Disorganized Chaos

Disorganized Chaos

An Open Letter to Drivers

by / / 92 posts

I imagine that unless you’re a Cyclist, it is quite difficult to understand what it’s like to ride a bicycle on the open road amongst traffic. It is a vulnerable feeling to be riding along a road with limited or no escape routes, surrounded by vehicles who outweigh you by several orders of magnitude. Particularly when you take into consideration that the driver likely does not hold your safety in the same esteem that you yourself do, but that they in all likelihood consider their Instagram feed to be of equal or higher priority to the task at hand, which in this case hopefully involves not hitting cyclists.

For as many sketchy encounters I’ve experienced between myself and a motor vehicle, I have found that only in rare situations do the drivers have any real malice towards us as we pedal along; normally the problem with vehicles are those of inconsideration and a lack of appreciation for the plight of the Cyclist; using the bicycle lane as a turning or passing lane, for example, is an case of ignorance, not malice. The good thing about ignorance is that it is curable through education, assuming the afflicted party is willing. The bad news is both are equally deadly to the Cyclist.

In the spirit of communication and in the hope that communication might lead to education, I humbly submit the following observations:

  • Observation #1: There is no Venn diagram that shows the intersection between human, car, and bicycle as a “win” for any involved party. Best to avoid this, irrespective of who is at fault.
  • Observation #2: As we are move along together in traffic, the best practice is to move predictably and consistently; I will do my best to do the same.
  • Observation #3: If we’re both at an intersection, chances are that I can’t see you inside your car window to notice you kindly waving me through; treat me like any other traffic and we’ll all wait our turns. No one likes a Seattle Standoff at the stop sign.
  • Observation #4: We take much longer to stop than you do, even in dry conditions. If you pass us before slowing abruptly, we are going to be in a very bad situation very quickly. Leads to observation #1 above.
  • Observation #5: At a stop light, I may turn to look you directly in the eye. This is simply to make sure you see me and to reassure myself that you know I’m there. It is not to intimidate you, although I do appreciate how badass I look in my super hero outfit and my dope-ass shades.
  • Observation #6: The bicycle lane is not a turning/merging lane and neglecting this fact will lead to an impromptu empirical study of the legitimacy of Observation #1.
  • Observation #7: If you are following (im)patiently behind me while you wait for the right time to pass me, give me enough room so I don’t have to listen to you rhythmically hitting the gas pedal every time you think there might be an opportunity to sneak by. When you do decide, move quickly and assertively; don’t hesitate. Most of us don’t carry toilet paper.
  • Observation #8: If I’m riding in the middle of the lane, it means it isn’t safe to pass me, not that you should squeeze into the gap between me and oncoming traffic.
  • Observation #9: If I look back at you while I’m riding and move to the side, then that means I know you’re there and you can pass as soon as you’re comfortable. If I then also wave you through, it means I feel it’s safe to pass if you also do.
  • Observation #10: Yelling at me will not discourage me from riding my bike. Also, I do, in fact, pay taxes so don’t hold the fact that I’m not also burning fossil fuels against me. In return, I’ll only yell at you if you scared me to death, but I promise to feel bad about it later.

Share the road, and let’s all return home safely to start it all over again tomorrow. Vive la Vie Velominatus.

// Etiquette // La Vie Velominatus

  1. I generally don’t feel bad about yelling at drivers. It’s nothing I do habitually, but I look at it as essentially like a driver angrily using their horn – something that doesn’t exist on a bike.

    Recently, I was going down a hill at roughly 40 mph. Someone at the bottom decided that they just had to turn across my lane as I approached the intersection (at 40 mph). There aren’t any signs or lights at this crossing, and as a car, I would have had the right of way and the other driver would have had to wait for me to clear the intersection. Had the same thing happened while I was driving, I don’t think I could have resisted a vigorous press on the steering wheel. The key difference being, that in a car, my odds of survival would have improved dramatically.

    I let out a loud “What the fuck?!” and I’m not going to feel bad about that.

    I’m even willing to give the driver the benefit of the doubt – perhaps they misjudged the fact that I was actually going as fast a car. If I’m lucky, I taught them something, though maybe a little coarsely.

  2. @SamV

    Spot on Sam, this is what happened to me this morning (see previous post). The car should have given me priority, eventhough I was on a bike.

    “The first was when coming down the hill fast and a car turning onto my road coming from the left (I live in a country where people drive on the correct=right side of the road, no offense) who did not notice or ignored to think that I might be going faster than the average cyclist, so I had to brake hard.

    Hence Obs #4 could be extended to say that not only does it take us more time and distance to brake but some of us also go faster than other cyclists.”

  3. They don’t outweigh us by “orders of magnitude.”

    The average car weighs about 4000 pounds, or 4×10^3.

    The average bicycle and bicyclist probably weighs around 180 pounds, or 1.8×10^2.

