Thursday, December 8


Looking Down Bedford Euless Road, the Freeway is in the Distance at the Bottom of the Hill
This Morning, I Made the Trek Up in the Dark
"Just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean they're not out to get you!" Reading remarks from a lot of people, writing about their cycling, suggests that there's an overwhelming sense that motorists are somehow intent on creating danger for cyclists, either by evil intent or simply by lack of attention to the task at hand. Usually, I'm not overly prone to such paranoia, but this morning it was in HIGH GEAR. Conspiracy theories had nothing on me.

Things were uneventful on my ride into work until I crossed the 183 Airport Freeway and began the long climb up the hill of Bedford Euless Road in Bedford Texas. The photo below is looking down that hill. The Freeway I mention is in the very distance in that photo. As you can see, Bedford Euless is a pretty straightforward five lane road. It's easy for motorists to pass me. Mostly they pass me when I'm climbing the hill, because that's the direction where our speed differential is greatest. It being the morning commute, it was dark. As usual, I had my two tail lights lit, I had my rear reflector, and I was using "the flamethrower" head light on the "low" setting.

Well, about a block south of the freeway, I was passed by three or four motorists. One of them failed to realize there was a cyclist ahead that required a lane change in order to pass and had to wait two or three seconds to make her lane change. Nothing real untypical. Or was there? As it turned out, there was yet one more car behind me. I looked back again and saw a Mercedes with its left turn signal on, or so I thought. THIS car, however, did NOT pass. After a block, this began to disturb me, because I'd been planning on taking "the first left" to visit some canine friends along the way. I deferred this plan because it seemed imprudent to move over with a motorist directly behind me.

Finally, the motorist changed lanes and I did a head check. NOW, the right turn signal was on and I wondered if the motorist was planning to make a right turn from the left lane across my path. Paranoia washed over me. It didn't abate any when the motorist changed back to the right hand lane; again directly behind me. What was this guy thinking? Why would a motorist follow a cyclist UP a hill with a perfectly good second lane to use for passing? Was this a nutjob who was just waiting for an opportunity to try out that new assault rifle?

About this time, I realized the motorist didn't have turn signals on at all, but rather had four way flashers. What? Was this a case where he was planning some mayhem against my person, or was it an extreme case of a misguided attempt to "play protective parent?"

Well, eventually, I got to the top of the hill and made my left turn about a block behind where I was standing when I took the photo. To my amazement, the Mercedes continued along, in the right lane, with its four way flashers flashing. It neither speeded up nor did the driver or passenger seem the slightest bit interested in where I was going.

Lesson: Sometimes when you're paranoid, you're just being paranoid!


Tracy W said...

That happens some times. Last time it got me was with a truck pulling a trailer behind me on a 2 lane hill with enough traffic coming that he couldn't pass me.

My I was just sure the guy was going to pass me, and with that trailer sticking out further than his fenders, I really didn't want that to happen. My solution. Riding smack dab in the middle of the lane up that hill as hard as I could go.

Eventually the road widened and he was able to safely pass, but it was on my terms, not his.

Oldfool said...

When I drove a big truck running with the flashers on was an emergency signal but when without turn signals and/or stoplights we also used them to indicate that condition. Even if a driver did not know that they knew something was up and would possible avoid us muttering "I wonder what that dumbass is doing".

dickdavid said...

I'm not a fan of when folks are "Playing the parent" or even over compensate for the cyclist - especially when it messes up my timing for maneuvers.

There's a short stretch on my commute where I'll eventually need to move over 3 lanes to make a left turn. It's timed perfectly after a light so that all the other cars are past me by the time I need to move over.

Occasionally, a 'helper' screws this up. As soon as I start looking to the left (not even signaling yet) to check the lane, some driver will panic and slow down (or - i assume - wait "to let me in"). Meanwhile several cars pile up behind him/her - most try to whip around.

Every time, my timing window is ruined and I have to figure out a way to compensate.

John Romeo Alpha said...

I've known drivers who turn their flashers on as a taunt to slow-moving wheeled objects, kind of in a sarcastic tone, typically in situations NOT requiring extra caution.

Jon said...

Well, folks, it sounds to me that the Mercedes was just having some sort of car trouble, or the driver was looking for the wallet that he left on his roof, or whatever.

I have had a similar experience on the way to work, at 5:45 A.M. Turns out the car which wouldn't pass was the paper carrier for the street I was riding down.

It's kind of cool to be the "fast" vehicle, every now and then.

Steve A said...

Yup, and hence the lesson. I'm encouraged that others have experienced episodes of unwarranted paranoia while on a bike.

John said...

Sounds like a good reason to keep cell-phone and mace close at hand.

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