Close call yesterday...
Last Post 05/06/2014 04:00 PM by 79 pmooney. 26 Replies.
Author Messages
Red Tornado

Posts:35

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04/29/2014 10:07 AM
Commuting home from work yesterday, descending a hill somewhere between 30-35 mph & approaching the entrance to an apartment complex.  Guy in a red/black pickup truck is waiting to exit the complex.  Always wary of cars preparing to pull out of side streets/lots/etc.
I'll bet you can guess what happens next :-)
So I'm watching the driver (by the way I always watch the driver, not the vehicle - amazing what you can discern from body language/facial expressions) and getting the feeling he doesn't see me.  Put my hands on the brake levers, just as he pulls out.  Now I'm grabbing as much brake as possible without locking up a wheel.  At this point if he just keeps going, I'll coast behind him and be on my way.
Nope.  He sees me and hits the brakes.  Now it's time for evasive action.  Ended up veering right and into the apartment complex drive while preparing to bunny hop the curb.  I somehow managed to turn tight enough to avoid the curb & get stopped.
As I turned around to look at the truck, the driver seeing it all turned out OK, kicks it down and flies outta there - almost causing an accident with the four lanes of cars coming in both directions (2 lanes each way - median in between).
I typically have at least one mostly two close calls per year.  Looks like #1 is out of the way.
Keith Richards

Posts:739

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04/29/2014 10:34 AM
You responded well. You start to anticipate stuff the more you commute.

Totally agree on watching the driver. Eye contact is everything.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
Cosmic Kid

Posts:1126

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04/29/2014 11:53 AM
ALWAYS watch the driver and try to make eye contact!!

And remember...

Just say "NO!" to WCP!!!!
Orange Crush

Posts:1202

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04/29/2014 12:37 PM
Posted By Keith Jackson on 04/29/2014 10:34 AM
You responded well. You start to anticipate stuff the more you commute.

Totally agree on watching the driver. Eye contact is everything.


Yup, textbook behaviour on your end. One or two of these a year is what I'm averaging as well. Proper evasive action is particularly hard in winter when its wet and cold.
Keith Richards

Posts:739

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04/29/2014 01:01 PM
It takes a while for the evasive maneuvers to become instinctual but after that...I get in what the average cyclist would call a close call probably twice a week. But at this point, stuff has to be really close for me to get twitchy.
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
79pmooney

Posts:1156

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04/29/2014 01:20 PM
Keith, in my racing days living near Boston and riding there a lot, we had a saying at the shop. "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Riding in Boston developed REALLY good pack skills and nerves!

I had one something like Red tornado's a couple of years ago when I was descending Terwilliger, one of Portland's bike highways. A guy looked like he was going to pull out of the side street and turn left. I shut it down big time. (Really glad I was on my Mafac'd winter bike with 28c's. Also that it was perfect conditions: good, dry and clean surface.) He saw me but I had no idea whether he was going to stop, pull out to clear me or back up. I came to a near stop about 4 feet from his door, then turned and went behind him. He got to watch the whole thing and see that he screwed up badly. Hopefully he learned something. The next guy probably won't have that bike's braking capability.

Ben
Ride On

Posts:441

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04/29/2014 01:36 PM
Yeah I hate when they stop. If they would just keep going you can miss them better than they can miss you. Stopping gives you less room. But they do it almost everytime. Seems like once you get close enough to them, then they see you.

Spud

Posts:209

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04/29/2014 02:08 PM
Glad to hear you made it unscathed. My problem here in Tucson, is when the window tint is such, that you can't see the driver in the vehicle.
79pmooney

Posts:1156

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04/29/2014 03:00 PM
I've always been leery of "eye contact". In my college days, I had a woman pull out after we had been looking at each other. Since then, I look "at" them, so perhaps they will do the reasonable thing, but I put no weight on what they seem be aware of, especially if the appear to be recognizing me. Sometimes I appear spacey or discourteous here in Portland where a good number of drivers actually do look for bikes, yield and wave you on (even when they have right of way) but I will take that over being the loser of just one "misunderstanding".

