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Thread: Who's to blame?

  1. #1
    g3h6o3
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    Who's to blame?

    I just had my first physical encounter with a car. It was abolutely not serious and I didn't get hurt at all but here is how it goes.

    I'm an avid cyclist and commuter. I travel everywhere within an hour ride by bike if it can save me from driving my car. That means I get to work every day with my commuter and I strongly respect all road laws. I stop at red lights, stops, never ride on sidewalks make sure there are no car before turning (I prefer that to signaling because so many drivers don't understand the signs anyways) and if there are some car I simply wait for a safe passage, I never zigzag between cars, etc. Anyways, I consider myself a very reasonable cyclist and even though I drive fast I think I'm pretty safe, leaving the way to pedestrians and all. In fact I drive my bike just like I drive my car, as the road code's suggests.

    So let's get to this morning. I was getting to work as usual. Same road, same lights, same pace, same traffic jams. There is this particular corner that is a mess. Cars are always jammed up because it's a T of two major roads. So I was coming up to that corner and there were 2 cars behind a bus in straight line in front of me but too close to the sidewalk for me to pass. Now I never zigzag between cars but when they're all stopped at a red light and too close to the curb I do so just to pass them and then I come back to where I belong. And this is how my encounter occured. As I said there was no place for me to pass between the cars and the sidewalk so I passed to the left but when I arrived to get back close to the curb and pass the bus to the right the car started to advance and pretty much ran into me (at very low speed but still). When it happened I didn't make a big deal of it. I shouldn't have gone to the left of the car to pass and she should have looked before moving because it could have been a pedestrian. But I wasn't hurt so I picked up my stuff gave the lady a smile and waves as an apology for scaring her and left. So it seemed like a shared error but when I think about it now I tend to think that it was my right to pass on the left because she was stopped and blocking my way. Just like I would have passed to the left if a car was waiting to turn right on a green light for instance.

    So I ask you, fellow commuters, if it was my right to pass to the left or not and how would you have handled the situation?
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  2. #2
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    I tend to sit in the line and wait my turn behind 3 (or more) cars when I'm in situations like this.

    Just as cars shouldn't pass on the left, we shouldn't. Drivers aren't expecting someone to pop out from that side. Absolutely, she should have scanned her path before moving. But, as always 2,000 lbs versus a bike, even if it is their mistake, it is your life.

    Although, I really do get annoyed when drivers are so far over towards the curb that you can't safely get around. I always feel squeezed in, and they have access to so much more of the lane. But, if they're getting ready for a right hand turn, they often sit over curbside.

    I will tend to sit in between cars in the lane smack in the centre so I can control a little of the cars behind me until I get clipped in and up to speed. The extra 45 seconds, or 3 car lengths isn't worth the risk to pass on the left, in my opinion.

  3. #3
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjm2664
    Just as cars shouldn't pass on the left, we shouldn't.
    Passing should always be done on the left... You can only pass by the right when staying in your own lane
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    sorry - I should have put a little word of warning there - I commute in the UK. So, drive on the left of the road, and therefore also may have misinterpreted how you passed her. Anyways, doesn't change the behaviour I reported.

    Ignore me anyways, it's been a long day......

    I may look like I'm doing nothing. But, at the cellular level, I'm really quite busy.

  5. #5
    LCI #1853
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    Your fault. You chose to "filter" forward in a line of stopped vehicles, and in so doing you put yourself in a place where a motorist wasn't expecting anyone to be.

    You didn't mention whether there was one or two lanes going in your direction, but the assumption is that it was a two-lane street, one lane in each direction.

    The safest thing to do in these situations is to move left to the center of the appropriate lane, and wait your turn in line at the signal like everyone else. Filtering forward, either to the left or the right, is simply bad manners since it's basically taking a cut in the queue -- "My hurry is more important than your hurry" -- and it makes motorists want to squeeze by and pass you again once the signal changes and traffic starts moving again, boosting the road rage factor for the cagers. And as mentioned above, it puts you in a place where motorists don't expect anyone else to be, and quite often in their blind spot.

  6. #6
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by kjm2664
    sorry - I should have put a little word of warning there - I commute in the UK. So, drive on the left of the road, and therefore also may have misinterpreted how you passed her. Anyways, doesn't change the behaviour I reported.

    Ignore me anyways, it's been a long day......

    I had checked your profile but read the "favorite trails" in Guelph rather than your location in Wales... I though you were on our side of the ocean... Anyways this happened in Montreal!
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  7. #7
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by PscyclePath
    Your fault. You chose to "filter" forward in a line of stopped vehicles, and in so doing you put yourself in a place where a motorist wasn't expecting anyone to be.

    You didn't mention whether there was one or two lanes going in your direction, but the assumption is that it was a two-lane street, one lane in each direction.

