Monday, September 15, 2014

The Art of Screaming in Terror

Sometimes I think that I should practice the art of screaming in terror. You know, just to use while taking defensive maneuvers to avoid collision with an inattentive driver?

I think a blood curdling scream would be much more effective than shouting "WHOA!!" or "WATCH OUT" Don't you agree?


"OOPS" as an apology isn't going to cut it. AS IF I am sitting behind a steering wheel protected by a metal cage you buffoon!!
Screaming Cat, Yawning cat
Practicing the art of screaming in terror
Don't take me wrong.

I really ENJOY my daily bicycling route to work. It has bike lanes and really nice protected bike paths. And even where there are no bike lanes, I am riding on slow residential streets with posted speed limits between 15 m.p.h. to 25 m.p.h.

My route is relatively safe and stress-free. Most of the time.

Surprisingly, the segment where I use THE MOST CAUTION is while riding on a one-mile protected bike lane.

Yes, you heard that right. The protected path runs along Victorian Avenue to Nichols Boulevard.
Beautiful, protected bike lane in Sparks, NV
Drivers approaching from side streets should stop BEFORE the cross walk and well before the bike lane.  

But they don't always.

Sometimes they run the stop sign, go over the cross-walk and across the bike path to stop IN THE MIDDLE of the bike lane. Anticipating that, I look to the right as far down the street as I can see before I cross there. This is the most common conflict that I encounter every day.

There really needs to be a green bike lane like this but at the point of potential conflict--at each intersection and driveway. Especially in front of driveways where motorists pull up to make a right turn but they're only looking left. I have seen near collisions between motorists and bicyclists. I've had close calls myself because as cautious as I am when I approach the driveway, once in a while a car flies out of the chute like a bat out of hell and there would not have been anything I could have done if I were in its path!

At the same time, I listen for cars passing on the road to my left that might be making a right turn across the bike lane. And I look for oncoming cars that might be making a left turn across the bike lane. Those vehicles have the right of way so I listen, look and yield.
So long story short, I was riding on Victorian Avenue this morning. The posted speed limit is 20 m.p.h. There are no bike lanes but there is very little traffic. Also, traffic calming road bumps makes it a pretty safe street for everyone. So I take the lane until a vehicle approaches from behind and then I ride in the gutter to share the road and let the driver pass.

That was the scenario this morning. In this specific spot. My position is indicated by the purple box. A pickup truck with a trailer was slowly passing me in the blue position. Another vehicle came to a stop in the red position on a cross-street. Line of sight is clear, am I right?
I see the driver that is stopped. I make eye contact. She is looking my way. I have my front lights on and it is BLINKING. Like I always do.

The truck passes slowly to my left. After all I'm going about 15 m.p.h. The lady waiting to turn looks after the truck. Then turns her head and looks back my way. Like a good cautious driver would do.

Here is her perspective. Purple line is me. Blue line is the vehicle passing to my left. Red line is her intended path.

I'm thinking, yes she sees me and she is waiting.

I mean, HOW CAN SHE NOT SEE ME?? I'm side by side with the vehicle she MUST HAVE HAD to look at and yield to.

And then, at the last second, SHE PULLS OUT IN FRONT OF ME just as I was about to cross the intersection. Either she didn't want to wait or she didn't see me. I gave her the benefit of the doubt with the latter since it was morning and the sun was coming up from behind me.

My immediate, panic reaction was to say "WHOA!!!" And then I apologetically said "SORRY".

For what?!?! Why am "I" apologizing? For yelling at HER? So she wouldn't kill me?!? Perhaps apologizing for her? ARGH.

The driver gave me a look like she didn't see me and I think she mouth a simple, "Sorry." and drove off.

Yep, I think next time I am just going to scream BLOODY F*CKING MURDER. It's not cute. But I think it will get my point across much better.


Bill S said...

I use a 140 db air horn for problems like that. It's strapped to the handlebars and is easily reached.

Unknown said...

Thanks Bill! I am going to look into that.

Yesterday morning someone was pulling out of a restaurant's parking lot and I kept an eye on the driver who didn't bother to look in either direction for pedestrians using the sidewalk or bicyclists on the bike lanes--obviously oblivious. So I screamed like I was dying and I think it scared the driver; and so it should. Had I not anticipated the carelessness of the driver, I would have rode squarely into the side of the car.

I am going to educate and increase the awareness of drivers for other users of the road one scream at a time. Or one fog horn at a time, LOL.

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