What’s the rush?
In the past couple of days I’ve witnessed two right hook maneuvers by car drivers that nearly resulted in crashes. If you’re not familiar with a “right hook” check collision type #6 here. In both of these cases, the driver was simply in a hurry and couldn’t be delayed a few seconds for safety before continuing on their way.
The first right hook occurred while I was driving my bus. In Bellevue, near the intersection of 108th Ave NE and NE 4th St there is a bus zone that downhill or west of 108th on NE 4th. As I was loading a group of passengers an impatient driver of a sporty Volvo sedan pulled out from behind me and zoomed up on my left side. During this time I had finished loading passengers, turned on my left signal and started to move away from the zone. The driver then proceeded to cut me off and turn into a driveway located immediately in front of the bus zone. My experience avoiding right hooks as a cyclist probably saved this individual a lot of hassle getting his car repaired or, more likely, replaced.
The second right hook occurred on my way home from work this one day. Being a bit lazy and afraid of getting wet (It was raining, and yes, I know I’m a wimp) I decided to drive that morning. As I was merging onto 405 another car was exiting 405 at the same time. (This event occurred at the on/off ramp to southbound 405 at NE 8th st) I was following a delivery truck who was carefully merging but apparently not fast enough for this bozo. The car zoomed past us, cut off the truck in front of me, and lost control of his car while trying to make the exit. Thankfully, he just spun out in the grass a bit and ended up sideways on the exit ramp – a perfect lesson without any major damage to his vehicle or injury to anybody at the scene.
Ever since I stared working at Metro, I’ve worked hard to absorb Metro’s brainwashing (er.. uh, I mean training) on not being in a hurry. Constant reminders are posted at the base in bulletins and the ever present “Outhouse Safety journal”. My wife feels that I’ve taken the lessons a little too much to heart – I drive like a grandma when behind the wheel of our personal cars. When asked why I’m driving so slow, I’ll typically respond that I’m in “Autopilot” mode and driving like I do when I’m in a bus. She gently reminds me that while I may need a six second following distance when driving a bus, staying that far back in a car is not necessary or even ideal. Ok, I get it and speed up a little. “How about 4 seconds?” (I smile, her eyes roll)
(Note: I drafted this post a while back while I was driving the 550 in Bellevue. I’ve since switched to trolleys so I’m driving my bus even slower. The top speed of a trolley is about 35mph. I think there is a small stretch of wire on the 36 where you can legally drive that fast so most of the time I’m down near 25-30mph. Thankfully, I’m doing better on driving my personal vehicles a more “normal” speed. Because of this, my wife isn’t demanding to drive as often these days.)