Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Advocacy & Safety
Reload this Page >

Letter to the editor — The “wave of death”

Notices
Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

Letter to the editor — The “wave of death”

Old 01-31-21, 11:21 AM
  #1  
_ForceD_
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
_ForceD_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 1,585

Bikes: Several...from old junk to new all-carbon.

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 680 Post(s)
Liked 282 Times in 154 Posts
Letter to the editor — The “wave of death”

Saw this on the opinion page in yesterday’s local paper. I’ve been wanting to say the same thing for years.

Dan

Stop giving cyclists the 'wave of death'

As a cyclist, I'm one of the most vulnerable people on our roads - a motorist's minor collision is, for me, a lifethreatening event. While there are many things we could do to make cycling on Aquidneck Island safer, such as putting in a bike path along the disused railroad tracks running from Common Fence Point to Little Harbor, there's one thing Island motorists can do today, right now, to save lives. And it's free.

Stop being so nice. Stop giving us cyclists the “wave of death.”

The “wave of death” is a term we cyclists use to describe the actions of well-meaning motorists who wave us in front of them in contravention of the rules of the road. I usually get it on West Main, when I'm turning left onto it from Mill Lane or left off of it at Chases Lane or Woolsey Road. As you recall, West Main is a four-lane road. When motorists stop out of turn and wave me across, they think they're doing me a favor. Unfortunately, they may not see the car coming up behind them in the other lane. They can't predict the actions of drivers approaching in their own lane who, seeing a car stopped in front of them, may change into the previously unoccupied lane without noticing me, the cyclist who's crossing traffic.

If you'd really like to be nice to us cyclists, please just follow the rules of the road and don't give us the “wave of death.” We prefer to wait for a break in traffic - we're probably out of breath and happy for the rest! We'll make the turn when it's safe, and we'll appreciate you for driving safely and predictably.

Oh, and use your turn signal. We can't read your minds!

Alex Ellermann, Middletown
_ForceD_ is offline  
Old 01-31-21, 01:18 PM
  #2  
Iride01
Hits [ENTER] b4 thinking
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 8,259

Bikes: '20 Tarmac Disc Comp '91, '78 Raleigh Competition GS

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3255 Post(s)
Liked 1,844 Times in 1,310 Posts
It is a wave of death. Though I'm certainly in the minority, I refuse to cross most multilane roads when a motorist stops at them although technically they have the right of way and I even have a stop sign. Some get angry for my refusal of their being nice. Sometimes I have even had to get off my bike and show them I have a stop sign.

In most states, there is no requirement to stop at a marked crossing unless a person is already in the crossing. And in many states, the verbiage in the laws might make someone on a bicycle less protected by such laws since some specifically say pedestrians or for other definitions made elsewhere. Though there have not been enough cases of such trialed in courts to show how courts and juries will lean toward the vagaries.

There is even a four lane divided boulevard near me that many times some "kind" soul will stop and wave me or others across. I never go. Once eight of so years ago, I found the bushes, sign posts and other stuff all torn up by a car. Judging by the skid marks I believe it was someone not paying attention that another car had stopped to be nice and narrowly missed plowing into the back of the stopped car which might have pushed it into whomever was crossing in front of it.

Sure we can say the other driver should have been more attentive. And they should. But if the other car hadn't have stopped to be nice and given up their legal right of way, then there likely will not have been a wreck in the first place.

Though I'm imagining worst case than what might have actually taken place, I think it illustrates clearly why this can be the wave of death.

Last edited by Iride01; 01-31-21 at 03:48 PM.
Iride01 is online now  
Old 01-31-21, 02:51 PM
  #3  
work4bike
Senior Member
 
work4bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Atlantic Beach Florida
Posts: 1,462
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2163 Post(s)
Liked 333 Times in 251 Posts
I think all of us that actually stop for stop signs experience this problem, but I wouldn't call it the Wave of Death, but then again I've never seen a motorist wave me on to cross a multilane roadway, only at stop signs. I've developed tactic to ward off this Wave of Death effect, basically I look away while waving the car on, that way the driver knows I can't see him/her, so they just go. That works in most situations.

I don't think of this waving as a Wave of Death, rather I believe, it's from a lot of cyclists rolling thru stop signs, so motorists are kind of programmed for cyclists to not obey the rule of the road, so they just give a wave.