    This means a single order of magnitude separates us.

    It’s math. You can’t just make shit up.

  4. Thanks Frank for this post. But, regarding the behaviour between drivers themselves, being more and more dangerous and selfish, it could already be a lost battle.

    It apears that sometimes I don’t want to go cycling because I don’t want to be beside all those cars. Damn it.

    Few weeks ago a driver, passing me, shot my leg with his rear view mirror. Fortunately i didn’t felt down. But I knew there was a roundabout a few hundred of meters away, so I sprinted like hell to catch him, thinking, “being sat in your car, you would fight with somebody whose arms and guns are already warm, would you ?”

    And then what ? Well, nothing, except the fact that, I proved to myself that I could catch him and, one minute later, I told to my self : “I should be thankfull, I didn’t sprinted like that since a longtime…”. And, regarding that, the five star pavé sections I rode a bit later were very quiet.

    But I’m still dreaming on cycling highways. The only way to fix the problem to my mind (even if, then, we’ll be considered as dangerous fast cyclists by the others).

  5. Thanks Frank for this post. But, regarding the behaviour between drivers themselves, being more and more dangerous and selfish, it could already be a lost battle.

    It apears that sometimes I don’t want to go cycling because I don’t want to be beside all those cars. Damn it.

    Few weeks ago a driver, passing me, shot my leg with his rear view mirror. Fortunately i didn’t felt down. But I knew there was a roundabout a few hundred of meters away, so I sprinted like hell to catch him, thinking, “being sat in your car, you would fight with somebody whose arms and guns are already warm, would you ?”

    And then what ? Well, nothing, except the fact that, I proved to myself that I could catch him and, one minute later, I told to my self : “I should be thankfull, I didn’t sprinted like that since a longtime…”. And, regarding that, the five star pavé sections I rode a bit later were very quiet.

    But I’m still dreaming on cycling highways. The only way to fix the problem to my mind (even if, then, we’ll be considered as dangerous fast cyclists by the others).

  6. @pedro

    @frank

    @Barracuda

    @Steve T

    If I swear/gesticulate at you, it’s generally because you scared me a little with that close pass. It is not an invitation to pull in further up the road so we can ” take it further”. Let it go.

    This !

    I am guilty of the first bit, only to stress like hell for the next 30 mins of the ride wondering/waiting for the car driver to come back around and ” have a further chat ” about my foul mouth and my apparent higher order on the totem pole.

    I yell, we all yell. But lets face it, it doesn’t do anything but further the perception that Cyclists are assholes. The more we can communicate the danger and bad situation in a calm way, the better.

    Escalation is a dangerous thing, doubly so when the other guy is behind a pseudo-tank and you are holding a tiny carbon stick.

    Being very prone to unleash the hulk in these occasions, I try to direct my anger at the road, she is kind and forgiving and can take all kinds of shit. If I get the chance, in a red light or a junction, I try to point out what they have done wrong. If not I secretly hope they get dysentery.

    It is just not worth it, road rage is bad enough between motorized drivers. Let us be the better men (and women), after all we do outclass them in everything else.

    That my friend is very good advice. And after some dude once buzzed our group at high speed I’d seen him come to a stop at a light up ahead. I jump forward wanting to catch up and do exactly as you suggest. Calmly point out what he’d done and to suggest maybe it wasn’t so cool. When I got there and saw that not only had he just buzzed us but that he was busy txt’ing too I lost my composure in a big way and about reached in to the car to yank him and his phone out. It may have been a deserved righteous reaction on my part and maybe served purpose of ultimately getting this dude’s attn but… I regret to this day some jackwagon having caused me to very much lose my cool. And I simply refuse to do it (lose my cool) again at every opportunity presented.

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    Some people are just self-centered and/or horrible. For that, we need a purging of the gene pool (hopefully they don’t reproduce.) Others just don’t know or ever thought about this. I would love to see a PC version of this published everywhere. Two version. Open Letter to Drivers, then another… Open Letter to the cyclist.

    I find myself telling cyclist more and more “and that is why drivers hate cyclist”. I feel that so much of our work to get along with drivers is flushed down the toilet by a couple of jag-off riders. Can’t tell you how many times I see my fellow cyclists riding 2 and 3 abreast yacking about whatever, not allowing cars to pass, running red lights and stop signs, jumping on the sidewalk if the traffic is inconvenient and being an overall jerk. I used to be a level 10 jerk. I would be the first to chase down a car and beat on their hood, voice a few choice words, give a little non-verbal communication. Then one day, a friend of mine says “I saw that guy again today. He tried to run me off the road.” That is when I realized that it was probably my fault that there is a full-fledged hater now on the roads.

    Sharing the road goes both ways. In any situation in which you have to deal with a horrible person, taking the high road is not a bad thing. You are better than them. Riding deliberately and predictably is not optional on busy roads. You are not only making sure you don’t test #1, but you are also making sure that the frustration you caused is not being taken out on me…and for that…I thank you.

  8. Great write up! Might want to add that although we are cyclists, we are also car drivers and have been for many years. We know what it’s like to drive cars and being stuck behind and around cyclists. And also I call on any of the road raging drivers to get off their lazy asses and do any kind of exercise, even from the couch to the fridge, let alone haul their 20 pound steed many k’s into the countryside, then maybe they’ll show some appreciation for the art of riding a bike.

  9. @Randy C

    @pedro

    @frank

    @Barracuda

    @Steve T

    If I swear/gesticulate at you, it’s generally because you scared me a little with that close pass. It is not an invitation to pull in further up the road so we can ” take it further”. Let it go.

    This !

    I am guilty of the first bit, only to stress like hell for the next 30 mins of the ride wondering/waiting for the car driver to come back around and ” have a further chat ” about my foul mouth and my apparent higher order on the totem pole.

    I yell, we all yell. But lets face it, it doesn’t do anything but further the perception that Cyclists are assholes. The more we can communicate the danger and bad situation in a calm way, the better.

    Escalation is a dangerous thing, doubly so when the other guy is behind a pseudo-tank and you are holding a tiny carbon stick.

    Being very prone to unleash the hulk in these occasions, I try to direct my anger at the road, she is kind and forgiving and can take all kinds of shit. If I get the chance, in a red light or a junction, I try to point out what they have done wrong. If not I secretly hope they get dysentery.

    It is just not worth it, road rage is bad enough between motorized drivers. Let us be the better men (and women), after all we do outclass them in everything else.

    That my friend is very good advice. And after some dude once buzzed our group at high speed I’d seen him come to a stop at a light up ahead. I jump forward wanting to catch up and do exactly as you suggest. Calmly point out what he’d done and to suggest maybe it wasn’t so cool. When I got there and saw that not only had he just buzzed us but that he was busy txt’ing too I lost my composure in a big way and about reached in to the car to yank him and his phone out. It may have been a deserved righteous reaction on my part and maybe served purpose of ultimately getting this dude’s attn but… I regret to this day some jackwagon having caused me to very much lose my cool. And I simply refuse to do it (lose my cool) again at every opportunity presented.

    On one occasion on my commute home, I was aware of a builders van waiting impatiently to pass as I negotiated a few narrow bends. On passing me afterwards (within a couple of feet), guy leans out of the window and shouts “fucking prick!”, causing a momentary wobble, I don’t mind admitting. So, obviously, I shout back “wankers!”, with accompanying hand gesture, only to see the same van pull over half a mile further on. Turns out the driver is just dropping his passenger off at the pub, but that was a nervy few minutes as I debated how I could get out of there in one piece. I now try to curse under my breath on such occasions.

  10. I tend not to take any shit these days. My mouth is writing cheques my ass can’t possibly cash. One day I’ll pick a fight I can’t possibly win. But when the blood is up and some fuckin’ cockwomble has just narrowly avoided skelping you with a ton of fast moving metal it’s actually much harder not to react.

    Anyway, the look on their faces when you catch up with them is just priceless; “WTF, he’s on a bike! How did he…?”

  11. Be a PAL! P = Predictable. A = Alert. L = Lawful.

  12. @SamV

    Yes. Another point should be “I’m going a lot faster than you think I am.”

  13. Regarding the behaviour between drivers themselves, being more and more dangerous and selfish, it could already be a lost battle.

    It apears that sometimes I don’t want to go cycling because I don’t want to be beside all those cars. Damn it.

    Few weeks ago a driver, passing me, shot my leg with his rear view mirror. Fortunately i didn’t felt down. But I knew there was a roundabout a few hundred of meters away, so I sprinted like hell to catch him, thinking, “being sat in your car, you would fight with somebody whose arms and guns are already warm, would you ?”

    And then what ? Well, nothing, except the fact that, I proved to myself that I could catch him and, one minute later, I told to my self : “I should be thankfull, I didn’t sprinted like that since a longtime…”. And, regarding that, the five star pavé sections I rode a bit later were very quiet.

    But I’m still dreaming on cycling highways. The only way to fix the problem to my mind (even if, then, we’ll be considered as dangerous fast cyclists by the others).

  14. Ohhhh, how I hate the Seattle Standoff! Okay, you honk at me if you think I ran a stop sign…but now you’re waving me through and encouraging me to break the law! Just go ahead and assume I’ll follow the road laws.

    A few things:

    – no texting & hands free usage of phones need to be NATIONAL law, not state-by-state

    – use your fucking turn signals. If you deviate your line, it’s the LAW. They aren’t optional.

    – there is a room in hell solely for people who run red lights habitually. Or even once and awhile. Leave earlier if you’re in a fucking rush.

    – when it’s rainy or overcast, put on your goddamn lights. Notice how 85% of the other cars have their lights on? Get the fuck with it.

