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guarding against the outside hook

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guarding against the outside hook

Old 10-06-07, 08:01 PM
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guarding against the outside hook

well, a near collision on a ride today.

four lane one way arterial, downhill. I was keeping up with traffic, moving 35mph or so. I was fully in the outside lane. maybe even a little inside edge biased.

a car 20-30 feet ahead in the next lane over decides to cut a sharp turn across my path at speed onto a side street.

no signal, no deacelleration. I swerve and cut around the vehicle's arc, avoiding the bumper by a few inches.

Do any of you cycling A&S regulars have any ideas how to avoid a hook from an illegal turner, and how you go about conducting your everyday bicycling on multi laned roads? what do you do? How or where should I have been positioned to avoid the turn from a lane that had no business turning?

Keep in mind, I did avoid the turner.


Do you strict vehicularists suddenly deaccelerate anytime a car passes you on a multilaned street and there's an intersection or driveway coming up ahead? how about multi-laned streets with parking on the side of the road?

how would a cyclist, fully in a lane of traffic along a busy urban street, get anywhere if they were forced by their technique to suddenly slow down every time a vehicle passes them? Do you avoid keeping up with traffic while in your own lane?

Noisebeam, Head, any input on how to avoid illegal turn manuvers when you are fully taking the outside lane on a road and cars are passing or catching up, or you are motor pacing?

Do you slow down for all passing traffic out of fears they will be parking or turning? If you're motorpacing, where do you position yourself relative to other traffic going the same direction?

Last edited by Bekologist; 10-06-07 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 10-06-07, 09:04 PM
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This illegal maneuver has happened to me twice while driving a motor vehicle and once while cycling in the past few years. In all cases I slowed fairly hard and avoided collision. In all cases it appeared the driver pulling the stunt knew what they were doing and were intentionally being agressive. What this means is that they were cutting 90deg across my path with full awareness of me and their judgement in timing and relying on me to slow was fortunately correct. This does not mean it was good judgement on their part to pull the stunt in the first place.

Be vigillant.

The reverse of this maneuver is very common where I live. That is drivers making a right turn out of a side street into a multilane arterial will see a gap in the inside lane, but not a sufficient gap in the outside lane and then choose to quickly cut across the outside lane and turn into the inside lane as the vehicle traveling thru in the outside lane just barely clears them. This can lead to accidents due to driver in outside lane seeing the vehicle start to pull out and then swerve into the inside lane to avoid them.

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Old 10-06-07, 09:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
no signal, no deacelleration. I swerve and cut around the vehicle's arc, avoiding the bumper by a few inches.
I think you handled it well according to your experience, I'd have done the same (if I were able.)

We are subject to the same dangers of people doing stupid things. Glad you handled it well and are ok.

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Last edited by LittleBigMan; 10-06-07 at 10:06 PM.
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Old 10-06-07, 09:58 PM
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Close call. 35 mph would be too fast for me (I'm using a Cannondale T-800 for my commute). Too fast to slow down in time for drivers like that. Can't compete with them. I usually stay far to the right in heavy and fast traffic, and I always got one eye on the helmet mirror and the other looking ahead. When I get close to an intersection to stop and its safe that's when I get in the center of the lane and command the road. They have to slow down and they can't right hook you there. Be careful, they're are capable of anything.
Glad you ok.

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Old 10-06-07, 10:05 PM
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Not certain what you mean by outside hook. Which lane were you in on this one way arterial? The far right or far left lane. Which way did the car turn to cross your path.

Just trying to get a clear picture of what happened.

I agree that, at 35 mph, there is little you can do to avoid a car that pulls suddenly across your path (and sudden for you probably doesn't seem so to the car). Most drivers have no clue that a cycle cannot stop as aggressively as they, because we don't have those huge rubber contact patches with the road. What we have are two very narrow patches, and when we lose grip, there is almost no recovery for us.

At least a car can counter steer to regain control.

Glad you weren't hurt.

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Old 10-06-07, 10:09 PM
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lets see.... while all traffic including myself was moving close to 35 MPH, a car in the next lane over pulled an illegal turn and cut across my path as i was fully controlling the outside lane on a four lane, one way arterial.

