A Close Shave

Commuting, Day rides, Audax, Incidents, etc.
doffcocker
Posts: 48
Joined: 31 Aug 2020, 8:49pm

A Close Shave

Postby doffcocker » 7 Oct 2020, 12:57pm

Hi all,

It's been six months since I learned to ride a bike (I'm 28). A few people in our family have had nasty experiences out on the road so from a young age I was put right off the idea, hence I only plucked up the courage to give it a go when the pandemic kicked off.

As I've mentioned in other threads it's pretty much become my life, I've lost weight, saved money that I'd otherwise spend on public transport, I've never been this physically fit and I feel better mentally for it too.

Unfortunately last night however I had quite a scary experience where I pulled out of a car park onto the far side of a main road and a car had to hit the brakes to stop from ramming into the back of me. My memory of exactly how it happened is poor because of the adrenaline, all I know is that I had clocked the car before I pulled out, and in no time the guy was up close.
I froze in the middle of the road where thankfully he had just about managed to brake.

If I had to guess I'd say he was speeding but I'd rather treat this as an experience to learn from rather than passing blame.
My only concern is that it has well and truly scared me and after building up the confidence that I have to be out on the roads, it will potentially damage that. It also doesn't help that I'm not a driver so I'm not exactly clued up on the highway code.

I was wondering if others have had similar experiences, and have any words of advice or encouragement.

Thanks.
Last edited by Graham on 7 Oct 2020, 1:18pm, edited 2 times in total.
Reason: expletives removed - FFE family-friendly edit

yostumpy
Posts: 760
Joined: 29 Oct 2010, 6:56pm

Re: A Close Shave

Postby yostumpy » 7 Oct 2020, 1:32pm

moral of the story is..........if in doubt....DON'T, you don't get a second chance. Also assume everybody IS speeding. Glad you feel you've learnt from it, but don't let it put you off. Also, you say you're not a driver, therefore you have no real perception of speed. So, back on the bike tomorrow.

tatanab
Posts: 4333
Joined: 8 Feb 2007, 12:37pm

Re: A Close Shave

Postby tatanab » 7 Oct 2020, 1:53pm

doffcocker wrote:It's been six months since I learned to ride a bike
Misjudged through lack of experience perhaps. Remember we all make mistakes.
It also doesn't help that I'm not a driver so I'm not exactly clued up on the highway code.
But as a road user of any sort you really should. Probably irrelevant in this case since the code cannot tell you how to judge closing speeds, only experience.

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NUKe
Posts: 3991
Joined: 23 Apr 2007, 11:07pm
Location: Suffolk

Re: A Close Shave

Postby NUKe » 7 Oct 2020, 2:26pm

If there is a car coming always give it a second look before Pulling out. I am only guessing, but as you are a novice, you probably looked saw the car and the mind switched to riding the bike, getting it going, a novice will also not use the correct gear but the gear they came to halt, so the initial start is slow, a car even at legal speeds will cover a large distance in this time, so my tip is
1. Always look twice or long enough to gauge the distance the car is covering
2. make sure you are in low gear to aid a quick getaway. A lower gear will give you better acceleration.
3 if in doubt wait for the next gap.

All this said the car had plenty of time and should have been anticipating your moves and slowed a little.
NUKe
_____________________________________

GeekDadZoid
Posts: 99
Joined: 21 Aug 2020, 7:01pm
Location: Stockport

Re: A Close Shave

Postby GeekDadZoid » 7 Oct 2020, 4:10pm

Agree with all the above points. It very important to not only see a car is there but way h it to be able to judge its speed. Remembering to take into account acceleration and braking, ie if it has just pulled away from the lights he is mostly likely going to be accelerating.

Don't let it frighten you let it teach you.

Marcus Aurelius
Posts: 1663
Joined: 1 Feb 2018, 10:20am

Re: A Close Shave

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 7 Oct 2020, 4:47pm

It’s a fairly common problem. Some drivers remove their brains when they get in a car. If I were you I’d be plotting routes that don’t involve main roads until I got a bit more used to riding with traffic. There are usually parks / shared paths etc. that can be used to get around, without encountering too many vehicles.

Phil Fouracre
Posts: 883
Joined: 12 Jan 2013, 12:16pm
Location: Deepest Somerset

Re: A Close Shave

Postby Phil Fouracre » 7 Oct 2020, 5:39pm

Glad you’re ok. All good comments from others. It would be worth a read of the HC just to get your head around how others hopefully might act in different situations. Don’t be put off by something like this, everyone makes mistakes when they are learning.
Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

Mike Sales
Posts: 5383
Joined: 7 Mar 2009, 3:31pm

Re: A Close Shave

Postby Mike Sales » 7 Oct 2020, 5:48pm

In addition to a thorough read of the Highway Code, and especially the section addressed to cyclists, you might consider two other guides to safer cycling.

