What's the proper way to handle this road riding issue?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What's the proper way to handle this road riding issue?

    For the first time in my life I have a bike that can be used as a pavement commuter, and yesterday I encountered a situation which I would love some clarification on how to handle. The roads were pretty icy and people here drive like **** year round anyways, so accidents abounded on my 13 mile trip to work. I was riding on the shoulder of a two-lane highway when I came to the scene of an accident.

    Local fire and police guys were there and had shut down one lane, so by this time there were probably 10 to 15 cars stopped, waiting for their turn to go. Being on the shoulder, I rode all the way up to the first car and waited. Initially I thought I could just go for it, but then I realized I did not want to distract the guy directing traffic and potentially cause another accident in the ice and snow.

    When he gave us the go ahead, I jumped onto the road behind the first vehicle in line, rode through the affected part of the highway, and then jumped back onto the shoulder. Didn't slow anyone down, didn't get in anybody's way, and could have easily gone faster than the car ahead of me was going, but again, didn't want to freak him out or piss him off or what have you. Is there a specific way this kind of situation is supposed to be handled?

    Obviously as vehicles with the same rights as automobiles we have the same responsibilities, but if I'm already riding on the shoulder and this kind of thing happens, I feel like my course of action was more than reasonable. Thanks for any input, I really want to do all I can to foster positive feelings towards those of us who are taking our lives in our hands on the road. Sorry this post didn't involve me beating anyone with my bike or unleashing my jewel-encrusted carbon fiber AK-47 on some gang of roving hooligans. Maybe next time.
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  2. #2
    Wierdo
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    Sounds like you handled it just fine.

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  3. #3
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    Awesome, thanks for the affirmation. I'm so used to riding on dirt that I wanted to make sure my road ettitquete was up to par. It's a lot different riding here in Santa Fe than it was in Santa Cruz.
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  4. #4
    One Colorful Rider
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    You Did exactly as I would have Done

  5. #5
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    In general, I get in line and wait my turn in scenarios like that. The further back you are in the line, the more gradual the acceleration required, and then no one freaks at that cheater who took cuts in line. It doesn't cost you any appreciable time, either. 10 seconds? *shrug*

  6. #6
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    The main reason I avoided just getting in line was the condition of the road. I understand your point, but with an icy highway I was not too keen on relying on the cars around me to keep me alive. Given more favorable terrain I would totally just wait my turn.

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  7. #7
    Monkey Junkie
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    I have done the same thing in many situations. I will say that waiting in line with the cars wouldn't have been a bad idea, but if the road conditions were bad and you were safer on the shoulder, then you probably did the right thing. When it comes to riding on the road, you sometimes just have to think on your feet and figure out how to handle situations.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by CycleAddict View Post
    I have done the same thing in many situations. I will say that waiting in line with the cars wouldn't have been a bad idea, but if the road conditions were bad and you were safer on the shoulder, then you probably did the right thing. When it comes to riding on the road, you sometimes just have to think on your feet and figure out how to handle situations.
    + 1. Firstly, with police present, no one is likely to get in your face about cutting in. Secondly if they did, the issue of being squished between cars if someone piles into the back of the line trumps everything. They get minor body damage you get dead. No contest. I have done it both ways by what my gut says about safety. With a mountain bike and a decent grass verge, you could take to the ditch, too just watch for broken bottles and goat heads.

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  9. #9
    Bedwards Of The West
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    I would have done the same. Curious why you jumped in behind the first car and not in front of it? My experience with the few stoplights, etc that we have around here, is that in that kind of a situation when the driver of the first car spots me, they sort of freeze up and don't quite know what to do, so just by taking action and going first, everyone is at ease and no one seems to get angry.

