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Old 08-31-05, 04:19 PM   #1
Sawtooth
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Is the right hook really such a big threat?

I have seen a great deal of posts and discussion here regarding the threatening right hook by drivers. Now I admit that I filter almost every time, but I just don't see the right hook as being that big of a threat to a cyclist who is paying attention. There are some situations where I would not filter and some where I feel very safe doing so. When I do filter, I don't sit stupidly in the blind spot of a vehicle that could turn right. I am up on or ahead of their right front bumper. They would have to look through me to see their anticipated line of travel. I also try to make eye contact when I can.

And when moving on the right of moving traffic through an intersection only a fool or the uninitiated would ride in the blind spot of a vehicle that could turn right. In those situations, I either get in the lane of traffic VC style, or hold off behind the vehicle in question until clear of the intersection. You simply anticipate the probability of a threat and act accordingly. It is common sense; just like you would not filter to the right of a semi truck going over a small overpass.

I guess my argument is that a cyclist who is watching traffic and avoids obviously dangerous behavior can avoid the right hook regardless of whether or not he/she uses VC style methods.

Flame on....
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Old 08-31-05, 04:33 PM   #2
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You are generally right, but the cyclist you are speaking of must have the skill and knowledge to look for and avoid right hooks.

Newer or "here and there" cyclists may not have seen the problem and therefore may put themselves right into the wrong position every time.

Even with the right skills, some motorists can and do pull moves that can cause emergency response for skilled cyclists... motorists suddenly changing lanes behind you only to zip in ahead of you quickly.

I have had this latter move done on me while driving and found it a bit nerve racking... yet the motorist doing it no doubt considered himself to have above average "racing" skills... never mind that we were just commuting on the regular city streets.

It can be avoided, and most of the time is probably just an accidental move by under aware motorists... into under aware cyclists.
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Old 08-31-05, 04:48 PM   #3
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Right hooks are a HUGE potential problem on broad sweeping freeway-style diverges, but positioning oneself far enough left can be tricky and dangerous, as well.

I have also had problems with right-turning motorists who feel that they belong to a cyclist's left under all conditions. I have been right-hooked by a motorist who crossed the centerline of a 2-lane 2-way road to make a right turn (!). There is no substitute for alertness and a general distrust of other road users.
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Old 08-31-05, 04:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E
Right hooks are a HUGE potential problem on broad sweeping freeway-style diverges, but positioning oneself far enough left can be tricky and dangerous, as well.

I have also had problems with right-turning motorists who feel that they belong to a cyclist's left under all conditions. I have been right-hooked by a motorist who crossed the centerline of a 2-lane 2-way road to make a right turn (!). There is no substitute for alertness and a general distrust of other road users.
Yup the individual motorists that make up their own rules to fit the situation are the really scary ones... Had a guy about a month back try to make a right from a center straight through lane. I was on the right, in the right turn only lane turning right... His move would have put him smack into either my lane after the turn, or into the middle of three lanes.

Traffic is predictable, individual motorists are not.

But really the biggest problem with right hooks is the motorist and the cyclist that are not aware of what they are getting into. The motorist may just be some shopper pulling into a mall that has no perception of the cyclist on their right. The cyclist may just be someone riding straight through (dare I say... in a bike lane)... neither realize that they are about to converge. So the Right Hook tends to be a problem of lack of awareness... The motorist, lack of awareness of watching for cyclists and merging with them to make turns, and the cyclist lack of awareness of intersections and merging with auto traffic.

The problem is that right hooks probably happen more to lesser experienced riders and set a precident for thinking "those darn cars... "
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Old 08-31-05, 05:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
Traffic is predictable, individual motorists are not.

The problem is that right hooks probably happen more to lesser experienced riders and set a precident for thinking "those darn cars... "
I agree.
I also admit that being a forum member has helped to make me much more aware of the situation than the average cyclist might be.
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Old 08-31-05, 05:41 PM   #6
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Filtering presents only a subset of the scenarios where a "right hook" may come into play.