    – Finally, this makes me the most angry, as the vast majority of drivers operate their vehicles illegally a majority of the time they’re driving. What other fucking certification do you take/pass at 16 years old and you NEVER, EVER have to be re-certified? Fuuuuuck. X-ray techs have to re-up more frequently. Driving in the U.S.? Sit in a classroom for a few hours, take a test, go for a drive. HERE YA GO! Drive until you’re dead. It’s infuckingsane.

    I also really don’t buy into the “they probably just don’t understand what cyclists face.” I understand, to a degree. BUT…watch how motorists behave around children on bikes. Then watch them around adults. Being 8 or 28 doesn’t change the ease with which a car will kill you. If they know they need to be extra careful around a kid on a bike, they gotta know they need to be careful around ANYONE on a bicycle.

    Both times I’ve had a motorist crash into me has been because they were driving illegally (running stop signs, failure to yield, failure to signal). I’m hoping to avoid that happening ever gain.

  15. @NEIL

    I tend not to take any shit these days. My mouth is writing cheques my ass can’t possibly cash. One day I’ll pick a fight I can’t possibly win. But when the blood is up and some fuckin’ cockwomble has just narrowly avoided skelping you with a ton of fast moving metal it’s actually much harder not to react.

    Anyway, the look on their faces when you catch up with them is just priceless; “WTF, he’s on a bike! How did he…?”

    I used to be this way. I still feel it, but I try not to react. Gonna guess you’re a young feller? I’m not a young guy anymore and have a VMH and an 4 month old. Getting into a physical fight with a crazy driver is something I now try to avoid, when in the past I liked letting reckless drivers know how I felt about them. Age, spouse, child have changed things for me.

  16. @frank

    @Rob

    Cars that have mountain ranges, edges of cities, adventure names, and wtf is an “Escalade” in their names are all getting on my nerves. Really want to carry my newly papered 1670 samurai sword on my back and shred the hood (bonet for you Blighties) when they piss me off.

    The daily 10 mile one way commute in Miami is constantly amusing and so far after 3 years I’m still in one piece.

    It amazes me that so many cars have to “get” by or they won’t get to the next light in time, where I’ll pass them anyway.

    Robbie Robbie Robbie! Oh, how I have missed thee. I can see you, on your fixie Dahon, crushing fools with a giant Hattori Hanzo sword on your back. Well played.

    @frank, just not putting in the time I should here… For business I’ve become a Instafool and time on the road is #1 before and after work. I think there needs to be a South Florida mid winter Cogal so I can see everyone at once?

    The Dahon is waiting a gear upgrade from 72″ to 94″ – what I currently run on the Gitane fixed for commuting (remember my average elevation for a ride of 50 – 200km is 5 meters!). 94″ allows getting on slow scooters for drafting and wicked good rides times for the 16km commute with a tail wind.

    Also my short sword is awaiting the making of a shirasaya (plain wood scabbard) that would not be so obvious when carried on my back, unlike the silver mounted lacquered formal scabbard. Thank you for the Hattori Hanzo clip, it never gets old!

  17. @Buck Rogers

    Yes! Have you moved across the pond? When are you coming to Miami and how many of those Velonippers are in college now??? Miss you!

  18. @all, my commute has settled into a routine here, that always starts with the same self lecture.

    1) Lets have this be a mellow non confrontational chill ride.

    2) You rode hard on the weekend/yesterday/this morning so one relaxed recovery ride will be good.

    3) Remember – DO NOT overreact.

    4) Remember they have guns here.

    I usually get 3 to 15 blocks out on the 16km ride before it all goes tits up and I find myself…

    1) Cursing under my breath (heart rate now higher) or

    2) Swearing a blue streak as loudly as I can (blood pressure and heart rate…) or

    3) Full rightcheous chase mode to tell the fucker just what I think of his/her shitty driving at the next light (heart rate at 90%) or

    4) Banging on the car with clenched fist as its attacking me then banging on the closed driver side window to really let him/her know what a friggin dipshister they are, oh did I mention people carry guns here…?

    Needless to say my commute has made me very fit!

  19. Oh, the good old “banging on the side of a car as it buzzes you” thing? Yep, been there… I commute 100+ km a week, most weeks, all year round, so Ive seem all sorts of stupid.

    Lately, its been cars pulling out in front of me. The old “oh, its only a bike, he’ll slow down”. Oh how the scandinavian fuckers regret it when a pissed off scotsman starts swearing in their drivers window shortly after.

    Caught a guy texting whilst driving recently too – he was driving slowly / erraticaly, so I got up aling side him, saw the cell plastered up to his face… Needless to say he got my finest Norwegian “tradesmans vocabulary”… He looked like he shit himself and the guy riding next to me nearly fell off his bike laughing.

