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  1. #1
    genec genec's Avatar
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    What causes Right Hooks?

    I was just reading a bike lane thread in which it was mentioned that a particular bike lane design was perfect for causing right hooks.

    Well silly me, I was out riding on a road the other day that doesn't have a bike lane it's entire length... but there are often cars parked along the right edge. Well I took the right lane, nearly centered, just slightly left of the right tire track. This is a 35MPH road that is the main way through my neighborhood, and I indeed ride it like I own it. It was also early on Saturday... with light traffic.

    Well along comes a young man in his fast little car... had to swerve into the left lane to avoid me... then he swerved back right just in time to nearly right hook me. I yelled at him as he slowed and started to swerve into a driveway. It was enough to cause him to stop and shout back "I saw you."

    Well if he saw me, and he knew he was turning right... why didn't he simply merge behind me?

    Remember, not a bike lane in sight... anywhere. Not even a fog line. Yet this young man still chose to try to right hook me.

    Seems like the right hook issue is not one of BL, but of motorists failing to treat cyclists "like drivers of vehicles" in spite of our positions on the road. Somehow motorists have this notion that cyclists must be passed, no matter what.

    So do we blame bike lanes... or poor motorists? Yeah, I avoided being hit, so I did my part... but the real question is why this happens in the first place. Not a BL in sight, and me riding well into the lane, and yet...

  2. #2
    HomeBrew Master! Gus Riley's Avatar
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    I agree, Bike lanes are prime for right hooks and "T" bones. "T" bones occur when a bike lane crosses a driveway, cagers are prone to not using caution as they cross the bike lane during their quest to get to the main road.

    The other reason for right hooks: are the Idiots driving their cars. I'm a previous victim to a right hook. I was a victim but fortunately for me the custom van that hooked me came out worse for the incident (heavy on the dent!).
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec
    Seems like the right hook issue is not one of BL, but of motorists failing to treat cyclists "like drivers of vehicles" in spite of our positions on the road. Somehow motorists have this notion that cyclists must be passed, no matter what.
    I've also noticed this phenomena, that cars have to pass cyclists at all costs. No doubt much of it is just bullying arrogance, the "I'm bigger than you are" attitude.

    But I have also heard about normal, fairly law abiding motorists say that they are "scared" to drive behind a cyclist. Why are they scared? I've been trying to figure this out. Maybe they are terrified of the cyclist falling and that they will run them over?

    Maybe this is part of the explanation of why motorists will make dangerous passes when there is approaching oncoming traffic, or right hook cyclists, as in your situation, in an attempt to put the cyclist behind them at any cost.
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  4. #4
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    "I saw you." LOL. Classic cager response. Yet they do nothing safe when claiming so. You did everything correctly. Of course, someone will chime in about maybe your lane position wasn't "centerish" enough or not following VC to a T, or that you didn't make yourself more visible to FSDT. Thank God your SA kicked in otherwise you'd be SOL. Then HH would comment that you were at fault for your DOA. Acronyms are so much fun!
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

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  5. #5
    Dominatrikes sbhikes's Avatar
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    I think it's the speed differential. People are afraid to slow down that much. If he has to slow down from 40 mph to 15 and then hold it there for a few seconds, it might make someone behind him get mad. Better to get around you and make you someone else's problem.
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  6. #6
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    There is a difference between turning across someones path in the process of turning vs. merging in front of them and slowing hard, then turning. The former I call I right hook, the later is annoying, requiring hard slowing and/or passing on left. What Genec describes in the OP sounds less like a right hook and more like an agressive merge and slowing.

    Al

  7. #7
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    right hooks occur regardless of road striping. U hooks can happen from the opposite direction. right hooks can even happen while a cyclist is supossedly 'in control' of a narrow lane of traffic.

    right hooks can occur even when there is NO intersection by a driver pulling over to park or talk on a phone or read a map.

    right hooks are a product of bad drivers, not road stripes.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  8. #8
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam
    There is a difference between turning across someones path in the process of turning vs. merging in front of them and slowing hard, then turning. The former I call I right hook, the later is annoying, requiring hard slowing and/or passing on left. What Genec describes in the OP sounds less like a right hook and more like an agressive merge and slowing.

    Al
    No, he slowed to make the driveway... it was quickly becoming a right hook. His window was down and I yelled loud. I also had slowed to avoid "the intercept point."

    But more to the point... he knew he was turning right, and that he had to slow down... yet he chose to go wide around me only to come right back toward me.

    If I were another car, he would have just moved in behind me, no matter how slowly I was going, but that did not occur to him.

