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Safety around large vehicles.

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Safety around large vehicles.

Old 06-27-19, 01:05 PM
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Rick
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Safety around large vehicles.

How many of us have been cut off by a bus or large truck. What did we do to avoid that collision and what did we do after that to keep ourselves from being in danger again. I was heading home from a shopping trip with my Tandem with the bob and all the panniers loaded up with groceries from a Costco. A light had turned red ahead of me and I was coasting in the center of the lane when it turned green. As I put the hammer down just before the lane line a city bus made a right turn from the left lane across my path. I counter steered to the right. The driver stopped just short of hitting me with the rear side of the bus. He saw me and wanted to be first. I drove tractor trailers for a living. I never hit anyone or anything. Because I was a bicycle rider I was more watchful for the mistakes of others. Don't expect this kind of vigilance from others. I have seen people on bicycles at intersections invite right hooks by there actions around large vehicles. They ride up the right side of the right turning truck instead of taking up proper lane position. It is obvious that driver education is lacking in teaching people what not to do around large vehicles and on the motorists side equally bad.
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Old 06-27-19, 01:25 PM
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I genuinely have less problems with commercial vehicles than I do with passenger vehicles, and I'm around buses and multi-axle trucks all day. We have 5 Amazon Distribution Warehouses locally, and probably double that in logistics centers. On top of that, we have two sand & gravel quarries, several cement plants, and an asphalt plant. I don't think I've ever even been intentionally close-passed by a big rig-- sometimes the road isn't very wide, or there's no shoulder, and they get as far left as the possibly can, and it's still a little close. But they saw me, and that's the important part. The city buses give three short little horn toots whenever approaching from behind. It's nice.
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Old 06-27-19, 01:31 PM
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Rule 1 of riding around large vehicles: if you can't see the driver's face in the vehicle's mirrors then the driver can't see you.
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Old 06-27-19, 02:04 PM
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Best of all, there's no way a large vehicle is gonna out-maneuver someone on a bike who's paying attention and able to perform even the most basic evasive reactions.
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Old 06-27-19, 02:21 PM
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wow, close call! sounds like you did all the right things but still were in danger. ppl get killed in that exact situation all the time
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Old 06-27-19, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by tyrion View Post
Rule 1 of riding around large vehicles: if you can't see the driver's face in the vehicle's mirrors then the driver can't see you.
Rule number two - if you can see their face they may not be looking anyway.

-mr. bill

Last edited by mr_bill; 06-28-19 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 06-27-19, 10:10 PM
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The only large vehicles i ride along side are canal barges.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:08 AM
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Thanks for the 'heads up' Rick. I work diligently to be aware of what is going on and coming up around me but we all need reminders to be ever on alert. Rather than a distraction, I find such awareness to be another useful skill.
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Old 06-28-19, 09:15 AM
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I've had a mixed bag with commercial trucks and buses. Most drivers are fairly courteous. Some are rude and dangerous. I've been practically blown off the road by tractor trailers driving too close or moving over before they complete their pass. I've also had to call the city bus administrators due to being nearly sideswiped in a bike lane. I try to stay on my toes around them and never get in their blind sides.
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Old 06-28-19, 10:06 AM
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About the time my friends and I bought our UO-8s, their dad told us in no uncertain terms that if we ever saw the right side of a right turning truck in front of up, we were about to die. I have ridden with that awareness ever since. But if you ride long enough, situations happen. About a dozen years ago I was out for a summer solstice evening ride. Crossed the "top" of a T intersection. A farm truck was waiting at the stop sign, pulled out after I crossed and turned left onto my path. I was aware of the truck passing me. No big deal. Plenty of room. Then the truck turned while beside me to go into the farm store gravel parking lot I was about to pass. I was looking right at that truck side. The choices were ride into the truck or attempt to make a turn I was not set up for on gravel that had spilled onto the roadway. I'm going under that truck tire either way.

The truck straightened out and I rode between it and the road edge untouched. The death I knew I was looking at up close didn't happen. That fall it did happen for two other Portland cyclists. I had an angel, they didn't. The woman in the passenger seat who saw me and yelled. (I never heard the yell. I was in that weird zone where things happen very slowly and in total silence.)

Riding smart and carefully isn't always enough. Premonitions and angels sometimes make the difference. I try to be open to the possibility of both.

Ben
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Old 06-28-19, 11:19 AM
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Thanks for the 'heads up' Rick. I work diligently to be aware of what is going on and coming up around me but we all need reminders to be ever on alert. Rather than a distraction, I find such awareness to be another useful skill.
The bus that cut me off was not the norm. But I see people quite frequently place themselves in harms way. Most of the time they pull up on the right side of a large vehicle that has passed them or is ahead of them already stopped at the intersection. The pass and cutoff is the one I hear most frequently in California. Cars have done this to close and on several occasions.

