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View Poll Results: Are Left Turn Collisions Unavoidable?

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  • Yes. If you get hit, there was absolutely nothing you could have done to avoid it.

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  • Itís more of a 50/50 proposition.

    12 23.53%
  • No. You can identify conditions; make adjustments & prepare to take effective actions.

    38 74.51%
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  1. #1
    On Two Wheels sam83's Avatar
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    Are Left Turn Collisions Unavoidable?

    Edit: You are going straight and an oncoming car is turning left.

    If a car violates your ROW, what do you think?
    Last edited by sam83; 12-10-06 at 08:35 PM.

  2. #2
    500 Watts kill.cactus's Avatar
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    I have one of these on my bike; cagers generally don't forget my ROW.

    But more seriously, I think that under most circumstances, if you are paying attention you can take action and protect yourself if a car continues through during your left turn. It is always dangerous, however.
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  3. #3
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    Tough call at night - you are going through a green light with a car signalling left. If there is a car going your way through the intersection at the time, and you are to the right of the car going your way, no problem. If you are alone - I try and wave to the left turner to see if he/she waves back - if not - I might not go through. Depending on the street, you can angle to go to the left of the left turning car, avoiding the problem.

    One of the trickiest night time situations IMHO.

  4. #4
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Its a tough situation, but you can change your timing to arrive after the motorist has turned. That is probably your best defence if you cannot verify that they have otherwise seen you.

  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    No, some left hooks are not unavoidable. but there are several ways to maximize safety. Robert Hurst in his Urban Cycling book had a very good treatment on it.

    I use a coupple of techniques like my timing thru when there are potential left hookers, also a very assertive "I'm going forward" pointing manuver with both hands off the hoods.

    At night, and I know this may sound like a radical position to take, but when i'm approaching potential left hookers from oncoming traffic, I often times will AIM DIRECTLY FOR THE DRIVER.

    Why? 1)I'm pointing my lights directly into the drivers' eyes, and 2) if the car begins to move into the intersection I am in a better position to slide by the passenger side of the car, or take advantage of 3) a better vector position off to the right back into safety. I'ts kind of tough to tell you what I mean but #3 it becomes clear once you try it.

    This by no means is my tactic all the time, but I use this "AIM right at them" technique at a few of the 'trouble' intersections along my commute where there are unsignalled crossover left turns across an arterial. Works pretty well.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  6. #6
    Geosynchronous Falconeer recursive's Avatar
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    I was hit by a left hook that I'm convinced couldn't have been avoided in any reasonable way. I didn't even have a stop sign.
    Bring the pain.

  7. #7
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist

    At night, and I know this may sound like a radical position to take, but when i'm approaching potential left hookers from oncoming traffic, I often times will AIM DIRECTLY FOR THE DRIVER.

    Why? 1)I'm pointing my lights directly into the drivers' eyes, and 2) if the car begins to move into the intersection I am in a better position to slide by the passenger side of the car, or take advantage of 3) a better vector position off to the right back into safety. I'ts kind of tough to tell you what I mean but #3 it becomes clear once you try it.
    Bek, I have not really tried this on the road... I do use a wagging headlight to try to alert motorists that may cross me. I simply jiggle the handlebars to make the headlight paint a wide area at the vehicle.

    As far as your vector technique... I can almost see that working. It is something I do on sailboats all the time... aim right for a boat crossing you, cause it won't be there when you get there. The difference between boats and cars however is cars have brakes... so some driver can suddenly slam on the brakes as they become aware of you.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    No, some left hooks are not unavoidable. but there are several ways to maximize safety. Robert Hurst in his Urban Cycling book had a very good treatment on it.

    I use a coupple of techniques like my timing thru when there are potential left hookers, also a very assertive "I'm going forward" pointing manuver with both hands off the hoods.

    At night, and I know this may sound like a radical position to take, but when i'm approaching potential left hookers from oncoming traffic, I often times will AIM DIRECTLY FOR THE DRIVER.

    Why? 1)I'm pointing my lights directly into the drivers' eyes, and 2) if the car begins to move into the intersection I am in a better position to slide by the passenger side of the car, or take advantage of 3) a better vector position off to the right back into safety. I'ts kind of tough to tell you what I mean but #3 it becomes clear once you try it.

