Thursday, July 23

What Would YOU Have Done?

Revised on Friday, with updated photo...
(click on photo for larger view)


Riding along Bear Creek Parkway, roughly where shown - there's about four feet of shoulder on both sides of the road and double yellow "no passing" lines. Plus, there's a MUP off to the south of the road (indicated by arrow).

A car comes up behind.

The driver honks. The honk is distinctive enough that I wager even Chip "What's Behind me is not Important" Seal would have thrown a head check back.

I signal a right turn and move over onto the improved shoulder as soon as it is safe.

The car passes and I wave (clearly politely) & it appears the passenger of the car waves back, at least briefly.

I edge back into the middle of the main traffic lane immediately after it passes. The interaction is complete.

Question: What would YOU have done?

There IS "the rest of the story," but I want to hear comments FIRST.

Myself, I considered moving over to the shoulder a combination of courtesy, civility, and civic duty. This last might or might not be a hint...

8 comments:

ChipSeal said...

It is not really fair to show a road that has been changed since the photo was taken, so I will comment on the pictured section of the road. I will also note that there is an intersection behind the camera, so a cyclist following best practices would be properly controlling the lane at that place while traveling in either direction.

I would have ignored the motorist. I would not have retreated to the shoulder to accommodate their overtake from within the lane.

My first objection to you doing that, is that you are training the motorist behind you to expect cyclist to flee to their proper place at the sound of a horn. You have reinforced the notion that cyclists are to be out of the way of motor vehicles and out of the road.

You have also gathered to yourself the responsibility of a safe overtake. This is turning the rules of the road on their head. Just as when one is at a junction, and someone waves to another vehicle to go ahead, contrary to established right-of-way, it mostly just causes confusion. Do you wave to vehicles to go out of turn?

Is this a lesson you should be teaching to this motorist? It is the overtaking vehicle that has the moral and legal duty to pass in a safe manner and with due care. Motorists will do so if you hold your line and ride in a predictable manner.

Diving off the road onto the improved shoulder will cause you to trade annoying a motorist for potential harm to you or your property. What sort of deal is that?

Shoulders generally gather upon themselves many hazards to to snare the errant cyclist. Is the transition from road to shoulder smooth, or does it present a diversion hazard? Is there gravel, sand, broken glass, thorns, yard waste, potholes, bots dots, drains or a rumble strip?

Don't you have enough to do scanning for hazards in your lane without also keeping an eye on the shoulder as well in the case you must retreat there at the beckoning of a motorist?

You have hinted at "courtesy, civility, and civic duty", And I would counter that following the rules of the road, being predictable by doing so, and embracing all of the rights and duties of an operator of a vehicle is in practice living up to my civic duty.

Steve A said...

I will try to take an accurate, current photo tomorrow morning, despite the 15 second delay in my commute that will result.

The photo that ChipSeal comments on IS somewhat misleading - there was no junction near where I actually pulled over, and I know the road, so I know that the shoulder presents no hazard of the potential variety that ChipSeal enumerates (and which truly do exist many places). Nor were there pavement patch seams which exist elsewhere along the road in question. The turn signal I made was explicitly to indicate that I was moving over intentionally at the motorist's request - from a proper position.

Still, even considering all that, I chuckle just a little. I also thank goodness that the incident led me to OVERDUE thinking that led to a better "going home" route, even after three months of this new commute.

Doohickie said...

Okay, ChipSeal, here is my take:

My first objection to you doing that, is that you are training the motorist behind you to expect cyclist to flee to their proper place at the sound of a horn. You have reinforced the notion that cyclists are to be out of the way of motor vehicles and out of the road.

This is nothing new. Slower vehicles in Texas routinely pull over onto the shoulder to let faster vehicles go by. This practice is so common in the Hill Country that it has a name- a slower vehicle moving onto the shoulder is said to be using the "Aggie Passing Lane." More importantly, this is provided for in traffic law:

Sec. 545.058. Driving on Improved Shoulder. [i.e., a paved shoulder outside the traffic lane]

(a) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway if that operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only:

...(5) to allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass;...


Tractors do it, tourists in cars do it, courteous people in general do it. There is no dishonor in recognizing you are traveling more slowly than those behind you and allowing them to pass. It's not reinforcing a bad habit in them, it's practicing good manners on your part, and it is fully in accordance with the law, regardless of what kind of vehicle you are operating. When you define the situation in your terms, it is a conflict between cyclists and motorists. But it doesn't need to be.

You have also gathered to yourself the responsibility of a safe overtake.

This is also called Leading the Dance. Much better to facilitate someone to pass you when you know it's safe, than to let them follow you for miles, get frustrated, and decide to pass you on their terms, which may not be as favorable to you.

This is turning the rules of the road on their head.

Not at all; it's following Texas traffic code as quoted above.

Just as when one is at a junction, and someone waves to another vehicle to go ahead, contrary to established right-of-way, it mostly just causes confusion. Do you wave to vehicles to go out of turn?