Cycle Craft from HMSO is an authoritive source.

http://www.cyclecraft.co.uk/

On road training courses are available for adults in some areas from Bikeability.

https://bikeability.org.uk/

flat tyre
Posts: 539
Joined: 18 Jul 2008, 1:01pm

Re: A Close Shave

Postby flat tyre » 7 Oct 2020, 5:59pm

I've been cycling for many years now and every now and again experience an "incident". I find it helps, regardless of who may or may not be to blame, to analyse the incident carefully after the event to see if there was anything I learned from it and how it could be avoided in future.

peetee
Posts: 2791
Joined: 4 May 2010, 10:20pm
Location: Cornwall

Re: A Close Shave

Postby peetee » 7 Oct 2020, 5:59pm

Wise words above. With regard to your comments, I think you have reflected upon your actions wisely. Nobody is perfect and this sort of a mistake is part of the learning process.
Look at the situation positively as you have a net gain having been given the opportunity to apply a bit of ‘real life consequences‘ knowledge to your riding in future.
Winter had arrived in the land of Kernow. Along with it came wet roads and cool winds.
“Oh, my wheels and coupling rods!” Peetee exclaimed.

cycle tramp
Posts: 1000
Joined: 5 Aug 2009, 7:22pm

Re: A Close Shave

Postby cycle tramp » 7 Oct 2020, 9:20pm

Hello There,
Sorry to hear about the scare.. may I ask for a bit more details, what was the weather like? Was it dark? Were there any street lights on?
If it helps I developed a scary habit a few years ago, at t junctions I'd stop, and check for on coming traffic. However if one way was clear and the other way had on coming traffic, I'd wait until the traffic had passed and then pull out.. however it was only after a few close shaves that I realised that although I had waited for the traffic to pass I had FAILED TO RECHECK the other way for any NEW on coming traffic. No one is above 'lazy brain' syndrome where your brain develops really bad habits and it's something I STILL need to be aware of. Analysising you own riding style is a very good habit to adopt.

ChrisP100
Posts: 73
Joined: 24 Sep 2020, 9:00am

Re: A Close Shave

Postby ChrisP100 » 7 Oct 2020, 10:34pm

doffcocker wrote:I was wondering if others have had similar experiences, and have any words of advice or encouragement.


Some really good advice in this thread.

I had a bit of a 'moment' today. I was going down a particularly steep hill on my bike towards the traffic lights at the bottom when the van in front of me braked suddenly. What made it more scary is the brake lights of the van weren't working which meant I ended up stopping about 6 inches from the back of the van having been doing about 45kph down the hill.

I was shaken up, but a couple of deep breaths and I was back on my way again. I'll just put it down to experience and learn from it. Every experience helps to make us better equipped to deal with situations we might encounter on our travels, and todays episode reminded me of the unpredictability of other road users and reinforced the need to keep my concentration.

Stay safe.

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DaveP
Posts: 3333
Joined: 9 Mar 2007, 4:20pm
Location: W Mids

Re: A Close Shave

Postby DaveP » 9 Oct 2020, 6:12pm

I expect he was speeding. I say that because even as a pedestrian you develop, quite early in life, a practical grasp of traffic speed (especially if you live in an urban setting). You get a feeling for when a car is far enough away for it to be safe to croos the road. If in any doubt, you check, but sometimes a car appears so far away that you feel that you don't need to - and usually you will be correct. Unless, that is, he's travelling very fast. People who see fit to whizz around at, say, ywice the speed limit are doubly dangerous. On the one hand they are more than likely driving beyond their abilities. On the other, they slip under peoples radar. I've been caught out like that while driving and I know a lot of other people who have.

I'm glad you lived through it :D use the experience as a lesson the teaching point being that on the road,you must master suspicion and anticipation in order to survive. They arent easy skills to acquire. The Highway Code is a starting point which will help you understand what others are talking about. Just don't expect to see it being carefully complied with! Cyclecraft can take you further, but, especially as you don't drive, I think you really would benefit from tuition, if there is any available to you.
Take Care!
Trying to retain enough fitness to grow old disgracefully... That hasn't changed!

mikeymo
Posts: 1888
Joined: 27 Sep 2016, 6:23pm

Re: A Close Shave

Postby mikeymo » 11 Oct 2020, 11:55am

DaveP wrote:I expect he was speeding. I say that because even as a pedestrian you develop, quite early in life, a practical grasp of traffic speed (especially if you live in an urban setting). You get a feeling for when a car is far enough away for it to be safe to croos the road. If in any doubt, you check, but sometimes a car appears so far away that you feel that you don't need to - and usually you will be correct.