    That was a good day…

  20. @Owen

    @SamV

    Yes. Another point should be “I’m going a lot faster than you think I am.”

    + 1, most cyclists ride at least twice as fast as those who merely ride a bike, few motorists can distinguish between the two, this does cause problems- to a driver all bike riders are the same and travel at no more than 20kph, a driver thinks they have 4 seconds to pull out but only have 2, that’s if they have seen you…

  21. A former cyclist myself, I feel the need to submit a very recent personal story concerning a deliberate lack of etiquette on the part of a cyclist. A few days ago, I was approaching at slow speed (10mph) a left turn into a supermarket’s entrance road. A single male cyclist was in front of me. He deliberately positioned himself in the middle of the road and cycled as slowly as he could without losing his balance, giving no indication that he was also about to turn left, and showing no awareness of other road users, including myself. He went so slowly that I imagined that I was going to be stuck on red at the traffic lights, which change very rapidly. A more impatient motorist than myself would probably have zoomed forward in exasperation, putting the cyclist’s life at risk. Once I had parked my car, I passed the man, who was now sitting on a bench outside the supermarket, eating a sandwich. He gave me an odd look. When I emerged a few minutes later, he was still there, giving me another odd look. I didn’t recognise the man, but wonder if he had some grudge against me, as well as a death wish!

  22. morning commuters get the worst of these interactions, cyclist or car notwithstanding. if i’m on the road during morning drivetime, i try to keep in mind that nobody wants to be there. they either don’t want to go to work, or they’re pissed cause they don’t wanna be late for work. any other time, it’s not so bad for me.

  23. @wiscot

    Pretty sure it’s Vietnam, judging by the young lady in her Ao Dai in the bottom left corner.

    #9 is always an interesting one. I often ride through our local National Park. Single lane throughout with plenty of twists, turns & blind corners full of motorbikers, vintage & luxury cars on their Sunday tours along with groups of cyclists. We usually end up with a line of cars behind us at some point & trying to wave some of these people through can be met with some trepidation from the drivers as there seems to be hesitation to trust the wave. I sometimes ponder to myself “do they think we’re waving them on/through into oncoming traffic as some sort of cunning revenge that we’ve planned for this moment?”.

  24. @il ciclista medio

    @wiscot

    Pretty sure it’s Vietnam, judging by the young lady in her Ao Dai in the bottom left corner.

    Yes, plus the shop signage in French and what look to be Vietnamese words in Roman alphabet like Thuoc and Tan-My.

    Without that I might have thought otherwise. For French Indo-China I would have expected more cars like Citroen 2CVs and not so many Volkswagen beetles.

  25. Found via Google

  26. Oops, picture upload failed. http://www.flickriver.com/photos/13476480@N07/8345554446/

    Caption of that picture reads: 2 Nov 1963 Scene at Le Loi as jubilant crowds gather to witness the result of the Coup in Saigon.

  27. As much as I hate distracted, reckless drivers, and as others have said…there are plenty of cyclists I see who ride in various manners that all make it much more likely they’re going to get run over. No lights. Earbuds. Being totally oblivious to cars. I’m not trying to say they deserve to get hit, not at all. But, you need to do everything possible to keep yourself safe. We need all the advantages we can find. I had a neighbor hit badly last year. This guy would walk past me in the ‘hood and show no signs of realizing a human was within a few feet of him. I’d pass him with both of us on bikes. Same thing…head down, wouldn’t acknowledge me at all. Living in your own world is okay in the bio lab or the library, but not on open roads.

    How about this? I live in a pretty serious cycling area. One town over is an 84 year old dude who purposefully runs cyclists off the road. When he see them, lays on his horn and proceeds to drive at them. There are like 7 documented, reported cases of this by some pretty avid local cyclists. The cops have talked to him…and nothing has been done. I really think I’d have trouble NOT physically confronting him and/or burning down his business. He runs a local business and the last guy he did it to followed him there and called the cops. Not sure I could maintain my cool with such aggressive behavior.

    Oh…and as for things to yell at drivers. I’ve really tried to stop cussing. It just escalates things. If I feel the need to say something I’ve been going with, “Do you have a problem?” or “Is there a problem?” It’s not as alarming as an F U, but it does call them out and seems to make them pause for a second and consider their behavior. “Oh yeah. That guy is commuting to work and I just tried to run him into a parked car because I’m impatient and think an adult on a bike is worthless. That is kind of shitty behavior…” Just my opinion though.

  28. @KogaLover

    Oops, picture upload failed. http://www.flickriver.com/photos/13476480@N07/8345554446/

    Caption of that picture reads: 2 Nov 1963 Scene at Le Loi as jubilant crowds gather to witness the result of the Coup in Saigon.

    Thanks! What a smart bunch of Velominati we are! Given the traffic in the picture and its rather chaotic nature, I suspect there might have been a fair bit of verbal abuse shared between the various road users.

  29. @Rob

    Wow. As a new rider who is otherwise not qualified to post I must say that I guess I did not realize how lucky I am.

    In about 1,000 miles of short commutes to my office I have not even come close to experiencing what you get every day. Just wow. I don’t know if I would actually have gotten into this sport had it been that hairy at the start.

  30. @Ron

    Oh…and as for things to yell at drivers. I’ve really tried to stop cussing. It just escalates things. If I feel the need to say something I’ve been going with, “Do you have a problem?” or “Is there a problem?”

    I tend to mock the upset motorists by yelling “You’re not a car”, “Get on the sidewalk!”, “Your tail light is out!”. These statements confuse their simple minds and they have to ask themselves hard questions like, “Am I a car now?” I also find the most effective tool for vengeance is a schrader core remover. It’s non-destructive and down right effective… they’re also lightweight and can be easily incorporated into a multi-tool if you make your own.

    We can only hope that the human parasites operating these machines are soon replaced by computers with improved cyclist detection and avoidance algorithms. I am eagerly awaiting autonomous vehicles and the day that non-autonomous vehicles are banned from the roads. Then they can carry on texting and selfy-ing and we can find something else to complain about… hopefully something with less consequence associated with it.

  31. @extra special and bitter

    I am eagerly awaiting autonomous vehicles and the day that non-autonomous vehicles are banned from the roads.

    10-4 to that… though I can’t help but think of

    https://youtu.be/PjjNvjURS-s

  32. @Hank

    @Rob

    Wow. As a new rider who is otherwise not qualified to post I must say that I guess I did not realize how lucky I am.

    In about 1,000 miles of short commutes to my office I have not even come close to experiencing what you get every day. Just wow. I don’t know if I would actually have gotten into this sport had it been that hairy at the start.

    Hank, if you ride you post! We all started riding as adults with no experience. I remember my first night riding the bike home from Condors on Grays Inn road, London to Fulham and how nervous I was.

    Miami is special, the nice thing about it is that it is so close to America. Seriously, it’s not that I feel threatened here, in a funny way for all the bad driving, Miami Beach and the east side of Miami proper don’t make me nervous. Today by coincidence I rode to work with out one incident, a first! – coming home tonight I did have to call one guy a dickhead and he had New York plates… The irony.

    40 years ago commuting in London I do not remember any run ins with motorists. But then I was pretty much alone on the bike and it was a slower less crowded place. Also cars took care.

    30 years ago in Boston my team mates and I would chase down a car about every 6 months to school the driver in etiquette.

    Bottom line, I really do try to ignore the bad drivers, they are sort of like litter, there is just too much to do anything about it. As for being a good citizen put me back in London circa 1975 and I will obey every light, signal my intentions and never ride on the sidewalk (pavement for UK). But here in Miami where it is like the Wild West I feel free to act just like the cars and if I piss off a few nice drivers then at least I know they are angry and paying attention to me and not texting, watching a movie on their phone (really!) or just too infirm to be driving at all.

  33. @Shaun

    They don’t outweigh us by “orders of magnitude.”

    The average car weighs about 4000 pounds, or 4×10^3.

    The average bicycle and bicyclist probably weighs around 180 pounds, or 1.8×10^2.

    This means a single order of magnitude separates us.

    It’s math. You can’t just make shit up.

    You’re obviously not familiar with @Frank‘s research methodology…

  34. @Rob

    @Hank

    @Rob

    Wow. As a new rider who is otherwise not qualified to post I must say that I guess I did not realize how lucky I am.

    In about 1,000 miles of short commutes to my office I have not even come close to experiencing what you get every day. Just wow. I don’t know if I would actually have gotten into this sport had it been that hairy at the start.

    Hank, if you ride you post! We all started riding as adults with no experience. I remember my first night riding the bike home from Condors on Grays Inn road, London to Fulham and how nervous I was.

    Miami is special, the nice thing about it is that it is so close to America. Seriously, it’s not that I feel threatened here, in a funny way for all the bad driving, Miami Beach and the east side of Miami proper don’t make me nervous. Today by coincidence I rode to work with out one incident, a first! – coming home tonight I did have to call one guy a dickhead and he had New York plates… The irony.

    40 years ago commuting in London I do not remember any run ins with motorists. But then I was pretty much alone on the bike and it was a slower less crowded place. Also cars took care.

    30 years ago in Boston my team mates and I would chase down a car about every 6 months to school the driver in etiquette.

    Bottom line, I really do try to ignore the bad drivers, they are sort of like litter, there is just too much to do anything about it. As for being a good citizen put me back in London circa 1975 and I will obey every light, signal my intentions and never ride on the sidewalk (pavement for UK). But here in Miami where it is like the Wild West I feel free to act just like the cars and if I piss off a few nice drivers then at least I know they are angry and paying attention to me and not texting, watching a movie on their phone (really!) or just too infirm to be driving at all.