    There is one left hand turn stoplight that I ride through a couple times a week, and I usually 'split' traffic ('traffic' meaning 3 or 4 cars tops) up to the front of the line, so the cars on my right are going straight through the light, and the cars on my left are going to turn left like I am...and when the light turns green, I just stay wide and make my left turn, staying way right of the imaginarly 'lane' through the intersection, so there's plenty of room for everyone who's turning left, but I'm usually almost all the way through the light before the first car turning left does anything. I feel like I hold people up less this way, because if there is a car or two behind me in line, I slow them down going through the intersection. This way, if people are frustrated with someone, it's the guy at the front of the line who won't go anywhere it's like everyone else becomes a bike advocate for a second. "come on, go, he's not in your way."
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  10. #10
    jrm
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    Hey no harm no foul

    situations present themselves and sometime theres not one proper way of which to react.

  11. #11
    CB of the East
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    I would have done the same thing or gone through first. A lot of times in the 1 lane road areas I can get through and go faster than the cars go. The cars see that I'm not the holdup so nobody minds. If I don't go through first I usually give a left turn signal that I would like to get in the lane and most people will let you in. Sometimes it depends on the situation.

  12. #12
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    You got it right. As a bike commuter in the city, there's plenty of times I find I could be going faster than the car traffic. But I always choose to stick with the flow and maintain my position within traffic. Dodging in and out of cars and riding past a long line of stopped cars doesn't accomplish anything positive in the long run.
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterBoy View Post
    There is one left hand turn stoplight that I ride through a couple times a week, and I usually 'split' traffic ('traffic' meaning 3 or 4 cars tops) up to the front of the line, so the cars on my right are going straight through the light, and the cars on my left are going to turn left like I am...and when the light turns green, I just stay wide and make my left turn, staying way right of the imaginarly 'lane' through the intersection, so there's plenty of room for everyone who's turning left, but I'm usually almost all the way through the light before the first car turning left does anything. I feel like I hold people up less this way, because if there is a car or two behind me in line, I slow them down going through the intersection. This way, if people are frustrated with someone, it's the guy at the front of the line who won't go anywhere it's like everyone else becomes a bike advocate for a second. "come on, go, he's not in your way."
    Gee, you must have wide lanes. If I did that here, I'd be mirrored from one side or the other. Motorcycles aren't allowed to split lanes here, so I suspect it would put me in the wrong on top of that. So much depends on the weather, drivers, and intersection layout. Whatever is safe and courteous, in that order.

    I learned that if I stand to accelerate, indicating I am working at rolling through the intersection smartly and not cruising, I get a better reception regardless of how hard I am actually working. I can also keep up with all but the lead foots until about half to 3/4 through the intersection, and if it is a truck, it holds me up. The illegal left turns into the right lane when I am headed to the shoulder even though I could be taking the right lane, bug me. Illegal (and ignorant of the fact), inconsiderate, and unsafe drivers are a sizable minority here. Also true of Deputies and local law enforcement. apparently. Another nominee for "worst place to cycle".

    BrianMc

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by BrianMc View Post
    Gee, you must have wide lanes. If I did that here, I'd be mirrored from one side or the other. Motorcycles aren't allowed to split lanes here, so I suspect it would put me in the wrong on top of that. So much depends on the weather, drivers, and intersection layout. Whatever is safe and courteous, in that order.
    There's only on section on my commute where I regularily split lanes and roll to the front. The stoplight sits at the top of a short but steep incline. By splitting the right turn lane/straight lane, I don't hold up the traffic behind me as I try to mash up the hill when the light turns green (48x16) It's a very short green too. Otherwise, I always hold my place in traffic.
    When you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to pause and reflect.
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  15. #15
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    The main reason I didn't just go to the front was that would have had me sort of sneaking up on the guy holding the stop sign. He had his back to us and not wanting to distract him I figured I would keep a comfortable distance between us. The lead car was a little nervous from the looks of it but the roads were bad anyways and he left me behind pretty quickly. I guess I figured it was safer just in case he lost traction while accelerating at the start, too.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinnyspinspin View Post
    The main reason I didn't just go to the front was that would have had me sort of sneaking up on the guy holding the stop sign. He had his back to us and not wanting to distract him I figured I would keep a comfortable distance between us. The lead car was a little nervous from the looks of it but the roads were bad anyways and he left me behind pretty quickly. I guess I figured it was safer just in case he lost traction while accelerating at the start, too.

