Too close encounter with an SUV

Almost died while cycling yesterday evening.

Riding down a fairly steep hill (maybe 8 to 10 percent grade) on a straight country road. No paved shoulder, just two lanes. Coming up the hill was a string of vehicles. The third in the string was an SUV who decided to pass when I was maybe a quarter mile away. I was going maybe 40 mph at the time. (Note all numbers in this post are guesses.)

I see the guy pull out and expected him to pull right back in when he sees me. Nope, just kept coming up the hill in my lane. I start to break and stay about two feet from the right-hand edge, aimed directly at his left headlight. There’s no place for me to turn off and it’s impossible for a bicycle to stop on that steep a hill.

I could have pulled over another foot or so, but decided not to. For one thing, there wasn’t really enough room to totally avoid him. If I did pull over, he may have gotten the idea that there was enough room for me and that he didn’t have to move at all. I then would probably have been sideswiped by his mirror, if nothing else. But if he didn’t move, I was probably going over his hood and through his windshield right in front of him.

Anyway, he finally did pull over at almost the last minute so I’m still alive to post this. I’m not going to say what I think of the guy, since this is MPSIMS and not the Pit. I’m sure you can all guess.

Firstly that driver’s behaviour was appalling:

  • he’s overtaking uphill :smack:
  • he’s overtaking more than one vehicle
  • there’s no shoulder for safety (what if a speeding car comes over the top of the hill?)

Secondly a similar incident happened to me yesterday (a friend was giving me a lift.)
On a narrow two-lane country road (bordered by hedges, no shoulder), a car pulls out from a string of vehicles and tries to pass at least two cars and a lorry.
We are the only vehicle coming the other way.
We’re closing at a combined speed of about 90 miles per hour and he’s obviously not going to make it. Also he’s clearly not going to pull back (he’s accelerating.)
My mate brakes to a complete stop - and the other car literally just makes it.
That madman could easily have killed several people.

So please don’t take offence (you’re the innocent here), but I would have tried to avoid going through his windscreen (in case he didn’t stop or had no gap to pull into.)

I was biking on a fairly deserted two lane country road with a wide but rough shoulder, it had a lot of gravel so I stayed on the ‘road’ side as it was smoother. I heard a pick-up coming from behind and as we were the only two on the road I didn’t pay much attention until he god damn near hit me as he whizzed by extremely close, veering towards me and then he straightened back to the middle of the lane. Scared the hell out of me and seriously pissed me off.

A mile or two later I see a gas station, pull in to refill my water bottle and there’s the damn truck. I waited by it until this drugstore cowboy, unfortunately very large and bowed up, comes out. “You passed me way too close, care to explain yourself?” I asked. “You were taking up too much of the shoulder” he said.

I’d already biked about 40 miles, was tired and would have gotton my ass kicked or run over once on the road again but it was all I could do to keep from knocking the chew out of his stupid mouth. Some drivers, when given half a chance or any advantage, are just complete dicks. I’m not sure much can be done about it either.

  • Nothing wrong with passing uphill. It’s often the best way to do it (if you have enough room of course)
  • Nothing wrong with passing multiple cars. In this case it was two.

I must ask the OP, where you wearing bright visible clothing? How about a light on your bike? Front and back. Even in daylight, one of those flashing lights makes you much more visible. I ask this because the SUV (why does it matter what type of car it was? Oh, right) almost certainly didn’t see you.

I drive two lane mountain highways every single day. And the road is very popular with cyclists. It blows my mind when they don’t try to make themselves visible. Some of them may as well be in camo.

Anyway. Just saying. And glad you’re OK.

I’m very glad the OP survived. Moron drivers are everywhere.

A friend of mine had a similar scenario to glee’s a few years ago but they ended up having the head-on collision when the opposite-direction, multi-car passing, drunk *almost *made it back into her lane.

The driver of my friend’s car, his Dad, died in the collision, and his Mom in the right front seat was severely injured but has since recovered. The two 20-something kids in the back seat were slightly injured. The drunk’s car was totaled, but she was only slightly injured.

I agree with the OP’s decision to aim for the driver. It’s probably the best way to ensure he/she sees you. And if things don’t work out, at least you get vengeance in the final second of your life; that’s better than simply being murdered by carelessness.

Surely it takes longer to pass going uphill?
Plus you can’t see what’s about to come over the brow of the hill.

Additionally passing multiple cars means you have longer ‘at risk’ where you have no way to get back in your lane.

If it were a Prius, the OP might have been able to ride over the top of the thing and out of danger.

Often you are passing either a truck with a heavy load or a POS car. If you have a decent car it’s often faster to pass them on the uphill because the truck/car being passed slows down even more. The opposite is true going downhill when they often speed up. This has been my experience from driving mountain roads every day for the last 23 years.