Oregon law requires use of the bike lane if it is available. All the right hooks that I have barely avoided, and all the ones I was not able to avoid, resulted from a motorist overtaking my position in the bike lane, then immediately turning in front of my path.

Not so easy to avoid if you are a fast cyclist and they turn without signalling and very near your front wheel. I watch carefully and can anticipate most, but not all, dumbass moves...
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Old 08-31-05, 06:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawtooth
I guess my argument is that a cyclist who is watching traffic and avoids obviously dangerous behavior can avoid the right hook regardless of whether or not he/she uses VC style methods.

Flame on....
If you are riding such that you avoid right hooks, and by your description, it appears you are riding VC.

What riding style methods do you use to avoid right hooks that you do not consider VC style?
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Old 08-31-05, 08:41 PM   #8
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No flames from me. I agree with you.

All traffic in front of you has the right of way. So don't pass people on their right if there's any question of what they may do. I don't pass moving traffic that is on my left when I'm approaching an intersection. I find a place to get in behind, or time myself so that nobody is next to me. I try to make eye contact near the intersection with the cars next to me.

It's only when you ride down the bike lane oblivious to all this that you get in trouble.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawtooth
I have seen a great deal of posts and discussion here regarding the threatening right hook by drivers. Now I admit that I filter almost every time, but I just don't see the right hook as being that big of a threat to a cyclist who is paying attention. There are some situations where I would not filter and some where I feel very safe doing so. When I do filter, I don't sit stupidly in the blind spot of a vehicle that could turn right. I am up on or ahead of their right front bumper. They would have to look through me to see their anticipated line of travel. I also try to make eye contact when I can.

And when moving on the right of moving traffic through an intersection only a fool or the uninitiated would ride in the blind spot of a vehicle that could turn right. In those situations, I either get in the lane of traffic VC style, or hold off behind the vehicle in question until clear of the intersection. You simply anticipate the probability of a threat and act accordingly. It is common sense; just like you would not filter to the right of a semi truck going over a small overpass.

I guess my argument is that a cyclist who is watching traffic and avoids obviously dangerous behavior can avoid the right hook regardless of whether or not he/she uses VC style methods.

Flame on....
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Old 08-31-05, 09:19 PM   #9
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Actually, I haven't been right hooked while riding next to any cars. All of them have been from a car passing me and then suddenly making a right turn. About half of them were when I was riding in the bike lane with a bright yellow jersey/vest on, and could not be missed. The other times I was out far enough into the lane that the car had to go a bit left to pass me before turning right.
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Old 08-31-05, 11:21 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
Actually, I haven't been right hooked while riding next to any cars. All of them have been from a car passing me and then suddenly making a right turn. About half of them were when I was riding in the bike lane with a bright yellow jersey/vest on, and could not be missed. The other times I was out far enough into the lane that the car had to go a bit left to pass me before turning right.
I've had close calls with this type of turn where some hurry-hurry pushy idiot feels the need to zoom past me then suddenly take a right immediately after clearing my front wheel. Without signalling.

Pretty much any time someone passes me in a rush and passes too close, I expect they'll slam on the brakes and hook a right. Therefore I ride to the center of my lane, and am prepared brake hard, to go left to get around their fool vehicle, and yell if they have a window down. A sarcastic "thanks!" is my usual.
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Old 08-31-05, 11:49 PM   #11
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I guess I try to be well ahead or well behind, the thing with drivers is, once the front of their cage passes you, you don't exist.
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Old 08-31-05, 11:50 PM   #12
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Biker, Interupted:

http://www.wweek.com/story.php?story=6678
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Old 09-01-05, 12:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dchiefransom
All of them have been from a car passing me and then suddenly making a right turn.
I find this to be a fairly common problem as well. Never actually been hit, but have had many close calls. The driver thinks they can pass and execute the upcoming right turn, but they underestimate the cyclist's speed, and BAM (well...almost).

