Wednesday, May 22, 2013
"Right Hook" scenerio inadvertently demonstrated
Pat Grant, of the League Cycling Instructor list, inadvertently took some excellent footage of an attempted right hook in progress. Riding up on the right in the lee of a motorist, or being overtaken by one at the last minute if you are already at or approaching the stop line, puts one in a treacherous situation. You cannot count on people to use their turn signals (at least in New Mexico) so the cyclist is riding in the motorist's blind spot, assuming for the moment the motorist is even aware of the cyclist. At just about the five second mark of this video, you can start to see the right front wheel turn to the right. That's all the warning Pat got. Pat escaped disaster due to his low speed and as a last minute fix, the air horn.
John Allen, in the video below, is shown (on the Mass Bike Law Officer's Guide page) leaving the bike lane in such a situation and merging into the travel lane behind a car, which is the safe thing to do. In Pat's case the car overtook the cyclist in the bike lane very close to the intersection. In such a situation, I would advise the cyclist to either merge behind if practical or slow down and observe the motorist, not riding into the intersection until one is certain of the driver's destination path. If I get to the stop line when traffic is stopped, I move an additional bike length forward so I am in front of the driver rather than to the side. Just keep your situational awareness hat on and be thinking several seconds ahead and asking "what will I do if...."
This is the most common crash/near miss situation that folks have discussed with me in Los Alamos, especially since we finished the southernmost sections of bike lanes on Diamond Drive (i.e., south of Orange/Sandia) due to the numerous side streets and parking lot entrances located there. Bike lanes are nice where there are no turning and crossing problems, but they otherwise put you to the right of right turning motorists and also less visible to left turning motorists. Beware, and as the Saavy Cycling program advises, "don't let the paint stripes do your thinking for you".
Be aware and stay outa the "coffin corner".