It was the left side and to the left, so I didn't want to call it a 'right hook' even though the motion of violating my road space was the classic 'hook' manuver.

Maybe I should have called it something different. but shortening "outside lane hook" to "outside hook" made sense to me.

niterider, what happened to me today shows that, even if you ARE fully 'controlling' the outside lane in the most vehicular bicycling manner , a car CAN hook you. from the other lane. illegally.

Last edited by Bekologist; 10-06-07 at 10:44 PM.
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Old 10-06-07, 10:32 PM
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I'm very glad to hear you made it out of that situation ok, Bek. Were you in Seattle proper or east King County?
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Old 10-06-07, 10:43 PM
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Thanks, Donna . it WAS slightly dicey, I envisioned myself going over the trunk for a second before I dodged the bumper.

It was in Seattle proper, near the Seattle Center, riding on Mercer street. I always put the hammer down on this stretch.

I'm curious how the rest of the 'take the lane' crewe guards against this type of driving. Seems to me that, along any stretch of multi-laned road, even taking the lane is insufficient guard against illlegal, boneheaded manuvers like I encountered today. does the 'take the lane' crowd slow down every time a car passes them and there's parking on streetside, or every driveway? and how about when motorpacing?

I think one point I'm trying to get across is this:
Despite how far in the lane you ride, a car may still violate your right of way.

Lane position is not a panacea.

Last edited by Bekologist; 10-06-07 at 11:56 PM.
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Old 10-07-07, 12:05 AM
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Based on what I have experienced of Mercer Street, I'm not sure what you could do differently. No one seems to decide where they need to be until the very last second.
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Old 10-07-07, 12:11 AM
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I guess your underlying point is that there are no panaceas, and I agree with that. You can only be aware of the situation all around you, probably with special attention to your "blind" sides, where a lot of danger comes from.

You're a great rider and that (and a little luck) were what saved you. The rest of us, who may have less skill or slower RTs, should be careful not to outride the skills we do have.
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Old 10-07-07, 12:29 AM
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I have a stretch of street in Boston that matches your description.

It's Charles Street where it runs between the Common and the Public Gardens. It's lined on the left with parked cars and there's an entrance to a popular underground parking garage on the right. Because I have to take a left at the end of it I cross the lanes and take the middle of the far left lane. The road is flat and if I get right in with the traffic there's enough of a slipstream to match their speed but still I fight with cars that I know can see me there but seem almost dumbfounded or just downright PO'd that I'm mixing in with the traffic. I have to be ready the whole 1/4 mile or so to be hooked. This disrespect continues as I make the left on Beacon Street where I am simply ignored as I signal and try to cross over to the right lane, still moving at the speed of traffic.

I think the problem of riding "vehicularly" in those instances is that many of the drivers are of the mentality that if you're going to ride in with the traffic they'll give you no more respect than they do any other car- which is none.

It would be nice if they would give a cyclist a "brake". Cyclists are, after all, traveling under their own power and not surrounded by thousands of pounds of steel, glass and plastic. So we are bit more vulnerable when mixing in with traffic at those speeds.

Sounds like you handled it very well- stay safe.
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Old 10-07-07, 12:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
Lane position is not a panacea.
Of course lane position is not a panacea. Nobody has every claimed or implied otherwise, so far as I know.

I'm a little fuzzy on where this car came from. As I understand it, you were in the right lane, it was in the lane adjacent to yours, but 20-30 feet ahead of you, when the driver suddenly swerved right across your path (if so, that makes it a right hook). But if you roll back the clock 5, 10, 20, 30 seconds, where was this car? Where did it come from? Was it ahead and you were catching up? Was it behind, passed you, and then turned right? Or was it about 20-30 feet ahead for the last 30+ seconds?

Regardless, 20-30' means 1.5-2 car lengths in front of you. That's pretty close, especially at 35 mph. Even with your relatively good natural instincts, you were obviously pushing the limits. I would have backed off a tad.

Whether I'm driving a car or riding my bike, I don't like to be next to other vehicles. If you're moving the same speed as someone next to you, or almost next to you, just ahead, as was in this case, even if you shave only 2 mph off your speed, the gap to them (assuming they maintain the same speed) will grow at 3' per second. If 10 seconds earlier you had tapped your brakes and shaved 2 mph, the car would have been an additional 30 feet in front of you by the time he turned into the side alley.

