February 20, 2012

The Fear of Cars

It's surprising the amount of honking which comes out of cars. If you're stopped at a red light and wanting to turn right, the car behind you is liable to honk at you to start turning faster. You could have totally turned then! Now I've gotta wait another 15 seconds to get home!

Another common honk is when someone doesn't start moving when the light changes to green. I'm more sympathetic to a quick honk for this purpose but occasionally a person will lay on the horn which is ridiculous. 

For car to bicycle interactions, motorists sometimes honk prior to passing. This doesn't concern me too much, but it can be jarring to be biking along and then suddenly hear a honk. 99% of the time I know if a car is behind me and I always assume that the car is preparing to pass me. No need to honk. I get it, I'm slower than you.

Bicycle to car interactions aren't as audible. There can be hand waving, shouting, and the possible hitting of a car door with a fist, but overall these are rare. I only condone actions which will prevent crashes and as such I have only shouted out "Ahiuhwieoj!" (nonsense) a couple of times.

One reason I'm not keen on road rage is that I'm pretty patient. I know that I'll get to my destination eventually as long as I don't crash. The second is that there is an uneasiness of yielding the right-of-way to bikers/pedestrians. A car is 3,000 pounds. A person is 150 lbs. A bicycle is 30 lbs. We rely on laws and social norms to have a functioning traffic system but if a motorist doesn't want to yield to a biker/pedestrian, the motorist won't.

This long post all leads to a sickening video that was shot in England. According to this article from the BBC (the NPR of Britain), a bus driver and bicyclist were having a heated exchange about the bus driver driving too close to the cyclist. During a stop, the bicyclist propped his bike against the bus while arguing. The bicyclist starts to ride again and then the bus swerves and hits the cyclist.

It's kind of hard to tell what the bicyclist is doing so close to the center of the lane, but you can definitely see how much damage a motorist can do if the intent is there:

1 comment:

  1. Simply unacceptable. I can't believe a bus driver would do that. I'm amazed at how many bicycles are seen in the video as well, it's not like this area of the city never sees bikers.

    This makes me question, what should a biker do when they encounter a motorist who is unfriendly or even threatening? Perhaps the driver doesn't know they need to give a biker more room when passing, but there is no way to communicate that to them.

    When someone honks (especially a crazy long honk) i feel helpless because I want to respond but I can't for fear that they may push me off the road too. There is also not enough time in the seconds a car passes to respond verbally. I can only think of one hand signal I want to give to that driver and it may cause them to push me off the road. How should a biker communicate with unfriendly drivers?

    Of if the answer is we can't communicate with them in the moment, how can unfriendly drivers be shown their actions are unacceptable? Or shown which actions are acceptable?


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