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Despite tragedy and focus, right-hooks still plague Portland

Posted by on July 5th, 2012 at 11:59 am

It happens.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

One of the biggest urban bicycling planning conundrums facing Portland (and other cities?) right now is how to decrease the prevalence of right-hook collisions.

The majority of our bikeways here in Portland are to the immediate right of right-turning motor vehicle traffic at intersections. That scenario brings with it some inherent safety issues and it has led to more tragedy than I care to remember. While experts have told me that overall, right-hooks do not tend to be as serious as other types of collisions; they happen quite frequently and as we all know, they can have fatal results.

The problem really crystallized for me recently, when at a meeting of the City’s Bicycle Advisory Committee, a Bureau of Transportation staffer said, “We have not figured out a good solution to making bikes visible when cars are making a right turn.”

To hear PBOT admit this is both fascinating and frustrating. This is a stalemate with very real and human consequences. Are we just supposed to accept all these right-hooks? Can PBOT really not figure this out? Or are they constraining their menu of possible solutions to what they feel is politically feasible, rather than what’s technically possible?

The reason I’m posting this today is because a reader sent in video of a right-hook last week. The video shows someone biking down NE Couch approaching Grand. This intersection is one of several in Portland where PBOT has struggled with mitigating a known right-hook hazard.

At NE Couch and Grand, PBOT first looked to green paint and a bike box to increase safety. Then, after that proved inadequate, they installed an illuminated LED sign. As we can see in the video, the problem persists.

As the entire city was tragically reminded of back in May, right-hooks remain the boogeyman on the loose in Portland’s bike story. We are grappling with them on N Broadway/Wheeler and they are a constant threat on SW Broadway. On N Williams Ave, where PBOT is poised to try a left-side bike lane, some are concerned about left-hooks (same problem, different side).

The good news is, PBOT cares about this stuff and they’re actively working on the issue. On the NE Multnomah project, several scenarios are being discussed. One debate that’s forming is whether it’s safer to put bike traffic curbside at intersections (the classic cycle track design with more protection from moving auto traffic) or to have cars at the curb and bikes in a buffered bike lane adjacent to moving traffic. Bike planners and advocates tend to favor the curbside, cycle track solution, while it seems PBOT thinks the added visibility of bike riders adjacent to car operators is safer.

And then there are intersections with bus stops on the corner. Which bikeway design is safer in these situation? Below are two slides from the June Bike Advisory Committee meeting where PBOT made a presentation about how to deal with corner bus stops and the bike lane in the NE Multnomah project:

This slide shows an idea PBOT has gleaned from Chicago is to open things up prior to the intersection and create a shared bus/bike/car environment.
This slide shows the path of bicycles and buses in two scenaries: A traditional bike lane (L) and a curbside bike lane (R).

While this is a major issue here in Portland, it’s important to remember that — barring a full network of completely separate roads for bikes and cars — right/left-hooks can never be completely engineered out of a system. We can’t expect PBOT engineers to prevent collisions from happening; but we should expect them to be as bold, open-minded, and innovative as possible when coming up with a solution.

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Comments
  • boriskat July 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    You can always tell when a driver from California is turning right because they actually get into the bike lane first. Which some cyclists are opposed to, but I’d much rather be behind a car that is all the way to the right, than to be right-hooked. I think the Oregon law of cars NEVER being in bike lanes is too broad and needs to have an exclusion carved out for right turns. I see a lot of cyclists just take the lane when there is a dangerous right turn coming up. At the end of the day, however, I’m constantly amazed by the number of cars that pass me by and then forget about me five seconds later.

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    • davemess July 5, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      That’s the big issue for me, it’s just oblivious drivers. I mean they JUST passed you!!!

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    • DoubleB July 5, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      1st comment and correct answer. Allow cars to take the bike lane when turning. Cars have to properly merge.

      Now you still have an issue with large trucks and the tow truck on the video that need to make that sweeping wide right turn, but if you want to cut down on right hooks, this is a way to do it.

