation going on here....if you're frequently in a "brake jamming on" situation, you are driving TOO FAST FOR THE ROAD CONDITIONS, regardless of what's posted on some sign.

    Another poster made the very good point that if you can't see the road, what in hell are you doing driving at those speeds anyway?

    I'm not familiar with Scottish traffic regulations but over here, the vehicle code is very very clear. The responsibility for ensuring that passing is done safely is with the driver of the OVERTAKING vehicle; it is not the responsibility of the vehicle being overtaken.

    I have a responsibility to keep traffic moving as best I can and I will maintain a position as far to the right as **I** determine is safe.

    Cycling paths ... they are a mixed bag of tricks. Good paths are fine. Paths with heavy pedestrian traffic -- dangerous. Remember, as a cyclist, I have the capacity to really hurt a pedestrian should I strike them, and pedestrians don't have any rules of the road. They're unpredictable.

    And finally...exactly HOW LONG do I really delay a vehicle while I'm making a maneouver? 2 seconds? 8 seconds? A whole 30 seconds out of your 24 hour day? Is your time so valuable that 30 seconds of it is worth killing me or greviously injuring me or my family?
     
  7. mingcat9

    mingcat9 New Member

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    here in the states country roads are usually long quiet straight roads, which are far safer, and provide for a far more enjoyable ride, than the busy city and suburban streets. though, I can understand how on twisting roads drivers and cyclists don't think it's safe, and I agree!
     
  8. Grits

    Grits New Member

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    I am fortunate to live in a rural area with long quiet straight roads with fairly good shoulders. I live in South Louisiana in the U.S. For recreational rides with unlimited distance and lots of interesting scenery, it's pretty much ideal. However, I would love to commute to work, but the few routes into town are a nightmare and at this point in my life, I have made a decision not to compete against poor or non-existent shoulders and drivers who are ignorant of the rights of cyclists to share the road. Of course, many "cyclists" here share the same ignorance and for them cycling is less of a proactive choice than the only means of transportation available. In a rural area where life is less stressfull, people are inclined to be more tolerant I believe. The driver behind you is more likely to be an old schoolmate or a member of your church. As far as a "slow moving vehicle" is concerned, I live in the heart of the sugar cane capital of the world and it is now prime harvest season. It's not unreasonable to follow a cane truck for miles until the opportunity presents itself to pass. Wave and smile to the driver as you do. People, it is all a matter of tolerance and live and let live. It's called maturity and respect - and common courtesey to your neighbors and fellow man - a trait distressingly lacking in today's society. It's really very simple:rolleyes:. Maybe a trip to S.Louisiana is in order? Need a break? :) Bienvenue!
     
  9. philrush

    philrush New Member

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    From my standpoint (as a DRIVER), I have NEVER been bothered by a cyclist enjoying a ride on any type of road.

    I am willing to share the road with him and will give him all the room that he needs.

    This is coming from a guy (me) that only road for the 1st time in 41 years YESTERDAY., so until then have never felt anything "special towards bikers.

    How do you feel about farm vehicles on 55 mph highways?
    now there is an issue Im willing to discuss.:eek:
     
  10. djwright4341

    djwright4341 New Member

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    This thread really caught my attention since I almost witnessed a head-on collision yesterday almost caused by some impatient individual who just could not be bothered to slow down as he approached me. I live in Kentucky and the roads I ride on are winding country roads with beautiful scenery and plenty of idiot drivers. Anyway, this person was approaching from behind me at what I could hear was a pretty high rate of speed--probably 55-60mph on a 45mph road. There was no shoulder to pull off on so I went as far right in the lane as I could and could hear behind me that he was not slowing down. We were approaching a small hill and neither of us saw the vehicle approaching the other side of the hill untill the idiot was in the center of the road--at least he moved over to give me some room:rolleyes: --and both of them almost crested the hill at the same time. At the last minute, Mr. Idiot swerved back to his lane about a car-length in front of me and the other vehicle was forced to slam on his brakes and laid on his horn. I never could tell that the idiot ever slowed down. Never have had any other trouble on my rides though. I even had 4 cars sneak up behind me before I looked over my shoulder and saw them. I pulled off the road to let them by and all 4 drivers smiled and waved as they went by. Most people seem to be at least courteous even if they aren't aware that bikes are governed by the same laws as cars.
     
  11. BlueIcarus

    BlueIcarus New Member

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    Hey, my 2 cents.
    When you are riding the bike, it's a whole different story than what is seen at the car. Been at both situations and often, on a car, when I see a cyclist, I think...
    'wow,i'm really nuts to do this on a daily basis'. But I have to remember me that when I'm on ma' bike,
    things are different, b/c:

    - The most important: you carry a couple of useful ears. In the car you don't realize it, but on the bike you can hear a car approaching even when 1 km away on a road.
    - Your field of vision is much wider on a bike, you see much more things on it than on the bike
    - Bike movility is MUCH greater than car's. i.e: you can make a full 180 degrees turn (if you have the skills) in less than 25 meter space ahead. Try this with a car

    And lots more subtle difference, but you get the feel, don't you?
     
  12. Olasnah

    Olasnah New Member

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    Posted speed limits are not there to tell you how fast you MUST go, but how fast you are allowed to go if you so choose. However, if you 'choose' to go that speed, it is your responsibility to watch for slower vehicles (be it a 1920's era car, or a giant tractor). So, the moral of this story is that YOU are driving too dangerously if you are always doing the maximum limit on a road. It's not the cyclist's problem that you are going faster than other vehicles on the same road.
     
