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Old 01-01-14, 04:01 PM   #1
FBinNY 
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Another reason that truck collisions are more dangerous

Some may know that I'm very hawkish about truck blind spots and the right or left hook collision dangers they present.

But here's another difference between hitting a truck/trailer vs. a car. You may want to do an experiment, in which case you'll need a parked car (preferably one who's owner won't complain about a minor scratch, and a parked truck trailer.

This is a try this at home experiment, just be very careful. Some may prefer to run it in their imaginations only.

Riding slowly, approach a parked at a shallow angle simulating it starting a right hook across your path. At the moment just before collision reach out, fend off, and recover. You can also do this using your shoulder or upper body to check you into a parallel course. With practice you can develop this checking or fending maneuver into something you can execute at high speed, (bike polo teaches it well), and the skill can save you from crashing if right hooked by a car.

Now approach the middle of a truck trailer and try the same maneuver (SLOWLY). See, there's nothing to fend off against. Th trailer is at shoulder or head height and will clothesline you, most likely allowing the bicycle to slip underneath. If the trailer were moving forward, this would lead to being crushed under the rear axle.

I suspect that this tendency to slide under the high body trucks is a major contributor to the high mortality rate of truck right hook accidents. Even at low speed it's hard to avoid sliding under to be crushed.
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Old 01-02-14, 08:43 AM   #2
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Good writeup, but this is one of those things I'd think of as being "intuitively obvious the the casual observer."
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Old 01-02-14, 09:17 AM   #3
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Good writeup, but this is one of those things I'd think of as being "intuitively obvious the the casual observer."
Of course it is.

However, I don't think people ride around weighing the consequences of various possible crashes. That's why I figured I'd remind folks that bicyclists may be hit by cars, but run over by trucks.
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Old 01-02-14, 11:57 AM   #4
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I try not to let vehicles get next to me when approaching an intersection. Prevents right hooks every time.
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Old 01-02-14, 12:02 PM   #5
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I try not to let vehicles get next to me when approaching an intersection. Prevents right hooks every time.
That may be possible in Lancaster, but in large urban areas half the street riding is done with vehicles next to you, and the other half with one immediately in front and back of a gap that just happens to be next to you for the moment.
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Old 01-02-14, 12:59 PM   #6
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This is true even when not in a hooking situation. If a truck passes to close you are much more likely to end up under the wheels than a regular car. A cross wind (or even just bernoulli principle cause draft) could push a cyclist under a truck where it would only push them into a car.
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Old 01-02-14, 04:42 PM   #7
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That may be possible in Lancaster, but in large urban areas half the street riding is done with vehicles next to you, and the other half with one immediately in front and back of a gap that just happens to be next to you for the moment.
Urban riding is even easier - just ride in the middle of the lane. You'd have to do that to stay out of the door zone anyway.
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Old 01-02-14, 04:54 PM   #8
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Urban riding is even easier - just ride in the middle of the lane. You'd have to do that to stay out of the door zone anyway.
There are no lanes per se. Even though the city paints dashed lined down the avenues NY drivers drive wherever the car fits, ebbing and lowing around obstructions, slower vehicles, buses pulling to stops or out of them, the tail of buses that sticks out because it didn't fit into the stop, jaywalking pedestrians, and so on.

The traffic flow looks more like some kind of fluid dynamics thing, than what traffic engineers diagram.

As for those dashed lines, they're sort of a width gauge that one can use to judge if you'll fit into a hole.

At any time a cyclist can find himself in a 3' lane between two buses, only to have it dead end as each peels off to either side of a truck stopped ahead, leaving no room for the cyclist. Of course you don't have to ride this way, but unless you earn to flow with traffic, you won't be able to make any time which in NYC is a cardinal sin.
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Old 01-02-14, 04:55 PM   #9
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I hit the rear tire of a semi trailer once. He pulled out in front of me when I was descending a mountain and I couldn't turn right fast enough. It really is dangerous, if I had been a few feet further forward, it's quite possible he would have run me over. I hit my head on the bottom row of lights on the side of the trailer, had I not run my shoulder into the tire, I definitely would have gone under.
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Old 01-02-14, 04:57 PM   #10
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Take the lane!! You may be a pain to the truck driver!!! But you definitely won't be in a truck's blind spot!! Just don't do it when descending a steep grade hill.

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Old 01-02-14, 05:05 PM   #11
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I hit the rear tire of a semi trailer once. He pulled out in front of me when I was descending a mountain and I couldn't turn right fast enough. It really is dangerous, if I had been a few feet further forward, it's quite possible he would have run me over. I hit my head on the bottom row of lights on the side of the trailer, had I not run my shoulder into the tire, I definitely would have gone under.
Something similar happened to my brother some years back. He broadsided a potato truck that pulled out from a farm on Long Island. With nothing to stop it, his car passed passed underneath shearing off the roof almost down to the hood. Had he not had the idea to duck sideways across the passenger seat he wouldn't be here now.
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