Nope. The two situations are not logically equivalent.

Is this a lesson you should be teaching to this motorist? It is the overtaking vehicle that has the moral and legal duty to pass in a safe manner and with due care. Motorists will do so if you hold your line and ride in a predictable manner.

Yes, it is the lesson you want to teach. The lesson is: "Don't worry, I will pull over when it's safe and you will be able to easily pass. You don't have to force an unsafe pass."

I do this frequently, and when I pull over I motion with my hand to urge the car to pass, and as soon as they do I give a friendly wave. It's not losing a moral battle for road rights, ChipSeal, it's cooperating such that everyone wins.

ChipSeal said...

I am familiar with the law, and I would invite all to note where the word "may" and "if" appear.

It does, however, turn a fundamental rule of the road on it's head. That is, all vehicles have their right-of-way allocated on a first come first serve basis. It is in this way that I saw a parallel from this to waving to someone to proceed through an intersection out of turn. Safety is degraded when established rights-of-way can be abandoned and taken up again willy-nilly.

An operator has a right to the public way (In this case, the travel lane) and other vehicles cannot encroch upon it. That is why certain movements are prohibited. You can't change lanes into another vehicle. You can't turn left into the path of an oncoming vehicle. Those movements would be violating the other operators right-of-way.

That is why sec. 545.058(a)(5) is a discretionary permitted movement, not a mandatory one.

I would further argue, that the laws requirement of moving aside being necessary makes moving to the shoulder by a bicycle operator to facilitate a pass of an overtaking vehicle unlawful. It is, after all, not that hard to pass a bicycle with due care and in a safe manner.

Doohickie said this too: "This is also called Leading the Dance. Much better to facilitate someone to pass you when you know it's safe, than to let them follow you for miles, get frustrated, and decide to pass you on their terms, which may not be as favorable to you."

For miles? Really? I'll come to your position this far then; If a motorist is unable to overtake me after a mile of travel, I will seek a safe place to pull aside.

You see abandoning the roadway as matter courtesy, but I cannot see it as a necessity. It is a matter of rights. I choose to exercise them, so that you also can know you have them.

Doohickie said...

I see it more as a matter of courtesy. No, you are not required to pull over. But a courteous person will do so at the first safe opportunity.

It does, however, turn a fundamental rule of the road on it's [sic] head. That is, all vehicles have their right-of-way allocated on a first come first serve basis. It is in this way that I saw a parallel from this to waving to someone to proceed through an intersection out of turn. Safety is degraded when established rights-of-way can be abandoned and taken up again willy-nilly.

It is different from your example is these ways:

1) When you, as a slow-moving vehicle, move to the shoulder, you are unambiguously relinquishing the right of way to the main traffic lane. There is no "willy-nilly" abrogration; it is freely given up by a clear maneuver.

2) It is provided for in traffic law under one of the very few exceptions to the prohibition of motor vehicles to drive on the shoulder.

There is nothing in traffic law that covers negotiation of right-of-way at a 4-way Stop sign. There is, however, provision for a slow vehicle pulling over to the shoulder while continuing to move, to allow faster vehicles to pass.

I'm not saying you have to move over; I am saying, though, that when I (and Steve) choose to, we are operating entirely within the bounds of established traffic law, not to mention traffic practice. No one is saying this is necessary, but even you concede that "If a motorist is unable ot overtake me after a mile of travel, I will seek a safe place to pull aside."

So.... you're basically saying you agree with our point of view. I think Steve and I have accomplished what we set out to do here. ;- )

As for your contention that it is illegal because of the word "necessary", subsections (1) through (7) explain what constitutes necessary, and pulling off to allow faster traffic to pass is included, so it is not unlawful to do so.

Additionally, in the case of a bicycle, section (c)(3) also applies, meaning that operation on the shoulder (whether to allow faster vehicles to pass or just because a cyclist wants to ride on the shoulder) is always legal.

Steve A said...

I'll post the "rest of the story" tomorrow. All this agreeability is starting to get to me...

ChipSeal said...

I think I was not clear about the point I was making, because of this response: "As for your contention that it is illegal because of the word "necessary", subsections (1) through (7) explain what constitutes necessary, and pulling off to allow faster traffic to pass is included, so it is not unlawful to do so.
"

Sec. 545.058. DRIVING ON IMPROVED SHOULDER.

(a) An operator may drive on an improved shoulder to the right of the main traveled portion of a roadway if that operation is necessary and may be done safely, but only:
(5) to allow another vehicle traveling faster to pass;

I contend that for an automobile to pull onto a shoulder to allow overtaking traffic to pass, they cannot satisfy the necessity clause of this statute.

We may not ever see eye to eye, we are just "dancing" with different steps. I am simply not a courteous person. I'm OK with that!

Tailwinds, Doohickie!

Steve A said...

Y'all sing "kumbaya" to each other. I'm going out for a little night ride...

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