Day 18 - Vandalia, IL Rest day musings - Two Far 2020 - NTF (Not Two Far) - CycleBlaze

June 17, 2020

Day 18 - Vandalia, IL Rest day musings

Cars and drivers

Kerry and I have been talking about differences among various groups of drivers.  Acknowledging that these are very broad generalizations, we've made these observations:

1.  Semi drivers, as a group, are the most courteous.  They are the most likely to move completely over into the next lane to pass.  They are the most likely to wait patiently until it is clear for them to pass.  They often return the waves we give to drivers who pass safely.  A notable exception to this is the subgroup of log truck drivers.  Many of them pass closely, don't slow down at all and just are generally rude about sharing the road.

2.  Drivers of various commercial vehicles are also usually polite and safe passing and sharing the road.  They don't wave back as much as semi drivers.

3.  Passenger vehicle drivers are hard to generalize about.  Most are courteous and patient, but some are just hostile.  We get friendly waves and smiles and people who want to roll down their windows and talk to us at red lights.  People who buzz us closely, rev up their engines to pass or shout obscenities are very infrequent.  We've never had anything thrown at us.  People in beat up old cars are more likely to be rude or dangerous.  Most pick-up drivers are nice.

4.  There are two vehicle types whose drivers we always are very cautious about - school bus drivers, which seems surprising, and RV drivers.  School bus drivers simply won't change lanes to pass.  Many RV's seem to be driven by people (almost all men) who have no idea how wide their vehicle is or where they are on the road.  They tend to pass very close, oblivious to us.  It isn't the same as the rude drivers who pass close and fast just to be jerks.  These guys just don't seem to realize what they're doing.  (I know the Millers can relate to this.  I feel bad that your RV encounter happened in our beautiful home state.)

5.  We certainly find varying responses to cyclists in different states.  To avoid causing any offense, I'll only mention the states we find usually good for cyclist/driver interactions.  So far, rural southern and central Illinois has been full of courteous, safe and friendly drivers.  We've found the same thing in Indiana, Iowa and Minnesota.  Maybe farmers are just nice people.  Maine, Wisconsin and North Carolina have generally friendly drivers.  And Canadians behave in their cars just as they do in their other interactions - friendly, polite and concerned for the welfare of others.

So, other cycle tourers, do you agree, disagree or have any observations of your own to add?  We'd love to hear your response to our experiences with sharing the road.

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John PescatoreThis past January, on a two day ride from Arcadia FL to Mt. Dora FL, I spent more time on Rt . 17 than I would have liked and was mentally making the same list of driver types that you did.

Commercial semi drivers definitely at the top of the list. They were so good at moving over I would say "Thank you, brother trucker!" as they went by (not that they would hear it...)

At the bottom of the list, anything driver pulling a trailer, other than a semi/tractor trailer. This includes towed type RVs, landscapers, people on their way to the local dump, etc. They would never move an inch and seemed to hug the right shoulder as they zoomed by.

Dump trucks were right there at the bottom, too. Whenever a dumptruck or someone pulling a trailer whizzed by my left ear, I would mutter "Thanks a lot, "

The big self-contained RVs were somewhere in the middle - many would move left, many would not. But dumptrucks and those big RVs are the least aerodynamic out there and had the biggest bow and stern wind waves.

Did not see enough school buses to classify them, but I see many on my local road riding. They are very hesitant to cross double yellow lines, but they also seem very willing to wait to pass around here.
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3 weeks ago
Keith A. SpanglerVery well said and organized; not sure I’ve ever seen these observations written out like this. I agree though, your characterizations are spot on. Keep traveling on my friends!
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3 weeks ago
Alain AbbateMy pet peeve is cars with dark tinted windows. I'm not comfortable around cars if I can't make eye contact with the driver.
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3 weeks ago
Jeanna & Kerry SmithTo John PescatoreThanks for your observations. We always wonder if other cyclists notice the same things we do. I have wondered if school bus drivers have some strict prohibition about crossing yellow lines. We don't seem to have many who wait patiently to pass - they tend to just go by in our lane.
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3 weeks ago
Jeanna & Kerry SmithTo Alain AbbateCompletely agree about the dark tinted windows. I like to make eye contact at intersections.
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3 weeks ago
Jeanna & Kerry SmithTo Keith A. SpanglerThanks, Keith. We appreciate your taking the time to respond to our posts so often:-).
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3 weeks ago
Bob DistelbergTotally agree with your characterizations, particularly semi drivers being good and logging trucks be problematic. There's one local logger who passes me frequently on my rides who not only drives close, but loves to lay on the horn right as he's passing me. I just feel like telling him, ' ya know, I can see and hear you coming, I totally expect the horn at this point, you really aren't startling me any more'. I'm also wary of school bus drivers, as you said; they don't give an inch. I wonder if they are just reluctant to cross the line.
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3 weeks ago