I bet a lot of cyclists in large cities, like NYC don't see too many motorists waving them on. I believe it only happens where motorists don't see tons of cyclists. BTW, they also do this for pedestrians, but again, I bet pedestrians in NYC and other large cities don't see many motorists waving them on.
work4bike is offline  
Likes For work4bike:
Old 01-31-21, 04:54 PM
  #4  
trailangel
Senior Member
 
trailangel's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 4,689

Bikes: Schwinn Varsity

Mentioned: 22 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1804 Post(s)
Liked 583 Times in 344 Posts
Had a really excellent driving instructor in HS. One of things he pounded into us... never wave somebody on. If you want them to go ahead, just sit there and wait.
trailangel is offline  
Likes For trailangel:
Old 01-31-21, 05:13 PM
  #5  
SurferRosa
Señor Member
 
SurferRosa's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: Pac NW
Posts: 4,638

Bikes: Old school lightweights

Mentioned: 61 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1902 Post(s)
Liked 2,146 Times in 1,200 Posts
I wave on some drivers. It's really less a wave than a kind of frantic Pete Townshend helicopter motion.
SurferRosa is offline  
Likes For SurferRosa:
Old 01-31-21, 06:40 PM
  #6  
Kat12
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 198
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 133 Post(s)
Liked 102 Times in 73 Posts
Sure-- happens to cars, too. A friend's daughter was in an accident as a passenger when they were waiting to turn left from a left-turn lane, crossing two lanes of traffic. One driver stopped and waved them across. The driver did not want to go, but the stopped driver was waving insistently. She goes... gets creamed by someone in the other lane-- and of course neither saw the other because of the person who stopped... luckily, no one was hurt badly. Friend's daughter was shaken up for a while, though. (Of course, if driving and the person in the other lane stops, probably best to look and see why... I always consider brake lights to be a "warning signal" when driving.)

I'm of the opinion that the "nicest" thing to do when driving/riding/walking is usually following the rules of the road and being predictable to others rather than making them second-guess or indeed be put in danger...
Kat12 is offline  
Likes For Kat12:
Old 02-01-21, 02:36 AM
  #7  
BikeLite
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 973
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 279 Post(s)
Liked 66 Times in 42 Posts
catchy phrase, but probably about the least common reason anyone gets hit.
BikeLite is offline  
Likes For BikeLite:
Old 02-01-21, 07:40 AM
  #8  
Litespud
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Chapel Hill NC
Posts: 1,402

Bikes: 2000 Litespeed Vortex Chorus 10, 1995 DeBernardi Cromor S/S, Nashbar 3sp commuter

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 526 Post(s)
Liked 575 Times in 319 Posts
Originally Posted by _ForceD_ View Post
Saw this on the opinion page in yesterday’s local paper. I’ve been wanting to say the same thing for years.

Dan
too-nice drivers = “Niceholes” - well-meaning wild cards who screw things up for everyone
Litespud is offline  
Likes For Litespud:
Old 02-01-21, 08:46 AM
  #9  
Iride01
Hits [ENTER] b4 thinking
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 8,259

Bikes: '20 Tarmac Disc Comp '91, '78 Raleigh Competition GS

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3255 Post(s)
Liked 1,844 Times in 1,310 Posts
Originally Posted by trailangel View Post
Had a really excellent driving instructor in HS. One of things he pounded into us... never wave somebody on. If you want them to go ahead, just sit there and wait.
There have actually been drivers that waved other vehicles out that were immediately hit by a vehicle in the other lane. In court one of the arguments by the injured drivers is that the one waving was responsible for damages. The presumption being that by waving, they assumed responsibility for the safety of that person and should have made certain no other hazards existed.

Don't know what the outcomes were for these instances, but the first time I heard about such was when I was a teen in the 70's. So it's been going on a while. I'd be certain your driving instructor was aware of this potential for reassignment of responsibility.
Iride01 is online now  
Old 02-01-21, 09:19 AM
  #10  
Reflector Guy
Senior Member
 
Reflector Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Chicago
Posts: 862

Bikes: Bianchi Via Nirone

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 408 Post(s)
Liked 740 Times in 347 Posts
I often ride on a certain rail-trail and there is one section where it closely parallels a very active railroad mainline; one that sees about 50+ trains a day. There are several streets that cross the railroad and the path and some of the drivers there love to stop and wave the bikes across. It is doubly dangerous because the car going in the other direction probably isn't stopping (and may not even have noticed the bike), and also because the car that stops inevitably causes other cars behind him to stop on the tracks. I've never seen an accident there but it is always awkward.
Reflector Guy is offline  
Old 02-01-21, 09:19 AM
  #11  
berner
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bristol, R. I.
Posts: 4,340

Bikes: Specialized Secteur, old Peugeot

Mentioned: 20 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 661 Post(s)
Liked 490 Times in 296 Posts
I live in Bristol Alex, and drivers this side of the Mount Hope Bridge seem somewhat less frenetic than on Aquidneck Island. I don't like riding on the Island as everyone drives in a hurry. Even the back roads there make me nervous.
berner is offline  
Old 02-01-21, 09:21 AM
  #12  
Reflector Guy
Senior Member
 
