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  1. #1
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    The Worst Cycling Death Newspaper Article Ever

    Read this and weep.

    The short version: The Daytona Beach cyclist dies in a right hook by a bus, which not just hit him, but ran over him. But the cyclist was a convicted felon, and the bus driver a "two million mile safe driver," so guess whose fault is is? Oh, and the police spokesman is the bus driver's brother, to boot. Don't miss the comments after the article if you need a jolt to your blood pressure.

    The long version:

    Bicyclist dies in collision with Votran bus

    By LYDA LONGA
    Staff Writer

    DAYTONA BEACH -- Sitting at the front of the Votran bus with her 3-year-old granddaughter by her side, Gladys Williams watched in horror as bicyclist Marvin White was struck by the bus, then seemed to vanish beneath it.

    With tears streaming down her face Tuesday afternoon, Williams recounted the accident that killed White, a man she has known most of her life growing up in the city.

    "He (the bus driver) didn't see the man and the man didn't see him," Williams said between sobs, referring to the Votran bus driver and White. "I saw him (White) at the corner talking to a woman with a dog, just before he got hit."

    After he finished speaking to the woman, the 51-year-old White apparently continued riding west on Orange Avenue just before noon. Daytona Beach police spokesman Jimmie Flynt said the bus -- driven by his brother Nate Flynt -- also was heading west on Orange, after passing Ridgewood Avenue. There is a bus stop at the northwest corner of Ridgewood and Orange.

    Based on a preliminary investigation, Nate Flynt, 57, was easing the bus into the bus stop. About the same time, White was riding alongside the bus, just in front of the right rear tire. White veered somewhat to the left to avoid hitting a curb and when he did so, he struck the side of the bus, was thrown from his bicycle and was caught under the right rear tire.

    White died at Halifax Health Medical Center just minutes after the accident.

    State records show White was a felon who served several prison terms for crimes including manslaughter.

    Nate Flynt, meanwhile, a veteran driver with Votran who is known as a "2 million-mile safe driver because he has never had an accident in over 24 years," according to Votran operations manager Bill Mayer, will be taken off his route while an investigation is completed. Mayer said both police and Votran officials will conduct their own queries of the accident.

    Mayer said cameras are mounted on the right front side of every bus, which means the one mounted on Nate Flynt's bus may have captured the incident.

    That is, if the camera was working. Mayer said the cameras have a 10 percent failure rate because the "buses are going up and down bumpy roads."

    "I hope it was working today," he said Tuesday.

    lyda.longa@news-jrnl.com

  2. #2
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    If the driver was "easing the bus into the bus stop", then he should have checked his right side mirror before starting to move to the right, then checked again as the bus moved right.

    whether the bus driver right hooked the cyclist or the cyclist was passing on the right side, the bus driver quite likely could have avoided the incident by checking his mirrors.

  3. #3
    uke
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    At least many of the commenters noted what BS it was to include that bit of information.

    #1 dudits - daytona - 12/17/2008 3:00:00 AM
    ahhh...he was a felon, good reporting. I wouldn't have known the cause for the accident unless you listed that bit of information.
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    #5 geode - p.c. - 12/17/2008 6:19:00 AM
    Reply to #2 tyrone: Today's news are more sensationalism than substance. What does the relative of the bus driver has to do with anything? What does the criminal record of the victim has to do with anything? Like those stories they like to print of shooting and robbery victims extolling their prior crimes as to say,"You got what you deserved."
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    #6 Cyclist - NSB - 12/17/2008 6:48:00 AM
    Considering there has been absolutely NO reporting on the prosecution of the person who killed an upstanding citizen in NSB last year just because he happened to be riding a bicycle, I suppose there had to be some "justification" in this story as to why it was "okay" for yet another motorist to kill yet another bicyclist.
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    JesseDuncan:I just love how "cars will be forced to cross the double yellow lines on dangerous limited visibility roads".

    I don't want to have a head on but oh god, I HAVE to fling myself into oncoming traffic to pass, theres no alternative!!!