Ben
Red Tornado

Posts:35

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04/29/2014 03:02 PM
Ya, pretty much anticipate stuff from anyone wanting to turn left in front of me @ intersections or pull out into traffic.  If the windows aren't tinted and/or they're not wearing sunglasses eye contact does go a long way as well.  Sometimes it seems like I have my hand on the brake levers themselves 1/2 the way home; but safety first.  That's the main goal - get home to my wife & kids.
It's pretty funny sometimes I'll point stuff out to my wife while we're in the car, like "this guys gonna do this or that" and she's like "how did you know?".
Keith Richards

Posts:739

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04/29/2014 03:28 PM
lol...I do the same thing. Often stuff will happen and I will say to my wife, "you didn't see that guy pull out 1/8 mile up the road that made everyone slam on their brakes and caused the guy in the right hand lane swerve into the left hand lane and cut you off?"
----- It is his word versus ours. We like our word. We like where we stand and we like our credibility."--Lance Armstrong.
Orange Crush

Posts:1202

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04/29/2014 04:03 PM
Posted By Stefan Eckardt on 04/29/2014 03:02 PM
Sometimes it seems like I have my hand on the brake levers themselves 1/2 the way home; but safety first. 


This is main reason I have an MTB setup (flat handlebars) on my commuter. After anticipating (situation awareness), response speed is the next big ticket item for avoiding trouble. The flat bar setup makes it more straightforward to respond fast and minimizes the risk of fumbling the brakes.
79pmooney

Posts:1156

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04/29/2014 05:00 PM
O.C. this is also why I like fix gears in traffic. The instinct to stop pedaling is (at least for me) far faster than my hand can react even if I am already close to the lever. I used to use that fact to follow cars very closely rounding Massachusetts rotaries, reasoning that there was about an 8 foot window behind each car that the following car would not likely enter. Brake lights of the car ahead come on and I would find I had picked up about 4 extra feet of space before I got the the brake lever.

That stop I described above was on my fix gear.

Ben
huckleberry

Posts:236

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04/29/2014 08:16 PM
Same thoughts as Ben.

I make eye contact, but certainly don't put too much weight on it as I have been creamed by a woman with whom I had direct and lengthy eye contact with me right up to the point she pulled out and t-boned me, before flipping me off and speeding away with her baby in the back.

Only in LA ; )

Probably not, these days.
longslowdistance

Posts:694

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04/29/2014 09:55 PM
Wow, close call. Glad you're OK.
Man it's dangerous out there.
Orange Crush

Posts:1202

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04/29/2014 10:05 PM
Ben - the old Dutch style backpedal brakes; decades of skidding fun in my younger years. Not good on any type of hill though. LSD - nah its not that bad; you just gotta keep your eyes peeled - always.
79pmooney

Posts:1156

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04/29/2014 11:51 PM
O.C., all my fixies have really good brakes, front and rear. All are true road bikes, just with a fixed drivetrain.

I would love to challenge the hottest brakeless fixie rider in Portland (and some of them are very talented) to a simple contest: We ride side-by-side in a big circle in a large empty parking lot. Say at 20 mph. At the center of this circle is a person to judge the contest. He has a whistle. When he sees we are even and evenly matched for speed, he blows the whistle. We both stop, hard. The forward most bike loses. Best of three.

I would let that fixie rider choose the bike for me to ride of my 6 bikes. Course, that could well work to my advantage. My best stoppers are my funky old bikes with equally funky brakes!

I fully agree, those old coaster brakes were a lot of fun, but actually stopping was a gradual process. We used to have contests to see who could skid the farthest. And to get current: when a new, really good gripping tire came out a few years ago, I bought a pair for my winter fixie. Came back to the shop a couple of months later and talked of liking the grippy tread. Shop owner said he sold a few to the fixie crowd but that they took them off after the first hard stop because they were injuring themselves trying to skid a wheel with that sticky a tread. What a concept! Ride slippery tires to avoid injury in panic stops!

Edit: The quick stops I can do riding fixed are not because I resist the pedals hard.  It is because the reaction to not power the pedals (and thereby apply a small drag) is very close to instantaneous.  So my slowing starts much sooner.  And the best time in the stopping process to improve stopping distance is that first instance when you are going the fastest.