Reflector Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Chicago
Posts: 862

Bikes: Bianchi Via Nirone

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 408 Post(s)
Liked 740 Times in 347 Posts
In a similar vein.... My Dad used to wave pedestrians across the street while he was driving, sometimes even in the middle of the block. He is lucky he never got rear-ended.
Reflector Guy is offline  
Old 02-01-21, 09:30 AM
  #13  
work4bike
Senior Member
 
work4bike's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Atlantic Beach Florida
Posts: 1,462
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2163 Post(s)
Liked 333 Times in 251 Posts
Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
There have actually been drivers that waved other vehicles out that were immediately hit by a vehicle in the other lane. In court one of the arguments by the injured drivers is that the one waving was responsible for damages. The presumption being that by waving, they assumed responsibility for the safety of that person and should have made certain no other hazards existed.

Don't know what the outcomes were for these instances, but the first time I heard about such was when I was a teen in the 70's. So it's been going on a while. I'd be certain your driving instructor was aware of this potential for reassignment of responsibility.
I saw a case like this on Judge Judy show, where a driver stopped and waved on another car, which went, only to be hit as they were attempting to cross over to the other side of the road. The driver waving was not held responsible.
work4bike is offline  
Old 02-01-21, 09:58 AM
  #14  
caloso
Senior Member
 
caloso's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Posts: 40,317

Bikes: Specialized Tarmac, Canyon Exceed, Specialized Transition, Ellsworth Roots, Ridley Excalibur

Mentioned: 66 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2719 Post(s)
Liked 2,428 Times in 1,126 Posts
Great letter. The closest I’ve come to dying on my bike is in this exact situation.
caloso is online now  
Old 02-01-21, 10:26 AM
  #15  
njkayaker
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 12,479
Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2828 Post(s)
Liked 526 Times in 365 Posts
The person interpreting the "wave" as "safe to go" is making a basic mistake.

The person waving can't make that determination for you.

People getting "creamed" after being waved on aren't looking like they are supposed to.
njkayaker is offline  
Likes For njkayaker:
Old 02-01-21, 10:37 AM
  #16  
Iride01
Hits [ENTER] b4 thinking
 
Iride01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Mississippi
Posts: 8,259

Bikes: '20 Tarmac Disc Comp '91, '78 Raleigh Competition GS

Mentioned: 34 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3255 Post(s)
Liked 1,844 Times in 1,310 Posts
Originally Posted by work4bike View Post
I saw a case like this on Judge Judy show, where a driver stopped and waved on another car, which went, only to be hit as they were attempting to cross over to the other side of the road. The driver waving was not held responsible.
Nice! So this still goes on.

In the few cases I did in a round-a-bout fashion hear the result, the person waving was not held liable for for cyclist continuing into another lane and subsequently being hit by another.
Iride01 is online now  
Old 02-01-21, 12:38 PM
  #17  
woodcraft
Senior Member
 
woodcraft's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Nor Cal
Posts: 5,834
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1734 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 802 Times in 496 Posts
Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
There have actually been drivers that waved other vehicles out that were immediately hit by a vehicle in the other lane. In court one of the arguments by the injured drivers is that the one waving was responsible for damages. The presumption being that by waving, they assumed responsibility for the safety of that person and should have made certain no other hazards existed.

Don't know what the outcomes were for these instances, but the first time I heard about such was when I was a teen in the 70's. So it's been going on a while. I'd be certain your driving instructor was aware of this potential for reassignment of responsibility.

That happened to my mother- driver insistently waving her out from a parking lot, & when she did, was hit by car in the next lane.

Fortunately no injuries. The driving equivalent of mansplaining.

While riding, I sometimes wave folks around to pass, but only when it unquestionably safe.

Last edited by woodcraft; 02-01-21 at 12:42 PM.
woodcraft is offline  
Old 02-02-21, 08:33 AM
  #18  
CAT7RDR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Hacienda Hgts
Posts: 1,291

Bikes: 1999 Schwinn Peloton Ultegra 10, Kestrel RT-1000 Ultegra, Trek Marlin 6 Deore 29'er

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 491 Post(s)
Liked 954 Times in 510 Posts
At stop signs I always follow the rules of the road. I have seen accidents with vehicles after the death wave. No bueno!
CAT7RDR is online now  
Old 02-02-21, 09:22 AM
  #19  
ExPatTyke
Senior Member
 
ExPatTyke's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2016
Location: Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, UK
Posts: 393

Bikes: Gitane Course, Paris Sport, Peugeot AO8, Peugeot Bretagne, Peugeot Premiere, Peugeot ANC Halfords Team Replica, Peugeot Festina Team Replica, Motobecane Grand Sport, Motobecane Super 15, Raleigh Pro Race, Raleigh Stratos, BSA

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 98 Post(s)
Liked 283 Times in 67 Posts
Excellent letter, highlighting something I see when driving as well as cycling.