Your first sentence is conjecture. You have nothing whatsoever to lead you to that conclusion. You don't know the road the OP is talking about, and you weren't a witness to the event. The OP describes himself as a relative newcomer to cycling, (edit) and not a driver.

Your second sentence is a non-sequitur, it does not follow from the first sentence at all, despite your "I say that because...". That some pedestrians may develop a practical grasp of traffic speed is probably true. "Practical" in the sense of "being of use in practice". Yes, many pedestrians develop a grasp of traffic speed that allows them to judge, as you say, especially in a an urban setting, whether it is safe to cross. But that is not the same, at all, as being able to judge whether someone is speeding. And especially not as a pedestrian. In fact, it is only after experience driving that you would have any chance of assessing the speed of motor cars when you are a pedestrian, and even then, not on all roads. If I'm walking along one of the streets in my neighbourhood, and there is a steady stream of light traffic, I can estimate that "they are probably going about 40 mph", because I know that's the speed limit on that road, I drive it every day, and I know that's the usual, approximate, speed on that road, in normal traffic. I don't think the ability of a pedestrian to estimate the speed of a solitary car, and in particular whether it was "speeding" or not (assuming you mean breaking the speed limit), is at all reliable. After all, in a 30 mph zone, 36 mph is speeding, in the sense that it's the speed at which the police may take action (I think). And 31 mph is technically "speeding". So the difference between "speeding" and "not speeding" is small.

You experience as a pedestrian may allow you to cross the road safely. It doesn't mean you can judge whether a particular car is speeding or not. Or maybe you are a police traffic officer who has stood by the side of the road with a speed gun, so are used to seeing exactly what speeds cars are travelling?
Last edited by mikeymo on 11 Oct 2020, 1:52pm, edited 2 times in total.

mikeymo
Posts: 1888
Joined: 27 Sep 2016, 6:23pm

Re: A Close Shave

Postby mikeymo » 11 Oct 2020, 12:14pm

doffcocker wrote:Hi all,

It's been six months since I learned to ride a bike (I'm 28). A few people in our family have had nasty experiences out on the road so from a young age I was put right off the idea, hence I only plucked up the courage to give it a go when the pandemic kicked off.

As I've mentioned in other threads it's pretty much become my life, I've lost weight, saved money that I'd otherwise spend on public transport, I've never been this physically fit and I feel better mentally for it too.

Unfortunately last night however I had quite a scary experience where I pulled out of a car park onto the far side of a main road and a car had to hit the brakes to stop from ramming into the back of me. My memory of exactly how it happened is poor because of the adrenaline, all I know is that I had clocked the car before I pulled out, and in no time the guy was up close.
I froze in the middle of the road where thankfully he had just about managed to brake.

If I had to guess I'd say he was speeding but I'd rather treat this as an experience to learn from rather than passing blame.
My only concern is that it has well and truly scared me and after building up the confidence that I have to be out on the roads, it will potentially damage that. It also doesn't help that I'm not a driver so I'm not exactly clued up on the highway code.

I was wondering if others have had similar experiences, and have any words of advice or encouragement.

Thanks.


Close shaves like this are actually a really good thing, in a way. Though you may have been shaken up by it, you are keen to learn from the experience, and as it happens the driver will also, hopefully, have learnt something from it.

Yes, it doesn't help that you're not a driver. I once said that a part of the driving test should be, in my city of Leeds, to put the driving candidate on a bike in Shadwell and tell them to cycle to Belle Isle (that's crossing the city north to south). So they would understand what cycling is like. The same applies to cyclists understanding driving. My son spent four years cycling at University. He survived, partly I think because he was in one of the university towns famous for the number of cyclists, but I was often worried that because he doesn't drive, he wouldn't see things from the perspective of a driver. My daughter has just started at Manchester, and unless/until the new cycling infrastructure happens, there's no way I'm letting her cycle there.

It would be odd for you to learn to drive just to make your cycling safer, but could you get some experience somehow? Maybe ask a friend who does drive, to take you as a passenger round the roads you cycle, so that you can see what they look like from a driver's perspective, maybe?

And of course also remember that on a bike we have the wind, we can hear (hopefully), we are a little higher than most drivers. Remember, always, that drivers are warm and cosy in their cars. Maybe with the radio/music on, perhaps following a sat nav, or worse, eating a sandwich, texting, on the phone etc.

I don't share the low opinion, so frequently expressed in insulting language here, of the majority of drivers. I think most drivers are actually OK. But for the purpose of your own self preservation, if you just imagine them all to be drunken half-wits, that might be a good assumption to make.
Last edited by mikeymo on 11 Oct 2020, 4:44pm, edited 1 time in total.