Thursday, August 30


Traffic Signals CAN be Tricky Even Under Good Circumstances
Usually, The CENTER Pavement Cut Would be the Place to Stop Here
The Induction Signal from the Bike Wheel Rim Would be Strongest There
Last week and this, I've acquired a traffic issue to reconcile and I've had an unexpected opportunity to observe motorist behavior in the wild.

The traffic issue is pretty straightforward - at least in theory. You see, the induction sensor that triggers a traffic light leaving work has stopped working. This occurred at PRECISELY the same time as a street resurface project has been underway. How do I know this? Well, the pedestrian button does not appear to do anything. My usual "sweet spot" has stopped working. The final straw is that my four-wheeled companions do not trigger the signal. Well, unless one stops coming from the opposite driveway in which case the signal changes normally. NORMALLY, I'd call to complain to the traffic department of the city in question, but THIS is a sensor on private property. Our guards simply give me a dumb look - clearly none of them have the corporate bullet on the day I talk to them. So I have adopted a new red light policy. If I stop behind other vehicles, I wait until all the motorists in front of me have run the red light. Then I follow my motorists' example when it is safe to do so. If, on the other hand, I happen to be the first to stop, I wait until at least TWO motorists are backed up behind me, and it has clearly been a really LONG time, in which case I lead by example after shrugging and doing some "what else should I do?" signals. Note to self - must bring in stop watch to collect data on how long motorists wait before running a red light. This is really a not "in the mainstream" data collection opportunity. Mostly, signals change quick enough that motorists really aren't sorely tempted to run red lights. In that way, they DO behave better than the typical dweeb on a bike. Still, in the last week, I have observed four motorist red light runnings. I suspect that some motorists are MUCH more patient than others.

Here's WHY I stopped on the Left Pavement Cut at that Intersection
A Traffic Camera that Was Blown a Bit to the Left by the Wind Was the REAL Signal Changer...
Stopping Where I did in the TOP Photo Registered My Pixels and Triggered the Left Turn Signal as Nice as You'd Want
I also had, what for me is an unusual experience - a "dooring" opportunity. I was inbound to work. It was after dawn. A motorist passed me, pulled over to the curb and opened his door as I was about 20 feet behind him. Conveniently, I was able to observe that there was absolutely NO sign of malice in his face. He simply didn't register he'd safely passed a cyclist only seconds before and that swinging his door wide open without looking might not be considered appropriate and MIGHT actually hurt one of his fellow humans. Luckily for him, I was riding about eight feet off his port beam or I might have had to apologize for putting a dent in the back side of his door with my body. Speaking of which, there's been a "dooring" in a commercial lately where a lady opens up her door and a truck simply whacks it off. My sympathy for her is pretty limited. For my loyal reader, simply STAY OUT OF DOOR ZONES! IMO, motorists simply "forget" there are others out there once they have done the appropriate thing. If that makes ANY sense at all to y'all.


RANTWICK said...

It is tough to tell if doors are opened in full knowledge of your presence or because they have forgotten to look. When cyclists like us take up positions well outside of the door zone, they may well have seen us and deemed it safe to open the door, which it is.

The only surefire way to catch a driver being unsafe with their door is to be unsafe yourself by riding in the zone!

Steve A said...

Rantwick, I'm not going to try that experiment because I have an aversion to unneeded pain. Will you? Thought not...

RANTWICK said...

C'mon! You could do it! I won't, but I bet you could handle whatever happened... on second thought, don't. As much as it would be hilarious, squished = bad.

Chandra said...

Doors also open when some yucky people open the door and spit out or dump their drinks or empty their ashtrays. I have personally come close to running into a car door, due to the first one in the list. Running into doors must really suck. I have run into my workbench in the garage a few times. Even that was painful!

Be safe!

Peace :)

Anonymous said...

Blue (my current ride) is not a good bike to ride in the door zone because it's only a little more stable than a regular DF bike, but my Stratus with the big front wheel would be perfect. A slightly heavy bike with a low center of gravity and high-mounted handlebars and forward mounted pedals to keep me out of the door and a skinny wheel to put a major dent in said door render it a perfect door-zone cruiser. I might straighten up a bit, but actually coming in contact with the door is very unlikely. If anyone remembers the Bik-E TV commercial (from back when Bik-E was still making bikes) will remember the Bik-E hitting the door in SF and just stopping.

Although I am rather partial to the SWB bent with the circular saw chain "guard" that would slice through the inner panel on the door rather than dent it.

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