A Celebration of Truly Bad Driving

Wacky Move of the Day

Thanks to some truly inspired bad driving we're going to debut a new feature on Velodramatic. The Wacky Move of the Day will celebrate the most outrageous examples of driver stupidity. Tonight's episode... The U-turn Twit.

The Scene: Monroe Avenue between Los Padres and Scott. Both lanes of Eastbound traffic are moving rapidly at the height of the evening commute. Monroe curves left and compresses slightly for about 150 metres. Twenty yards ahead of me in the right lane a car slows abruptly as if to make the right into an apartment driveway. Front wheels are angled RIGHT and touching the gutter strip BUT the vehicle's LEFT indicator is flashing as they come to a complete stop adjacent to the driveway.

I'm doing about 22-23 mph to get through the compression quickly (at times I'll even take the lane here). I brake hard when I realize the driver is stopping in the lane (and may still turn RIGHT). There's no car behind me in the right lane, but one or two cars are sliding by me in the left lane. They flash by the stationary vehicle.

I've scrubbed off some speed but might lock up if I stay hard on the brakes. Instant decision. I'm not going left... with that indicator flashing. I thread the needle in the gutter between the wheel and the curb while screaming something like "What the Hell are you doing?" I'm through the gap and look back over my shoulder as the car makes a U-turn into the Twilight Zone.

What's wrong with the picture, let me count the ways...

  1. Stopping abruptly in fast moving traffic on a compressed section of street
  2. Stopping immediately adjacent to a driveway
  3. Indicating LEFT with the car angled RIGHT
  4. Making a U-turn from the curb lane, when a left turn lane was provided and the Westbound lanes are wide enough to let any passenger vehicle make the turn easily
  5. AND as is often the case, passing a cyclist and instantly forgetting they are there

I'm really hoping this doesn't become a regular feature. This is why so many people who'd like to commute won't go near the road on a bicycle.

23 Responses to A Celebration of Truly Bad Driving

  1. Bennjamin says:

    The Story’s good.
    The drawing is awesome .

  2. slate says:

    nice move michael!

  3. wade says:

    it’s too bad that a driver who doesn’t ride will never come and read this post. While you it’s affected your day and you even took the time to write about it, the driver has forgotten all about it and didn’t give it a second thought!

  4. while living in Italy motorists were already jacked up on Cafe macchiato..they would come daringly close to me, but somehow a raging Fiat is alot less scarier than a Caddy Escalade doped up on Dunkin Donuts. Where those helmuts Ragazzi!!

  5. Tim says:

    Makes you wonder – what was going on in ‘driver brain’? Come to think of it, given that said driver was likely ‘enjoying an extremely hot beverage’ and talking/texting/twittering while planning and executing this trick, it was a pretty deft maneuver! Excellent graphic – especially the phantom cyclist (surely a Rapha icon should have been applied – maybe a bidon?).

  6. Wes says:

    U-turns have become the cool thing to do here in Toronto. It used to just be a cabbie thing, but now people pull them constantly. I’ve nearly been taken out with the exact situation you’ve described (pull right with left signal on) on several occasions in the last year. I witness at least one of these a day on my commute through downtown. Weather/traffic/road conditions don’t seem to have any affect on their frequency, either.

  7. Georges says:

    The picture adds to the drama. Thanks for sharing. Sorry you had to.

  8. Michael says:

    “…passing a cyclist and instantly forgetting they are there.”

    That quote instantly made me yell, “YES!!”

    I’ve recently taken a personal oath to not get mad at these things or start screaming at or taunting the drivers. However, every time something like this happens I break that oath.

  9. kurt says:

    I think that daily commuters experience these crazy situations far more frequently than those who choose to train off hours.

    It appears you were doing all of the right things to avoid potential collision, and so you did. We can only control our own actions which must include a healthy respect for the insane mind in possession of a very powerful weapon.

    Each crazy driver has taught me techniques that I can apply to my commute and improve it’s safety.

    Does Cali have a reckless driver hotline?

    Again, nice moves.

    Ride Safe and Aware.

  10. Good question about the reckless driver hotline Kurt, I’d be surprised if we don’t. Always tough when the adrenaline is flowing to have the presence of mind to grab the plate number. One morning recently I actually tried to scan the plate numbers of cars as they passed… my memorization powers aren’t what they used to be.

  11. kurt says:

    Not to mention our aging sight!

    I was a recent victim of a hit and run. By the time I got up and out of additional harms way and looked for the plate the plate was unreadable.