Rule 1 of riding around large vehicles: if you can't see the driver's face in the vehicle's mirrors then the driver can't see you.
I drove tractor trailers and other large vehicles for years and managed not to hit anybody or anything. You look at your mirrors quite frequently but can still miss someone pulling up on your right quite easily. Because of the length of the trailer I sometimes had to use the turn lane and the lane to the left of it to make a right turn. The people in the left turn lane on the cross street were very nervous also. You learn to make sure the rear trailer wheels block access just before the corner or you get cars, wheel chairs, and the occasional bicycle in harms way. Yes I have parked the truck and gotten out of the cab and walked around the front of the tractor to get people to move so the rear wheels wouldn't crush them. Drivers education is lacking in what they teach.
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Old 06-28-19, 11:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick View Post
I drove tractor trailers and other large vehicles for years and managed not to hit anybody or anything. You look at your mirrors quite frequently but can still miss someone pulling up on your right quite easily. Because of the length of the trailer I sometimes had to use the turn lane and the lane to the left of it to make a right turn. The people in the left turn lane on the cross street were very nervous also. You learn to make sure the rear trailer wheels block access just before the corner or you get cars, wheel chairs, and the occasional bicycle in harms way. Yes I have parked the truck and gotten out of the cab and walked around the front of the tractor to get people to move so the rear wheels wouldn't crush them. Drivers education is lacking in what they teach.
Operators education is indeed sadly lacking. They *used* to teach know your no zone, and they *used* to teach how to properly turn in an intersection. Actually, they still do, but it's clear that some operators "forget."

-mr. bill
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Old 06-28-19, 01:57 PM
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I've had two close calls with different outcomes.

On the first I was near the end of a tough climb on a very narrow road and the grade was 14 percent at that point. I was struggling to finish. The largest size FEDEX truck passed me and in doing so I went off the road into the bushes/hillside. I wasn't hurt. I got ready to try and start up again, (remember I'm on a 14% grade), so I have to simultaneously clip in while moving at a right angle of the road and then get turned up hill. Unfortunately, as I clipped in I only then realized my chain and derailleur were askew so my cranks were locked and I went across the road and crashed a driveway. It took the bruised glute six weeks to fully get back to normal.

On the second occasion, I was following the map route riding up a canyon to get to a specific climb. I had not been on the road before. To my surprise it suddenly got narrow and there was no shoulder plus a cliff to my right plus there was a curve in the road at that point. The lanes had a row of flexible stem cones and a tractor-trailer or the largest truck size down from that came by me. Thank goodness I was calm, had a bright flashing taillight, (a lesson there for all), and the truck driver hit every lane cone to give me as much room as possible which was only a couple feet.

In the first case, there was nothing I could have done other than given my bike a close inspection after being run off the road. In the second instance, it was a lesson to check roads in advance on those rides that are up in the hills.
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Old 06-28-19, 03:43 PM
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The effect from a large vehicle passing close to you varies depending on the wind. and other factors. I learned early on how to counter the effect so I have never been blown off of the road on my bicycle. I was once blown of the highway in an army jeep headed toward Yakima firing center. 13 jeeps left Fort Lewis headed for the firing center and only one of them made it there under their own power. Yes it was Friday the 13th.
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Old 06-28-19, 03:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Lemond1985 View Post
Best of all, there's no way a large vehicle is gonna out-maneuver someone on a bike who's paying attention and able to perform even the most basic evasive reactions.
One has to be able to make the turn with the truck.

Deadly encounters are frequently when a cyclist stops short, and doesn't realize how far inside the rear wheels will cut when making a turn. So the cab misses the cyclist, but the trailer bumps over the top.

Turn with the vehicle and keep moving?
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Old 06-28-19, 04:17 PM
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Beats going under the truck or into the wheels. So you get to where you're going 15 seconds later, and get a little egg on your face. BFD.

I can remember once or twice, waiting for a red light to change, with my right foot up on the curb, having a big rig turn right on the red, and almost take me out with his last set of wheels. These days, I would not allow myself to be in that situation for even one second, I would instantly get off the bike and get on the sidewalk. Or if you sit about 10 feet back from the intersection when waiting for the light to change, you're safe from that.

Or better yet, see the truck behind me, before I reached the intersection, slow down and wave them ahead. So I can draft off them down the road and save some energy.