On my drive home every day, the only legal place to pass on the two lane highway is going uphill.

As I said - “(if you have enough room of course)”. Meaning if you have enough room before nearing the top of the hill.

Sometimes the cars are too close together to merge back in. And, as long as you have room (meaning no vehicles are coming), since you already have your speed up, you might as well pass as many as is safe. Nothing wrong with it.

The OP said the SUV was coming up a hill, which is different from driving a long uphill stretch on a mountain road. If you’re driving up a hill, you typically can’t see traffic that’s beyond the crest of the hill.

Thus, such stretches are often designated “No Passing” zones (by a sign and/or a solid yellow line on that side of the middle of the highway). I’m curious as to whether this happened in what was for the SUV in question a No Passing zone.

You know, it’s easy to get complacent when driving. But when I’m going to pull into the lane that’s used by oncoming traffic I make damn sure there’s no one in it. It’s not the rider’s responsibility to make himself seen; it’s the driver’s responsibility to look where the fuck he’s going.

Motorcyclists know this is a good idea, and having a light on in the daytime is the law in many states. Yet I still see plenty of cyclists dressed in black or other dark colors before the sun is up. They too should take some responsibility for BEING visible. I look where I’m going, if I can’t see you, that does not mean I didn’t look. This doesn’t just have to do with passing other cars either.

Just where is this 8-10° grade and how long is it straight and what point were you on the grade & what point was the closest car and the bad SUV? What was your visibility factor (clothing, reflectors, lights etc. ) and time of day and position of the sun if not a completely heavy overcast where it was not at all determinable? Were you sky lighted or was the background from the SUV’s point of view possibly confusing? Why was your bike unstoppable?

This is important so we will know who needs lambasting.

You have heard of being right
and
being dead right?

Tude & lack of info makes me feel that as a two wheel rider, you feel you are a special snowflake and from your judgement of the situation, riding a vehicle that you can’t stop from 40 but you go 40 anyway & … & … do not even try to slow, just aim at the driver and are willing to die… ? Well… SUV should have looked better. You are not a special snowflake nor a totally innocent snowflake either.

Had a few encounters with people of the ‘dead right’ mental attitude. They all lived because someone else saved their incorrect attitude. The others I have know personally who did not live, well, not one of the survivors of their families were cheering or proud.

Now, you could be 100 right & innocent and totally in the right in your judgements & estimations of the event.

And you were ready to die??? Don’t think you are worth much do you? If you have a child & it was riding with you, you would have done ???

YMMV

:confused: According to the OP, he did “even try to slow.” What else are you implying he should have done, that he did not do?

No place? In that situation??? He needs a special place???:rolleyes:

Impossible to stop?? :rolleyes: Oh come on… Picture of the bike & close ups of the brakes please. Riding a bike in hill country you can’t lock the wheels on. Even at 40… ??? :smack: If he could not stop from 40, why was he going 40???

PPPP me thinks.

Where & what country was this in/at?

OP here. Thanks (mostly) for all the replies. Some people have some questions.

The incident happened in Oregon on Bald Peak Road. Which is a road that climbs up to Bald Peak State Park. It’s in Washington County. Google maps doesn’t work for me on this system, so you’ll have to find the maps for yourself if you want them. It was a fairly longish straight section near the bottom of the hill to the east of the mountain.

I don’t have a computer on my bike so don’t know what speed I was going at the time. I hadn’t been pedalling and was going down as fast as the slope took me. The 8 to 10 percent grade is also just a guess. It may have been steeper; it’s unlikely to be less. At any rate, I did break and had slowed down a fair amount by the time the car reached me. But there was not enough room between me and the SUV to stop. I doubt if a car could have stopped in that distance. Remember that stopping distances go way up when going down steep hills.

As far as turning off, well I could have gone off into the ditch or whatever was on the side of the road. There wasn’t a side road or driveway along there. In my judgement, doing that would have been just as dangerous, perhaps moreso, than being hit by the vehicle. I decided to take my chances on the guy pulling over in time.

As far as visibility, it was evening but early in the evening, around 6:30. Sunset was still a couple hours off, the sky was clear, and there was plenty of light. The sun had gone behind the hill we were on, so it was not shining directly on the scene and he wasn’t blinded by that. The guy should have seen me as soon as he pulled out, if not before.

Nice victim blaming.

dtilque, just to satisfy my curiosity, do you happen to know the answer to this question?

I’m glad you’re okay; and as far as I know you didn’t really do anything wrong, and the SUV did. That said, it seems to me that bicycling on a shoulderless, steeply-graded two-lane highway is an inherently dangerous activity, so much so that I’d be scared to do it.

Just pointing out some facts.

No shit. My Wife is an IronMan Triathlete, and she won’t train on that type of road. Others certainly do though.

Do you tell rape victims their skirts are too short as well?