Bicycles vs. cars

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Most vehicles here in Southwest Ohio pass me safely. Usually I am on country roads with no shoulder, and the roads are not heavily traveled. Therefore, cars pass me with plenty of clearance. Only a few pass me with inches to spare, even though they could easily move to the left and give me plenty of clearance. They must believe that they are okay as long as they think they can pass me, and that they are confined to their lane.

The questionable occasions are when there is traffic coming in the other direction. Some, but not too many, vehicles slow down behind me and wait until it’s safe to cross over the center line to pass me. That is what they are supposed to do. To make sure that happens, I usually take the lane and they have to slow down because they do not wish to deliberately hit me.

What amazes me is that even when I take the lane due to oncoming traffic or when a blind hill or curve is dead ahead, so many vehicles move to the oncoming lane to pass me anyway! Why they would move straight toward an oncoming car, or a potential oncoming car at a blind hill or curve, is beyond me. Sure enough, this has resulted in numerous screeches, blasting horns by the oncoming car, slammed brakes, dead stops by both cars facing each other’s bumpers a few feet from a head-on collision, and swerves back toward me to avoid the head-on collision.

I use a rear-view mirror (I have to with my permanently stiff neck, but I think EVERY bike rider should use one), and when I see a passing car moving over into oncoming traffic or potential oncoming cars (blind hills and curves), I quickly move over as far as I can to the right in case the passing car swerves to his right to avoid a collision. I’m imagining that the drivers are blaming me for a close call, even though the passing car is clearly at fault.

I’ve also witnessed near-massive crashes when a line of cars is passing me. The first car to pass may have had no oncoming traffic or blind curves, but by the time the sixth car is passing playing “follow the leader”, there is a dangerous reason not to be passing me. Cars in a line just seem to do what the cars in front of them are doing without independently making sure it’s safe to do so.

It’s not just oncoming traffic or blind curves and hills. Vehicles have passed me when there’s an intersection immediately ahead and a car is making a right turn straight into him. The turning car always looks to his left to check for traffic, and if there isn’t any, he begins his turn without looking to the right because cars “do not” come from the right in his lane. Unless they’re passing a bike or another vehicle. And the same dangerous scenario has occurred way too often with cars backing out of their driveways; they look where traffic is supposed to be coming from, not where it’s not supposed to be coming from.

Luckily, I have never witnessed a crash resulting from these various close calls. I have certainly witnessed oncoming cars having to slam on their brakes and swerve to their right to allow the illegal passing car to complete its pass. I have seen the passing car slam on its brakes and swerve almost into me. I have seen a right-turning car realize at just the last instant that there’s a car speeding right into them and they stop in time since they’re still going slowly.

I could go on and on, and I probably will in future blog entries. Cars vs bicycles is a never-ending subject and I have seen it all in my 35 years on a bike.

With rain all day here, I rode on the trainer. I’m still busy “advertising” my new book and planning events to promote it.

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