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Here is the letter I just sent to the reporter:

    Ms Longa:

    I rarely write to newspapers, and almost never write to reporters, but I must write to complain about your article entitled Bicyclist dies in collision with Votran bus.” I am experienced bike rider and bike commuter. While we have few busses in Titusville, I have spent enough time cycling on the road to get a good understanding of how this accident happened. The bus clearly overtook the bike rider and then eased to the right toward the bus stop, hitting and killing the rider. This kind of accident, known to cyclists as a “right hook,” is almost always the driver’s fault. The driver expects to get past the cyclist before moving right, but does not and cuts off the cyclist, hitting him. Legally, it is exactly the same as an auto accident occurring when a driver tries to turn right from the left lane of a two-lanes-each-direction street, hitting a vehicle traveling lawfully in the right lane. If the victim was to the right of the bus’ right rear wheels, it is ridiculous to state as a witness did that the cyclist did not see the bus; I can promise you that any cyclist is very aware of a bus immediately to his left moving toward him.</SPAN>

    The story displays an unacceptable prejudice against the cyclist. I understand that the police spokesman was the driver’s brother, I understand that the driver is a long-time safe driver, and I understand that the cyclist was a felon. Each of those factors is a circumstances destined to result in “blaming the victim.” Nonetheless, when a cyclist is killed by a bus in a right hook, he is an innocent victim of a negligent act. For the safety of all cyclists, drivers have to know who is at fault when accidents like this happen.

    Kurt Erlenbach

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    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Hmmmmm... a couple comments and questions I hope others might shed some light on:

    (1) Is this not an argument for 'taking the lane?' If the cyclist was IN THE LANE in front of the bus, or IN THE LANE completely behind the bus, this would not have happened?

    (2) you can see here the inherent bias and conflict of interest that mass transit in general and bus drivers in particular have with other vehicles and cyclists. They are government employees and have the full resources of city hall behind them. You wouldn't have to be a felon in this case to feel the cards were stacked against you.

    roughstuff
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    genec genec's Avatar
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    I never have quite understood right hooks from a drivers' perspective. Yeah I drive, so I've been in the same place with cyclists and myself... but when that situation occurs, it is damn obvious to me that I am about to turn and that I should NOT pass a cyclist and then "cut them off."

    It seems to me every right hook situation requires that a motorist pass a cyclist or that the cyclist is in front of the motorist at some point.

    Now of course there are situations where a cyclist may enter a street they were no previously on, and then come up the right side of a turning or stopped vehicle and then the driver has no clue they are there.

    But usually the scenario is that the motor vehicle passes a cyclist, then turns right... meaning that the driver had the cyclist right in front of them at some point... AND THEN CHOSE TO IMMEDIATELY IGNORE THE CYCLIST.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roughstuff View Post
    Hmmmmm... a couple comments and questions I hope others might shed some light on:

    (1) Is this not an argument for 'taking the lane?' If the cyclist was IN THE LANE in front of the bus, or IN THE LANE completely behind the bus, this would not have happened?

    roughstuff
    Try that on a 55 or 65MPH arterial... Taking a lane is not always the answer.

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    Senior Member Brian Ratliff's Avatar
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    Most right hooks are the result of a misjudgment (on the driver's part) of the cyclist's speed. They know the cyclist is there, that they have overtaken him; but believe that they will move far enough past the cyclist before turning to not be in conflict. It is an all too easy mistake to make. I remember myself making that same mistake and nearly right hooking a cyclist early in my driving career.

