Monday, April 27, 2009

Not Taking My Pound of Flesh

Monday morning's ride was a harrowing experience I'd like to avoid in the future. I got buzzed by 2 cars on the same ride, both times with less than a foot between me and the cars. The first time, I'm certain if I hadn't swerved out of the way I would have been hit. Sadly, close passes have become so common, I don't get as freaked out by them as I used to, but these had me shaking for 10 minutes each. This photo is just before I swerved for the shoulder.

479 lem from Bikesafer on Vimeo.

rmc 25 from Bikesafer on Vimeo.

Officer Puente from The New Berlin Police Department was professional and helpful through the entire complaint process. Written warnings were issued to both drivers. At first, I was a little disappointed that even with some of the scariest footage of one of the most dangerous passes I've experienced, that no ticket would be issued. I wanted them to pay for coming that close to causing a serious accident.

The more I thought about the situation and it's outcome, though, I remembered why I contact the authorities after incidents like this. I want to insure these drivers don't repeat their dangerous behavior. The best way to accomplish that is to make sure they know the laws and understand bicyclist's rights to use the road. I believe Officer Puente effectively communicated that to both drivers. I also believe that the written warning will serve as a deterrent to prevent them from driving like this again.

Given that outcome I'm happy to leave my pound of flesh on the table and trust that the drivers have learned from the experience.


Kevin said...

When you're buzzed like in the 2nd video after attempting to share the lane, do you ever just move to the center of the lane as sort of a "that guy passed way too close and ruined it for everyone, it's time for you to go around" gesture to the cars in line after?

I've done it a few times on much more urban streets, it seems to work well. Cars seem pretty good at not hitting things directly in front of them.

Anonymous said...

I am a cyclist and have definitely had people get a little close for no reason. However, in you videos it is pretty clear that you are purposely trying to cause problems. There is a wide paved margin you could, and should, ride on. Impeding traffic is illegal. I am suprised that the cops didnt end up writing you a ticket. Not too smart.

Jeff said...

How am I trying to cause problems? The "wide paved margin" you refer doesn't exist in the one video, and is a drive way in the other video. I won't veer off the road onto a driveway for 20 or 30 feet and hope I can get back on the road safely before the driveway pavement ends. Worse yet if I veer onto the driveway and someone is coming out of the driveway, and think my veering onto the driveway means that I'm trying to turn right I'm screwed when they pull out in front of me.
As far as impeding traffic being illegal, you should double check your statutes. I was riding legally and NOT impeding traffic. There was plenty of room for all the other cars to pass safely with out barely slowing down, so there's no reason these cars couldn't have done the same.

fred_dot_u said...

Kevin, what you describe is called "taking the lane" and is recommended on roadway lanes of under 14' in width, for the rider's safety. FL law has a statute covering this sort of operation, as do many others. It's usually worded as an exception to the portion that states to "keep as far right as practicable" but it's still a legitimate exception.

I operate in this manner, in the center of the lane, and have been stopped sixteen times by officers unaware of the law. I've been cited twice and those citations were dismissed, based simply on the statute.

Jeff, I also run front and rear video, "just in case" and I applaud your efforts.