Last edited by Lemond1985; 06-28-19 at 04:27 PM.
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Old 06-28-19, 04:52 PM
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Sometimes due to a degree of inattention or a misalignment of planets and bad things can happen to anyone. At the same time, as someone recently has said, a village somewhere is missing its idiot.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:38 PM
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I can remember once or twice, waiting for a red light to change, with my right foot up on the curb, having a big rig turn right on the red, and almost take me out with his last set of wheels. These days, I would not allow myself to be in that situation for even one second, I would instantly get off the bike and get on the sidewalk. Or if you sit about 10 feet back from the intersection when waiting for the light to change, you're safe from that.
When I first starting riding I was next to the curb at an intersection and some turd driving a taxi turned right and I rolled up onto the sidewalk. It only took once for me to change my ways. Weather I am turning or going straight I never stop close to the curb. I take the lane behind a car or in the center of the lane If I am first. Once I clear of the stop line I move over if necessary.
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Old 06-28-19, 05:57 PM
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I'm always leery of taking the lane while stopped. I look back and stare down approaching drivers like a pitcher with a base stealer on second. Still, you can never be 100% certain they see you and are gonna stop, but I at least make sure they are slowing down substantially. If traffic is light and I'm not in a hurry, I will sometimes sit at the curb and wait for a light, it's probably safer than taking the lane in that situation anyway.
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Old 06-28-19, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by berner View Post
Sometimes due to a degree of inattention or a misalignment of planets and bad things can happen to anyone. At the same time, as someone recently has said, a village somewhere is missing its idiot.
One can also make one's own luck.

So, for example, if I see a truck making a left hand turn into a road that I'm making a left hand turn off of, then depending on the situation, I'll either stop way short, and as far right in my lane (well marked lanes), or head to the far right side of the road (less distinct lanes).

I suppose it doesn't matter which direction the truck is coming from. Either direction has the risk of sweeping into my lane.

Never "shadow" trucks in their blind spot. Get ahead of them, or behind them, just not hanging to right side.

And, of course, watch for a truck that seems to be lane-splitting as it may be headed for a wide right hand turn.

Bike lane paint isn't enough to protect a cyclist.

Often at crosswalks, I'll pull forward into the middle of the crosswalk, hopefully being in a place that I'm visible through the windshield to cars to my left. Then, of course, watch them as one takes off.
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Old 06-28-19, 10:24 PM
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I'm always leery of taking the lane while stopped. I look back and stare down approaching drivers like a pitcher with a base stealer on second. Still, you can never be 100% certain they see you and are gonna stop, but I at least make sure they are slowing down substantially. If traffic is light and I'm not in a hurry, I will sometimes sit at the curb and wait for a light, it's probably safer than taking the lane in that situation anyway.
I use the proper lane position so that approaching traffic knows what I intend to do. I don't just take the lane I hand signal and make eye contact with other road users. Even if you intend to make a right turn hugging the curb creates a situation were motorists believe they can pass you and cut across your path. I am usually not the first one at a busy intersection and follow through the turn behind a car past the stop line clear of the intersection before going to the right. There is no bike lane at the intersection for a good reason. It is too dangerous to be to the right of traffic that is going to turn. A good reference to how to bicycle is Bicycling Street Smarts. Some states use it in there vehicle code for bicycles. I see people on bicycles enter the right turn lane, hug the curb and then continue straight. I have seen people get ticketed for this and totally approve of the police writing tickets for improper lane position because it dangerously interferes with other road users. I am not saying there is no reason to fear some irresponsible road user. When I first started bicycling it was intoxicated people who were a major problem. Now it is the electronic distraction crowd. Example: The coed who ran into the parked patrol car 2 seconds after the officer stepped out of it to go to a domestic dispute. After checking her phone she admitted to texting and sending a selfie to her friend.
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Old 06-29-19, 01:36 AM
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Safety around large vehicles.
Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
About the time my friends and I bought our UO-8s, their dad told us in no uncertain terms that if we ever saw the right side of a right turning truck in front of up, we were about to die. I have ridden with that awareness ever since. But if you ride long enough, situations happen.
Originally Posted by berner View Post
Sometimes due to a degree of inattention or a misalignment of planets and bad things can happen to anyone. At the same time, as someone recently has said, a village somewhere is missing its idiot.
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
One can also make one's own luck.

