Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
Jon Lucas
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Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Jon Lucas » 8 Aug 2018, 5:56pm

I had a close encounter with a large tractor on a recent evening ride. I was cycling through a village and heading towards a three-way mini roundabout. On the road to my left, the traffic heading towards the roundabout had a very large tractor leading it. I calculated that I would reach the roundabout just before it did, and had priority over it, but given the size of the vehicle, I slowed down to ensure I could stop if I had to. I started onto the roundabout but then saw the tractor was not going to stop and had to make an extremely quick left turn to avoid going under the front wheels, which were larger than I am. I then had to keep moving out of the way to ensure the back of the tractor didn't run me over.

It was certainly very bad driving, but thinking about it afterwards, I suspect the tractor driver has a blind spot below the window and may genuinely not been able to see me at the roundabout, although he should have seen me approaching as visibility was reasonable, but may have concluded I was going to stop to let him through. He was sat probably 10-12 feet up above the road. Two of the car drivers stopped to tell me I had had a very lucky escape.

No doubt others here have had similar experiences, so would be interested to hear whether this is a blind spot to be aware of.

DaveGos
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Joined: 13 Nov 2009, 12:40pm

Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby DaveGos » 9 Aug 2018, 5:45pm

Tractors rarely stop or slow down for anything . They are very important vehicles , providing all our food and to take the foot off the accelerator for a few seconds , would lead to the vital loss of several seconds , endangering our food security

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Tilley
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Location: Nailsea

Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Tilley » 9 Aug 2018, 5:57pm

Riding a recumbent trike in a semi rural location I have always been very conscious of the visibility issue and tractors. I haven't yet had any bad experience and my concern stems more from tractors emerging from a field onto the road rather than when they are progressing along a road. I have fitted an Airzound to the trike in an attempt to at least warn the tractor driver of my presence, but as I say thankfully so far haven't had the need to use it.

flat tyre
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby flat tyre » 9 Aug 2018, 6:21pm

Always best to give them a wide berth, tractor drivers around here don't take any prisoners.

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Paulatic
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Paulatic » 9 Aug 2018, 6:51pm

I doubt the tractor would have a blind spot when looking down. They are usually designed to see the ground and see crops.
However as previously stated tractor drivers, even when they aren’t on the phone, never dream of stopping for anything.
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julianm
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby julianm » 9 Aug 2018, 6:52pm

Locally the idea seems to be to buy something designed for the plains of Kansas & then put it to use on lanes where they touch the hedges on either side of the road. The drivers seem indifferent to their surroundings & the threat they pose to every other road user.
Don`t get me started on the thousands of tons of produce they drag along many many miles of A & B road on red diesel to avoid haulier costs.

Postboxer
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Postboxer » 9 Aug 2018, 8:50pm

Tend to have fairly good visibility from a tractor cab, sat high up, large windows all around and to the bottom of the doors, blind spots when close to the wheels or directly in front of the bonnet but you would have to get there without being seen. A lot of tractors have the exhaust somewhere out in front of the cab, creating a blind spot, and the pillars at the corners of the cab, as they're getting more high tech now they can also have all manner of display screens and extra controls fitted in them, sometimes in front of side windows, it's possible you approached in one of these blind spots, doesn't excuse the bad driving though.

It's harvest this time of year and some tractors will be on the roads leading grain from distant fields back to the farm then going back, the harvesting has to be done in the best weather and if the tractor isn't back in the field quick enough, the combine has to stop harvesting and wait for it, wasting time, this can mean that the crops don't get harvested and is a waste of very expensive equipment, namely the combine harvester. No excuse for bad driving though.

The problem may be the driver, who may only be 16, it may be their summer job, they've passed a test of course, but the category F test consists of:-

The examiner will give you instructions at the side of the road and watch how you:

drive as you go around left and right circuits
turn round using forward and reverse gears
For very slow vehicles, like pedestrian-controlled vehicles, your examiner may walk near you where they can watch your driving.

You’ll also have an eyesight test and at the end of the category F, G, H or K test, you’ll be asked 5 questions on the Highway Code and other motoring matters. You’ll then be asked to identify 6 different traffic signs.



It's quite hard to fail it! Doesn't involve trailers or any other implements on the tractor either.

Postboxer
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Postboxer » 9 Aug 2018, 8:54pm

As mentioned up thread, they can have very limited visibility when pulling out from gateways etc with limited visibility, or turning around the corners of buildings, due to the long bonnets, in these instances it comes down to creeping forward until you can see, by which time the front of the tractor may be all the way across the road.

ossie
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby ossie » 9 Aug 2018, 8:57pm

I nearly posted a similar thread a month ago when a tractor trailer missed my leg by an inch or two, without slowing or having any consideration for me.It was one of a number of incidents I have encountered over the last few years but is getting worse.

The latest was a tractor with a wide bucket (like a JCB) ...literally swinging from side to side down a country lane without slowing, it was a decapitation waiting to happen and I went into the verge.

I cycle around rural Dorset and these occurrences are becoming more common. The tractor is now my No 1 life threat and if they are behind I will totally dominate the whole lane so these potential murderous barstewards can wait until they find a safe passing place or I can pull in...not when they decide.

Steve
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Steve » 9 Aug 2018, 9:48pm

Was passing a farm on a quiet back road the other day when the nose of a rather big tractor poked out of the yard, so I eased off & looked up at the cab to check that the driver had clocked me. He had done. But he can't have been older than 10 or 11! I got safely past then looked back, to see if he was pulling back off the road, perhaps just joy riding while his parents were oftherwise engaged, but no, he pulled out and drove off up the road - in the other direction from me, I was pleased to see.

brynpoeth
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby brynpoeth » 9 Aug 2018, 9:58pm

Steve wrote:Was passing a farm on a quiet back road the other day when the nose of a rather big tractor poked out of the yard, so I eased off & looked up at the cab to check that the driver had clocked me. He had done. But he can't have been older than 10 or 11! I got safely past then looked back, to see if he was pulling back off the road, perhaps just joy riding while his parents were oftherwise engaged, but no, he pulled out and drove off up the road - in the other direction from me, I was pleased to see.

I would have noted the number and informed the police*
Farms are exceedingly "dangerous" places with so much machinery, long working hours (are they exempt?), slurry pits, aggressive animals &c &c

* mind, people do look younger now, lots of bus drivers don't look as old as 18 :?
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Jon Lucas
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Jon Lucas » 9 Aug 2018, 10:09pm

Many thanks to postboxer for the very enlightening, and somewhat disconcerting, posts, and commiserations to others who have had similar experiences.

Two things to add to my original post:

Firstly, I was riding a Brompton, which is my day bike and amongst its many advantages is that it can make sharp turns very niftily. I suspect if I had been riding a large wheeled bike I may well have clipped the tractor when turning. As it was, I ended up beside the front wheel and less than two feet from it and then rode past the rear of the tractor as it continued to turn.

Secondly, if I had decided to stop at the give way line, the tractor would almost certainly have run me over, as it was taking a wide turning circle to get round the junction and its rear would have crossed where I would have been. And it would have been much harder for me to move quickly out of the way if I had been stationery than it was while moving. So looking back, I feel I took all the right decisions, but suspect the car drivers behind the tractor thought they were witnessing a fatality. Had I stopped, I suspect my only option would have been to leap sideways off the bike and watch it disappear under the tractor wheels.

I only got a glimpse of the driver on my approach, but am sure he was an adult.

I'm away now for two days, when I'll no doubt be riding down many country lanes, but look forward to reading other experiences when I return.

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Paulatic
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby Paulatic » 10 Aug 2018, 7:16am

Steve wrote:Was passing a farm on a quiet back road the other day when the nose of a rather big tractor poked out of the yard, so I eased off & looked up at the cab to check that the driver had clocked me. He had done. But he can't have been older than 10 or 11! I got safely past then looked back, to see if he was pulling back off the road, perhaps just joy riding while his parents were oftherwise engaged, but no, he pulled out and drove off up the road - in the other direction from me, I was pleased to see.


Farmer used to put me on road from aged 14. Dressed me up in a big coat and flat cap , stick a cigarette in my mouth and send me off. Between farms entailed a mile along the A66 before turning off for 3 mls along lanes.
This was back in the 60s, nothing changes does it?
Whatever I am, wherever I am, this is me. This is my life

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ChrisButch
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby ChrisButch » 10 Aug 2018, 8:35am

The regulations on tractor and trailer size, and on maximum permitted road speed, have recently been relaxed, so we'll shortly be seeing yet more monstrous vehicles on country lanes. (The road speed limit has anyway been routinely ignored for many years). As has been discussed in earlier threads on this subject, there are two underlying problems. One is the now widespread use of contractors for harvesting and other major field operations, which means that the driver you encounter may have no links to the farm or the local community and will be working to tight schedules encouraging speed. The second is that there has been little change in the training, licensing, minimum age etc requirements since tractors were a fraction of their modern size, and the main issue for a cyclist was finding an opportunity to overtake the tractor, not the reverse.

hemo
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Re: Close encounters of the agricultural kind

Postby hemo » 10 Aug 2018, 9:49am

Personally I would have waited for the tractor to clear the roundabout as I would a lorry/ hgv.