  13. Olasnah

    Olasnah New Member

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    Didn't mean to yell at you btw, I had this situation the other day where some lady screamed at me for riding on a road with a 55mph limit, she was of the opinion that it was my responisbility to move over, and like another poster, there wasn't anyplace for me to go except in a ditch. She slowed up right next to me and cursed me while I was riding. I told her to read the state provided driver's manual
     
  14. tmccall

    tmccall New Member

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    If, as a driver of an automobile on country roads, you feel that bicycles are an impediment to your forward progress - lobby the applicable level of government in your area to institute a policy of paving the shoulder of any road which is having work done on it. Over time, this will develop a network of virtual bike lanes which will allow you and the cyclist to both enjoy the scenery and rural feel which has attracted you both to that part of the country. I have spent a great deal of time riding throughout Scotland and Britain - never once did I feel like I was in somebody's way. I only wish that more of the drivers here in Canada were half as courteous as those I encountered over there.
     
  15. chicagodave

    chicagodave New Member

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    I really like your long range thinking. Yes it would be nice to have a bike lane today, though I've been riding for years without one. Lobbying your government may take a while but it is worth it for the riders after us. And I am afraid that some of the american style of driving may be rubbing off on our friends to the north.

    Ride on.
     
  16. tanyaq

    tanyaq New Member

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    Drivers should never drive outside their line of sight - it isn't just cyclists to watch out for, there could be a disabled vehicle. Cycling isn't just about recreation - its also practical for transportation. I don't have a car to throw my bike into and drive somewhere. I use my bike to get places, and if that's not in town that involves country roads to get somewhere. Usually most country roads (as opposed to limited access expressways) are very low traffic volume. This makes them pleasant to ride on and also generally easy for faster traffic to overtake. Its much easier to pass a cyclist that takes up such a small footprint than a wide vehicle going at the same slow speed.

    Drivers should not overtake when there is a danger of hitting oncoming traffic. Period. Not to say that there aren't many scary drivers on high speed roads.

    If there was a wide paved and debris free shoulder I'd probably ride there. A dirt path beside the road - nope. A path that wasn't wide enough to pass another cyclist - nope. A path that was paved, well maintained - okay - on a road with few intersections. With intersections its safer to ride on the road as turning traffic does not expect the cyclists on the side path.

     
  17. ausgirl

    ausgirl New Member

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    I just want to comment on the bike lane/path idea. In Brisbane, Australia, in the city there is a number of shared bike/pedestrian paths that are off the road and clearly marked with a line down the middle and pictures of bicycles on one side and pictures of pedestrians on the other side. Lovely idea. It would be even better if the pedestrians gave a stuff about the markings and stuck to their side of the path. Riding or walking along these paths it is very frequent to see groups of people walking together and taking up the whole path - people who then get agitated if they have to move to one side because a cyclist is coming, even though the path is for shared use. This is why i have serious doubts about the feasibility of bike paths or shared use paths. I guess it depends on the people in your area.
     
  18. fbruno69

    fbruno69 New Member

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    Just a simple answer for the questions:
    1 - Yes, as safe as any other road!
    2 - Sometimes, but that isn't due to the road itself, it's due to the cyclist behaviour!
    3 - Yes, if the road is twisty, no one can drive fast, just as a bike can appear so a rock or a car with a flat can be in the way!
    4 - It depends on the road, the path, etc. But I really would prefer if it wouldn't be necessary to build side paths! There's already to much tarmac as it is! :D
     
  19. bentupright

    bentupright New Member

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    I got to thinking about country road cycling when I visited a friend over Thanksgiving, in West Virginia. Seeing how fast most people travel, be it on a 25MPH visual straightaway or super-curvy/hilly WVA roads, there is only one way to 'practically' share the road: Get rid of modern car suspension (that allows 45 mph driving on WVA hills), and go back to Model Ts!!:D

    But seriously, I'd feel a whole lot safer here in flatlands Florida, cycling beside thousands of cars that can see me (and, yes, be obnoxious sometimes), than those curvy hills, any day! Heck, I'd feel safer in the rain, besides!

    I've gotta start a page on frequent driver mentality, however. I live on a two-lane road in a city in Eastern FL, that joins between a two-lane U.S. 1 and another north/south 4 lane highway (half mile long or so). EVEN though it says 25, EVEN though it is, in large part residential, EVEN though it crosses railroad tracks, EVERYBODY behind a wheel on this road thinks that 25 is 40mph. Just gimmie a video camera and a radar gun, maybe I could make a few bucks on the side!:D Some pass me to tell me to use the sidewalk, but besides being dangerous (we all know what those white lines REALLY mean to MOST motorists:rolleyes: ), the city is so cheap as to place ONE, if ANY, sidewalk beside a road. Heck, this residential 'secondary' has one sidewalk that makes an unlighted 'crosswalk' to the other side of the street, RIGHT BESIDE a secondary-to-tertiary (residential) street (and a beer bar, to boot!). How's THAT for poor city planning?

    Glad to see that there are SOME motorists who ARE considerate, however.:)
     
  20. Pete Owens

    Pete Owens New Member

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    I smeel trolls
    how on earth do you work that one out.
    You quote examples of drivers behaving recklessly - and yet you get angry with perfectly law abiding cyclists.
    Indeed thus not posing a danger to anybody
    It seems to me that it is reckless drivers such as this that are creating any danger in that case.

    Basic rule of driving is to travel in such a way that you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear.
    Again, It seems to me that it is reckless drivers such as this that are creating any danger in this case.

    Basic rule of driving is not to overtake unless you can see it to be safe.
    YES
    just by being there? NO
    YES - though I would put it rather more strongly than "selfih"
    NO
     
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