    Thanks for that info. My take from Southern California is that there is a wide variance in the streets. Much of SoCal was constructed with a combination of the love of cars and quite a bit of spare land, so there are some pretty good sections where even without a dedicated bike lane you essentially have your own lane. There are some bad sections as well, but I can avoid those.

    I also got that Varia rear facing radar as soon as it came out. Obviously you still use your actual eyeballs but I’ll take every conceivable edge that makes sense since I’m the one on the bike.

  35. Rear facing radar? Overkill, surely?

    Retronaut photographs

  36. @Mikael Liddy

    @Shaun

    They don’t outweigh us by “orders of magnitude.”

    The average car weighs about 4000 pounds, or 4×10^3.

    The average bicycle and bicyclist probably weighs around 180 pounds, or 1.8×10^2.

    This means a single order of magnitude separates us.

    It’s math. You can’t just make shit up.

    You’re obviously not familiar with @Frank‘s research methodology…

    That’s also just the weight. You need to consider the moving mass part of the equation………..

  37. @Rob

    “Miami is special, the nice thing about it is that it is so close to America. ”

    It’s geography like that that makes the world work so well.

    Like the taxi driver one year taking us from the mountains to Denver. He “Where are you guys from?”. Us “UK”. He (after a bit of thought) “So is that over the Altantic or the Pacific?”………….

  38. @chris

    Rear facing radar? Overkill, surely?

    Retronaut photographs

    That’s a helluva EPMS that kid’s got there! The beret is a nifty touch – a young Paul Smith perhaps?

  39. @chris

    Always struck me as something to put you even more on the edge. It’s not going to tell you which are the idiots and who is going to come too close.

    Maybe if all cars had IFF transponders and they were intelligent/two way. So other people could score each other when they go past. Then we could have a detector that would be of some use?

    Even better if they hit a certain score it disables the car.

  40. @Teocalli

    @Mikael Liddy

    @Shaun

    They don’t outweigh us by “orders of magnitude.”

    The average car weighs about 4000 pounds, or 4×10^3.

    The average bicycle and bicyclist probably weighs around 180 pounds, or 1.8×10^2.

    This means a single order of magnitude separates us.

    It’s math. You can’t just make shit up.

    You’re obviously not familiar with @Frank‘s research methodology…

    That’s also just the weight. You need to consider the moving mass part of the equation………..

    And Velocity even has a quadratic impact.

    Kinetic energy=E=0.5 m v^2

  41. Few mornings ago and wet, nearly got wiped out at a major cycling round-a-bout, Beach Rd Mordy – Melbourne, by a trailer loaded ute. Driver misjudged speed and load and skidded to stop across my lane and I ended up 90 degrees to the direction I was going. Got my heart going, and eye contact slowed him down. Hope the miss scared him and he told his colleagues to take more care when driving.

    More sentiment to the open letter.

  42. @sthilzy

    Few mornings ago and wet, nearly got wiped out at a major cycling round-a-bout, Beach Rd Mordy – Melbourne, by a trailer loaded ute. Driver misjudged speed and load and skidded to stop across my lane and I ended up 90 degrees to the direction I was going. Got my heart going, and eye contact slowed him down. Hope the miss scared him and he told his colleagues to take more care when driving.

    More sentiment to the open letter.

    Oh my god. Do truck drivers not actually realize that their trailers are often a) wider than their trucks b) bouncing all over the fucking road. I HATE getting buzzed by a big ass truck, not knowing it has a trailer attached, and then the trailer coming even closer. Wow, that sucks.

    Just got back from a Labor Day weekend beach trip. There are always around 10x as many people on bikes at the beach. And drivers tend to be much, much nicer to them (they’re on “beach time” and they tend to expect more people on beach cruisers). I ponder and wish there was some way to get people at the beach to treat/respect ALL people on bikes like they do in beach towns. If we could do that, I seriously think our lives as cyclists would be vastly improved.

    So who has an idea on changing the mindset of motorists?

  43. @Ron

    @sthilzy

    Few mornings ago and wet, nearly got wiped out at a major cycling round-a-bout, Beach Rd Mordy – Melbourne, by a trailer loaded ute. Driver misjudged speed and load and skidded to stop across my lane and I ended up 90 degrees to the direction I was going. Got my heart going, and eye contact slowed him down. Hope the miss scared him and he told his colleagues to take more care when driving.

    More sentiment to the open letter.

    So who has an idea on changing the mindset of motorists?

    Every time you have a near miss, bang your foot against the side of their car then quickly stop your bike and lie down by the side of the road pretending to be dead.

    Might make them think twice next time.

  44. @RobSandy

    @Ron

    So who has an idea on changing the mindset of motorists?

    Every time you have a near miss, bang your foot against the side of their car then quickly stop your bike and lie down by the side of the road pretending to be dead.