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    Sorry I didn't reply to your original query, Spinny. I'm with you and would've done the same in your situation (despite my claim to always hold my place in traffic ) In your case, personal safety takes precedence. I'm lucky - 80% of my commute is on the usually empty MUT.
    When you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to pause and reflect.
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  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdaddy View Post
    Sorry I didn't reply to your original query, Spinny. I'm with you and would've done the same in your situation (despite my claim to always hold my place in traffic ) In your case, personal safety takes precedence. I'm lucky - 80% of my commute is on the usually empty MUT.
    No worries, looks like my post came after several that I couldn't see on my phone earlier today. It was actually really a response to CommuterBoy's post. Judging by your avatar I'd say you're unlucky enough to ride in New Mexico, too, so you know exactly how bad it can be here.
    I don't believe anything, but I have many suspicions.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spinnyspinspin View Post
    No worries, looks like my post came after several that I couldn't see on my phone earlier today. It was actually really a response to CommuterBoy's post. Judging by your avatar I'd say you're unlucky enough to ride in New Mexico, too, so you know exactly how bad it can be here.
    Wow, I see you're in Santa Fe too. Not exactly a commuting hot spot, is it? What's your daily commute?
    When you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to pause and reflect.
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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by woodway View Post
    Sounds like you handled it just fine.
    I agree.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdaddy View Post
    Wow, I see you're in Santa Fe too. Not exactly a commuting hot spot, is it? What's your daily commute?
    From west alameda out to eldorado. Was commuting on the rail trail with my monocog 29er (about 13 miles) but just built up a cross bike. The timing could not have been better, cause they closed about 2 miles of the rail trail where I normally pick it up on the santa fe side. The last few rides, including the one where I encountered this predicament, have been galisteo to st Mike's to old las vegas highway to 285. On the way home I just take the 25 instead of old las vegas back to st Mike's. Looks like the trail will be closed till march, at which time I'll just take that all the time. No me gusta the drivers here.

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  21. #21
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    Too bad about the RT being shut down. I'd heard somewhere that the county was planning to pave it from Rabbit Road to the Spur Trail. I hope that's not the case. And kudos for riding 285/Old Las Vegas Hwy. I can see why you prefer the Rail Trail - what a great commute.
    When you find yourself on the side of the majority it's time to pause and reflect.
    -Mark Twain

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdaddy View Post
    Too bad about the RT being shut down. I'd heard somewhere that the county was planning to pave it from Rabbit Road to the Spur Trail. I hope that's not the case. And kudos for riding 285/Old Las Vegas Hwy. I can see why you prefer the Rail Trail - what a great commute.
    The funniest thing about them closing the rail trail is that I wasn't aware it had already happened, so before I had finished the cross bike I headed out on the 9er like I normally do, only to come upon the "closed" sign. For a moment I thought, "There's no way there are actually people working on something like this before 9 am in Santa Fe", so I started to roll up to the dirt, but sure enough, there were men in orange hats, tractors, etc., so I turned back and ended up just taking the interstate.

    Wasn't terrible, but the mountain bike certainly made me much more of a target for the wind, and I think about the extra ten pounds I was pushing now when I'm on the new ride. I started commuting by bicycle when I was living in Santa Cruz, so it's taken some getting used to riding here, but it's not too terrible. Most of the time. Ride safe out there.
    I don't believe anything, but I have many suspicions.
    ― Robert Anton Wilson

  23. #23
    Curb huggin groove junkie
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    As I fire fighter who has responded to many accidents, I think you did the right thing. When we stop traffic (or it stops itself) its for a reason. If I was on traffic control, and you tried to ride through I would have stopped you myself. Additionally the range of accident situations is massive, and you never know the full extent of what emergency personnel are dealing with, could be a chemical spill, live power lines hit and downed, etc. All things you don't want to ride into unaware. Even if it looks straight forward, for whatever reason, it might not be.

    Good call.

  24. #24
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    I'm in the majority say that you did the right thing and I probably would have done the same thing. I might have waited in line but it just all depends. Not getting squished between two cars is a good point. I agree the following the car was better then leading.

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