    (no, I am not reading minds... but I do observe motorist behaviour quite a bit and I honestly doubt he would have done that to a motorist in a car)

  9. #9
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    right hooks occur regardless of road striping. U hooks can happen from the opposite direction. right hooks can even happen while a cyclist is supossedly 'in control' of a narrow lane of traffic.

    right hooks can occur even when there is NO intersection by a driver pulling over to park or talk on a phone or read a map.

    right hooks are a product of bad drivers, not road stripes.
    Bingo... give that man a cookie!

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    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    There are many factors that contribute to right hooks, including speed differential. The best we can do is use more assertive/conspicuous/prectable lane positioning to reduce the likelihood of a right hook, but we can't eliminate it.

    One of which is the through cyclist riding in the "right turn zone" of a straight or right lane as he approaches an intersection. A bike lane demarcating this space encourages cyclists to ride there. But if there is no stripe, cyclists can certainly still right too far right.

    Were you as far left as you would be had you been riding a motorcycle?

    How long had you been riding in that lateral position?

  11. #11
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    jeepers creepers, It's UNSTOPPABLE.

    I want my cookie.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  12. #12
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Helmet Head
    There are many factors that contribute to right hooks, including speed differential. The best we can do is use more assertive/conspicuous/prectable lane positioning to reduce the likelihood of a right hook, but we can't eliminate it.

    One of which is the through cyclist riding in the "right turn zone" of a straight or right lane as he approaches an intersection. A bike lane demarcating this space encourages cyclists to ride there. But if there is no stripe, cyclists can certainly still right too far right.

    Were you as far left as you would be had you been riding a motorcycle?

    How long had you been riding in that lateral position?
    OK, let me say this one more time: Of course, someone will chime in about maybe your lane position wasn't "centerish" enough or not following VC to a T, or that you didn't make yourself more visible to FSDT.

    LOL
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes
    I think it's the speed differential. People are afraid to slow down that much. If he has to slow down from 40 mph to 15 and then hold it there for a few seconds, it might make someone behind him get mad. Better to get around you and make you someone else's problem.
    This gets close to it. The point many here miss in these discussions is that much of the bad behavior that drivers exhibit in incidents like this has nothing to do with bicycles! I'd guess that the kid would have pulled the same move on a car that was going slower than he wanted. Try driving a vehicle that is slower than a typical car for a while - or even one that is percieved to be slower (the example being the FedEx breadvan that I drove for a few years.) Drivers would pull that crap on me all the time, even though they had more to lose.

  14. #14
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Gene's example shows that right hooks can occur wherever there is an inexperienced or impatient motorist, and a right turn to be made.

    However, right hooks are more likely to occur at intersections and busy commercial areas, when the cyclist is not centered in the lane. While bike lanes seem to put cyclists in a prime position for right hooks, they can happen any time the cyclist is over to the right, as in wide outside lanes.

    I would agree that we cyclists can do our part to avoid right hooks, but the main responsibility is on overtaking motorists. This is in keeping with most of the rules of right-of-way concerning overtaking.
    No worries

  15. #15
    Senior Member EnigManiac's Avatar
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    I agree entirely with Bekologists' post. Any reasonable cop will tell you that when a vehicle is changing direction (i.e. turning right) it is the motorists' duty and responsibility to see that he/she can do so safely and that means checking oncoming traffic, traffic approaching from the rear and checking both mirrors as well as blind spots. Generally, a vehicle has approached a cyclist from behind and just passed the cyclist to his right and has, therefore, no excuse for not seeing the cyclist before turning his/her car into the cyclists path. In speaking with local police officers, not one has ever suggested that there could be any other party to blame but the right-turning motorist. Now, there may be exceptions---such as a cycist suddenly coming from a stop on the sidewalk down onto the road just before an intersection and was not seen in the mirror or blind spot a second or two before they entered the roadway---but the motorist is still at fault for not ensuring that it was safe to change direction when they were in the process of changing direction.

    As to what causes the motorist to make that mistake, in my experience (which is considerable) it is often, but not exclusively, selective vision; when a driver is scanning for known and common hazards such as another car and jay-walking pedestrians amid a congested and distracting street-scape such as busy downtown streets. It is just as often a misperception of the speed of the cyclist and/or the assumption that the cyclist both has the room and maneuverability to veer around the rear of their vehicle if they did partially block their path. And other times it is simply being distracted by the radio / mp3player, cell-phone or Blackberry, another person or persons in the car or, of course, malicious, thoughtless or reckless behaviour. There are bad drivers making hundreds of dangerous maneuvers every day---just as there are stupid cyclists who commit dangerous acts every day and fail to respect or acknoweldge the traffic and potential hazards around them---so trust no-one and assume nothing.