    The safest thing to do in these situations is to move left to the center of the appropriate lane, and wait your turn in line at the signal like everyone else. Filtering forward, either to the left or the right, is simply bad manners since it's basically taking a cut in the queue -- "My hurry is more important than your hurry" -- and it makes motorists want to squeeze by and pass you again once the signal changes and traffic starts moving again, boosting the road rage factor for the cagers. And as mentioned above, it puts you in a place where motorists don't expect anyone else to be, and quite often in their blind spot.
    Ok so it's a 4 lanes road where this happened, two lanes each way. The thing that makes me think it was my right to pass to the left is that that car was blocking my way and therefore passsing to the left is not only legitimate but also legal. Also, when the lady started moving I had already started turning in front of her car so was not in her blind spot at all, I was right in front of her.

    I still think this could have been easily avoided by staying in line but as I said, this is on a T intersection where it's all jammed up and there was no reason for me to wait in line when only 2 cars were blocking my path. All the other cars up to 2 lights away we're stopped in a traffic jam. This is not a "my hurry versus your hurry" conflict at all. I was moving on and went around an obstacle that was blocking my way. The passed driver never could catch up with me, she was stuck in traffic.
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  8. #8
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    Both folks at fault, but more you. She should be paying more attention to what's going on around her, but you did something unexpected and filtered through stopped traffic. I always filter through traffic and zigzag around cars to keep things moving, but I do so knowing I'm riding outside the norm and pay extra attention to what going on.

  9. #9
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    Both folks at fault, but more you. She should be paying more attention to what's going on around her, but you did something unexpected and filtered through stopped traffic. I always filter through traffic and zigzag around cars to keep things moving, but I do so knowing I'm riding outside the norm and pay extra attention to what going on.
    I really have to disagree. That we were both at fault I can agree but me being more at fault just isn't right. If it would have been a car it would have been it's right to pass to the left. Same thing for a motorcycle or scooter and therefore the same applies to bikes. I'd also add that when she ran me over I was already turning in front of her so my move was well planned and I could not have been more careful apart from staying behind the car.

    I think the next time I'll just make sure I have eye contact with the driver in that kind of situation. Actually the more I think of it, the more I beleive it was my right to do that move. It might not have been a safe move but it was legal I reckon. I am right?
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  10. #10
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    Regardless if you passed on the left or right. If you had retaken the lane in front of the car (i.e. you bike occupied the line while all traffic was stopped), I'd say it was most likely her neglagence that casused the actual accident. Now then if you hadn't actually taken the lane (i.e. you were still moving from left to right or you actually merged into her then its probably your fault)


    I think that you were in the place you needed to be (i.e. in front of her car). not on the side or in a blind spot.

    A good book if you want to find out more of your rights / responsibilities as a cyclist is:
    "Bicycling and the Law" its let me know alot.
    -Palek
    Ride Today...
    ...You might not be able to tomorrow

  11. #11
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by centerridgerider
    Now then if you hadn't actually taken the lane (i.e. you were still moving from left to right or you actually merged into her then its probably your fault)
    I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I passed from the left and was getting back where I belong, right next to the curb.
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  12. #12
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    I think legally you may be correct, she did drive into you. I'm coming from the keepin'-your-arse-alive point of view and I always assume while riding in traffic I am invisible. Making eye contact can help, but sometimes that quick look can get missunderstood and a driver could take a look from you as a 'go for them' instead of an 'I'm coming through.'

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    Niether one of you is blameless...

    Neither one of you as a right to do anything...

    We all have to avoid accidents...

    Did you do all you could to avoid the accident, did she do all she could to avoid the accident.

    Around here you would have likely been seen to have more blame...

    Not suppossed to pass unless the oncoming lane is clear, and you don't require any part of the passed cars or bikes lane.

    Safest thing to do, stay behind or, get up on the sidewalk...whether or not you dismount, behave as a pedestrian, until through the intersection.

    Dismounting will put you in the legal "righter area"

  14. #14
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Not suppossed to pass unless the oncoming lane is clear
    There were 2 lanes that were in my direction, I was passing between those 2 lanes, not in the incoming traffic lane.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    I'm not sure I understand what you're saying. I passed from the left and was getting back where I belong, right next to the curb.
    I missed that bit before, but 'right next to the curb' is not where you belong. You should be a good arms length out from the curb (my estimate) a couple of feet. You shouldn't be sending the message it's ok for cars to squeeze passed, rather I'm riding here and they can pass when it's clear. Roughly where the near side tyre of a car runs on the road is where you should place yourself.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by marzjennings
    I missed that bit before, but 'right next to the curb' is not where you belong. You should be a good arms length out from the curb (my estimate) a couple of feet. You shouldn't be sending the message it's ok for cars to squeeze passed, rather I'm riding here and they can pass when it's clear. Roughly where the near side tyre of a car runs on the road is where you should place yourself.
    Interpret my "right next to the curb" as "where I feel confortable and safe to ride" Depending on the traffic and road conditions this can range from 1 to 3 feet away from the curb. I just said so as to clarify my position on the street. I was not in the middle of the lane but to the right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    There were 2 lanes that were in my direction, I was passing between those 2 lanes, not in the incoming traffic lane.

