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Old 08-07-07, 02:45 PM   #1
Ed Holland
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Nearly a right hook....

Not for me, but the rider in front yesterday morning. He was in the bike lane, undertaking a line of traffic as the light turned green. I always watch out in this situation slow down and try to anticipate - this guy did not and escaped with only inches to spare. Of course the driver should be mindful of cyclists when crossing a lane in this situation, but had the accident (that I was expecting) occurred, I think some responsibility would rest with the cyclist, IMHO.

It would be interest to hear the A&S forum's view on this one.

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Old 08-07-07, 02:59 PM   #2
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Don’t confuse safety rules with legal rules. Safety rules are there to help you avoid stupid mistakes that other people make, not to make you at fault for other peoples mistakes. For example it is safer for motorist to drive with their lights on during the day but in case of an accident doesn’t put the driver with no lights on at fault.

I forget CA laws but the first question I would ask is the motorist in the proper lane position for making a turn?
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Old 08-07-07, 03:03 PM   #3
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Saw a motorist right hook another motorist the other day.

A small pickup truck was signaling and had moved into the space where the BL had ended and was making a right turn... close to the curb. A regular size large van was driving along parallel and slightly ahead (but overlapping). The van suddenly turned right... no signal, no attempt to move toward the curb... and apparently no checking the mirror first.

The truck slammed on their brakes and just missed being crunched.

Sure the driver in the small truck should not have been trying to creep up on the right... but then the driver in the van didn't bother to look, signal, or move to the curb first.
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Old 08-07-07, 03:04 PM   #4
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Donít confuse safety rules with legal rules. Safety rules are there to help you avoid stupid mistakes that other people make, not to make you at fault for other peoples mistakes. For example it is safer for motorist to drive with their lights on during the day but in case of an accident doesnít put the driver with no lights on at fault.

I forget CA laws but the first question I would ask is the motorist in the proper lane position for making a turn?
Move close to the curb, after merging into the BL or the space to the right. Signaling and checking should be part of the drill too... as well as looking for peds. And of course, actually stopping if making a right on red.
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Old 08-07-07, 03:54 PM   #5
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I forget CA laws but the first question I would ask is the motorist in the proper lane position for making a turn?
Before that, I would ask if the bike lane goes all the way to the intersection, confusing the motorist about what the proper lane position is. If so, was it solid or dashed?
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Old 08-07-07, 05:48 PM   #6
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Before that, I would ask if the bike lane goes all the way to the intersection, confusing the motorist about what the proper lane position is. If so, was it solid or dashed?
I think it's solid lines at this intersection, all the way to the light, but don't believe this makes any practical difference, whatever the "design intent" is or best practice stated by Vehicle Code. Sometimes there is just too much information directed at the road user in too subtle a way.

However, I'm sure a motorist approaching traffic lights (at red) is unlikely to cross a solid line before stopping to wait. Most motorists leave the bike lane clear in my experience, probably for fear of a chewing out by cyclists trying to get to the front .
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Old 08-07-07, 05:52 PM   #7
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Before that, I would ask if the bike lane goes all the way to the intersection, confusing the motorist about what the proper lane position is. If so, was it solid or dashed?
One of the most irritating aspects of law it can find one party at fault even in confusing situations (ignorance of the law is no excuse.) But this incident could/should be used to get the striping fixed.
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Old 08-07-07, 07:34 PM   #8
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However, I'm sure a motorist approaching traffic lights (at red) is unlikely to cross a solid line before stopping to wait. Most motorists leave the bike lane clear in my experience, probably for fear of a chewing out by cyclists trying to get to the front .
But the solid line encourages the right-turning motorists to wait until the last minute to start their turn, while giving the cyclist such as the one you saw the false sense of security that they have the right of way. It encourages turning across a through lane by the motorist, and passing on the right by the cyclist, both of which go against normal traffic rules. I agree with Human Car that the striping needs to be fixed.

From the Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO):

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At intersections, bicyclists proceeding straight through and motorists turning right must cross paths. Striping and signing configurations which encourage crossings in advance of the intersection, in a merging fashion, are preferable to those that force the crossing in the immediate vicinity of the intersection.
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Old 08-08-07, 12:22 AM   #9
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I had an interesting one last week...5 lane road (2 lanes each way with a center turn lane). I was in the right hand lane, center positioned, signaling a right turn and slowing down to 15mph to turn into a driveway. A pickup truck in the lane to my left pulled even with me and slowed to my speed. I looked over and their right blinker was not on, and they weren't moving towards me, so I continued making my turn. After I turned into the driveway I looked back and the truck was stopped dead in the left thru lane, getting passed on the right by other traffic. After traffic cleared the truck made a right turn into the driveway, from the left thru lane, still without using a turn signal.

My friend at work mentioned he saw a lifted pickup truck attempt to turn right into a driveway from the center thru lane on a 3 lane each way road, without seeing the compact car driving alongside in the right lane. The large truck drove up on top of the hood of the car and somehow the car wound up rolling over. He got out to help...luckily nobody was hurt too bad.

As far as bike lanes approaching intersections, I was taught in driver's ed that the motor vehicle operator planning to turn right should signal, do a mirror and shoulder check, and merge into the bike lane before entering the intersection (200 feet before I think...but not sure on that one). I always do this when driving, even when coming to a stop. If a cyclist in the bike lane is going straight at the light, they should pass the right turning cars on the left, or not pass at all.
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Old 08-08-07, 06:31 AM   #10
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Jeff, that last paragraph sounds like good advice to me. I wish all Driver's Ed classes taught that, and that all cyclists knew it. I maintain with AASHTO that the pre-intersection merge is implied and encouraged by either the bike lane stopping some distance before the intersection, or at least becoming dashed. Some kind of "Right turn merge with bikes" sign also helps.

Ed - what do you think, and do you have any inclination to take this up with your public works department? (This is the advocacy forum, after all, so I had to ask... )
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Old 08-08-07, 08:14 AM   #11
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Jeff, that last paragraph sounds like good advice to me. I wish all Driver's Ed classes taught that, and that all cyclists knew it. I maintain with AASHTO that the pre-intersection merge is implied and encouraged by either the bike lane stopping some distance before the intersection, or at least becoming dashed. Some kind of "Right turn merge with bikes" sign also helps.

Ed - what do you think, and do you have any inclination to take this up with your public works department? (This is the advocacy forum, after all, so I had to ask... )
I personally think the best thing is to end bike lanes before the intersection and begin them again after. I really think it's just a bad idea to encourage thru-traffic to be to the right of turning traffic.

As a practical matter, virtually nowhere is the density of cyclists sufficient to condition right-turning motorists to check their right blind spot when in the right lane.
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Old 08-08-07, 09:34 AM   #12
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I personally think the best thing is to end bike lanes before the intersection and begin them again after. I really think it's just a bad idea to encourage thru-traffic to be to the right of turning traffic.

As a practical matter, virtually nowhere is the density of cyclists sufficient to condition right-turning motorists to check their right blind spot when in the right lane.
I could not agree more.
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Old 08-08-07, 09:53 AM   #13
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Saw a motorist right hook another motorist the other day.

A small pickup truck was signaling and had moved into the space where the BL had ended and was making a right turn... close to the curb. A regular size large van was driving along parallel and slightly ahead (but overlapping). The van suddenly turned right... no signal, no attempt to move toward the curb... and apparently no checking the mirror first.

The truck slammed on their brakes and just missed being crunched.

Sure the driver in the small truck should not have been trying to creep up on the right... but then the driver in the van didn't bother to look, signal, or move to the curb first.
This is one of my largest pet peeves when driving. People invent a lane next to the curb to turn right at a red light. I've been cut off when turning right at an intersection by somebody who snuck between me and the curb only because I didn't use the parking lane as my own personal travel lane.

The only time a vehicle is allowed to pass another on the right in the same lane is when the vehicle immediately in front of them is yielding to oncoming traffic in an attempt to turn left.

Anecdotally, I did see a vehicle right hook another in a similar manner to what you describe, except that there was a marked right turn lane. The jacked up pickup truck that made the sudden decision to turn right across the right turn lane drove over the hood of the much smaller car. No matter what you're driving, and where you are, be attentive! (and sometimes, it's just not enough)
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Old 08-08-07, 10:58 AM   #14
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I was stopped waiting for cross traffic (which has the right of way) to clear before making a right turn at a T intersection. Some motorist comes behind me laying on his horn and yelling “What are you doing? You are in my way.” And proceeds to try and go around me into the opposite direction travel lane and just at that time the car I am waiting for makes a right turn (no signals) and the two almost crash. The driver that just made the right turn now lays on the horn and yells to the driver that was trying to pass me “What are you doing? You are in my way.” Anyway it was funny to see the same thing thrown back at the driver who tried to pass me and being stuck there (traffic was not letting either move) far longer then if he just cooled his jets and waited one sec.
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Old 08-08-07, 12:45 PM   #15
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Jeff, that last paragraph sounds like good advice to me. I wish all Driver's Ed classes taught that, and that all cyclists knew it. I maintain with AASHTO that the pre-intersection merge is implied and encouraged by either the bike lane stopping some distance before the intersection, or at least becoming dashed. Some kind of "Right turn merge with bikes" sign also helps.

Ed - what do you think, and do you have any inclination to take this up with your public works department? (This is the advocacy forum, after all, so I had to ask... )
I forgot to check the road layout at the location of Monday's incident. Perhaps I will take it up with the authorities.

Your point about continued solid lines is a good one - I still think about the subtlety is lost on most people. Most drivers do not realise that they have turn signals, don't use them in a timely fashion or they are waiting to get them repaired . Besides, turning right is trivial no?

Yesterday I had the classic "driver who slows as they pass, then wavers, almost right-hooking only to stop dead at the last minute to let the cyclist pass because they realise they would not make the turn". Then they wave you through, at which point an impass is reached. After all this, there is absolutely no way I am going to pass one of these clueless muppets even if they wave me through.

It's the good drivers one never notices, though, and there are some still out there.

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Old 08-08-07, 02:24 PM   #16
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Yep, bike lanes at intersections confuse motorists.
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Old 08-08-07, 02:49 PM   #17
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Yep, bike lanes at intersections confuse motorists.
At this point I'd like to juxtapose this with the one criticism I hear from everyday, non lycra wearing, about town cyclists: that "bike lanes are great until they vanish at road junctions"

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Old 08-08-07, 03:07 PM   #18
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At this point I'd like to juxtapose this with the one criticism I hear from everyday, non lycra wearing, about town cyclists: that "bike lanes are great until they vanish at road junctions"
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Old 08-08-07, 04:12 PM   #19
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I think that reflects a widespread misconception that the purpose of bike lanes is to protect cyclists by giving them their own place that cars will not violate. The problem with that is with the "will not violate" part, especially given the low level of cyclists in this country such that drivers are not conditioned to check over their right shoulder for bikes passing on the right. As we have discussed, right-turning cars in particular must "violate", a.k.a. cross, the bike lane sooner or later, and a gradual merge is generally better than a sudden turn into. Having a right-turn only lane (RTOL) actually makes it easier because you can make the BL go to the left of the RTOL, and dashed during the approach. But if the right-most lane is a combination through and right-turn lane, what to do?

My belief is that bike lanes over-promise the concept of car/bike segregation. Bikes on roads must negotiate with cars sometimes, especially at intersections, and in my opinion, bike lanes tend to discourage such interaction. They make everyone think that sharing the road means everyone staying in their own place, and then get all confused when that doesn't work all the time. (Or angry when people don't always stay where they "should be", for reasons the observers don't always understand.)

Many non-lycra, about-town cyclists, especially slower ones, have figured out their own style of riding that often includes non-vehicular methods such as sidewalk riding. Some vehicular purists look down on this, but for some people, it works. My sister-in-law is one of them. However, it is not the most efficient for trips longer than a few miles, or between town centers, and less safe the faster you go. It is too easy, IMO, to buy into the concept that a bike lane allows you to safely ride in the road without having to think too much about it, which is what many people want.

Which is all a long way of saying that the reason bike lanes often end approaching intersections is that it is not really possible to guide all road users though the intersection without needing to watch out for each other, so don't mislead them into thinking it is. Does that make sense?
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Old 08-08-07, 04:20 PM   #20
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My belief is that bike lanes over-promise the concept of car/bike segregation. Bikes on roads must negotiate with cars sometimes, especially at intersections, and in my opinion, bike lanes tend to discourage such interaction. They make everyone think that sharing the road means everyone staying in their own place, and then get all confused when that doesn't work all the time. (Or angry when people don't always stay where they "should be", for reasons the observers don't always understand.)
...

It is too easy, IMO, to buy into the concept that a bike lane allows you to safely ride in the road without having to think too much about it, which is what many people want.
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Which is all a long way of saying that the reason bike lanes often end approaching intersections is that it is not really possible to guide all road users though the intersection without needing to watch out for each other, so don't mislead them into thinking it is. Does that make sense?
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Old 08-08-07, 07:23 PM   #21
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But, does it make sense to Ed, who was asking the question?
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Old 08-08-07, 09:21 PM   #22
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This is one of my largest pet peeves when driving. People invent a lane next to the curb to turn right at a red light. I've been cut off when turning right at an intersection by somebody who snuck between me and the curb only because I didn't use the parking lane as my own personal travel lane.

The only time a vehicle is allowed to pass another on the right in the same lane is when the vehicle immediately in front of them is yielding to oncoming traffic in an attempt to turn left.

Anecdotally, I did see a vehicle right hook another in a similar manner to what you describe, except that there was a marked right turn lane. The jacked up pickup truck that made the sudden decision to turn right across the right turn lane drove over the hood of the much smaller car. No matter what you're driving, and where you are, be attentive! (and sometimes, it's just not enough)
I claim your first and last paragraphs are inconsistent. Do you want people to turn right from near the curb (per California law, by the way), to avoid any confusion or right-hooking, or not?
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Old 08-09-07, 10:50 AM   #23
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But, does it make sense to Ed, who was asking the question?
Yes it does make sense, I think your post was excellent btw.

I agree that a "gradual merge" is the ideal, but I see many motorists unwilling to, or incapable of grasping the concept.

There are several right-turn scenarios that I have experienced

1) Driver stays out of the bike lane (broken or solid lane) until the turn is reached. In 99% of cases they check mirrors before turning, and are far enough ahead of any cyclist in the BL

2) Driver slows, follows behind cyclist until the turn. May or may not merge with the BL.

3) Driver races to turn in attempt to pass cyclist and make turn right hook may or may not result depending on the driver's awareness of cyclist's actual position.

4) Driver cannot make up mind whether to pass cyclist (or under estimates cyclist speed) then stops before making turn, or turns partially before remembering the (now apprehensive) cyclist. Impasse ensues.

All of the above occur with or without bike lanes. The driver may or may not bother to signal the turn in any situation.

Cheers,

Ed

P.S. I checked the section of BL where the incident occurred that inspired the thread. It has a broken line in the last few yards to the traffic lights... However, mr cyclist was not riding in a defensive manner that would have helped to avoid the near miss.
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Old 08-09-07, 11:05 AM   #24
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I think that reflects a widespread misconception that the purpose of bike lanes is to protect cyclists by giving them their own place that cars will not violate. The problem with that is with the "will not violate" part, especially given the low level of cyclists in this country such that drivers are not conditioned to check over their right shoulder for bikes passing on the right.
I don't want to turn this in to a BL debate... but
This is not an unreasonable view on the part of a cyclist, especially those with lesser experience or the confidence that goes with it. They (we) see the bike lane as an aid to using the road safely. When this help "gives up" as soon as something difficult like a busy intersection is reached (try a city centre roundabout in the UK) there is frustration at being "forced into traffic".

In some parts of Europe, the Netherlands is a very good example, there are bike lanes that offer completely protected transit without any interaction with other traffic. No-one expects them to appear as if by magic in other parts of the world, but you can't argue with the popularity of about town cycling in Holland.

I ride in the USA and UK, where the BL situations happen to be similar. There is no doubt in my mind that the lanes are helpful, but also that one has to be able to deal with where this help comes to an end. This may involve asserting ones position on the road, or leaving it all together.

Cheers,

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Old 08-09-07, 12:02 PM   #25
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I claim your first and last paragraphs are inconsistent. Do you want people to turn right from near the curb (per California law, by the way), to avoid any confusion or right-hooking, or not?
I was probably unclear. In my anecdote, there was a marked, dedicated right turn lane and it was the person in the through lane that made a sudden (bad) decision to turn right across that lane, where he encountered a person who had pulled into that lane to turn right.

My peeve is where drivers make illegal passes on the right of other drivers where no additional marked lane is present. I constantly see people passing 5 or 6 cars waiting for a light by driving up an unoccupied parking lane. These people are likely to cut off cyclists by entering or crossing a bike lane or otherwise bikable area or get hit themselves by a person driving properly.
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