    P.S. In Holland, it was recognized whom was responsible for right-hook accidents and to address the danger, they have imposed right-of-way traffic signals for bicycles at many intersections, thus prohibiting motorists from turning right until bicycle traffic is stopped and they receive their signal that it is safe to proceed right.
    Last edited by EnigManiac; 03-08-07 at 09:03 AM.
    The slow down is accelerating

  16. #16
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    This video is not of a right hook, but it demonstrates the urge that drivers have to pass vehicles that are or they believe are slower.

    youtube 7czSIPBB_X4 - Lanes

    A few notes. First even before the footage starts I have my left arm out in the processs of merging right out of the shoulder. I saw the first two passing cars and expected to merge behind them as I did.
    The car that came up to me on my left was originally behind me, not originally in the adjacent lane. They merge left in an attempt to go around and get ahead of me. But I was traveling faster than they realized so they could not complete the pass.
    Also note that while from the narrow view of the video it looks like I was in a prime location (i.e. blind spot) to be merged into, there was communication between me and the driver - turning heads. They were very aware of my presence. I was also ready for any evasive action in case they got stupidier on me.
    So the driver was stuck in the middle lane due to poor judgement on their part, hence the honking by other driver who wanted to use the middle lane. Note the white truck had to swerve into the innner lane to get around them - and rev'ed their engine to pass partly to express some emotion.

    (A final tidbit - note how there are no lane lines separating the outside lane from the middle lane until the last tens of feet before the stop line. It is a double wide lane which vehicles have no problem sharing side by side)

    Al

  17. #17
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    It's simple..... driver's don't give a f%@k when they think "I'm bigger than you", unless you can cause thousands of dollars of damage...then and only then will they back off. This is NOT all drivers.

  18. #18
    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    I am actually of the opinion that right hooks are almost never a perception issue, but always a miscalculation in timing on the part of the driver.
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  19. #19
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    Could be perceptual.... "I'm sorry I didn't see you"...yea... as you accelerated, swung left just before carving right in front of me and when I reach out and hit your car with my hand... you stop and jump out with murder in your eyes, even though you, dear motorist, almost killed me. I swear I think sometimes they more upset because the cyclist didn't back down and actually stood up for themselves.

  20. #20
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    It would seem in your case the right hook was caused by the driver being in a hurry & did not want to wait the 5 or 10 seconds it would have taken for him to wait behind you. I would venture to say this is what causes a majority of right hooks. Especially when we take the lane as you did here. If we don't take the lane & stay to the right of center I think the right hooks are more frequent. At least that is what I observe in my community when I ride.

  21. #21
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    My opinion, true right hooks are due to drivers both underestimating the speed of cyclists and not noticing them until it's too late, the latter occurring on higher speed roads where the motorist would have to slow down much more quickly than expected to turn behind the cyclist. Instead they attempt to stay the course, get by as quickly as possible, and make their right turn before the cyclist catches up.

    The right swooping turn (driver changes lanes to the left to go around cyclist only to make a right turn shortly thereafter) has to do with "the Notion," that cyclists should never be in front of motorists. My recent favorite of a similar situation is the guy (with his kids in the car) honking a for an extended period of time as we approach a red light with him behind me in the right lane. As we near the light, he starts to move left. Then apparently he remembers that he's turning right so he puts on signal and moves into the right turn lane which I left open for him to use by being in the right thru lane. Mo-ron.

  22. #22
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by San Rensho
    I've also noticed this phenomena, that cars have to pass cyclists at all costs. No doubt much of it is just bullying arrogance, the "I'm bigger than you are" attitude.
    Well, this is speculation ... but does anyone observe similar behavior when they drive their car? We observe this all of the time by exits on the Beltway ... or just about any two-lane road.

    In other words, my guess is that this isn't a phenomenon restricted to bicycles and is more about drivers in general.

    EDIT: By speculation, I mean that I am speculating. Not the poster I quoted.

  23. #23
    your nightmare gal chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    right hooks are a product of bad drivers, not road stripes.
    +1
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  24. #24
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    Dropping your left elbow or hand will generate a right hook. Moving your left elbow away from your body will result in a left upper cut.

  25. #25
    Senior Member rule's Avatar
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    Our riding speed...most people on this forum ride a hell of a lot faster than a typical driver is going to be expecting. We would do well to remember that.

    Unless you are chipcom and you have to work on your issues for right hooking the drivers and running them off the road. Bad chipcom, bad bad chipcom.

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