Gone Fishin'

HEY!

I'm not actively blogging here anymore. But if you got here because you were searching for something about bikes, you might want to check out my latest project, Vermont Goldsprints. In summer of 2014, I bought a used goldsprints racing setup and have made it a mission to get more bikes in more people's faces by putting on fun races in unexpected places. Come join me!

6.15.2012

Getting Honked at for Taking the Lane

I have mentioned before that my commute takes me through a small roundabout every day. That roundabout is small and narrow, part of a section of 25mph streets that surround the Maple Tree Place development in Williston. Further, when I travel through it on the way to work, exiting the roundabout takes me up a small hill and around a blind corner on those same 25mph streets. 

There is no safe way for a vehicle to pass a cyclist on the approach to the roundabout, in the roundabout, or on the blind curve exiting it. I have ridden through it a couple of hundred times in the last four years, and I can say from experience that staying too far to the right here only encourages drivers to attempt to squeeze by you with far less than "due care" clearance, as mandated by Vermont State Law. In fact, I had started to ride pretty far to the right recently. Then, a nice lady in a Volvo (with two kids bikes in the back!) squeezed me the other day with an illegal (six inches of clearance just cannot be "due care" as the term is used in VSA 1039(a)) pass that really scared me. Back out into the lane I went:
The Maple Tree Place Roundabout in Williston

This morning, I found myself approaching the roundabout from the west, moderating my speed behind a slow-moving Honda CRV pulling a trailer. I matched his speed with a car length of clearance, centering myself in the lane before, during, and after the roundabout, all the way until the road straightens out and a safe pass by a vehicle is possible again. The guy in the big pickup behind me apparently thought I was in his way, even though he would have had to pass both me and the CRV/trailer to make any headway down the 25mph street (I'd say we were all going 20 already anyway, so he probably would have had to speed, too).  He laid on his horn as we crested the hill. No matter how far over to the right I could have been here, he would have had to go into the oncoming lane  to pass me, which would not ave been safe for him or me. 

So I took the lane. I didn't get over to the right until it was safe to pass. His open window means he probably heard me shout "NO SAFE PASS!" and "IT'S CALLED TAKING THE LANE!" as he went by me. 
A Cyclist Safely and Legally Taking the Lane. 

I probably sounded pretty angry. Sometimes, I feel pretty angry when I'm riding on busy roads. The motoring public, on average, are simply clueless about bikes, about pedestrians, about sharing the road, and about the laws that govern those things. More than half of them are actively using some sort of handheld device. Not talking on the phone mind you, but using the keypad/touchscreen to input some sort of data while driving. Smart phones have created a new phenomenon: drivers talking on the phone while holding it up in front of them. What are they doing, video chat?  I rode by a woman waiting at a stop sign on a side street the other day as she was sitting in the drivers' seat, eating something with a knife and fork. Really? 

So yeah, given that I'm just another guy trying to get to and from work and home safely and efficiently, given that our household's one-car status is not entirely by choice but is also something of an economic necessity (and by extension my riding to work is as well), I think I have a right to be angry when someone's inattention, lack of care, or simple ignorance behind the wheel compromises my safety. If I had a chance, I'd much rather not yell. I'd rather pull up and have a quick and more pointed conversation about the rules of the road, and explain why I was "out in the middle of the road" on that street. Maybe I should just print a bunch of these up and be ready to hand them out.