Ben
Nick A

Posts:119

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04/30/2014 09:27 AM
I had been riding in group rides before I ever got a drivers license. As a result, when I learned to drive, I often saw dicey moves by brain dead motorists developing long before your typical driver. Agreed, body language is key.

Nick
zootracer

Posts:303

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04/30/2014 06:06 PM
Glad you are o.k. Hard to make "eye contact" these days as most windows are tinted and often cyclist are wearing dark sunglasses. 30-35 MPH is fast. Drivers are not looking for cyclists, they are looking for other vehicles. I read an article somewhere, years ago, about how many more seconds it takes for a motorist to recognize a cyclist, a few more seconds than it takes for a motor vehicle. In our case it could be a matter of life or death. A number of years back I was making a left turn at an intersection, I looked left and right, all clear, started to turn, then low and behold I saw a motorcyclist approaching from my left. I stopped in plenty of time, but to this day have no idea why I did not see him. Also, gripes, I have on very few occasions make a left turn in front of a vehicle, not seeing them. Luckily they saw me, or I would not be typing this. I always anticipate the motorist to do the wrong thing. Most often, they make mistakes. It's the one's that see us and don't give a cra* that really bother me.
THE SKINNY

Posts:409

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04/30/2014 06:18 PM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfA3ivLK_tE
always look twice.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
zootracer

Posts:303

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04/30/2014 08:09 PM
I counted 13, did not see the bear.
Red Tornado

Posts:35

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05/06/2014 10:41 AM
Follow up events since I started this thread....
Had two similar close calls in as many rides since then.
Cruising home f/work Friday afternoon through a residential neighborhood. An elderly couple pulled out in front of me but luckily I saw this one coming, as the gentleman only looked to his right (I was approaching from his left) and then pulled out - while talking to his wife. Accident averted with a little bit of a cushion, to boot.
Yesterday, again riding home f/work. This time a company van pulls out from my left as I was slowing to turn left. I was able slow enough to give him room to pass through, but he saw me at the last second and stopped in the lane where oncoming traffic would be passing in the next 5-10 seconds. I could tell by his facial expression as I rode past he had no idea I was there until it was almost too late.
Three incidents in three consecutive rides. Wow. Hopefully that's all for the rest of the year. :-)
THE SKINNY

Posts:409

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05/06/2014 11:01 AM
not to be accusatory but it sounds like you're not visible enough?
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
zootracer

Posts:303

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05/06/2014 12:24 PM
bad karma?
Red Tornado

Posts:35

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05/06/2014 12:47 PM
I typically wear brightly-colored cycling clothing and am a normal size guy (5'-10") so I don't believe I'm any less visible than the average cyclist, but I suppose you can never be "too visible".
Bad karma? Could be. I'm a decent guy, but I've got my skeletons - as do many others.

Typically I go through stuff in spurts. I've had close calls in past years that were spaced very closely (within a week, or so) and then nothing for approx. 11-12 months. I also get flats in the same manner. I'll go literally for 1-2 years with no flats (road bike) and then have anywhere from 2 to 5 within a 2 weeks (that's almost every, or every other ride), then nothing again for a year or more. Even experienced the same phenomenon with flats when riding dirt - before going tubeless.

Maybe that's just how it works with me. Gotta roll with it.
THE SKINNY

Posts:409

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05/06/2014 02:48 PM
there's probably some scientific name for things like that. on the ride to work i can go all week without incident and then twice in one day i see people run stop signs. stay safe.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
79pmooney

Posts:1156

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05/06/2014 04:00 PM
Last night I was returning home around 10pm. Riding up Terwilliger, the parkway that goes past 2 hospitals. Approaching the first, I see a van coming down the hill to the stop sign on my right. Van slows but makes no indication that it is going to stop or that he/she sees me. (I have my headlight set on flashing. It is not the brightest light out there, but at the two brightest settings and flashing, it it certified "rude". I also have a Planet Bike flasher on the front corner of my right hip specifically for cars pulling out or side streets and am riding a bike decorated with 10' of reflecting tape. Plus a reflecting vest and yellow jersey.)

I am about to get T-boned or it is going to be VERY close. I yell "woa" in a very loud voice. The van stops instantly. I think I awakened he/she from a trance.

Ben


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