    • Never worn glasses and can still tell you what blade of grass your ball is resting against 300 yards out, but in the last couple of years, I’m holding my watch further and further from my face to read it. My arms can only stretch so far. There’s absolutely nothing good about getting old, especially since none of us can ever afford to retire.

  12. WSY says:

    Really enjoying the site! Great writing, photography, and products…

    If you get a chance, check out my blog at http://pavepavepave.blogspot.com. I’d love to hear what you think! If you like it, feel free to link it your site.


    • Great PavĂ©. Definitely enjoyed your insights into the spring classics and the race focus. Remembered your piece in Embrocation v.2 right away. I’m hoping for another Flanders victory for Devolder (but I worry that Team tactics won’t allow it). His win last year was a highlight for me. Will add you to the blog roll next chance I get. Keep the good stuff coming.

  13. BR says:

    The path to most of my rides utilizes a riverside paved trail that is about 8 miles long. It’s a typical 2 lane trail that has joggers, walkers, strollers, leashed dogs, etc. On several recent jaunts I was so disappointed when two things happened. One was a jogger that stopped and began a u-turn as I went to pass her. Of course she had her iPod on and never heard my “on your left” as I approached at my usual 8-10 mph. She jumped about 2′ up in the air as I locked up and apologized as I passed her – idiot. On another day I was passing some walkers and another rider coming the opposite direction doing at least 15mph decided to pass someone walking a 3 year old. I yelled at the guy to slow down but of course – he had his iPod on.

    Bad drivers deserve everything we give them – water bottles chucked at their car, hand gestures, calls to PD, etc. But I am constantly angered when I see the sloppy, low skilled, lazy cyclists that can’t make that leap in skill. I cruise that nature trail at 1/2 speed because it so easy to nail a kid or a small dog, or even have a head on with another rider. Rant over.

    Me vs driver highlights? I caught a carload of 16 yr olds once at a stoplight after they threw something at me – that was fun.
    I chased and caught a guy that turned left in front of me and as I passed him at the next red light I screamed “Hey” into this open window. He lost control of an open soda that completely soaked him. That was hilarious. Just two years ago I was in a group of 4 riders heading up Arastradero Rd when an impatient driver zoomed around a 30+ rider pack coming down the hill the other way and came head on at the fours of us. We ditched the road as the guy zoomed past us doing 40-50 mph? It happened so fast that I never had a chance to donate a full bottle to the hood of his Mercedes.

    Just this morning I crossed an intersection on a green light and noticed a car to my right not slowing down. The guy didn’t want to wait for his red so he made a brake-free hard right into the road I was on. The car that was with me really gave it to him as they drove away. I made it to the next light just as this ass made his left turn. I was about to donate a full bottle to him – his loss.

  14. kurt says:

    BR the Stealthy Water Bottle Bomber?

  15. kurt says:

    My brother visited us in Miami from Connecticut. The best way to see a new place, and especially a place like South Beach is by Bike. So while my wife and I toiled away at the daily grind, my brother would tool around South Beach on my Trek 950.

    On his way over the Venetian Causeway this Escalade near misses him. So my brother catches him at the toll booth and yells into the guy’s window a derogatory response that I will not repeat. In retaliation, the Escalade, while accelerating, bears directly down on him and pulls away just prior to collision.

    The story improves.

    This whole story played out in full view of a policemen who having observed the madness, pulled the Escalade over, yanked the driver out of the vehicle, cuffed him and pushed him into the backseat of the patrol car for a free ride downtown.

    This never happens!

    • Great story.

      Here’s another. Someone on Google’s cycling group related a recent incident that happened out in the boonies of Mines Road. A lone cyclist was heading South towards Livermore on this remote road when he was passed by a Mustang full of teens. One of them shot at him with what later turned out to be a paint gun. Unable to record the plate number, the rider continued to the Del Valle Park entrance where he asked park police if they’d seen the vehicle. Turned out they had when it entered the park. Local Police, parks police and a helicopter located the vehicle and after a little surveillance arrested all involved.

  16. Michael says:

    All of these stories are the reason I have started to acknowledge drivers who pause to allow my safe passage. I’m hoping a simple nod, smile, and thank-you-wave go a long way.

  17. I’m with you Michael. Everyone that gives me room, waits to make a turn or just makes eye contact gets a wave or a nod of acknowledgment. I figure those gestures might benefit the next rider they cross paths with.