One of the routes I travel most often takes me up an easy hill past a supermarket parking lot. There are two entrances to the lot — one right after crossing a main street, and one farther up the hill. If cyclists build up speed early, cars wanting to turn in at the first entrance often figure it’s easier just to keep going and turn at the second one. But sometimes, they speed past you, slam on their brakes, and do a right hook into the lot.
The other day, I had passed the first entrance without any such right hook turns. But as I approached the second entrance, I could see an oncoming car preparing to make a left turn across my path into the lot. I figured he’d wait for me to get past, and I speeded up my pedaling to get by quicker. The car kept coming. He was moving slowly, but he obviously wasn’t planning to stop. It was almost as if he was playing chicken with me.
I shot him a look (always make eye contact with drivers to make sure they see you) and he looked back. But kept coming. I pedaled faster. C’mon, man — I’ve got the right of way. He must have been one of those drivers who thinks bikes must always give way to cars. The number of those folks is pretty large.
I reached the parking lot entrance, and as I crossed it, a pickup truck driver waiting to exit the lot called out, “Brave man!” Hm. That must mean he also thought I should have stopped.
The car was about 10 feet from me, still moving to turn into the lot, as I went past the entrance.
Now, perhaps the driver knew I would get by, and just wanted to get into the lot quickly in order to not hold up other traffic. Still, left turners must yield the right of way to oncoming traffic. Which I was. Furthermore, I was in the bike lane. And going up hill. Ain’t no way I was going to stop.
Besides, if I did stop to let the guy enter the lot, wouldn’t that confuse drivers even more? They’re already complaining that they don’t know what cyclists are going to do. My response to that is to ride my bike as though I’m driving a car, and to try to be as predictable as possible.
As I went by, my look at the driver turned into a scowl, but I didn’t make note of his license plate. Nor did I stop to chase him into the lot and confront him. Nor did I flip him off, or yell. I just wanted to get out of his way and travel the last mile home. I’ll save my confrontational self for when I have a closer call. Because I bet there will be one.
My near miss last year under similar circumstances except the truck was speeding through the intersection to turn left, along with another near miss recently has really had an impact on me riding on the street.
Tal F says
I had a not-almost hit with a motorist looking to turn right into my path from a stop sign. Of course, cars at a stop sign need to wait for cross traffic before making a turn, but this driver apparently thought he could make it before I passed. He did not. It hurt.
While your story boils my blood, it also reminds me of the snarky saying, “the cemeteries are full of people who had the right of way.”
Bike Noob says
Yeah, that occurred to me while I was writing it.
As I stress to my riding buddy constantly “All cars are trying to kill you” by that I mean drivers don’t look for bikes-just other cars. Also thru basic inattentiveness: adjusting the radio, yelling at their kids, looking at phones, eating & drinking, adjusting GPS, you name it. You are right on the money to look drivers in the eye…never trust blinkers! As cyclists we have to be diligent just to get home safe.
Reminds me of the Woody Hayes quote, “Three things can happen when you throw a football and two of them are bad.” When you come across a motorist, he might just be considerate. Then again, he may think you don’t belong on the road, he may misjudge how fast you’re going because he’s not used to cyclists, or he simply may not even see you. So, I guess there are four things that can happen when you see a motorist and three of them are bad!