There's a staggered crossroads on my commute to and from one of our sites. It's over a main road, which is a long straight and at the bottom of a hill. Speed limit is 40, but a lot of traffic goes straight through at much higher speeds.

There's a filter lane in both directions on the main road for traffic turning right off the main road (I'm in the UK), and it's very common for drivers to stop in the filter lane and wave you over if you're waiting to go right or straight over.

I won't move, no matter how much they wave or get abusive, and I never wave anyone across. Plenty of people do though, and there have been two fatalities I'm aware of and numerous collisions at this junction over the last few years.
ExPatTyke is offline  
Old 02-03-21, 07:51 AM
  #20  
Vismund B
Member
 
Vismund B's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Queens, NY
Posts: 44

Bikes: An old Panasonic Sport

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 9 Post(s)
Liked 25 Times in 16 Posts
Someone mentioned in NYC we probably don’t have too many vehicles waving bikes in but I disagree. I have found that many motorists are willing to wave me in. I will only go though if I have a clear unobstructed view of everything around me as to avoid being “creamed” by another vehicle.
Vismund B is offline  
Old 02-03-21, 11:05 AM
  #21  
_ForceD_
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
_ForceD_'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Rhode Island
Posts: 1,585

Bikes: Several...from old junk to new all-carbon.

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 680 Post(s)
Liked 282 Times in 154 Posts
There are a couple of problems with taking advantage of this perceived “kindness” by drivers in situations like this. First...as a cyclist...I’ve always felt that I’m safer behind cars than I am in front of them. There are times that I’ve had the right of way on the bike and I take it. Only to have the car turn in behind me...and then not be able to pass me for one reason or another (narrow road, oncoming traffic, etc.)...and the driver then becomes upset because I’m blocking him/her. Secondly, when cyclists recognize this “kindness” I feel like it legitimizes and propagates it. The yielding driver, and possibly others at the intersection will see it and continue to do it.


Dan
_ForceD_ is offline  
Old 02-03-21, 11:09 AM
  #22  
Notso_fastLane
Senior Member
 
Notso_fastLane's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Layton, UT
Posts: 1,596

Bikes: 2011 Bent TW Elegance 2014 Carbon Strada Velomobile

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 622 Post(s)
Liked 687 Times in 411 Posts
The only time I take advantage of niceholes is at MUP street crossings, and only under the following conditions:
1) There is either no other traffic, or drivers in both directions have stopped (happens pretty frequently here).
2) at 3 or 4 way stops. I always stop and put my foot down, or stop and make an obvious sign of looking both directions when I'm in my velo. If they STILL wave me through after waiting an extra 3-4 seconds, I'll go if condition 1 is satisfied.
Notso_fastLane is offline  
Old 02-03-21, 07:18 PM
  #23  
Pratt
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 476
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 170 Post(s)
Liked 175 Times in 110 Posts
I have no idea what the real legal interpretation is, but it has always seemed to me that my case would be weakened if I had to say "Yes, I followed the direction of someone I knew was not authorized to direct traffic".
Sometimes to Mae a left turn across a busy, multilane intersection, I will go through, and then walk my bike, with the light/walk signal, and then remount on the other side.
Pratt is offline  
Old 02-04-21, 02:00 PM
  #24  
Reflector Guy
Senior Member
 
Reflector Guy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: Chicago
Posts: 862

Bikes: Bianchi Via Nirone

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 408 Post(s)
Liked 740 Times in 347 Posts
Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
...or drivers in both directions have stopped
Indeed. The guy coming from the other direction is always the wild card. He most likely isn't on board with the waving-the-bike-through program.
Reflector Guy is offline  
Old 02-05-21, 01:34 AM
  #25  
billew
meandering nomad
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Newport,Rhode Island
Posts: 422

Bikes: eleven bikes no car

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Funny this letter is from my home town. I have had this happen to me, where I had the car waved into me. A nice hole stopped to let cross traffic go and since I had reason to believe the driver was making a left turn I used the large lane to filter and got creamed I couldn't swerve because a driver on the right had crept out into lane. I rarely go out of turn at intersections with stop signs and put my foot down and as someone else said I would rather have them in front of me as I take the lane all of the time.
billew is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.