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  1. #1
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    Close call yesterday

    Had the closest call of my life riding home yesterday, I don't know what to do about it, if anything.

    I'm at a light, at Kipling in Lakewood if you know it, in front of the line of cars, on a small side street to a busy four lane road. Light turns yellow and I begin to click in and stand up on the pedals (big gear). I look left, then right, noticing a big pickup blowing the yellow/red on the opposite side, ironically. Then as I turn to look left one more time, by this time out into the roadway, I hear screeching of brakes and see a white car maybe 20-30 feet from me, going about 50 mph, smoking the tires and kicked out to the side, in the lane that I'm now right in the middle of! He makes it past me by less than a foot. If the fishtail had gone the other way I'd be smushed, that simple, and I think it would have been worse than a broken leg or something. Like, dead.

    It was complete, 100% luck that I was spared. And I know, it wasn't all his fault for blowing a mild red light, it was partly mine for not waiting until it was good and red. I was a little shaken and can't get it out of my head. What do I do? I could quit commuting by bike. I could try to learn from it, and hope that the driver does too. I could quit being a p**sy I suppose. Am I overreacting here?

  2. #2
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    Amp up the sensitivity of your defensive driving radar!

    As in "This one goes to ELEVEN!"

    Don't even think about moving forward from a fresh green until you've visually cleared all other paths into that intersection. Even if I have a clear, clear green I won't blow through unless I can and have visually cleared the intersection.

    My biggest fear is getting creamed from the front at any intersection by a driver doing a left hand turn coming the opposite direction. Don't just look at the intersection for cars...stare into the drivers eyes. It's a weird subconscious thing - if you make eye contact people are more likely to see/acknowledge you. Give them a nod and/or a smile.

    I thank God my 8.5 mile (one way) commute is 99.9% paved/gravel bike paths...but I still crank my radar up to eleven when I run errands during lunch or ride to the trail on the big bike for a lunch time ride.
    Phillipians 2:3-8 "...but (Christ) made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant..."

  3. #3
    Down South Yooper
    Reputation: Plum's Avatar
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    # 1 Rule

    My # 1 rule for riding in traffic or on the road is:

    DON'T TRUST ANY DRIVER TO SEE YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN!

    Most drivers are not looking for bikes, bikers, commuters in any way shape or form. You have to be VERY aware of what they are not doing, as in:

    Not looking in your direction
    Not stopping for a yellow that they should/can stop for.
    Not looking for the guy on the bike path before turning in front of them
    Not run you over when you're right in front of them

    The only safe way to commute or ride with/around traffic is to be ultimately defensive and never trust the drivers to see you. I usually try and make eye contact with people before I cross in front of them, usually works. It's a little more difficult to run somebody over while staring them in the eyes.

    Be ready to stop if somebody rolls through a red-light right hand turn, etc.

    I think your first mistake was not waiting for the intersection to clear. It's more important on the bike to have a clear intersection that to be correct with the light. A few seconds to make sure drivers are stopping where and when they should can save your life.

    Plum
    This post is in 3B, three beers and it looks good eh!

  4. #4
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    Make eye contact...that's two admonitions in a row. Do it!
    Phillipians 2:3-8 "...but (Christ) made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant..."

  5. #5
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    Phillipians 2:3-8 "...but (Christ) made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant..."

  6. #6
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    Something I learned from riding motorcycles, but is still applicable to bicycles:

    90% of drivers don't see you, 10% are actively trying to kill you.

  7. #7
    Which way? Uphill.
    Reputation: nepbug's Avatar
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    I really don't think you've got to change anything. You will now be more cautious when going through intersections whether you consciously decide to or not.

    What intersection was it? Kipling in much of Lakewood isn't so nice to ride on if I remember right. A possible re-route to avoid some of the traffic?
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  8. #8
    ONe less gear
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    I don't shy away from any intersection or road because it's heavily used or not nice to ride on. I just use a very cautious eye. Here in Okinawa there is the 3 car rule at lights. That means that 3 cars will go through after the red, so a fresh green isn't a good idea.