We all know and understand the risks in tailgating, which means following someone directly in front of you too closely. But I think being that close, even in adjacent space, carries unnecessary risk as well, especially when there are places they can and might turn right. I would back off a tad for a few seconds, maybe 5-10 seconds, enough to establish a more healthy buffer.
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Old 10-07-07, 01:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Helmet Head
[....]
Whether I'm driving a car or riding my bike, I don't like to be next to other vehicles. If you're moving the same speed as someone next to you, or almost next to you, just ahead, as was in this case, even if you shave only 2 mph off your speed, the gap to them (assuming they maintain the same speed) will grow at 3' per second. If 10 seconds earlier you had tapped your brakes and shaved 2 mph, the car would have been an additional 30 feet in front of you by the time he turned into the side alley.

We all know and understand the risks in tailgating, which means following someone directly in front of you too closely. But I think being that close, even in adjacent space, carries unnecessary risk as well, especially when there are places they can and might turn right. I would back off a tad for a few seconds, maybe 5-10 seconds, enough to establish a more healthy buffer
.
From a driver's perspective, the right side of the car is one of the worst blind spots. Many freeway accidents are caused by drivers swerving into a car on their right side. Their mirrors don't cover this location, and many drivers fail to do the required headcheck. In some ways this is analogous to Bek's near miss. This is a lesson from defensive driving that works for cycling too.
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Old 10-07-07, 08:29 AM
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"backing off a tad"...interesting, helmet head.

how do you get anywhere on a bike if you 'back off' every time a vehicle passes you? And how do you establish a 'healthy buffer' in steady traffic?

'Backing off'- Is that how it's done in San Diego?

Buzzman has a more realistic depiction....

Originally Posted by buzzman
and if I get right in with the traffic there's enough of a slipstream to match their speed but still I fight with cars that I know can see me there but seem almost dumbfounded or just downright PO'd that I'm mixing in with the traffic. I have to be ready the whole 1/4 mile or so to be hooked.....

I think the problem of riding "vehicularly" in those instances is that many of the drivers are of the mentality that if you're going to ride in with the traffic they'll give you no more respect than they do any other car- which is none.

Last edited by Bekologist; 10-07-07 at 08:36 AM.
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Old 10-07-07, 08:29 AM
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Greetings Bekologist - sounds like yet another thing to watch out for... car in left outside lanes is going slower than you - is it time for "wide" right hook?

In regards to pedaling along in the lane and having an impatient driver zip to the left and then zip to the right cutting accross your path with yards - feet or inches to spare - to make that right hand turn seconds sooner than if they had just waited behind you - it is a challenge.

My favorite is pedalling down a long sloping hill (in a bike lane going 25-30) and having a car race up - merge right into the bike lane - brake & put on their right hand turn signal....
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Old 10-07-07, 08:40 AM
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Its impossible for one technique to work consistantly because there is
no consisitancy to traffic other than it is going to happen.
I have found above and beyond the obvious 'heightened awareness'
stuff, pacing a car at the left or right FRONT of its bumper or parallel
with the end of its rear bumper is the best for me. If the car sees you
are in front of it he, a: wont turn into you for fear he will scratch is car, or
b: you will hear is motor accelerating to get around you and can prepare
accordingly. If this is not possible, leaving a blind spot buffer/riding parallel
or behind the rear bumper in anticipation of the hook, whick is SOP for me,
gives a little space for you but not enuff for a rational driver to jump in on.
I consider any point of the car from the drivers door to the rear fender to
be a blind spot and riding in that zone while pacing one might expect to
be cut-off more readily than riding in front or behind.
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Old 10-07-07, 08:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
lets see.... while all traffic including myself was moving close to 35 MPH, a car in the next lane over pulled an illegal turn and cut across my path as i was fully controlling the outside lane on a four lane, one way arterial.

It was the left side and to the left, so I didn't want to call it a 'right hook' even though the motion of violating my road space was the classic 'hook' manuver.