At places where this is likely to occur (for me: usually our local expressways, which have turn lanes and/or "offramps"), I usually try to move left and take the lane, in advance of the turn lane. Some cars will still try to go around, but most of the turners get the hint and lay back. On city streets, driveways are a big problem. Watching the front wheels of a passing car for signs of turning may help predict what the car is going to do. Watching for turn signals is generally disappointing
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Old 09-01-05, 02:30 AM   #14
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Here's something I noticed: Some corners lead into narrow roads, and especially if the curb is low so drivers can cut it really close without worrying about their precious vehicle being scratched, they'll cut in close.
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Old 09-01-05, 08:24 AM   #15
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This is one of the many reasons that I often block the lane of traffic than I'm in. I don't really feel bad about doing it (being that I'm riding on a 4 lane 1 way avenue) even though I probably shouldn't, but at least I'm highly visible that way. I constantly make hand gestures, yell at other cars to alert them to my presence, and probably sometimes look like a madman with the combination riding, yelling, arm flailing and riding in the middle of a lane. But I'm a moving target on the NYC streets and have to do everything in my power to make sure that I'm given the attention and room of any other vehicle on the road.

Its sad, but the 2nd avenue bike lane, downtown, is the only place I don't feel safe on a bicycle. There are constantly cars parked in it, using it as a turning lane, opening doors into it, passing people in it, and the cops are just as bad as everyone else. Seems to me like you're more likely to get hit riding in the bike lane than in the middle of the road.
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Old 09-01-05, 09:15 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawtooth
I have seen a great deal of posts and discussion here regarding the threatening right hook by drivers. Now I admit that I filter almost every time, but I just don't see the right hook as being that big of a threat to a cyclist who is paying attention. There are some situations where I would not filter and some where I feel very safe doing so. When I do filter, I don't sit stupidly in the blind spot of a vehicle that could turn right. I am up on or ahead of their right front bumper. They would have to look through me to see their anticipated line of travel. I also try to make eye contact when I can.

And when moving on the right of moving traffic through an intersection only a fool or the uninitiated would ride in the blind spot of a vehicle that could turn right. In those situations, I either get in the lane of traffic VC style, or hold off behind the vehicle in question until clear of the intersection. You simply anticipate the probability of a threat and act accordingly. It is common sense; just like you would not filter to the right of a semi truck going over a small overpass.

I guess my argument is that a cyclist who is watching traffic and avoids obviously dangerous behavior can avoid the right hook regardless of whether or not he/she uses VC style methods.

Flame on....

I think you are describing what I have heard some people call "The Right Turn of Death", when a car beside you turns right, hitting you. Fairly easy to avoid if riding safely. What is harder to avoid is the true "Right Hook", when a car from behind you speeds around you and turns in front of you. Very hard to avoid if you are traveling at any decent rate, and unless you have a unusually good grasp of what traffic behind you is doing.
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Old 09-01-05, 09:40 AM   #17
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On my way to work today I was in the middle of what is a great illustration of the difficulties a cyclist faces when it comes to bad drivers. I work near Los Virgenes RD on Agoura Road. To get here I get off the freeway, turn left over the freeway then after 2 blocks, both short turn right. Waiting to get off the freeway I see 2 bikes one road one mtn. Both riders seem pretty good. The mtn bike rider I notice the most as he is checking all the time as he nears and goes thru the freeway onramp opposite the offramp I am on waiting for the signal to change. Light changes and I'm on my way. The thing that makes this 2 short ranter than one long block is another freeway onramp. I don't see what happens there as the cyclists are past it before I catch up with them. Just after the onramp the right lane gets narrow. I hate that when I'm on a bike and hate it when I'm driving and there are cyclists. Being a great guy (tongue in cheek) I decide that the 5 seconds I would save by passing is just not worth it and sit back giving the bikes a nicer few seconds. Some car in hte left lane passes all of us and turns right.