So, for example, if I see a truck making a left [or right] hand turn into a road that I'm making a left [or right] hand turn off of, then depending on the situation, I'll either stop way short, and as far right [or left] in my lane (well marked lanes), or head to the far right [or left] side of the road (less distinct lanes).
As a lifestyle cyclist for decades (year round urban commuting, road cycling, touring) I frequently post about my safety mindset:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
So often on these threads about calamities or near misses, I post about my mindset that I believe gives me that extra edge.
Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
In all fairness, I don't think there's anyone who's been riding for a long time, who hasn't at some time (or many times) ridden in that zone where the only thing separating us from disaster is favorable alignment of the stars. (Note the "us" rather than "him")

We all take chances and make mistakes, but fortunately life is"organized" with plenty of forgiveness. In my experience the difference between disaster and "whew, that was close" is millimeters and microseconds, and not anything we can take credit for.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I try to keep safe with certain aphorisms in my head that come to mind to alert me when I encounter a situation where unseen dangers may lurk, such as “Like a weapon, assume every stopped car is loaded, with an occupant ready to exit from either side.” or“Don’t ride over an area (such as puddles or leaves) when you can’t see the road surface

…I was hit from behind by a “distracted” (? inebriated) hit and run driver on an otherwise seemingly safe and peaceful route. By good fortune, I’m alive and relatively unimpaired.

Over the past few months I have come to realize that my safety aphorisms (link), collected over the years by personal or vicarious experience, are my way of actively aligning the stars in my favor, to anticipate those unseen and otherwise unanticipated dangers.

FWIW, for my own information at least, my other aphorisms beside those above [see the link]:


  • ...
  • Truck at corner in sight, don't go right." I’m also wary of passing on the right at an intersection, especially next to a bus or truck, after reading of fatalities on my routes
  • ...
Those are all I remember for now, and they all pop-up in my mind as I encounter the situation.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-29-19 at 02:52 AM.
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Old 06-29-19, 02:15 AM
  #23  
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A light had turned red ahead of me and I was coasting in the center of the lane when it turned green. As I put the hammer down just before the lane line a city bus made a right turn from the left lane across my path.
It's a specific instance of the general case: trouble can come more easily in places of transition.

Intersections. Anytime traffic is going from stopped to start (or the reverse). Mixed-mode travel lanes, where nobody's quite certain that everyone sees everyone. A place with large speed differentials between occupants of the road (cars, bikes, skateboarders, pedestrians).


The one thing I try hard to do in those situations is based on the defensive driving principles that were hammered into me as a young pup. Still works. I go slowly in such "transition" zones, since it's all but certain at least one of the others there has no clue I am, no clue the blind spot they're ignoring has someone in it, etc. No certainty, for avoiding a mess. But it helps.
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Old 06-29-19, 02:36 AM
  #24  
Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by Clyde1820 View Post
It's a specific instance of the general case: trouble can come more easily in places of transition.

Intersections. Anytime traffic is going from stopped to start (or the reverse). Mixed-mode travel lanes, where nobody's quite certain that everyone sees everyone. A place with large speed differentials between occupants of the road (cars, bikes, skateboarders, pedestrians).

The one thing I try hard to do in those situations is based on the defensive driving principles that were hammered into me as a young pup. Still works. I go slowly in such "transition" zones, since it's all but certain at least one of the others there has no clue I am, no clue the blind spot they're ignoring has someone in it, etc. No certainty, for avoiding a mess. But it helps.
I also have a safety aphorism for intersections: ďYou donít have the right-of-way until the other yields it to you (learned from my teacher in driverís ed)Ē

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-30-19 at 04:09 AM.
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Old 06-29-19, 03:26 AM
  #25  
Jim from Boston
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I recently posted to this thread:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I try to keep safe with certain aphorisms in my head that come to mind to alert me when I encounter a situation where unseen dangers may lurk...

Over the past few months I have come to realize that my safety aphorisms (link), collected over the years by personal or vicarious experience, are my way of actively aligning the stars in my favor, to anticipate those unseen and otherwise unanticipated dangers.

FWIW, for my own information at least, my other aphorisms beside those above [see the link]:


  • ...
  • Truck at corner in sight, don't go right." Iím also wary of passing on the right at an intersection, especially next to a bus or truck, after reading of fatalities on my routes
  • ...
However, I recalled this post on the subject:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
... In fact, I must confess that soon after that accident [someone else's], but perhaps without a fully formed aphorism in my mind, I attempted a similar maneuver in front of an upcoming bus, knowing it was there. Indeed the bus did turn right, but I stopped short and was safe.

I think my aphorism was incubating in my mind, and it became fully entrenched since that incident happened directly to me.

It is still very firm in my memory, because on that unforgettable ride I was showing a (well-known) fellow BF subscriber around town, Fortunately he was well behind me and did not follow my lead, and likely did not see it, or at least did not mention it to me.
Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
Did he bid you adieu, and that was the last you ever saw of him?

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 06-29-19 at 03:36 AM.
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