Cycling: How to handle the right hook

Avoiding Right Hook conflict with turning carsA “Right Hook” happens when a motorist makes a right turn directly in front of a cyclist, cutting the cyclist off.

How can this happen when the driver must have seen the cyclist when the driver just passed the cyclist?

It has to do with speed.  Most drivers misinterpret the speed of the cyclist and think they have enough time to make the turn.

In the video you will see how I handle avoiding the right Hook.  This is an intersection where many drivers make a right turn.  I am riding in the bike lane.

  1. The first scenario shows a motorist making a right turn in front of me.  The motorist had a choice.  He was coming up behind me and could have waited but instead made the choice to beat me to the turn.
  2. The second scenario shows a mini-van that is clearly turning and has it’s turn signal on.  My choice was to wait for the driver to turn before moving forward.
  3. The next scenario is the worst possible for a cyclist.  Riding along side a bus and possibly in a blind spot.  You don’t want to be here.  I was illustrating how not to and was on high alert.
  4. The next scenario shows how to handle the bus.  I chose to ride just in front of the bus so he could clearly see me and I was in control as well as watch the driver in front of me.
  5. The next scenario is an example of being aware of what’s going on around you.  I see the cars turning and also see the red light so in this case I moved forward to control the lane.  The driver in the truck had no choice but to wait for me to cross the intersection first.
  6. The next driver sees me and is turning right.  This driver chose to wait behind me and make the turn after I cleared the intersection.  Wish every driver was as courteous as this one.
  7. The next scenario is me controlling the lane in front of a mustang.
  8. The last scenario shows the best way for a cyclist to stay safe and that is to control the entire lane and stay out of the bike lane.  In my case the intersection is just a couple of hundred yards so this works.  This is the scenario where I feel safest knowing there is no chance of a right hook.
    Note: Florida law specifies that if there is a lane marked for bicycle use, then cyclists must ride in that lane except for a number of different reasons.  The list of exceptions is fairly broad and should provide broad discretion for cyclists to determine when a bike lane is or is not safe for their use.  Considering right hooks are the second most common accidents and this intersection is a great candidate for right hooks, riding a couple of hundred yards in the main traffic lane seems reasonable.

The last piece of video shows a real right hook that happened on my ride to work on Orion Blvd.  I’m in the bike lane.  Another faster rider is on the sidewalk.  He is doing about 18 mph so that’s fast for a commuter.  Ahead is a right turn.  A truck turns in and then right behind the truck is a car.  It is clear the driver of the car misinterpreted the speed of the cyclist and turned right in front of the cyclist.  You can see the driver hit the brakes and the cyclist swerve to avoid the crash.

Drivers, be aware of the speed of the cyclist and cyclist, make sure you are aware and watching for that right hook.

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Posted in McCulloch Road.