    City buses are very bad in this respect. I've been run off the road by a bus doing the same thing to me before. The drivers are all under pressure to keep on schedule, so they tend to be aggressive when moving into a bus stop and they don't always check to see who they are cutting off. They also operate on somewhat of a "protected" status on the road, in that other drivers are expected to yield to them, which probably promotes bad habits such as not checking blind spots before lunging for a space in traffic.
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  9. #9
    LCI #1853
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Try that on a 55 or 65MPH arterial... Taking a lane is not always the answer.
    Many cyclists (or simply people who ride bicycles) are scared of traffic, and so taking the lane does not occur as an option to them. They ride the sidewalks or hug the curb in order to "stay out of the way," or they ride in the lane facing traffic so they can "see it coming." The majority of our "invisible riders" ride this way. They don't read Forester, Hurst, or even BikeForums.com. They ride that way because their Mama told them it was dangerous to ride in the streets when they were little, and Mama's always been right. I surmise from the way the article was written that this fellow was one of these so-called "invisible riders."

    I've done it on the arterials, but it's certainly no fun at all. It's much easier on my nerves and life expectancy to find a parallel, less-traveled street, or take the long way around.

    If there's a lesson to be learned from this fellow's death, it's that passing on the right and getting into the "no-zone" of a large vehicle is really, really bad juju.

    Tom

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    L T X B O M P F A N S R apricissimus's Avatar
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    I also think that a lot of motorists who commit right hooks assume they have the right of way (since they are a car on the street) and that the cyclist is obligated to slow or stop if they cut them off.

  11. #11
    Senior Member hotbike's Avatar
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    I don't trust buses at all. I always try to get out of their way, even if they look like they are slowing down for me, because they have a habit of speeding up again.

    The old trolleys were a lot better. The trolleys had tracks in the street, so you knew exactly where the wheels would be.

    General Motors and their co-conspiritors destroyed out nations trolley system.
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    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Try that on a 55 or 65MPH arterial... Taking a lane is not always the answer.


    Ahh...yes...I see your point. I was assuming this was city traffic with alot of stop and go. It sounds like the bus was going slowly as it approached a stop...

    <<Based on a preliminary investigation, Nate Flynt, 57, was easing the bus into the bus stop. About the same time, White was riding alongside the bus, just in front of the right rear tire. White veered somewhat to the left to avoid hitting a curb and when he did so, he struck the side of the bus, was thrown from his bicycle and was caught under the right rear tire.>>

    In that case the biker should have either rode in front of the behemoth (arf) or gotten completely behind it. I can't imagine a worse place to be than 'right in front of the right rear tire.'

    We obviously have to include bicycle training in our prisons.


    roughstuff
    Last edited by Roughstuff; 12-17-08 at 01:04 PM.
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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pscyclepath View Post

    I've done it on the arterials, but it's certainly no fun at all. It's much easier on my nerves and life expectancy to find a parallel, less-traveled street, or take the long way around.
    There may not be "a long way around." Quite often here in the west you may be on the only road that goes from A to B and it may just be a 55 or 65MPH arterial... if you are lucky, it may have a bike lane. But BL do not preclude you from right hooks.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pscyclepath View Post
    If there's a lesson to be learned from this fellow's death, it's that passing on the right and getting into the "no-zone" of a large vehicle is really, really bad juju.

    Tom
    How about the flip side, where the vehicle passes the cyclist and then cuts him off... Who's bad juju is that?

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roughstuff View Post
    Ahh...yes...I see your point. I was assuming this was city traffic with alot of stop and go.

    roughstuff
    It could be and probably is... but not all such cases are like that...

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    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pscyclepath View Post
    If there's a lesson to be learned from this fellow's death, it's that passing on the right and getting into the "no-zone" of a large vehicle is really, really bad juju.
    I find no indication in the article that the victim was "passing on the right." I think it is far more likely that the bus passed the victim and right hooked him. The invisible riders you describe are not 20-mph road nazis that cause drivers to mistake their speed. I'll bet the victim was doing 8 mph and was passed part-way by the bus when the bus headed to the bus stop on the right. But then, the police spokesman is the bus driver's brother, so maybe we really won't know.

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    Mentioning that the driver and police spokesperson were related is actually good reporting, it discloses a possible conflict of interest that the police force has in not only their announcements but also their investigation of the case. The public has a right to know when the subject of an investigation has ties to the cops, and it would be remiss of the paper not to mention this.

