Avoiding the Dreaded Hook
I have noticed with the construction of the Penn Avenue Bike lane (as well as other protected bike lanes), two things have happened.
1. (Pro): Cars are more likely to notice bikes going outbound and subsequently yield to them as they proceed through the intersection.
2. (Con): The opposite has occurred with left turning vehicles, it is a daily occurrence when I ride the bike lanes that my adrenaline shoots up because a car decides to turn left almost into me. My only salvation is that they usually stop for a pedestrian and I can zip by, shaking my head.
Maybe it’s the fact that I’m not that old of a biker (teenager) or I just haven’t poked around this forum enough, but does anyone have any ideas, coming short of wearing a clown suit and riding a freaking penny-farthing, on how to avoid the hook? (Left or right)
Minimize the left-hook with a front blinky?
Prevent the right-hook by never being between a car and the turn point? IOW, never put yourself in a situation where they can hurt you.
(my theories, YMMV)
I have a front-blinky. I got one after almost being clipped by a PAT bus one day, I never bike without it. My concern is that I don’t really have the ability to judge whether or not the car is going to go for it when I am in their blind spot. The spot that usually is an issue is at 11th street, right under the train tracks.
I’ve seen some other videos that users have posted where they are clearly in their own ROW and have lights on and still get hooked, is yelling, “Don’t you do it!” the last option?
I agree that it is pretty common for drivers to make a left inbound from Penn without yielding to bikes. My only advice is to always prepare for it and expect the worst if you are anywhere near their blind spot. By which I mean have your fingers on your brake levers and be ready to slam them on if necessary, and if possible hustle up to get a bit in front of the car before the next intersection.
I can’t think of any solution to this, except maybe green lights that give bikes a head start, like some pedestrian signals do? I guess more bike lanes will hopefully get drivers more used to seeing this situation, but there are already a million signs on Penn saying that left turns should yield to bikes.
I try never to be neck-and-neck with another car. Either gun it to get clearly ahead by a car length, or drop back to be at least a half car length behind the front of the other vehicle. So that you can react to their stupidity.
I’ve been trying to do the same thing recently @stuinmccandless. Trying to react to a cars stupidity is much easier than suing them for damages.
I didnt realize the blind spot aspect. With a known blind spot, do you wait and make sure it’s safe? Otherwise you’re just wishing .
I do what Stu does: get ahead of the blind spot or just wait.
“My concern is that I don’t really have the ability to judge whether or not the car is going to go for it when I am in their blind spot.”
The law clearly forbids riding in other drivers’ blind spots. Stop doing that and you’ll be fine. Remember, it’s called a BLIND SPOT for a reason.
When you’re riding in the Penn bike lane, it’s not that you just cruise along in drivers’ blind spots, it’s that when they are passing you, you will at some point necessarily be in their blind spot, and when that also happens to be at an intersection, and they’re turning left, bad things can happen.
At this point I just assume that every car will left hook me, and I ride accordingly, which mostly means going through intersections cautiously if there are cars nearby.
As nice as it would be for everyone to follow the rules perfectly all the time, it’s not ever going to happen, so it behooves all of us (as bikers, walkers, or drivers) to just be cautious at conflict points.
That said, I really wish the city would put up better “left turns yield to bikes” signs. They are tiny, and in completely out of the way places where drivers are not going to see them.
Some cars can left/right hook you just seconds after passing you too, so it sometimes isn’t a problem with blind-spots so much as a more general problem of drivers not comprehending what’s going on. Sure some of these drivers are just jerks, but I bet a lot of them are just not paying attention to the dynamics going on around them.
(caution – imperfect analogy ahead)
It’s like driving a car on the highway: an 18 wheeler passes you in the left lane approaching a steep hill. As a driver in the right lane you have to be aware that at some point the truck is going to lose momentum going up the hill and need to move over into the right lane. Some drivers are good at understanding this dynamic and others are oblivious and will accelerate up beside the truck that’s slowing down. A conflict results that could have been mitigated if each driver understood what was going on. These things are hard to teach, but very easy to understand if you have ever driven a very large truck.
Until we can get some of these drivers to see things from a cyclists perspective we will always have conflicts like this.
@marko82 – That’s the perfect example for a different situation, but still on topic for this thread. If as a cyclist you come up on the right side of a truck making a wide right turn, expect to die. It is a learned art not to take up apparently available space. If we actually taught people how to navigate on our shared space street system, everyone would already know this. We do not, so as a result:
* cyclists do this and get killed by being crushed
* motorists do this and end up with their front fender caught underneath a truck
* every truck out there has a little placard warning people not to do that.
Avoiding the dreaded hook, indeed.
My solution is probably not so popular, and I don’t ride on those lanes often, but I will not ride on that bike lane heading inbound. Too much chance for conflict, as cars are not looking for anything on their left, going in the same direction, when they are turning left. I’d rather be in the lane of traffic, enduring honks or yells, than chance that left hook. And I’ve even had someone yell at me when I had my 7 year old on the trailer bike when I was riding inbound on the section between 16th St. and 11th St. on a Sunday morning.
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