by

October 21, 2013

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October 21, 2013

Comments (9)

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Wait, what?

<blockquote> You can slow down and let them cross in front of you, try to make the right turn with them, or stop completely.</blockquote>

Is the author really under the impression that people see a right hook coming and choose to simply run into cars? If people knew they were going to be hooked, they'd just stop. The only way to prevent right hooks is to control your lane.

Brandon 312 days ago

Disappointed

The tacit acceptance of bicyclists riding inconspicuously and unexpectedly and thus unsafely near the road edge, as conveyed in this piece, needs to end, especially among so-called "bike advocates". As others have noted "doorings" and "right hooks" are peculiar to bicyclists because only (some) bicyclists choose to ride in space that makes them vulnerable to these types of crashes. Those of us who eschew edge riding don't encounter these conflicts at all, and benefit in other ways as well. Please find our Facebook page by Googling: Bicyclists Belong In The Traffic Lane.

Bicyclists Belong in the Traffic Lane 313 days ago

personal responsibility

I would much rather take responsibility for my own safety than rely on every other person around me to follow all applicable laws. This is why, as a cyclist, I do not put myself in a position where I can be doored or right-hooked. This means that I ride in a conspicuous position in the lane, outside of the door zone of parked cars, and far enough left that motorists do not try to pass me and immediately turn right.

Andy 314 days ago

Repealing bike-specific legislation would help

Right hooks are encouraged by legislation in most states that requires cyclists to ride to the far right side of the road. Various states have a mix of exceptions, but the general rule is that cyclists must ride where motorists are not looking for conflicting traffic. You're quite right that it's similar to dooring, an accident that happens only to cyclists, because only cyclists are required to ride in the most dangerous part of the street. Where cyclists control the center of the right travel lane, right-hook crashes essentially vanish, because motorists must change lanes to pass. Where cyclists control the right-most lane, doorings vanish, because cyclists are not in the door zone of parked cars. Rather than tinkering with defensive afterthoughts, we should cure the root cause of this problem, laws, enforcement, and culture that encourage cyclists to ride dangerously far to the right.

Josh 314 days ago

NO FTR Laws!

Laws that require cyclists to ride in or near the ditch are what cause most of these accidents in the first place. Making laws that require cars to yield will not reduce these accidents one bit. Making it so that cyclists don't have to ride in the ditch or far to the right is what is needed.

A R 314 days ago

Preventing the right hook

It seems to me that a right hook is a right-of-way violation and should be illegal under the law that requires yielding before moving laterally or, as Paul mentioned, the law that requires moving to the right before turning.

Also, right hooks happen almost entirely to cyclists because cyclists so often cling to the edge of the road, which is well-established among bicycle safety instructors and experts to be dangerous. Other drivers of narrow vehicles, such as motorcyclists, do not ride near the edge because most of them have learned in Motorcycle safety courses that doing so is dangerous. Cyclists can and should take responsibility for their own safety and ride in manner that prevents these kinds of crashes.

Eli Damon 314 days ago

Right hook

Cyclists "so often cling to the side of the road" because in most places, THE LAW REQUIRES IT. We who are FORCED (not choose) to do so disagree with it, as well, but ill-informed lawmakers and law enforcement are too big a wall to batter down individually. Reform IS happening, but it is GLACIER-SLOW.

MarkB 313 days ago

Depends on state

"Cyclists "so often cling to the side of the road" because in most places, THE LAW REQUIRES IT"

That is entirely defined by the state you happen to be in. For instance, in Iowa, the law requires that a bicycle be on the right half of the road, unless it is a one way road. Therefore, vehicular cycling is legal in Iowa. Oh and a recent court case requires cars to entirely change lanes to pass a bicycle.

It's dangerous to give a blanket statement about legality on the internet, because you might lead someone astray.

Oh, and I am not a lawyer, I could be completely wrong in my assessment of Iowa law, so you should consult an actual lawyer.

Jon Thompson 313 days ago

Manner of making right turns

Josh, you are overlooking a key element of the traffic law. The sentence just before the one you quoted says, "When turning to the right, an operator shall do so in the lane of traffic nearest to the right-hand side of the roadway and as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway." In the right hook situation where the motorist passes a bicyclist and then turns, he cannot possibly be obeying this rule, because he cannot both overtake another vehicle (including a bicycle) at a safe distance to the left AND approach the turn "as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of roadway." Every state has rules that are equivalent to these rules on making a right turn and passing at a safe distance. No special bike legislation is required, just an effort to have people understand and enforce the existing laws without prejudice.
You also neglect a second element: sometimes it is the bicyclist who is overtaking on the right of a slower motorist. In this case the rules for passing on the right govern. Most states permit passing on the right when there is room for another "line" (not "lane") of vehicles (including bicycles), but specify that the person passing must do so "only under conditions permitting that movement in safety." It is clearly not safe to overtake on a right when the vehicle ahead is signaling a right turn. However, it is also unsafe at any time when the vehicle could turn right. This is especially true when the vehicle ahead is a truck or bus, which must necessarily start its turn from further to the left AND has a larger blind spot.
When bicyclists are passing on the right in an open lane, they are protected by the rule that no driver may change lanes without first checking and yielding and by the rule that right turns must be made from the right-most lane. However, if bicyclist is in a bicycle lane, most drivers will not think to merge into the bike lane before making the right turn -- in fact most think that they are not allowed to be there. This sets up a situation where bicyclists are tempted to overtake on the right of a right-turning vehicle. (California law makes the requirement to merge into the bike lane before turning right explicit; in other states it flows from the requirement to make the turn from the right-most LANE.) (In Oregon, things are topsy-turvy: the bike lane is not part of the roadway; bicyclists are not allowed to leave it; motorists must yield to bicyclists passing on their right before turning right, but can't see well enough to do so, even if they come to a complete stop, especially if they are driving a large vehicle.)
Massachusetts has unique, non-standard rules that permit bicyclists to pass on the right without restriction. This is a nice feature to assist injured bicyclists to collect damages, but a bad feature if we wish to prevent injuries in the first place.

Paul Schimek 314 days ago