    Mentioning the felon status of the victim is a grey area; many papers will have a style guide that says that if the subject of a news article has been newsworthy for some other reason, it's sensible to mention it; plus, victims should have backstories: their careers, their family, their noteworthy accomplishments. In this case it has the unfortunate side effect of reassuring many readers that cyclists are all scum whose loss needn't worry them much. But if the victim's identifying feature was positive, would we think it odd if the paper mentioned it? Likewise the safety record of the bus driver; not only do we want to know if he's crashed in the past, but if the paper doesn't have a policy of mentioning it when it's positive, they may have trouble mentioning it when it's negative.

    My eyebrows are raised at "veered left to avoid a curb". In what kind of place do curbs jump out at you? Also "easing" the bus into the stop. Those to me are the most prejudicial elements of the story.

    -S

  17. #17
    LCI #1853
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    There may not be "a long way around." Quite often here in the west you may be on the only road that goes from A to B and it may just be a 55 or 65MPH arterial... if you are lucky, it may have a bike lane. But BL do not preclude you from right hooks.
    Nope... The situation is often the same here in the MidSouth. A year ago last October I was riding back from a bike club meeting along one of the 4-lane arterials here in North Little Rock, with a 50 mph speed limit. Down here at the eastern end the shoulder disappears and you need to merge into the right-hand traffic lane in order to negotiate a freeway overpass, on- and exit ramps. And add two traffic signals in there too, on either side of the overpass. It was dark, about 8:30 at night, and the road was a little wet from a light drizzle an hour or so before. I got buzzed by a UPS truck just after I cleared the overpass and exit ramp. I saw him coming about the time he laid on his horn, and quick-turned into the curb to dodge him. Cracked one of those nice expensive Giro helmets and got several patches of road rash from the gravel, but I survived to get up, make sure all the moving parts still worked, and ride back to the commuter lot.

    UPS drivers seem to be some of the wildest folks here in Pulaski county... but that's probably because we have far more of them than Central Arkansas Transit has buses running around.

    How about the flip side, where the vehicle passes the cyclist and then cuts him off... Who's bad juju is that?
    Way up on one of the other threads we were bickering about the difference in the somewhat Utopian look expressed in Forester's EC book as opposed to Hurst's "Art of Cycling," which takes the approach of someone who's apparently bounced off a couple of fenders in his day, and like Harry Potter's pal "Mad-Eye Moody," emphasizes eternal vigilance as a key tool for cyclists. And another respondent has noted in this thread that it's derned hard not to notice a bus coming up on your left side and moving toward you.

    Cycling instruction has moved in the past year or so to a concept of safety being a multi-functional, layered approach. First of all, learn to handle your bike so that you don't crash or fall off on your own, which eliminates a huge chunk of bike crashes right there. Second, follow the traffic rules, and obey traffic signs and signals so that you don't become the cause of a crash due to your own erratic riding. Third, position yourself on the roadway so as to discourage other drivers making a mistake. That means being out where drivers are actively looking for other traffic (not riding the wrong way, staying out of blind spots, taking/controlling the lane where you need to). Fourth, realize that no matter how faithfully you follow the first three principles here, you can't always count on all the other drivers to play by the same rules, and so you need to be vigilant as to what others are doing and what's going on around you, and be ready to take evasive action in order to avoid getting wrapped up in the consequences of their errors... in the case of a right hook, be ready to brake hard or the turn inside the vehicle that cut you off, or simply to lay the bike down and take to the ditches if that's what it takes. The last layer of defense is protective gear, e.g., helmet, gloves, glasses, etc. that can help mitigate the consequences of a crash.

    In this case, taking the lane in front of the bus would probably have helped because it would have made the bus driver use a little more judgement in passing due to having to move over farther to the left to get around me. Likewise, when I see the bus moving back into me, it's time to brake hard or turn right to get myself out of that tight spot. I dance with the cars just about every time I'm out on the bike, but I always try to leave myself an out... an escape, or a place of safety when I run across some UPS driver or his/her block-headed brethren. To quote Mr. Hurst, I expect others to follow the general traffic rules, but I don't always trust them to do so.

