Thursday, September 3

Don't be Nice, Just Follow the Darn Rules

(photo via Google Streetview)

I can be stubborn. I admit it. My wife will confirm it. When I'm on the road, I follow the rules of the road across the board, except for a few cycling-peculiar laws that endanger me on the bike. I don't, for example, ride in the RT lane when I intend to go straight across an intersection, even though my behavior violates Texas law. One rule of the road I follow particularly rigidly is that oncoming traffic has the right of way over turning traffic, and people turning right have right of way over those turning left. Turning in front of oncoming traffic is bad juju.

Some motorists, no doubt conditioned by past experience with the "gutteria" species, like to be nice and they stop and wave to me to turn left. In such case, I nicely wave back that THEY SHOULD go - and I slow down a lot, hoping my clear dawdling helps them get the idea and do what the right of way says they ought to do - GO. This morning, riding north on Katy Road in Keller, preparing to turn left onto Coffeetree, I encountered a stubbornly "nice" oncoming motorist in Position 1 that led me to unclip and put my right foot down with my left arm hung out (trying to continue to do a subtle little Keri "come on" wave all the while). I was prepared to wait all morning if necessary. I was a little ahead of schedule going to work anyway.

Unfortunately, there was another car behind the first one in the #1 position (hence the #2), and then, up behind me comes a northbound pickup that decided to honk at all this kumbaya going on. At this point, the oncoming "nice" motorist FINALLY got the idea and went. I breathed a sigh of relief - but then the #2 motorist BEHIND now decided to play "nice driver." Crimeny. At this point, I concluded I'd made my point and completed the left turn. This had gotten a bit silly and it was clear that following the rules wasn't working well this morning. For all I knew, I'd pick up more "nice" oncoming drivers and would be waiting to make my left all morning. Yeah, at this point, I'd probably have shrugged and done the same thing in the Land Rover.

Don't they teach motorists this stuff in Driver's Ed any more? My daughter with the learner's permit knows better...


Keri said...

OMG! That drives me nuts. The same thing happened to me yesterday. Mr. Nice held up traffic in 3 directions. I had put my foot down, but he insisted on stopping. With that much congestion, I couldn't prove a point without pissing everyone else off.

It looks bad either way. The cyclist is the center of attention and must be the problem.

Lyle said...

I don't make a stand on principle -- it's safer for me to get across the road and moving rather than having motorists zooming up and around on my right.

But where it gets dangerous is when the oncoming traffic is a multi-lane road and only ONE driver stops and waves me through. My gf was complaining of just this scenario yesterday, when the oncoming motorist was a city bus in the near lane, so the far lane was obscured. She had the good sense not to take the bait.

What is possibly even worse is when the oncoming lane is wide enough that the next motorist in line, impatient or assuming that the stopped traffic is trying to turn left without signalling, decides to cut around on the right, usually at high speed, possibly on the shoulder.

That's a fatality. The only kind of infrastructure that would prevent that would be grade-separated facilities. Any other change, including separate traffic signals, bike boxes, and so on, are *behavioral* changes that require training and enforcement for cyclists to honor the hints.

Doohickie said...

More arrows!!! Yay!

(Now let me read the post...)

Doohickie said...

Yeah, that drives me nuts, too. I've noticed that a firm "OKAY, I'VE PUT MY FOOT DOWN. I WILL WAIT FOR YOU" gesture works most of the time, but as Steve points out here, it doesn't work in every case.

Steve A said...

Doohickie - "I've put my foot down..." VERY non-wussy!

Lyle - I stand on principle but do not want doing so to become a "last stand."

Keri - We need a post at CO on advanced waving.

Steve A said...

ChipSeal's had a low profile lately so I figured arrows would be safe.

MamaVee said...

I love this. You are my people! this "I'll be nice" thing has always messed me up. As a driver ( new as of 6 yrs) I was always confused and following the rules and then annoyed that ppl were letting me go. Follow the rules. Be predictable!

In the Sorte with the two kids I get LOTS of nice drivers. Which is nice. I appreciate it. But I am also always smiling and waving. and I agree about the whole - don't make me the center of this clusterf*ck tyvm. I'll keep a low profile on the road, just see me and don't hit me is all I ask!

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