    Might make them think twice next time.

    I once got “pinched” almost on to the curb by a plumber, in a Bedford Rascal, when he overtook me on a sharp left bend. As sometimes happens I’d seen his dodgy manoeuvre coming and was able to surprise him with a hefty love tap. The impact of my fist against the bodywork coincided exactly with my realising that there were 2 builders in the vehicle that I had just vandalised, and that they might be none too pleased with my action. Quick as a flash I sat up, began mouthing obscenities in their direction and started rubbing my elbow and upper arm. Clearly my acting skills were (surprisingly) convincing because, far from stopping to give my face the same treatment I had just meted out to their van, I saw the passenger look at me through the nearside mirror followed immediately by the driver flooring his accelerator. Clearly they really thought they had hit me and left in haste before I could lodge my claim for personal injury. Either that or they decided I was not to be messed with and scarpered in fear for their lives. Anyway, to maintain the effect of my subterfuge I applied my best “face of righteous indignation look” and gave chase with all the speed I could muster,, although only until they were out of sight, whereupon I sat up and resumed my more normal commute speed whilst pondering how easy it would, or wouldn’t, be to repair a dent in the side of a little Rascal van.

  45. Rob – Hmm, playing dead. I haven’t tried this yet!

    In my younger days, I once knew a very crazy cyclist. He used to carry a center punch on a little corkscrew wrist “chain.” He rode in an urban area. When a driver fucked with him…he’d catch them at the next light and shatter their window. Wow, I’m sure that startled the heck out of them.

    I’d never do this myself, but I can’t deny I took guilty pleasure in knowing at least some of the reckless drivers probably needed a new pair of underwear after their encounter with a cyclist.

    This might arouse the make them think twice VS. hate all cyclists debate. I’m not endorsing this at all, I just have dreamed of catching up to some drivers and really letting them know how I feel about their vehicular operation.

  46. @Ron

    Rob – Hmm, playing dead. I haven’t tried this yet!

    In my younger days, I once knew a very crazy cyclist. He used to carry a center punch on a little corkscrew wrist “chain.” He rode in an urban area. When a driver fucked with him…he’d catch them at the next light and shatter their window. Wow, I’m sure that startled the heck out of them.

    I’d never do this myself, but I can’t deny I took guilty pleasure in knowing at least some of the reckless drivers probably needed a new pair of underwear after their encounter with a cyclist.

    This might arouse the make them think twice VS. hate all cyclists debate. I’m not endorsing this at all, I just have dreamed of catching up to some drivers and really letting them know how I feel about their vehicular operation.

    Cripes, and you live in the States. Strikes me as a good way of getting a bullet between the eyes out there!

  47. @Ron

    This might arouse the make them think twice VS. hate all cyclists debate. I’m not endorsing this at all, I just have dreamed of catching up to some drivers and really letting them know how I feel about their vehicular operation.

    I’m going to be serious for a moment, but I think MOST car drivers, even the utterly crap ones, are not out to hurt cyclists. They are ‘just’ impatient and thoughtless. For these people, showing them how much terror they have caused you will hit harder than showing them you are angry.

    Imagine you were a car driver who had just cut a cyclist up, and they caught you at the next set of lights. You’d expect them to lean down and let out a stream of expletives through your window; imagine the effect if they appeared on the verge of tears, babbling about how scared they just were.

  48. @Shaun

    They don’t outweigh us by “orders of magnitude.”

    The average car weighs about 4000 pounds, or 4×10^3.

    The average bicycle and bicyclist probably weighs around 180 pounds, or 1.8×10^2.

    This means a single order of magnitude separates us.

    It’s math. You can’t just make shit up.

    Or, you could use the metric system and say that:

    • Average car weighs about 2000 kg, or 2×10^3 kg
    • Average bicycle and bicyclist weigh around 90 kg, or 9×10^1

    That’s two orders of magnitude right there.

  49. A car doing 60k’s has a lot more momentum (2000×60 = 120 000 kgm/s) than a cyclist doing 30 k’s (around 2000 kgm/s depending on what you weigh), so conservation of momentum says the cyclist will come off much worse than the car when they come together. Even if you’re in the right, it’s better to back off than get broken. Then at least you still CAN yell at the driver.

  50. @dave

    A car doing 60k’s has a lot more momentum (2000×60 = 120 000 kgm/s) than a cyclist doing 30 k’s (around 2000 kgm/s depending on what you weigh), so conservation of momentum says the cyclist will come off much worse than the car when they come together. Even if you’re in the right, it’s better to back off than get broken. Then at least you still CAN yell at the driver.

    Interesting comment Dave! When I made my remark about kinetic energy (which is a quadratic relation E_kin=.5mv^2), I was asking myself whether “preservation of momentum” was a more applicable physics formula to use. I always mixed both up in physics class. Any Velominatus who happens to have read (and understood) Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica ?

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