    Tom
    Last edited by Pscyclepath; 12-17-08 at 01:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    I find no indication in the article that the victim was "passing on the right." I think it is far more likely that the bus passed the victim and right hooked him. The invisible riders you describe are not 20-mph road nazis that cause drivers to mistake their speed. I'll bet the victim was doing 8 mph and was passed part-way by the bus when the bus headed to the bus stop on the right. But then, the police spokesman is the bus driver's brother, so maybe we really won't know.
    It's not just passing on the right, but the simple situation of being in that sort of blind spot, whether it's your actions or the other guy's that put you there. The danger is the same, and you're just as hurt/dead regardless of whose fault it might have been. In this case it's pretty clear that the bus failed to yield right-of-way to the rider. But once you find yourself in the hole, you need to start digging your way out of it.

  19. #19
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pscyclepath View Post


    Cycling instruction has moved in the past year or so to a concept of safety being a multi-functional, layered approach. First of all, learn to handle your bike so that you don't crash or fall off on your own, which eliminates a huge chunk of bike crashes right there. Second, follow the traffic rules, and obey traffic signs and signals so that you don't become the cause of a crash due to your own erratic riding. Third, position yourself on the roadway so as to discourage other drivers making a mistake. That means being out where drivers are actively looking for other traffic (not riding the wrong way, staying out of blind spots, taking/controlling the lane where you need to). Fourth, realize that no matter how faithfully you follow the first three principles here, you can't always count on all the other drivers to play by the same rules, and so you need to be vigilant as to what others are doing and what's going on around you, and be ready to take evasive action in order to avoid getting wrapped up in the consequences of their errors... in the case of a right hook, be ready to brake hard or the turn inside the vehicle that cut you off, or simply to lay the bike down and take to the ditches if that's what it takes. The last layer of defense is protective gear, e.g., helmet, gloves, glasses, etc. that can help mitigate the consequences of a crash.


    Tom
    Nice list... but the reality is there is a sixth layer that should also be protecting you... that of motorists driving responsibly and not being distracted by their games, radio, phone, food, etc, and taking responsibility to drive safely for the conditions and at speeds that have been designated for the road.

    The fact is the skilled cyclist is often still at jeopardy due to the lax nature in which driving is done in this country. While fundamentally a cyclist should and must do everything in their power to avoid collisions, so too must motorists. BUT we have been removing that obligation from motorists by babying drivers... from the 85% rule that allows motorists to set traffic speeds to air bags which alleviate injuries to the constant barrage of instructional signs, we have done everything to tell motorists "don't worry, you own the road and have a good time." (even environmental impact statements have clauses that excuse motor vehicle traffic)

    It is time for that pendulum to swing the other way... to bring back the humanity to our streets... remember cars are here to serve man; man is not here to kowtow to the car.

    The results of all that "new cycling instruction" are null and void if while you "position yourself on the roadway so as to discourage other drivers from making a mistake" some driver determines that you don't belong on their road and they are not going to change lanes because that's their style.... or in this case "to keep a schedule... "

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    Nice list... but the reality is there is a sixth layer that should also be protecting you... that of motorists driving responsibly and not being distracted by their games, radio, phone, food, etc, and taking responsibility to drive safely for the conditions and at speeds that have been designated for the road.

    The results of all that "new cycling instruction" are null and void if while you "position yourself on the roadway so as to discourage other drivers from making a mistake" some driver determines that you don't belong on their road and they are not going to change lanes because that's their style.... or in this case "to keep a schedule... "
    I'm in full agreement here... Those first five layers of safety are something that are within my span of control, though, and address at least partially your sixth layer in that my vigilance can at least help keep me less vulnerable to the dingbat motorists. Not entirely safe -- I'm not certain there really is such a thing as complete safety, but less vulnerable.