    This by no means is my tactic all the time, but I use this "AIM right at them" technique at a few of the 'trouble' intersections along my commute where there are unsignalled crossover left turns across an arterial. Works pretty well.
    I think this is very good advice. Its the way I approach any intersection where someone is turning left or may turn left. Remember many people will turn suddenly without signalling. You have to be prepared for this situation.

    This gives you the most options, cross in front of the car, turn left and avoid, or stop.

    The only thing I would add is that if you are going to hit the car, DON'T lay the bike down. Jump up and back as high and as far as you can. I had to jump up in the air and back when an SUV hit me head on while I was riding a motorcycle and I got away with very minor injuries. Laying down the bike and going under the car is just not an option.
    Il faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace

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  9. #9
    Banned. galen_52657's Avatar
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    Cageless vehicle operating 101:

    Identify all hazards all the time and be prepared to take evasive action.

  10. #10
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    * If it's 2 lanes and the light changes, I watch the wheels of the car what the guys is going to do.
    * If it's 4 lanes of moving traffic, I sync up with the car on my left so the left hooker hits the car before self.
    * If it's a curved road, I take the lane and hope for the best.

  11. #11
    NYC Maggie Backstedt fan
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    I make the same assumption I make now when driving (since no one seems to yield ROW consistently anymore). Assume the SOB is going to turn in front of me, and slow down and prepare to stop. Gee, I lose almost .05/mph average on a 50 mile ride this way, but get to ride tomorrow.

    P.S.: New York State recently passed a new failure to yield ROW law; if a driver injures someone when failing to yield ROW, he/she gets an automatic license suspension. AAA thinks this was a product of an "overzealous" motorcycle lobby. Everyone should ping AAA and let them know what a problem failure to yield has become for both cyclists and drivers.

  12. #12
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    I think sometimes they might manage to get me no matter what I do. If we slow down because we think they don't see us and are about to cut in front of us, then it might look like we are just yielding the road to them. And someone in car is always going to do something beyond stupid at some point.

    I think that ALMOST all can be avoided, some, granted, with great difficulty. But I'd never say never.

  13. #13
    Conservative Hippie
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanfleisig
    P.S.: New York State recently passed a new failure to yield ROW law; if a driver injures someone when failing to yield ROW, he/she gets an automatic license suspension. AAA thinks this was a product of an "overzealous" motorcycle lobby. Everyone should ping AAA and let them know what a problem failure to yield has become for both cyclists and drivers.
    That sounds like a great law to have on the books. Sounds like AAA might need to pull their head out and see that cars aren't the only thing on the road, and can benefit from this legislation.

    One easy way to avoid getting left hooked is to take the lane at intersections. This gives the cyclist more room to maneuver either to the left, behind the car, or to the right, turning with the car, as the situation dictates.

  14. #14
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun
    That sounds like a great law to have on the books. Sounds like AAA might need to pull their head out and see that cars aren't the only thing on the road, and can benefit from this legislation.

    One easy way to avoid getting left hooked is to take the lane at intersections. This gives the cyclist more room to maneuver either to the left, behind the car, or to the right, turning with the car, as the situation dictates.
    If I remember the story right, the AAA was one of the lobby groups that gave Forester such fits when he was fighting for the current cycling laws in CA...

  15. #15
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanfleisig
    ... P.S.: New York State recently passed a new failure to yield ROW law; if a driver injures someone when failing to yield ROW, he/she gets an automatic license suspension. AAA thinks this was a product of an "overzealous" motorcycle lobby. Everyone should ping AAA and let them know what a problem failure to yield has become for both cyclists and drivers.
    New York is right. AAA is wrong.

    As a 31-year ACSC member, I'll try pinging AAA, but I find that the southern California branch operates pretty independently of the umbrella organization. Is there a New York state branch of AAA we should ping?
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  16. #16
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by recursive
    I was hit by a left hook that I'm convinced couldn't have been avoided in any reasonable way. I didn't even have a stop sign.
    My one bicycling collision with a motor vehicle was a left hook into a private residential driveway. I suffered a double fracture of the left clavicle, a concussion, and facial lacerations, which led to the macho "dueling scar" over my left cheekbone. Today I have a much better helmet, somewhat better brakes, and a somewhat more visible (left-biased) riding position, more conspicuous clothing (e.g. my "screaming yellow" windbreaker), and possibly better knowledge of evasive maneuvers.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  17. #17
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Of course there is no way to prevent a driver from turning left in front of any type of vehicle. Left hooks happen to trucks, cars, motorcycles and bicycles. Especially to motorcycles whos speed is often misjudged.

