Bicyclists: What did I do wrong?

I was on my way to pick up my daughter from daycare, driving on downtown city streets. I turned on my right turn signal in plenty of time, checked my mirror, and saw a bicycle coming up on my right. So I stopped and waited for him to pass before making my turn into the driveway. Instead, he stopped and yelled an obscenity at me. :dubious:

What was I supposed to have done?

You did nothing wrong. He was an idiot.

ETA: Maybe he felt you passed too close?

What you did wrong is not running him over, backing up, and running over him again (kidding). On behalf of real bicyclists everywhere, thanks for looking out for us.

Typically, when a car is making ready to turn, as a cyclist you have a couple of courses of action, slow down and let the car turn and get clear from you path, go around the inside, or go around the outside, as you get closer to the car, you have to make a choice - you become more committed.

He had probably taken into account that you were going to turn and was ready for it, perhaps he was going to slow down enough for you to complete your turn and the road would have then been clear, but instead you did what he didn’t expect, you waited for him.That put a crease in his plans. He does not necessarily know you stopped because you saw him - some drivers do stop for no obvious reason then wait and turn anyway, if you had perhaps waved him past he would have been clear about your intentions as he then knows you have seen him.

Trouble is, he then doesn’t know what you intend, will you turn or won’t you? so he has to wait rather than risk going around you just in case you then turn in on him.

Another option is that you overtook him not long before you decided to turn, and you could have just rolled behind for a maybe 20 yards or so and made your turn behind him. This is a very common thing for car drivers to do, it is annoying for the cyclist who often has to slow down and lose momentum that can take some effort to regain, especially when the car driver gained virtually nothing - they feel like they have had someone just cut them up.

You didn’t do anything wrong, except if you’ve got your turn signals on then he’s going to wait for you to turn, just like a car behind you would. Instead, you waited for him to pass a car on the right that is turning right, which makes no sense. He was acting like a car (as he should) and you were acting like a polite “let the little bicyclist past.”

You should not wait for him to pass you on the right, because that would be both illegal and dangerous for a cyclist. Instead, you should have turned slowly to the right, making sure that you could stop if necessary to avoid a collision with the cyclist (or anyone else).

I suspect that the cyclist was annoyed because you were making him stop for no apparent reason: he could not pass you on the right, and it may have been to dangerous for him to pass you on the left (because of other traffic). He just wanted you to move out of the way, and had no way of understanding that you expected him to pass on the right.

All of this leads to my Golden Rule of the Road: Just do what you are supposed to be doing. When driving, being overly polite is just going to piss everyone off. Stopping and waiting at odd places, waving other drivers in, not taking advantage of unprotected left turns or right on red rules just screw things up for everybody else. Being efficient, quick and smooth with your driving skills are the most polite things you can do for your fellow drivers ( cyclists included ).

It annoys me when drivers do this but I would never yell at you because I know your intentions are good.

I have a motorcyclist friend from Britain who refers to this as the “CCC Principle”: Courtesy Causes Chaos. I agree–just follow the rules of the road, and don’t confuse other drivers by attempting to be courteous while not following the law.

A bicyclist who curses out a driver who is driving carefully, notices the cyclist, and means well is a bicyclist with issues.

It was rude, but this could be the tenth time that day a driver has put his life in danger, whether through good intentions or negligence.

As a bicyclist and motorcyclist, I’d never, ever trust a driver sitting there with blinkers on. It’s a trap! :smiley:

The cyclist was a complete idiot to yell at you for this. You could not read his mind, and would have no idea why this was a problem unless you were a frequent cyclist yourself.

However, as a cyclist I also agree that predictability is more important than courtesy.

Maybe it depends on what state you’re in, but I’m pretty sure the last time I went back to California and had to renew my license, there were questions on the test pertaining to bicycles and right-of-way. Here’s some from the manual. So, I know I’m supposed to be careful around cyclists, but also treat them more or less as cars. If the OP were a California driver, she’d have no excuse for not knowing why her actions might be a problem.

I bicycle (and drive) in the area that ENugent lists as her location. Over the top levels of courtesy are predictable. I “know” that cars will stop for me, even when I do have the right of way. (I stop anyway, because of the consequences of being wrong), but 90% of the time I end up in a game of “no, you go first.”
It can be frustrating at times - but cursing out a driver is a wrong move.

I’m with the ‘consistency first’ crowd. That said, it should have been pretty obvious to him what was going on. A quick check should have showed your blinker was on and you were looking at him through the mirror. I’ve always felt that eye contact was my single best defense when riding my bike. Bikes should act like cars and bikes should be treated like cars except when a fender bender will put someone in the hospital. Then, maybe a dash of extra caution is in order
So when he started cursing? Yeah, a nice cartoonish “Iron him flat with your SUV” no jury would convict you.

What you did wrong was expect him to pass you on the right. You should have turned as if the bike was any other vehicle on the road behind you – that is, just turned. Period.

Instead you stopped and delayed the both of you.

It gets trickier if you are coming up on a bike from behind as you are both appraoching an intersection, and you expect to turn right. In that case you need to slow down and let the bike make it to the corner first, unless you have lots of room to execute a legal pass and get back into the right lane well ahead of the bike without cutting it off.

The bicyclist will have no idea what the driver is thinking when something like this happens. In fact it would be a very dangerous assumption for the bicyclist to make that the driver is waiting for the cyclist to pass him on the right before turning. Because the cyclist shouldn’t be passing on the right. And if the driver expects to be passed on the left, there is no reason to stop.

I will concede, however, there are many idiot cyclists who will slip past one or more cars to the right as they are stopped at a light. They deserve squashing if you are making a proper and signalled turn and they get between you and the curb.

So long as you didn’t pass the cyclist with your right turn signal on(just about the scariest damn thing a cyclist can see), I’d say you did nothing wrong.

I’d agree with all of this. I’m an avid cyclist, and this is easily the worst situation I come across. There really isn’t a good way to deal with it for either party.

If you have plenty of time to get way (WAY) out in front of the cyclist, then you should signal and turn as usual. If you are approaching the intersection at the same time, it’s better to slow down and stay behind the cyclist (possibly annoying the car behind you, but they won’t die if something goes wrong) and complete your turn after he has passed through.

What frequently happens though, is the driver can’t really judge how fast the cyclist is moving, and therefore can’t make the decision in the appropriate amount of time. This leads to them either cutting off the cyclist as they attempt the turn too late (terrifying for a cyclist), or they pass the cyclist, reconsider the turn and then hit the brakes to wait.

This is obviously better than being cut off, but by even entering my field of vision at an intersection (by passing me and then slowing down), I will assume that you were thinking about cutting me off, and I will be angry with you for thinking about putting my life on the line (though I will be thankful you opted for the safe option, however late).

Thanks for taking the time to care.

  • another Seattle-area cyclist

Word. While we’re at it, let’s fume at drivers who unnecessarily stop for pedestrians (okay, me) who are just at the beginning of a crosswalk, even though there’s plenty of room for them to go and me to walk without breaking stride. :mad: By stopping, they engage in de facto pressure to get me to speed up so that they can go; if they had turned instead of stopped, I could have continued at my own pace. But no, they have to do me this alleged “favor”. :rolleyes: