This one goes out to all of the Motorists out there: Please don’t do me any favors!
One of the most dangerous situations I routinely encounter is when I am road riding and I want to make a left hand turn. This situation is the worst on a road with multiple lanes in both directions or enough road width that vehicles can pass around another vehicle that is making a left hand turn. As I approach the intersection where I want to turn left, I signal my intent and wait for the oncoming traffic to clear. Suddenly, and inexplicably, a motorist in the oncoming traffic stops short, blocking traffic behind them, and signals to me to make my turn, trying to be nice. This vehicle actually has the right of way and would not have made this maneuver for another motor vehicle.
Note:(Sometimes I delay signaling my left turn until the oncoming traffic is clear trying to avoid “the favor.”)
Here is where the danger starts to multiply exponentially. If I make the turn, will there be another car coming around the car that stopped that I didn’t see that will pick me off? Most of the time, I can’t tell and I emphatically urge the driver to move on. Usually, they reiterate their offer to let me turn. By now I have traffic bearing down on me from behind and passing me on my right, with motorists becoming angry that my bicycle is “holding up traffic,” and I now feel like I am treading water in a sea of angry two-ton steel sharks.
Now I need to decide what is the safest thing for me to do, take a chance and make the turn, or wait in the middle of traffic until I can actually verify that my path is clear. At this point, if I can’t verify that I can safely make the turn and get out of traffic, I will un-clip and put both feet flat on the ground and take my hands off the bars and hold them up, clearly signaling to the driver that I am going no where! This usually results in them cursing at me (what happened to being nice?) and suddenly speeding away which often times is also dangerous, as the traffic that was stacking up behind them are caught halfway in a maneuver trying to get around them and there is now a whole snarl of cars all accelerating quickly and not all pointed exactly straight ahead!
Whew! My hands are actually sweating as I type this!
The moral of the story? If you are driving a motor vehicle, please don’t do me any favors. Follow the rules of the road, they are there for a reason. If we all follow the same rules, everyone will know what to expect out of everyone else, traffic will flow, and I will have a chance to get home in one piece.