Thursday, September 3, 2015

A close encounter of the worst kind

On Monday, August 31, I was riding my bicycle southbound on Old Davis Road when a speeding car came at me in a very unsafe manner.

What I gather was taking place was a stunt for a photograph. A young man, maybe 20 years old, was squatted on the road's center line, aiming his camera south. Two brand new muscle cars of some sort were racing at him. One of the northbound cars was in the northbound lane. The other was (illegally) driving north in the southbound lane.

They were skilled enough to not hit the photographer, as they raced by him at high speed--maybe 90 miles per hour. However, just as this stunt was taking place, I was riding my bicycle southbound in the southbound bike lane. That meant the fast-moving muscle car illegally driving north in the southbound car lane was headed almost directly at me. Had he hit me, I would be dead or in the hospital and would not be posting this blog entry. I would guess he missed me by 3 to 3.5 feet.

So it was not an extremely close call. However, it was close enough to scare the crap out of me. And it made me mad. I explained to the photographer, as I came up to and passed him, "you guys are fucking assholes!"

It is always risky for a driver to leave his lane in order to pass a slower vehicle going in his direction. It is downright stupid and highly dangerous to pull that maneuver when a bicycle or a car is approaching in the other direction.

A sensible driver who crosses into the oncoming lane in order to pass, and then sees a bike or a car coming the other way, will slow down and get back into his lane until it is safe to pass. Unfortunately, a lot of drivers are not sensible, particularly when a bicycle is riding in the oncoming lane. (Part of the problem may be that some cyclists are hard to see at a distance. That is part of the reason cyclists, for their own good, should wear visible clothing and use white-front and red-tail lights when the ambient light is not bright.)

Sadly, there was an incident yesterday north of Winters on Road 89, where a driver died making an unsafe pass. This is from The Davis Enterprise:

An unsafe passing maneuver left one man dead and another with major injuries Wednesday night in rural Yolo County, according to the California Highway Patrol. CHP reports say the as-yet-unidentified driver who died was passing another vehicle on southbound County Road 89 near County Road 31 north of Winters and struck a third car head-on at about 10:30 p.m. The passing vehicle, a Ford, then left the roadway and caught fire.

Many times on my bike I have ridden into Winters from the north on Road 89. It becomes Railroad Ave. in town. I know that intersection with Road 31 very well. There is almost no shoulder along that southbound stretch. So if a bicycle is ever there when a stupid driver tries to make an unsafe pass like this now-dead fellow did, the cyclist will be riding in the car lane and he will almost certainly be killed.

No comments: