The Chainlink

I know this horse has been beaten beyond the point of recognition as an equine, but I have to vent.  I consider myself a relatively courteous cyclist.  I've accidentally made a couple of d*ck-moves in my riding career (inversely proportional to my age), but what really has been bugging me lately, is the number of cyclists I see playing chicken with cars when they don't have right of way.  Examples include:

1. Approaching a 4-way stop-signed intersection with multiple cars waiting, and blowing the intersection w/o waiting for the car who got there first to go (different from "shadowing" a car who is already moving through the intersection), effectively trusting that the drivers will stop.

2. Blowing a red light from a dead stop at a 5+ way intersection, trying to sneak through after the red light, and before the start of the green left turn light for oncoming traffic... which can be ok, unless the cross-traffic goes through too late, in which case you force the  cars in the oncoming left turn lane to delay their turn. Again, trusting that they won't proceed before you do.

3. Riding up the median to the left of traffic (and basically in the oncoming lane) to make a left turn in a left turn lane, and then cutting across the crosswalk, completely ignoring the fact that a car might be turning right from the parallel street, and has zero viability of the left-turning traffic until they clear the corner.  I saw this twice in 5 minutes yesterday; both times, the cyclists were extremely lucky that the drivers stopped in the middle of their right turn. 

I know that cars do all sorts of crazy ish too, and many pedestrians also act like morons, but I'm just talking about cyclist behavior here.  I sometimes blow red lights and stop signs, but I alwaysalwaysalways try to yield right of way. I've noticed that almost every time I'm approaching a crosswalk now, even at a red light, pedestrians will stop in fear, fulling expecting me to blow the light/intersection.  Respect needs to be given to everyone, and I wish I'd see more of it from my fellow cyclists. 

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i think #3 bugs me more than any of the others. if you're already in the left turn lane, why not just use the left turn lane? you're making a left turn. it's what it's for. you don't have to be a huge dick to ride well, and usually if you're being a huge dick, you aren't actually going that fast, skinny jeans being rather restrictive of movement.

This happens to me at least once a week: 

There is a car at a stop sign. I approach sign, slow down (because clearly the car has the right of way) the car just sits there waiting for my to blow the sign. We both wait confused for a moment, then I finally just say 'fuck it' and ride through. 

I know people think it's all awesome to ride like a messenger, god know I do that shit too. But if you have no idea what you're doing, if it's your second day out on your sweet new 'fixie', if you cant time traffic patterns and don't know the signal timing like the back of your hand, then don't act like a fucking ass. Just know your skill set and ride accordingly, that will help make everyone safer. 

I've been in the same situation as Adam; day in and day out. I am beginning to think that so many cyclists blow lights/stop signs that drivers expect it. 

It's astounding to me. How anyone can trust that a driver won't run a stop sign/light as well is beyond my understanding. Just as someone should drive defensively, they should also ride defensively. On my Tuesday morning commute, I counted *4* times that people didn't even ROLL through a stop sign or slow for a dead red light. It concerned me enough that I almost wanted to come here and post my experience for that day. Had I been riding like an asshole, I am almost certain that I could have run into a dangerous situation.

/dead horse beating.

I know I cannot control the behavior of other cyclists, or change the way drivers see us. When I approach a 4 way stop I always yield the right of way, not just by stopping but by unclipping and putting my foot down, this leaves no doubt that I am letting the car go. A slow roll or a track stand will not let the driver know your intention. As far as a left turn if there is a left turn lane I use it, but if there is no lane I will cross the street and go to the bike lane is on the other street, stop and wait for the light to change.

I think I have to admit to doing something like #3, although with the (enormous IMO) difference that I'm hyper-aware of right-turning cars when I do it.  I say "I think" because I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "the parallel street".  What I do sometimes is if I'm going west on a multi-lane street and approaching a red light, I'll sometimes cut over to the southeast corner of the street, cross in pedestrian-mode when the light turns green and then continue going south.  Is that what you had in mind?

I'm especially likely to do this if there's no left-hand turn lane because sitting in a lane of traffic waiting to make a left turn always feels kind of dangerous to me.  It violates my "ride like I'm invisible" general principles.

And I agree, ignoring right-turning cars while doing this is a major dick/idiot move.

We can only be examples of the behavior we wish other cyclists would follow. Tonight I was stopped at a light at a six-corner intersection and 3 cyclists who were riding behind me never even paused at the light - just blew through it. :-(

Come ride with the Ride of Silence next Wednesday night - where we will ride in silent procession to assert our right to share the road and honor those cyclists no longer riding with us. Let's all ride safe out there!

www.rideofsilence.org/chicago

Looks like #3 is everyone's favorite, and I'm guilty, too.  Like David, though, I believe it really comes down to situational awareness and courtesy.  I'll go to the median, if there's a long line of stopped, non-turning cars, but only if there are no oncomings, and I can do it without anyone having to accomodate me. 

That said, I really believe I see about 10 dick moves by cars for every one I see by bikes.  4-way stops are always interesting, since every car seems to have its own special way of reacting to a bike.  When in doubt, I kick out of the cleat, stop completely, and let the clown through.  Unfortunately, that means entering the intersection from a dead stop, which isn't great for control/maneuver, when the next guy up decides to invent HIS own rules.  Kind of damned if you do, and damned if you don't, it seems.

 

Some cars EXPECT you to run the stop and get pissed when you DON'T.   Others get pissed when you DO.  You can't win so to hell with them.  Just keep yourself safe and give yourself an out in case they do something other than what cars usually do.  Leave yourself time/room/daylight to live no matter what they do behind the wheel so they can't get you.

+1

Chicago Ride of Silence said:

We can only be examples of the behavior we wish other cyclists would follow. Tonight I was stopped at a light at a six-corner intersection and 3 cyclists who were riding behind me never even paused at the light - just blew through it. :-(

Come ride with the Ride of Silence next Wednesday night - where we will ride in silent procession to assert our right to share the road and honor those cyclists no longer riding with us. Let's all ride safe out there!

www.rideofsilence.org/chicago

If I cared about what other cyclists were doing at stoplights my ride would suck more than it often does.  (Thank you: wind, cars, assholes.)

Good luck trying to change rogue cyclists behavior in the city.  

 

If you don't care, then why reply?  You might care one day when you get T-boned by an idiot completely running the intersection w/o looking like I did tonight. 

Zoetrope said:

If I cared about what other cyclists were doing at stoplights my ride would suck more than it often does.  (Thank you: wind, cars, assholes.)

Good luck trying to change rogue cyclists behavior in the city.  

 

Anyone can be T-boned, not just people that don't care for being a hall-monitor of the streets.  Whose behavior are you trying to change -- drivers or cyclists?  Or both?   

The only thing that is going to lead to less of this behavior is more bikes on the road as well as less cars.  No amount of nice-guy act is going to convert dedicated drivers to cycling in any appreciable quantity.  Things that will convert drivers to cycling:  10 dollar a gallon gas and running out of oil.        

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