Here’s a safety question for you:
Q.: When a pickup truck cuts in front of you and stops dead in the road to make a right turn into a driveway, and you are traveling downhill at about 30mph on a bike, what is your proper response?
A.: Pass the pickup truck on the right and hope he sees you and doesn’t drive over you as he turns.
B.: Pass him on the left, and hope there isn’t any traffic in that lane that will make you a meat pancake.
C.: Crash into the rear end of the truck to let him know you don’t appreciate his cutting you off.
D.: Squeeze your brakes for all you’re worth, while yelling at the top of you lungs: “NO! You @$$#Ø13 Don’t stop here!”
Fortunately, when this happened to me, I chose D. and the driver actually heard me and rolled forward enough that I stopped before becoming choice C.
As I rode by him, he said “Why didn’t you just go around me?” I said “Why didn’t you just wait behind me?”
I shouldn’t expect the driver to appreciate the nuances of riding a recumbent trike, or even a bicycle for that matter, but I don’t believe this was an accident. I believe he deliberately cut me off. The pickup made a right turn while staying fully to the left in his lane leaving no way around him except on either the right, or into the left lane, both dangerous and ill-advised choices. He came to a full stop to turn into a driveway, not slow and turn, but sit there with his turn signal on waiting to see what happened. Then the fact that he was aware of me enough to hear me and to pull forward when it looked like I couldn’t stop in time really makes it look deliberate, rather than just typical clueless driving.
The only other explanation I can think of would be that he really thought that the right thing to do in this circumstance would be to leave room on the right for me and wait for me to go by before making the right turn. But how do I know he even saw me? Bikes get run over all the time by right-turning cars and we are taught to avoid that situation, as I did.
Just in case you are reading this and are wondering what the right thing to have done was, the answer is, as it always is, treat the bike as if it was any other vehicle. This is what the law specifies. The driver should have stayed behind me in the lane, even if it means slowing down, just as if I was a slow-moving car.
I wasn’t going to sweat it, but soon after the incident, my steering failed on the trike. I had apparently pushed or pulled so hard on the handlebars that I broke two bolts clean off. Only one was left holding the bars and that was so loose that I could no longer guide the bike.
I got off onto the sidewalk and took things apart to see what happened. I do carry tools with me on the bike. But I had no spare bolts! Not even something I could have fudged into one more hole to make a wobbly steering possible.
So I put it all back together, except for the two bolt heads that I threw into my bag with the tools, and went off in search of a place to wait and maybe buy a drink. A short walk back the way I came ran out of sidewalks quickly and I wasn’t going to drag the trike along the side of the road in traffic. So I turned around and headed the other way. It was downhill at least. I didn’t have to go far to come to a gas station with a C-store and a Subway in it.
Another thing I usually carry is a cell-phone. Now you know why. Even if I found a hardware store open, and could buy a bolt or two, I didn’t have a way to get the broken pieces out while on the road. It was a piece of cake at home with the right tools and a power drill! But my only option left was to admit defeat and call home hoping someone could come give me a ride. Fortunately, my wife answered my plea for help and she and my daughter came to my rescue.
Ed and Bob at Chestnut Ridge Park
The broken handlebars
And the bolts that once held them together