I don’t know what it is about cars when they’re around bikes, but drivers seem to behave irrationally. And it’s even worse when the weather is bad. My wife and I had that experience on yesterday morning’s ride.
It looked like it might rain, so we opted to just head over to the Veloway and do a few laps. I was planning to meet up with a friend, John T, so Pat started her lap before me. John T and I got caught in the rain on our third lap, and we took cover under a shelter at the Veloway entrance. I figured Pat would have finished her one lap and headed home, so should be safe and dry by that time.
When the rain eased up, I said my goodbyes to John T and headed home myself. On the way, the road leads up to a large supermarket. I was in the marked bike lane, following another biker. Two cars pulled even with us. It was obvious they were going to turn into the supermarket parking lot. When the first one turned his wheels, the biker ahead of me pulled into the lot — doing a slick emergency right turn.
Instead of waiting for me to pass him so he could turn into the lot also, the second car turned right in front of me. Now I had to do the emergency right turn.
On a dry day, cars always wait for cyclists to pass before turning into the lot. They might be impatient about it, but they’re good about waiting the three or four seconds it takes us to pass them. In the rain, you’d think they would be more careful, knowing that the wet conditions could cause trouble for bikes, and even cars, if they don’t watch out.
When I got home, I told Pat about being cut off. ”That’s funny,” she said. ”That happened to me, too.”
She was getting into a left-turn lane behind two cars at a stoplight. She heard a third car, but instead of settling in behind Pat, the third car squeezed around her, then cut in front of her in the turn lane.
Geez Louise, wait a cotton-pickin’ second, will ya? For it’s just a matter of a few seconds we’re talking about here — how long it would take me to pass a car before it turns into the parking lot. How long it would take Pat to complete her left turn from the turn lane, and then allow the driver behind her to pass. Three seconds? Maybe five? Not a major chunk of your day, pal.
The League of Illinois Bicyclists decided to tackle the problem head-on. They made a video aimed at drivers — telling them what to watch for when driving near bikes. Good stuff.
I only hope it gets some distribution so more than bicycle league members will see it.