  9. #9
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    I live and ride right outside of DC. There are TONS of cars that could potentially turn me into roadkill.To make sure drivers see me I always have my light on, even in the middle of the day. I use a niterider trinewt which throws out some serious light. I wear it on my helmet and make eye contact with drivers and Im sure as hell they know im there after that.

  10. #10
    LCI #1853
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    From Robert Hurst's The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons From the Street, :

    Smart cyclists, for whom the stakes are inordinately high due to their notable lack of protective sheet metal, have little use for the simplistic system of classifying accidents and assigning blame after the fact. The motorist's backing blindly and illegally into the roadway is just another something that happens in the city. Drivers back out of hidden alleys, parking spots, and driveways all the time. It must be expected. It must be prepared for. The law blames the motorist for such a collisionóas it shouldóbut the safe cyclist blames his- or herself for being distracted and unprepared. It's either that or get used to eating trunks and side-panels, which aren't very tasty and provide poor nutrition.

    The urban cyclist's best chance is to gather all the responsibility that can be gathered. Hoard it from those around you. Have faith that you will do a better job with it than they will, and make it so. Don't trust your fate to the police, the planners, the pedestrians, or the paramedics. Don't leave your fate to the stars, or to luck. Definitely don't leave your fate to the drivers.
    This is an excellent book on developing some street-smart habits. The League of American Bicyclists has their "BikeEd" courses that cover vehicular cycling and utility riding, and Hurst's book brings these tactics into perspective, with not just a little bit of attitude.

    Be watchful out there, young Jedi...

  11. #11
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    Thanks nepbug, for actually replying to my question. You're right, I'll be more attentive, whether consciously or un-. The intersection was the exit from the Federal Center, not the main one but the one closer to 6th Ave. Look for the diagonal skid mark, southbound lanes, I get to see it every day now.

    Good advice all, of course, thanks. I esp. like the quote from Robert Hurst, via PscyclePath, "hoard all the responsibility from others that you can" (paraphrased). Make it your problem, because when a bike and a cage collide, and you're attached to the former not the latter, it is your problem.

    I commuted by bike year-round downtown for four years, and no one's going that fast. I need to fine tune my instincts for suburban riding. And maybe get a geared bike with two brakes instead of a fixie... naaaah.

  12. #12
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    Suburbs (imho) are worse because they tend to be wider roads where people drive faster and there are more teenage drivers. In downtown, drivers (hopefuly) seem to be more aware of pedestrians because they are everywhere. In the burbs they usually just watch for other cars.

  13. #13
    BIG and Bald
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    Good thing I'm a "super clyde". People are always watching out for me. If a car hits me, there's going to be serious damage to their vehicle. hehe

    I've never had any real close calls on the busy road I commute on but it's second nature to look waaaaaaaaaay ahead before I even reach an intersection and I'm constantly checking my mirror just out of habit. I also practice this when I'm driving.

    I did however almost rear end a car in my early commuting days. I was coming down a hill pretty fast and forgot about the new stop sign they put up and nearly endoed into the car's rear window. Twas a nice looking nose manual though.
    [SIZE="2"][SIZE="3"]Eat to Live[/SIZE][/SIZE]...[SIZE="3"]not the other way around[/SIZE]

  14. #14
    Jackass
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    Ride like your invisible. Also be very, very paranoid. Expect the cagers around you to do the absolute dumbest thing possible and you will never be disappointed. Sure it sucks that you have to think like that but paranoid people live longer.
    The night I took it for granted that I was seen on my scooter was the night I got a 7 week visit to the local hospital.
    I'm making enemies faster than I can kill them!

  15. #15
    I'm SUCH a square....
    Reputation: bigpedaler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plum
    My # 1 rule for riding in traffic or on the road is:

    DON'T TRUST ANY DRIVER TO SEE YOU AND KEEP YOU SAFE, YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN!
    Similar to mine --

    EXPECT DRIVERS TO DO THE STUPIDEST, RUDEST, MOST THOUGHTLESS THING THEY CAN IN FRONT OF YOU -- YOU CAN ONLY BE PLEASANTLY SURPRISED.
    A bike is the only drug with no bad side effects....

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