Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Bike Girl Hears You Honking

While riding around town, Bike Girl sometimes finds it is necessary to turn left. Turning left is a basic part of navigating through the city no matter what your mode of transit.

However Bike Girl recently encountered a driver who seemed to be convinced that turning left is a right reserved only for cars. Here's how it went down.

Bike Girl had stopped in the left turn lane of an intersection. While she stood with one foot on the pedal, hips cocked to one side, sunglasses perched smartly on her nose to hide her sidelong glance at an attractive male cyclist in the right turn lane, a car pulled into the left turn lane behind her.

The driver immediately pounded on the horn, jolting Bike Girl from the slightly naughty thoughts running through her head. She looked up at the light, but it was still red. So she turned around, to inquire as to the reason for the honk.

Bike Girl didn't have to ask, because the driver was already yelling about how bicycles are not allowed in the middle of the street. Bike Girl smiled sweetly at the misunderstanding and replied that she was actually turning left, so the driver did not need to worry.

But the driver kept sounding the horn, insisting that cyclists are not allowed to make left turns in the left turn lane. Now many cyclists know that CVC 21202 allows cyclists to move to the left to make a turn. And CVC 21200 allows cyclists all the same rights as a vehicle. She calmly quoted those two provisions to the driver. The driver insisted she was wrong and that he was absolutely sure that what she was doing was illegal.

Much to Bike Girl's pleasure, the attractive male cyclist she had been eyeing rolled over to make her case. At this point the light was still red, and the driver's progress has not yet been delayed even a moment. Adonis on Two-Wheels corroborated Bike Girl's claim to the lane, but the driver still insisted Bike Girl was behaving illegally.

At this point Bike Girl encouraged the driver to call the police and offered to wait while they came. However, before the words were fully out of her lips, the light turned green. Bike Girl proceeded through the intersection, making her legal left turn and the driver revved his engine and immediately parked at a business right on the corner. He went inside to make a purchase, showing that Bike Girl in no way threatened to make him late for any purpose. Bike Girl laughed.

This and other similar encounters show the need for increased driver education about the rules of the road.

Bike Girl owns a 4-wheeled vehicle, and until she converted to the two-wheeled side, she was never aware of any of the rules regarding road-sharing with cyclists.

A non-confrontational, zero-expense, yet seemingly effective tool would be to include a question on the California Driver's test about sharing the road with bicycles. This question, if missed, would require the potential driver to read through the part of the vehicle code that contains the answer. This would draw attention to the section. Since the tests are reprinted semi-frequently, there would be no extra expense to include that question in the next incarnation.

Until then, Bike Girl continues to smile each time she's honked at. Because as Bike Girl's ally in the world of anonymous bicycle blogging, Bike Snob NYC says, "Your beeping means you can see me, and I’m not worried about drivers who see me."


Anonymous said...

With drivers like this I just want to lob a hand grenade in their window and ride away. I mean, WHAT was this guys PROBLEM!? Was he actually concerned for Bike Girl's safety? Of course not. He's basically a psychopath rolling around in a 3-ton tin can.

Nickname unavailable said...

Perhaps Bike Girl could have referred the errant driver to CVC 27001. (a) The driver of a motor vehicle when reasonably necessary
to insure safe operation shall give audible warning with his horn.
(b) The horn shall not otherwise be used, except as a theft alarm
system which operates as specified in Article 13 (commencing with
Section 28085) of this chapter.

Scott said...

Wonderful idea to have a question on the drivers test about this. People really are mis-informed about the laws around bicycles.

zaarin said...

Here in LA we have to be as worried about the drivers that can see us as we are about the drivers that can't (or choose not to (cell phones, etc)). Knowledge of the law is not the problem; voluntary assault by motorists on cyclists is a growing concern in our community, and everyone knows how the law regards assault with a deadly weapon. But that doesn't stop them. Some drivers here won't wait their turn... they will create their own space, and if a cyclist happens to be in it, so be it. Unfortunately, informing them of their folly only angers them further, so what's a cyclist to do?