    But one can minimize the likelyhood and be prepared for evasive action if a turn does start. (Nothing new here, all of this has been said already by others above.)

    To minimize:
    Make sure you are very visible: This includes high vis clothing, lane position, use of bright front headlight day and night
    Make sure you appear fast, even if you are not: This can include high cadence (which I personally don't consider a significant factor, but some do), and unfortunately your 'look' which includes things like posture, clothing, rider position, eye contact or eye focus.
    Make sure you don't look like you are hesitant, even if you are prepared to stop or are slowing.

    Never assume any of the above will stop someone from turning.

    Then there is evasive action. A quick turn left or right for example. Practice these. Or heading for rear of turning vehicle assuming it will complete turn and not stop suddenly.

    edit: I found this Motorcycle Operator Guide, which in the 'Intersection' and the 'Increasing Conspicuity' chapters echos many of the same tips given by all in this thread. The whole guide is good reading even for pedalcyclists as many (but obviously not all) of the same techniques apply.

    Al

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    Last edited by noisebeam; 12-11-06 at 04:19 PM.

  18. #18
    jwc
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    Quote Originally Posted by vrkelley
    * If it's 2 lanes and the light changes, I watch the wheels of the car what the guys is going to do.
    I use this technique when biking or driving. Then, they came out with those friggin' "spinner wheels". I really believe those things are dangerous to put on a car or truck.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuterRun
    One easy way to avoid getting left hooked is to take the lane at intersections. This gives the cyclist more room to maneuver either to the left, behind the car, or to the right, turning with the car, as the situation dictates.
    At the intersections they just try to squeeze by on either side anyway...

    Quote Originally Posted by jwc
    I use this technique when biking or driving. Then, they came out with those friggin' "spinner wheels". I really believe those things are dangerous to put on a car or truck.
    Hmmm...How do they impede you?

  20. #20
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    The potential left hook is where the "steely-eyed gaze" comes in handy. I use it liberally. But I assume they are all going to left hook me and I'm ready to take evasive action accordingly.
    ~Diane
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    8.5 mile commute. I like bike lanes.

  21. #21
    Senior Member c_m_shooter's Avatar
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    When you see a car waiting to turn left, the first thing to move is usually the driver's hand coming across the steering wheel. That fraction of a second can make the difference.

  22. #22
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by c_m_shooter
    When you see a car waiting to turn left, the first thing to move is usually the driver's hand coming across the steering wheel. That fraction of a second can make the difference.
    It is just amazing the detail some of you can see inside a car... personally I find that at about 20MPH, closing on a vehicle, with a glared windshield, I have a tough time seeing the eyes, hands or any other details within the vehicle.

  23. #23
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    I forgot to add - I often use 'the scream' to deal with left - turn creepers. It's more or less impossible to tell if a creep sees you and is waiting for you to pass, or if they are just creeping, waiting for a car/ped to clear the intersection. 'The Scream' seems to work better than a bell (or waving arms), and I figure if it saves my life just once, it's worth it...

    Anybody else do this?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    It is just amazing the detail some of you can see inside a car... personally I find that at about 20MPH, closing on a vehicle, with a glared windshield, I have a tough time seeing the eyes, hands or any other details within the vehicle.
    +1 esp at night.

    Is it my imagination?? Does it seem like forum members are reporting more accidents than other years?? Can't figure out if it's because people are just fess'n up or whether it's due to more bikes on the road.

    One thing's certain, the visibility bar has been raised and more cyclists (at least the commuters around here) have SOME sort of lighting, AND most seem to observe traffic laws. So there should actually be LESS accidents.
    Last edited by vrkelley; 12-12-06 at 01:29 PM.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by rajman
    I forgot to add - I often use 'the scream' to deal with left - turn creepers. It's more or less impossible to tell if a creep sees you and is waiting for you to pass, or if they are just creeping, waiting for a car/ped to clear the intersection. 'The Scream' seems to work better than a bell (or waving arms), and I figure if it saves my life just once, it's worth it...

    Anybody else do this?

    All the time. It works.
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