    Doh, so was there enough room in that lane to pass the car with a car....

    While what you did maybe customary that does not make it right...

    You have to expand a bit on the rules to understand them.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    There were 2 lanes that were in my direction, I was passing between those 2 lanes, not in the incoming traffic lane.
    Filtering between lanes is illegal here in good ol' Texas. You may want to check what the law is in your neighbourhood.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffscott
    Doh, so was there enough room in that lane to pass the car with a car....

    While what you did maybe customary that does not make it right...

    You have to expand a bit on the rules to understand them.
    Pass the car with a car, i'd say no but it sure was enough for a bike, probably 3 feet between the 2 stopped vehicules. It was passable and safe enough for me. The incident happened when trying to get back to the right... But I really wonder what the road code states about this. Are bike allowed to pass between cars if it's wide enough?
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  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    Interpret my "right next to the curb" as "where I feel confortable and safe to ride" Depending on the traffic and road conditions this can range from 1 to 3 feet away from the curb. I just said so as to clarify my position on the street. I was not in the middle of the lane but to the right.
    Gotcha.

  21. #21
    bee
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    This is completely 100% NOT NOT NOT your fault. If you don't pass to the left, and you play the game of waiting in front of the line of cars, then some driver is going to get mad at you just for being in front of them in the road. Like, "how dare that cyclist take up the road!" If you pass, like you did, some driver is going to get mad at you for passing them. Like, "how dare that cyclist pass in that narrow space like that." Cyclists never win.

  22. #22
    g3h6o3
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    Quote Originally Posted by bee
    This is completely 100% NOT NOT NOT your fault. If you don't pass to the left, and you play the game of waiting in front of the line of cars, then some driver is going to get mad at you just for being in front of them in the road. Like, "how dare that cyclist take up the road!" If you pass, like you did, some driver is going to get mad at you for passing them. Like, "how dare that cyclist pass in that narrow space like that." Cyclists never win.
    I wouldn't go that far either. Yes we have to fight to get our share of the road but that doesn't make me right all the time.
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  23. #23
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    I wait...

    when I have vehicles so close to the curb that I can't pass I wait behind them. I always turn to look at the the car immediately behind me and clearly indicate with hand gestures that I'm either going straight through the intersection when I approach it, or indicate that I'm going to turn at the intersection. I take the view that people in vehicles aren't thrilled about me being there and that they're always going to cut in front of me, hang in my blind spot or get so close as to scare the hel* out of me.
    I never (almost never) put myself between 2 vehicles except when there is a crearly defined turn lane and I'm going stright through the intersection.

  24. #24
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    No good

    "Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles." -- John Forester, Effective Cycling (1976)

    There were 2 lanes that were in my direction, I was passing between those 2 lanes, not in the incoming traffic lane.
    Splitting lanes and filtering forward at stop signals is still a bad habit, bad manners, and in many states is an illegal move. All the traffic rules that apply to motor vehicles still apply to cyclists. Yeah, we're skinny little vehicles that can thread between lines of stopped vehicles. But just because we can doesn't mean that we should.

    If I understand what you were trying to do, you moved from the right edge of the outside lane, behind the little old blue-haired lady, passed her on the left somewhere along the land dividing line, then moved right again to regain your position next to the curb when you got hit.

    One of the first principles of safe cycling in traffic is to Be Visible. In flat terms this means to position yourself where other drivers and road users expect to see traffic. At stop signals, this means to move out of the gutter or curb and "take the lane," taking your place in line directly behind the car in front of you. Be aware of, and stay out of motorists' and especially large vehicles' (like that Bus) blind spots. Don't be -- and don't put yourself -- where they're not looking for you. Remember, they're in a mostly-soundproofed enclosure with limited visibility, plus they've either got the stereo jacked up, a cell phone in their ear, or more attention to the morning talk radio than they have to anything going on outside the car. (Often, all of the above...) They're nearly immune to your presence.

    A second principle is to Be Alert. Keep a sharp eye out, and don't let yourself get caught up in somebody else's mistake. This is a corollary to the above admonition not to be where folks aren't anticipating you to be. Anytime you're approached a bus, a big truck, or a semi-tractor-trailer rig, imagine that they're a wild elephant intent on stomping you to death. Give them some room, and stay out of their blind spots.

    The third principle here is to Be Predictable. Motorists are looking out for other vehicles and road hazards that are at least as big or bigger than they are. They're not expecting a skinny little cyclist to come filtering up alongside them, and so they're not looking for anyone to pass them in those places. All the more reason not to be there, as I've harped above.

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