Maybe I should have called it something different. but shortening "outside lane hook" to "outside hook" made sense to me.

niterider, what happened to me today shows that, even if you ARE fully 'controlling' the outside lane in the most vehicular bicycling manner , a car CAN hook you. from the other lane. illegally.
It looks to me as if posters here (including me) are still not quite clear on the relative positions - bike vs car. Posters after me are writing as though they believe you were in the right lane. If I understand you, you were to the left of the far left lane, and the car cut to its left to pull across your path. Is that correct?

Personally, I wouldn't be moving along at 35 mph taking the left lane in traffic (if that is what you were doing). The left lane, generally, is reserved for faster moving vehicles. You may have been running at the speed of traffic during your descent, but you would surely have lost speed to be among the slower vehicles on that stretch when descent had been completed.

I am not making excuses for illegals turns, but I'm guessing that you were not very visible to this car - even if it had passed you. Again, that's no excuse for cutting across lanes without checking carefully, but, riding in a position where drivers are least likely to notice, remember your position on the road is taking an unnecessary risk, in my view. I wouldn't do it.

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Old 10-07-07, 09:25 AM
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riding on the left of a one way road is legal; there is no 'fast lane' designation on city streets. I was IN a lane, not to the left of one. on this entire stretch, a bicyclist can easily keep up with traffic and be in the mix, motorpacing.

not visible after a car just passed me? please. I was also wearing bright yellow.

what are you guys suggesting, dumping speed every time a car passes you?
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Old 10-07-07, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
what are you guys suggesting, dumping speed every time a car passes you?
No I think they are suggesting to use your BRAIN.

I would be willing to bet even your arch nemesis doesn't bleed speed EVERY time a car passes. It depends on the conditions at the moment.

I have been know to bleed a little speed in the name of safety. It hasn't even affected my ride as dropping a couple MPH for 15 sec doesn't really affect my overall average speed.

I have even been known to use this while DRIVING. It's called defensive driving and it works. The only main difference is that in a car I have the option of going a little slower OR faster, while at 35mph on my bicycle I may not have much of an option to go any faster.

Gee Bek, are you really dense or do you just pretend to be when it is convenient to try and discredit those you don't agree with?

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Old 10-07-07, 10:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
riding on the left of a one way road is legal; there is no 'fast lane' designation on city streets. I was IN a lane, not to the left of one. on this entire stretch, a bicyclist can easily keep up with traffic and be in the mix, motorpacing.

not visible after a car just passed me? please. I was also wearing bright yellow.

what are you guys suggesting, dumping speed every time a car passes you?
You're assuming that he was deliberately aiming for you, which is possible but not likely. Since we can't read minds, we rely on other senses when we're riding in traffic. Actually, the driver's intentions are totally irrelevant until you're pressing charges against him.

The color of your outfit doesn't matter if you were in that zone (about 4 o'clock to 5 o'clock relative to the driver) where the car's mirror system doesn't have coverage. I don't suggest slowing down for every driver that passes. I suggest spending as little time as possible in his blind spot, and being very aware of a driver's intentions while you are in the blind spot. Look for signals that he will sideswipe you: Turn signal (not bloody likely!), slowing or speeding, giving a quick look over his shoulder, etc. If I see any indication that he will suddenly swerve into my path, I'll slow, and/or move further left in the lane.
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Old 10-07-07, 12:41 PM
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Beck, you have been asked for clarification on the situation at least twice. Make this three.

a) When you say you were in the outside lane of a 4 lane one-way arterial, do you mean leftmost lane or rightmost lane?
b) Numbering the lanes left to right, 1, 2, ..., which lane were you in?
c) Numbering the lanes left to right, 1, 2, ..., which lane was the guy in who cut you off, before he turned?
d) Did he turn left or right?
e) How wide was the lane that you were in?
f) You and the car that cut you off were moving about the same speed, 35 mph, correct?
g) Was there any other traffic? If so, where was it, and how fast were they moving?
h) You say you were on Mercer Street. What was the next cross street ahead of you? Better yet, google map link?
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Old 10-07-07, 08:04 PM
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umm, you are obviously not reading the thread.


quoting myself....
"while all traffic including myself was moving close to 35 MPH, a car in the next lane over pulled an illegal turn and cut across my path as i was fully controlling the outside lane on a four lane, one way arterial.

