Sunday 20 September 2009

Avoiding the left turn wipeout

The last in my short series of gaffer-tape enabled videos from the handlebars of my bike.

If I had the money, I'd spend it on one of these point of view cameras, and mount it on my helmet. Since the one that I want costs $600, I think I will just sit that purchase out. However, as this video shows, they might have their uses.

In this short video, I deftly avoid being taken out by a car turning left in front of me. There's several reasons for that - I was awake and noticed early on that the driver was indicating a turn; the driver gave plenty of notice that they wanted to turn, and the driver noticed me and slowed almost to a stop in case I went shooting down the inside. In short, two sensible and polite people saved the day.

Where it all goes pear shaped is when you have drivers that go flying past you, then turn rapidly across your bows with minimal if any indicating. The worst are impatient drivers who can't bear to wait for 4 or 5 seconds, and think that their WRX/other wanky sports car is fast enough to get in front and turn the corner before the slow old cyclist gets to that same corner. What many don't appreciate is that a good cyclist can be doing 40km/h or more on a stretch like this - a stretch where the speed limit is only 50. A legal speed advantage of less than 10km/h isn't enough to get a car far enough in front to turn safely - that is, without getting a bike embedded in the rear panel.

This is one of the more common bike/car prang types. Many would say that the solution is patience, but I always tend to think that this would be the answer - if I could work out how to ride with both hands off the bars and fire a few rounds through the back window without falling over.

I'm sure bus drivers experience similarly stupid behaviour in bus lanes, where cars come flying up on their right, then duck across in front of the bus in order to take a left turn. There must be a few buses currently in the repair shop getting a crushed WRX removed from under their front suspension.

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