Thursday, January 10, 2008

Teach-em a Lesson

What a ride today. Sunny and low 30's to start, but with a blue sky and lots of glorious sunshine. I headed to Thom's house and we headed out to Willoughby on the urban route for some Fixie Fun. I am getting more comfy on the Fixie and with the exception of maybe one on the road "duh" and trying to stop pedaling rolling down the driveway to clip in my left foot, my knees had a better day than any other fixie ride.

This being the 2nd 2+ hour fixie ride I am truly enjoying it. The pedaling, not the fixie culture thing. BTW-I use TWO brakes on my fixie. HAHA!! You can call me anything you want, but the brakes are staying. I like brakes!!

It wasn't long before conversation turned to what this driver did to Thom last night and the idiot I encountered on Tuesday. And then we got honked at by a driver on Ridge. Thom flipped her the lobster. Thats like the bird, only in a PI Lobster glove which I thought was hilarious. I can tell you this-you get flipped the Lobster-its hard to miss.

Then I am reading about Portland and how they are painting Bike Boxes to protect cyclists at intersections. The boxes are a NO GO zone for cars painted the same color as the bike lanes. In theory it should eliminate cars and trucks especially from running over cyclists as they turn right while cyclists either start or are stopped at red lights. I hope that explanation works. As you may know I have spouted off before about riding to the front of a line of cars at red lights. I don't do it (anymore), but I know lots of us do.

But for me, I try to be safe and aware while standing at lights. but I have most of my "oh crap, followed by bike rage" moments while riding as I should be on the right half of a lane.

Heres where I see the problem. I am excluding people who have anger management issues, hate cyclists, hate life, just got fired, having pms and are just plain STUUUUpid. The problem is drivers dont know the laws and how could they? So some take the "teach that cyclist the law" stance and without probably meaning to try and murderlize us, squeeeze us to the curb in an attempt to show us their interpretation of the laws regarding cyclists that they think they know.

The second issue is that I think many drivers actually think they are NOT allowed to cross the centerline to pass so they try and pass us in the same lane.

Heres my crazy thought to help alleviate this. I know its not practical, not very well thought out or possibly logistically doable, but its my idea and if used I think could help. ok, ok, ok, here it is.

Imagine a billboard of sorts that sits on the side of the road. It is a picture of a cyclist from behind that is placed about 3' from the curb and out another 6' or so would be a bright orange arrow pointing to the left. In bold letters the signs could say different things like "we hate you too", "Nice SUV, how much did it cost to fill your tank" or "If you hit me, I'll beat the snot out of you with my 6" carbon fiber bike pump" that ought to scare the drivers straight...Alright, I am joking about that.

But what it could say would be something like "Give cyclists this much room". Why you ask? Educate the drivers in a way thats real to them. This reminds me of the signs in construction zones to slow down and not kill the workers (who are someones mother or father). Same sort of thing. The board shows how to pass a cyclist correctly while the message tries to appeal to peoples better half (if they have one).

If this could be backed up by positive reports on the 6 and 11 news as well as drive time radio I think it could help. Anyways, it was just a thought I had while tooling home from the ride.


Gary said...

I was pretty astonished this weekend while riding on Valley Pkwy where I was passed by a Park Ranger while two oncoming cars passed! I guess he couldn't bee bothered to wait an extra 10-15 seconds until the oncoming lane was clear in order to pass. I seriously considered flyin' the bird for him (I assume the ranger was male), but I gave a sarcastic thumbs up instead...

What Ohio needs is a State Law like Florida has where vehicles are required to pass bicycles at a minimum distance of three feet. I've heard that the motivation behind this law was so that motorists could be cited for hitting cyclists...

Ray Huang said...

I got buzzed by an officer while climbing Shaker Blvd. We were the only ones on the road. Black and green cars. I was pissed!! Lucky for police if you flip em off or throw up a hand in disgust they can choose to screw with you afterwards.

Gary said...

Here's a link to the Florida law. I think Chicago also has a similar law. One was proposed in CA, but I don't think it passed yet.

From FDOT:

Overtaking and passing a vehicle
(Section 316.083, F.S.)

arrow The driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle. The driver of a vehicle overtaking a bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle must pass the bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet between the vehicle and the bicycle or other non-motorized vehicle.

Comment: See the exception "When overtaking on the right is permitted". About 2 percent of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes involve motorists who misjudge passing space. Passing too closely causes some cyclists to hug the curb or to ride on sidewalk, where crash risk is, on average, higher. To pass a cyclist with safe clearance, it may be necessary for a motorist to enter (at least partially) the next lane, when and where it is safe to do so.

Since a person operating a bicycle is a driver, the requirement to pass a bicycle at a safe distance of not less than 3 feet also applies to a cyclist.

Ray Huang said...

Gary-thanks for that. Do we not have a law about how close cars can pass cyclists in Ohio?

Mehul said...

On training and group rides I have been carrying an Airweight snubnose .38 Special revolver. It is not really accurate, but it seems to get the job done.

ds said...

Hey guys. Ohio has a "pass by three feet" law pending right now. I wrote about it a few weeks ago:


Gary said...


Just curious, you seriously ride with a 38?

thump said...

The boxes on the side of the road in Portland are the result of some very grim, lethal interactions between cars and legally traveling cyclists, whom I'll differentiate from those who ride up the line of cars stopped at a red light (I don't do it anymore either). In the past year several cyclists have been hit and a few killed in these death zones both by cars turning right and left from oncoming lanes.

Ohio has, as another poster noted, passed the 3 feet wide law, and, even though people yell at cyclists to ride single file, the Ohio law I read a month or so ago did not state that cyclists must ride single file. I'm not sure if the law on that has changed.

And I've seen Mehul use his .38. He's James Bond kind of accurate!

Gary said...


127 HB 390 is still pending in the Ohio House and needs to be sent to go to the Senate prior to being signed into law. Please spread the word to support the passing of this Bill.

Mehul said...

What kind of weapon do you use on the road?

The .38 is really just a back up to the Walther PPK that I have holstered on my frame.

It is common sense. What do you carry on a ride?

Anonymous said...

I'll turn this around and say it would be good for cyclists to learn to ride in traffic -- a stunningly absent skill set. There are some guys who have no problem bumping for position in a pack at 30 mph, or bombing downhill at a very lethal 50 mph, and yet they're all weirded out by any car that honks or passes in the same lane. Relax. The last thing I want is "bike lanes" and "bike boxes" that push us into a ghetto, never get swept and encourage motorists to yell, "Get in your bike lane!"
BTW: My top tube is a zip gun, 12-gauge.

Mehul said...

I totally agree with Nichols. So many cyclists really 'hug' the curb and invite motorists to squeeze by.
Westlake painted some bike lanes on Hilliard (a boulevard with two lanes in each direction). Before, cyclist were able to take the lane, now we have to ride in the debis filled 'bike lane'?
Dude there is no way you are firing a 12-gauge while riding a bike. I wouldn't even find that intimidating. :)

Gary said...

My weapon of choice on the road is common sense. It's a weapon & defense everyone can use, however some choose not to (both drivers and cyclists).

I too am not in favor of separate lanes and boxes. While there are some times and situations where they can be implemented to the benefit of traffic (both cars and bicycles), there are too many times when they create more problems then they address (i.e. right and left hooks). Thus I don't subscribe to the 'separate but equal' mindset, but instead to share the road