Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy
I had a very close call with a truck yesterday on Brisbane's Kingsford Smith Drive, a notorious road at the best of times - lots of trucks and the bike lane occasionally disappears suddenly with no shoulder. It was at one of these points where a truck was passing me, and slowly squeezed in tighter and tighter with me being about 3 inches off the kerbing and not being sure how long the truck was or if it had a trailer on the back.
It took me some time to wake up to the gravity of the situation, but I was starting to think about launching myself off the bike and onto the footpath before I was hit, was pushed into the kerbing, and lost balance.
Later I was thinking whether a bunny hop to the left and onto the footpath would be a reasonable skill to have to get out of a jam like this.
I've never tried bunny hopping kerbing, let alone doing it at 40kph in parallel, and wonder if anyone can do it or would recommend it. Obviously, if you screw it up and don't clear the kerb you could potentially fall back towards the truck and all over red rover.
I rarely go on that road during the week. But was coming back from doing repeats on the Gateway Bridge. And had been talking over the weekend with a female cyclist who uses it all the time and reckons it isn't as bad as everyone makes out. Boy am I going to give her a serve.
Was doing 40+ on the section where the bike lane disappears to hold traffic up less and put them off passing.
This one truck driver decided to pass, only for both of us to catch up at the red light 300 metres further. I was going to say something to him, but was a bit fatigued and hungry and didn't have the adrenalin for the confrontation.
I know I can bunnyhop the road bike over a kerb height if I'm trying, and I've made sure I can do it front-on and side-on. Never had to, but its nice to know you can when and if the need arises. You run a bigger risk, IMO, doing it side-on, cause if you dont lift the whole bike right over the kerb, you're likely to come tumbling off back towards the roadway/danger. Either that, or you'll get the front over, and it will swing the back end around, and throw you onto the footpath/verge (with luck).
Its a safety move designed for a situation you should never really be in, although the OP situation sounded a little out of the ordinary.
Still, I'd rather have a buckled wheel or a cracked frame than buckled legs or a cracked head.
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It's a good skill to have, practice it over a garden hose until you're OK to go bigger.
Then pray that you never need it!
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
London Boy 29/12/2011
IMO the key skill in this situation is the judgment to either take the lane early or hold back and give way.
Agreed, but occasionally for whatever reason the situation can unfold faster than your ability to see it coming.
Bunnyhopping to the kerb puts you at risk of running into all sorts of obstacles, including people, but at least you'll be alive to have that argument afterwards instead of occupying a morgue slab.
I can bunnyhop (or rather I could, still recovering core and back strength plus technique after 8 weeks off the bike waiting for the shoulder to heal), but fortunately have never needed it.
@Pawpaw: Possibly your being hungry and therefore depleted in blood sugar may have been the root cause of your failure (sorry, I know that f-word is harsh, I don't mean to be ) to recognise the situation in time. Low blood sugar affects brain function and alertness... another reason why I tend to use slow burn hydration products and gels to stay fuelled for commute rides home in the evening.
Gotta signal and get out of ending bicycle lanes before they end, or stop where you aren't fouling other traffic to wait for a gap in the space to your right. Half assed rolling through tends to cause these situations. If you are in a different line of traffic (because of a bicycle lane), then you are expected to give way when merging right, or otherwise make a safe merge.
Bunnyhopping is a useful skill, but should be aiming for it to not be required. Trying to bunnyhop a kerb when travelling close to parallel to it has a real possibility of sprawling yourself back into the traffic lane, ie the less room you have, the more skill at the task you'll require.
I can bunny hop a bike long enough - especially the road bike which is quite light and I can monohop. I'd not want to do either whilst nearly parallel to a kerb and whilst blocked by a heavy vehicle.
Even at 40km/h, perhaps another option is to use your brakes and stop .... the truck would roll past on the same trajectory if the front has already passed.
Wouldn't a better skill to learn is to religiously look back before entering one of these potential high risk spots? The problem with these acrobatic maneuverers is that if there's a slight mistake, you may hit the tarmac or even hit the truck wheels and put yourself into even more danger. If situation is that desperate, wouldn't be better to just dive to the left rather than trying to be a stuntman.
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agreed. particularly where a bike lane ends, you need to assess whether it is safe to merge back into the traffic lane. i see so many cyclists just assuming the LH edge of the road is 'theirs' - big mistake. if there's not enough room to share, then either pull up (legally this is what you're required to do when merging across a broken line that signals the end of the bike lane) or if there's room, merge into the traffic lane and claim it.
Thanks for input.
- although too tired to confront the truck driver, I wasn't that tired that my judgement was impaired. As someone presumed, the truck was far enough away at the beginning of the pass but just began drifting across my line very gradually. It took me a few seconds to realize the driver wasn't backing off, which is when I thought my best choice was to brake firmly and dive towards the grassy footpath, and maybe the bike would follow or maybe I'd become uncleated and it wouldn't. I had already started to brake firmly. Moments like this are a big wake up call that drivers are not always going to do what you think they should, or are even aware of you.
- the truck was one of few vehicles that passed me. the traffic was quite thick and rarely going above 45 as we were getting all the red lights. That biased me towards moving with the traffic.
- in retrospect, yes claiming the lane would have more than likely stopped this event from unfolding.
The Gateway (Sir Leo Hielscher) Bridge would make a fantastic river loop if it wasn't for the lack of provision for cyclist safety on Kingsford Smith Drive.
About the only thing predictable about traffic is its unpredictability.
Bunny hopping in that situation would likely cause you more grief than braking hard.
One little boo boo and you'd be back in the traffic lane sliding on the ground right in the path of the truck's wheels, or the vehicle behind it.
I just love riding my bike!
+1 to claiming the lane.
In the traffic scenario you describe it should have been an easy thing. Most truck drivers (especially the big semis and B-double drivers) are the most conscientous and professional on the road..... if you make you presence clear. If you hide in the gutter they sometimes take the space and roll by, not realising the problem you faced.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
Yes claiming the lane obviously... But sometimes you don't.
But bunny hopping sideways onto a gutter at speed isn't like bunny hopping a pot hole... Need a lot of height and sideways kick...40 kmph onto a head on gutter, if you stuff up at least you will be out of harms ways (as long as you get the front wheel over!)... Stuff it up on a parallel gutter and you may be back head first into the middle of the road.
I thought I was good at bunny hops until last cx race when I saw the top guys bunny hopping logs at 40ish, 3 in a row in mud... I need practice too!.
i do a lot of riding on country roads where some can get narrow in different points , hitting the brakes and letting the truck pass is the approach i take
I lived just off Racecourse Road, for 3 years the truck drivers on K S Dr are insane, dont ride it, possibly other than Sun am.
I always thought being hit by a car would be a bad way to go until I had to deal with a guy trapped under the wheel of a truck. DON'T DO IT.
Anyway, as H909 said, best option is just to brake, it's your own forward motion that is taking you into harms way. As for why it happens, some drivers are too dumb to realize that a bicycle actually moves, they treat it like a stationary object that they can just drive around rather than having to make a clean pass.
I ride, therefore I am.
...real cyclists don't have squeaky chains...
this is a tad pedantic maybe, but heavy combination vehicles don't always track uniformly. the rear trailers can sway a fair way off where the front wheels tracked - particularly when changing direction at speed or over bumps. at low speed, the effect is even more pronounced - each axle group will track further inwards, with the last group on a b-double cutting in a fair way.
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