It was the left side and to the left..."
you can try to microdissect this scenario, head, but for those of us that ride regularily, it's a common scenario:

a bicyclist, on a multi laned road, is keeping up with traffic and fully claiming the outside lane.

what happened in front of me was an illegal turn from an inside lane of traffic.

Now, head you state you 'back off a little bit' when traffic passes you. I'm confused. how does this work in heavy or steady traffic? do you continually slow down, or just plug along in the outside lane, doing seven miles an hour?

are you recommending to never travel the same speed as other traffic on the road?
Originally Posted by head
But I think being that close, even in adjacent space, carries unnecessary risk as well, especially when there are places they can and might turn right. I would back off a tad for a few seconds, maybe 5-10 seconds, enough to establish a more healthy buffer.
how does this work with steady traffic on a busy road? parking on the roadside? It reads like you never go the same speed of traffic, and back off when passed.

I'm not asking for 'advice'

I'm asking what the rest of you do when in traffic at speed taking the lane to prevent an illegal hook of you in the outside lane. I don't like to be alongside traffic at an intersection, but what if there's parking on the side of the road, as helemt head and al are proud to display when there's a bike lane? if there's a chance a car could cut you off and park or turn at any time on a multi laned road, how do you ride?

obviously some of the posters feel they shouldn't ever go the same speed as other traffic.
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Old 10-07-07, 08:16 PM
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Bikes hammer down this stretch all the time. You did the right thing. Just keep watching those wheels esp. at the turn off that you mentioned.

Originally Posted by Bekologist
It was in Seattle proper, near the Seattle Center, riding on Mercer street. I always put the hammer down on this stretch.... Despite how far in the lane you ride, a car may still violate your right of way.

Last edited by vrkelley; 10-09-07 at 07:51 PM.
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Old 10-08-07, 12:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
I'm asking what the rest of you do when in traffic at speed taking the lane to prevent an illegal hook of you in the outside lane. I don't like to be alongside traffic at an intersection, but what if there's parking on the side of the road, as helemt head and al are proud to display when there's a bike lane? if there's a chance a car could cut you off and park or turn at any time on a multi laned road, how do you ride?

obviously some of the posters feel they shouldn't ever go the same speed as other traffic
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I don't understand where you're getting your conclusion that some people don't think it's safe to ride at the same speed as traffic. I personally don't mind riding at the same pace as the other traffic. But I don't like to ride (or drive) for very long directly to the side of a car, or to the side of one and a few feet behind, in the driver's blind spot. If this happens I will either speed up or slow down to place myself in a more comfortable position relative to that car. That doesn't mean I'm sacrificing speed, just making a minor adjustment in my position vis a vis the one car.

I don't expect a car to suddenly veer in front of me from lane no. 2 in order to make a right turn. This is what happened to you, if I'm reading it correctly. You were basically blindsided by an idiot making an illegal right turn. It doesn't seem like you could have foreseen this any sooner than you did, and your only chance was to ride it out and hope for the best.
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Old 10-08-07, 12:27 AM
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Roody has already explained. If you still don't understand how this works with heavy traffic and think I never ride or drive (because I do the exact same thing when driving a car) the same speed as other traffic, let me know and I'll try to explain.

In short, if I'm going 35 and the car next to me is going 35 I'll back off a tad, to say 33, until, a few seconds later, the car that was next to me is now a reasonable distance ahead, then I'll kick it back up to 35. If there is another car there then I might stay at 33 until it passes. if it's a long line of tailgaters, I'll sometimes signal and negotiate a lane change into the line of tailgaters to break things up a bit (leaving a safe gap between myself and the car in front of me, and issuing the slow/stop arm signal if necessary to cause the car behind me to back off).

This is standard defensive driving stuff taught in motorcycle safety classes as well.

The other thing is that my tolerance for closer distances is, ironically, higher in busy traffic than in light traffic. When it's me and just one car, I definitely want to back off, because that driver is likely to be relatively relaxed and not paying much attention thinking he's basically on an empty street. But if there are cars all around, everybody is on heightened awareness, and I think overall things are less dangerous.

That's why I asked you earlier about the other traffic. You never answered.

Last edited by Helmet Head; 10-08-07 at 12:41 AM.
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