    Until negligent or overly aggressive motorists are routinely prosecuted for manslaughter in these sorts of incidents, the problem is likely only to worsen.

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pscyclepath View Post
    I'm in full agreement here... Those first five layers of safety are something that are within my span of control, though, and address at least partially your sixth layer in that my vigilance can at least help keep me less vulnerable to the dingbat motorists. Not entirely safe -- I'm not certain there really is such a thing as complete safety, but less vulnerable.

    Until negligent or overly aggressive motorists are routinely prosecuted for manslaughter in these sorts of incidents, the problem is likely only to worsen.
    While prosecutions may help... the bottom line is that motorists too have to understand the ramifications of truly sharing the road. It is not just "I'll give cyclists room as long as they don't delay me... "

    The fundamentals have to be understood by ALL road users... cyclists, motorists, buggy drivers, bus drivers... you name it.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Kurt Erlenbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    While prosecutions may help... the bottom line is that motorists too have to understand the ramifications of truly sharing the road. It is not just "I'll give cyclists room as long as they don't delay me... "

    The fundamentals have to be understood by ALL road users... cyclists, motorists, buggy drivers, bus drivers... you name it.
    The issue is: How do you accomplish this kind of change? Here is one answer, and I challenge everyone in this forum to do this in the New Year: Volunteer to speak at your local high school driver's ed class. Show them the "Moonwalking bear" video; explain how to bike ride safely (ride LAP - legally, assertively, and predictably), and explain drivers' responsibilities to cyclists (drive PFA - Pay Freaking Attention).

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    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kerlenbach View Post
    The issue is: How do you accomplish this kind of change? Here is one answer, and I challenge everyone in this forum to do this in the New Year: Volunteer to speak at your local high school driver's ed class. Show them the "Moonwalking bear" video; explain how to bike ride safely (ride LAP - legally, assertively, and predictably), and explain drivers' responsibilities to cyclists (drive PFA - Pay Freaking Attention).
    Damn good idea!

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    Randomhead
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    I got right hooked a week back when I was taking the lane going the speed limit in a residential area. The driver had to go an unsafe speed to pass. I have no idea what the thought process is. It appears that some people cannot process the idea that they should simply wait behind a cyclist -- the only option they understand is that they must pass.

    I have seen this at intersections where drivers do what I call reverse filtering. Near work, there is a road where I take the lane because the next block is unsafe otherwise. The right lane at the intersection is extremely wide, and I've had people pull up to my left. It must seem strange to be so far from the curb, but they feel that they cannot be in traffic behind a bicycle. I just pull in front of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
    I also think that a lot of motorists who commit right hooks assume they have the right of way (since they are a car on the street) and that the cyclist is obligated to slow or stop if they cut them off.
    I think it's just such a rare case to have anything be in the driver's way when making a right turn that they don't even think about it. They could look in their right side mirror or look over their right shoulder 1 million times before making a right turn and not see a damn thing they could possibly hit. So they don't even look. I almost can't even blame them. After all, "passing on the right" is not normally allowed so they aren't needing to look for something over there. Unless of course they just passed the cyclist and are alerted to the fact that they are there and have some idea of the speed at which cyclists can travel, then they might look. But if speeds were very different when the car passed a bike, I doubt the car will even noticed/remembered that there was a bike over there somewhere. Then a little further down the road they hit slower traffic, the bike catches up, the car goes to turn and...presto: right hook of the cyclist.

    It's still of course the driver's "fault", but we as cyclists have to take care of ourselves out there and not ever put ourselves into that position. This is why the bike messenger's (and 'Joey Bike's') pass on the left when car traffic slows strategy is so brilliant. At the very least, we need to look over our own shoulders for approaching cars that might turn at every intersection, parking lot entrance, bus stop, etc.

    It's so weird that every motorcyclist I've ever met rides with the concept that every car is trying to kill us, while many bicyclists don't really feel the necessity to ride that way.
    Last edited by pacificaslim; 12-17-08 at 07:32 PM.

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