Saturday, March 27

Go Steady Yeti

I have done several posts in which I liken cyclists operating under vehicular principles to Yeti. Yeti are legendary creatures that nobody ever seems to get solid evidence on. The prints have cruddy casts, the movies are fuzzy. There have NEVER been Yeti bodies brought back for scientific examination. I, on the other hand, now have proof there is at least one wild Yeti in Tarrant County. What's more, I almost saw him get sideswiped by one of those white pickup trucks that some say cruise around, looking for cyclists to assault. Next time my wife wants to go shopping for granite, I will MOST CERTAINLY go along, because here is the Yeti's story.

We were coming back home, when my wife decided to take an alternate route due to some motorist crashes on Texas121. As a result, we were tootling along Northwest Highway through Grapevine when I saw a real, live Yeti. Below is my proof.

Fooled ya! Actually, my REAL proof is below. While he was not quite riding in "the line of sweetness," he was definitely riding fairly assertively. I think we made him a little nervous when my wife slowed down and shifted into his lane behind him so I could get proof that wild Yeti DO exist, but we tried not to alarm him unduly. He was an older guy, but not anyone I recognized. It definitely was NOT Chandra or Doohickie.

The photo is the only one I took. Had I known what would happen next, I would have switched the iPhone to video mode.

"That car is going to hit him" my wife screamed at me. Actually, it was a white pickup. And it really DID pass him in a manner that would have concerned me had I been the rider,  though it was not really quite such a close call as my wife imagined it would be at the time. You see, vehicular principles are somewhat akin to lion taming. You, as the operator of the bike, are directing your motorists, because they mostly don't know how to behave around cyclists any more than YOU would know how to properly behave around lions. However, if you do the wrong thing, they may very well bite something off you are fond of off. Then you'd become the subject of newspaper "accident" articles in which people will say it served you right. This cyclist made a BAD mistake, and almost paid a high price for it. He tried to be "nice." It is a mistake that many have criticized Reed Bates for NOT making. Sometime, not long after we passed him, the white pickup in the photo below came up behind him. Unlike MOST of the traffic, the pickup driver wasn't paying enough attention to what was going on, and he got boxed in behind the cyclist. The cyclist, in a misguided attempt to be courteous, moved right. The driver took that as a signal to pass without a lane change. Look at that lane and tell me a cyclist and a full size pickup can coexist peacefully in it. Well, even the pickup driver realized the folly of THAT notion before impact actually occurred, and he did a straddle pass that got him beyond the cyclist. He then got a little spooked by me taking pictures of his vehicle in all its glory, and slowed down a whole bunch after I got my shot of him; exiting the road shortly thereafter.

Lesson observed - if "taking the lane," go steady when someone comes up behind you. Hence this post's title. That pickup would have simply changed lanes and my post would have been much briefer. If you are going to ride off to the right all the time (near that fog line), at least you have not sent contradictory messages to following motorists, and they have more time to decide whether to risk sideswiping you or not. That added time adds to your safety compared to sending the WRONG message too late. I was lucky. My wife saw all this and she now knows better why I would NOT alter course in a similar situation. That pickup wound up partially changing lanes anyway, but with a lot of unnecessary drama. Everyone concerned would have been better off had the cyclist gone steady so that the pickup driver could decide early that a lane change was mandatory. Instead, the cyclist almost got bit. Sometimes, granite shopping is very educational, and it reconfirms THE LAND ROVER RULE...

10 comments:

Velouria said...

Is the wooden Yeti in the first picture wearing a thong?...

Doohickie said...

No, that's just his dangle.

;D


vehicular principles are somewhat akin to lion taming

I prefer to think of it as carherding.

Chandra said...

Great post! I especially love it as it deals with the consequences when cyclists, in the name of courtesy, let a vehicle squeeze by in the same lane. It is a good idea not to let a vehicle squeeze into the same lane. Totally agree!

It wasn't me on Northwest Hwy today but just as easily could have been me two weekends ago.

Again, nice post, great details and exhibits!

Peace :)

Ham said...

Interesting culture thing you've highlighted. First, we don't have any rural-ish 3 lane highways like this. Where they are dual carriageways (mostly 2-lane)they are treated like motorways (freeways) and become exceptionally unpleasant and unwise to cycle on, there are always alternatives.

But, as can see traffic turning across the road, then I take it that it is closer to a UK "A" road, although I can't see any lorries in shot - not something that is likely here.

I have to say, those lanes look w-i-i-i-de to me. And, if I was riding an A road, I'd position myself roughly on that dark stripe near the cyclist's head. That leaves sufficient room for motorists to pass, most will pass well, the occasional one will be closer than you would like.

What speeds do cars do on these roads? In the UK, on a 3-lane highway you would expect all drivers to be around 70, with normal speeds varying up to 90, some faster. Did I mention cycling on something like this over here might be unpleasant?

I agree fully that whatever you are doing, you need to carry on doing it. The only exception is if you decide to pull over and stop (as I do sometimes if I am on a long climb on a road with 2-way traffic, single lane, with a lorry behind me.)

Steve A said...

Ham, your comment was unusually well considered. Actually, I almost did put something in about the way to be courteous if traffic stacks up is to exit the road and let the stack pass before proceeding. I didn't include that because the road in question was not so clogged that the cyclist was actually holding people up. I don't recall the speed limit on NW Highwy but it felt 50ish. As in mph/

PM Summer said...

Those lanes look 11' wide, and I'm guessing the posted speed limit is 45 mph (both typical).

Now some quotes/comments:

"You see, vehicular principles are somewhat akin to lion taming. You, as the operator of the bike, are directing your motorists, because they mostly don't know how to behave around cyclists any more than YOU would know how to properly behave around lions. However, if you do the wrong thing, they may very well bite something off you are fond of off. Then you'd become the subject of newspaper 'accident' articles in which people will say it served you right."

Absolutely correct, and a good analogy.

"This cyclist made a BAD mistake, and almost paid a high price for it. He tried to be 'nice.' It is a mistake that many have criticized Reed Bates for NOT making."

Even though you describe the cyclist as operating in a vehicular manner, when he makes his "mistake", he ceases doing so, and begins operating in the "I don't really belong here" mode... which is what Ennis is telling Reed Bates.

"Sometime, not long after we passed him, the white pickup in the photo below came up behind him. Unlike MOST of the traffic, the pickup driver wasn't paying enough attention to what was going on, and he got boxed in behind the cyclist. The cyclist, in a misguided attempt to be courteous, moved right. The driver took that as a signal to pass without a lane change."

And there you have it. When we "move over", we clearly send the signal to the overtaking vehicle that it's OK to pass us in the lane. Bad mistake.

"Look at that lane and tell me a cyclist and a full size pickup can coexist peacefully in it. Well, even the pickup driver realized the folly of THAT notion before impact actually occurred, and he did a straddle pass that got him beyond the cyclist."

WWMTFD? (What Would a Model T Ford Do?)

Steve A said...

PM,
The cyclist shifted right, but never any further than where students are told to ride in Traffic 101, and where the course material shows cyclists riding in the first place. It was the rightward movement that induced the pass. I think "I don't belong here" overstates things. All of us get confused about things on occasion. Yes, even me.

whareagle said...

We birthed 8 more Yeti's today at the Cycling Center of Dallas. YETI'S RULE!

Ham said...

Following on from this, I thought I'd share my lanes http://cyclesafeandhappy.blogspot.com/2010/03/lana-discipline.html

Steve A said...

I tried it early this morning but will have to look again. That streetview doesn't work well on an iPhone. It DID look fascinating, however.

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