The good news is that this is the bike route through the area and that route means turning right and that is what both bikes did. But if either had gone straight, which is a very nice ride (at least when not near rush hour) he would likely have been hit, even taking the lane with the car behind him (meaning me) yielding.
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Old 09-01-05, 10:09 AM   #18
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I was almost right-hooked this a.m. myself.

Being completely aware of your surroundings is the most important defense.
I avoided getting creamed because I anticipated the motorist's abrupt move.
I slowed down, and let the car turn in front of me. Then I drafted the sucker...
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Old 09-01-05, 11:39 AM   #19
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Since I frequently ride the same route day after day, I've come to know the spots where I can expect to be right-hooked. The worst is the entrance to a Mobil station that's about 100 feet past a major intersection (Linebaugh Ave just west of Anderson). Since the light is so long, cars hustle through the green and hook into the gas station. Since I have come to expect it, I always check over my shoulder to make sure I'm not being passed and hooked. Of course, this does nothing to protect me from cars that pass me and hook into lesser-used entrances or driveways. John
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Old 09-01-05, 01:02 PM   #20
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Quote:
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Thanks, Randya, for a poignant reminder that sometimes the situation is out of our control. Believe it or not, I actually had a grey "streak" pass me and then cut right on my commute this morning. Luckily, I was 7 feet or so from him but his speed would certainly have taken any options I had out of the picture.
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Old 09-01-05, 01:47 PM   #21
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I got right hooked yesterday. Extensive road rash, and $150 repair, including a new saddle, derailleur hanger straightening, and a wheel rebuilding.

Yesterday marks the last time I trust a motorist to use their turn signal.
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Old 09-01-05, 03:53 PM   #22
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I got right hooked yesterday. Extensive road rash, and $150 repair, including a new saddle, derailleur hanger straightening, and a wheel rebuilding.

Yesterday marks the last time I trust a motorist to use their turn signal.
Sorry to hear that Recursive. I hope you mend fast. Unfortunately, based on anactodal evidence, it seems there is very little legal recourse in such situations.
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Old 09-01-05, 04:23 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sawtooth
Sorry to hear that Recursive. I hope you mend fast. Unfortunately, based on anactodal evidence, it seems there is very little legal recourse in such situations.
I dunno, I had a left cross pulled on me, and made $650 after repairs, new helmet, and such.
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Old 09-01-05, 04:42 PM   #24
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I have been taken down by a right hook. I was relatively new to riding.

Here is how it happened: I was riding the speed of traffic on a one lane (obviously one-way road) that encircled a lake. The posted speed was 25. A car was following me for at least a mile- a bit too closely. I was taking the lane, since I was following the car ahead of me (there was a line of cars driving at around 20mph). I was getting a bit irritated at the car behind me following so closely, since he had nowhere to go (with the car in front of me). I pulled a bit to the right- since the tailgating was bugging me. The car shot ahead, but had nowhere to go- again, there were the cars in front of us... so he was directly to my right as I was slowing down to ease in behind him. Without signalling, he suddenly turned right, dragging me down.

He stopped and I yelled at him- there is no way he could have missed seeing me, since he had followed me for at least a mile. I was full of road rash, had the usual scratches on the bike. I told him I was fine, bent my shifters back and resumed my ride.

In hindsight, I'd never concede the lane like that again. I wasn't slowing him down, since there was a line of cars and no way to pass.
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Old 09-01-05, 05:21 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by recursive
Yesterday marks the last time I trust a motorist to use their turn signal.
We've had at least one thread on this topic, perhaps several.

Something Robert Hurst makes a very strong case for in his book, The Art of Urban Cycling, is a cyclist should never trust turn signals... just ignore them. On or off, assume nothing significant about them.

That section is one of the many great nuggets in the book, but unfortunately it's also riddled with what I consider to be poor advice, and is couched in fear mongering fog that I think could be debilitating to the traffic cyclist.
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