I had a little incident yesterday on my ride home from work, and upon reflection, it doesn’t matter that I was right. I just need to be more careful.
Most of my ride home involves side streets and bike paths, but there is a little stretch where I need to ride on a busy street. The more recently developed part of the street has a bike lane, but once you cross over to the older part you lose both the bike lane and the paved shoulder. Fortunately, I only need to ride about 300 meters on that stretch before I turn left onto a side road.
So, I watch my mirror closely, waiting for a gap in the traffic both oncoming and from behind. I see my opportunity, as a car passes me, the next car has just made a right turn onto the street (about 250 meters back). I signal my left turn, then quickly pop into the left portion of the lane ready to make my left turn. I’m only in the lane for about 20 meters. There is no oncoming traffic, so I won’t be in the lane very long. I hear behind me screeching wheels and the car honks his horn. He never really got that close to me, and there was plenty of room on the right for him to pass me if he was approaching too quickly, but the whole thing rattle me (actually it didn’t rattle me, and I’m concerned that I should have been scared rather than angry). I’m guessing that he turned right and accelerated without seeing me, such that when he did see me he had to slow down quickly.
Either way, I realized that it doesn’t really matter if I was right. If he didn’t see me until the last minute and wasn’t able to slow down in time, I would have been in a very bad state. I can do everything correctly, but the driver will always “win” if an accident does occur. Grumpy as that may make me feel, I will definitely be more careful making that left turn in the future.