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      • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

        Good way to cut down on “dooring”, too: have a car sweep the bike lane for doors ahead of you. My only issue with the “California rule” is that in many areas, one of the big advantages of bike lanes will be lost: the ability to bypass stopped traffic. It would put things closer to making bike lanes an advantage solely to car drivers.

        As things are, bike lanes keep cyclists “out of the way” of drivers, but they also keep cars “out of the way” of bike riders during heavy traffic times. That second advantage would go away at many places where a single lane street with a bike lane would become a de facto two lane street with a shared right-turn-only lane. As long as traffic is moving, that’s not so bad, but when the red light comes, any cyclist is stuck sucking exhaust from the would-be right turners waiting in the bike lane. At that point, is smoking from an exhaust pipe “safer” than risking a right hook? It would also likely cause cyclists to have to wait for extra signal cycles, since they don’t generally accelerate up to the intersection as fast as cars would. That would encourage more running of red lights (not that that’s OK, but it would increase the temptation).

        I’d rather just remove bike lanes on slow city streets. I’d ride farther left and be able to pass right turners just like other traffic. If we changed the right turn rule in Oregon, I’d likely just do that anyway bike lane or not.

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        • DoubleB July 6, 2012 at 12:45 pm

          What’s the goal? Less accidents and deaths or more convenience. If the issue is to lower the amount of right-hook incidents, the easy to implement answer is to allow drivers to take the bike lane. Is it more inconvenient for cyclists? Yes. Is it safer? Absolutely.

          While safety and convenience aren’t mutually exclusive, traffic laws and architecture generally trade one for the other.

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          • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

            Thing is, we could have fewer accidents and deaths if drivers all knew the rules and followed them. What we would be doing by instituting the California rule is trading cyclist “convenience” for auto “convenience”. Cyclists would get held up more (and probably sideswiped more), drivers could once again go faster while paying less attention. Cyclists always taking the lane would lead to fewer accidents and deaths as well, but that loss of driver convenience (having to slow down behind a bike) is not well-tolerated. What people seem to want is a system where bikes always have to stay out of the way, but cars never do.

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    • Don Griz July 6, 2012 at 5:21 pm

      Why aren’t the bike lanes put next to the sidewalk and the parked cars on the traffic side? That way, the cyclists would be shielded from turning cars by the parked cars to the left and have a sidewalk to their right. It would be impossible for cars to drive or park in the cycle lanes.

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      • Alan 1.0 July 6, 2012 at 6:15 pm

        Then riders are also shielded from driver’s seeing them. It also forces bikes to make a two-stage “Copenhagen” left instead of a left like a car.

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  • Joe July 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    Anyone ride 7th street downtown? man oh man, right hook-ville and bike box car issues. be careful out there.

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    • Don July 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm

      Broadway downtown is the worst bike lane in the entire city. Anecdotally I’ve only seen one crash there (and it was a nasty, bloody one where the car driver acted annoyed that pedestrians made him stop driving away from the scene), but nearly every time I ride it, either myself someone in front of me will nearly get clipped somehow.

      I understand it’s a busy street, but why hasn’t any money been put into extending the cycle track down the whole thing? It’s one of the few north/south routes downtown, and it’s terrifying. I’d like to see something like the Broadway bike signals on the right-turn intersections here.

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  • Alexis July 5, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    Separate traffic phases on separated infrastructure!

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm

      hear hear! (and that’s what I mean about politically vs. technically feasible)

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    • 9watts July 5, 2012 at 12:29 pm

      And how/when? Who’s going to pay for this?

      I’d suggest a different approach:
      Signs posted at all the trouble spots, or the top 50, that read $2500 automatic fine for right hooks and with a suitable graphic could go a long way. Or we could have a sign with a graphic showing a helmet cam in use with the words don’t right hook $2500 underneath.

      Then we need to get the local code changed so this sort of fine can in fact be imposed.

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      • Indy July 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm

        Those would work with zero success. Signs at specific intersections don’t train new drivers, drivers from out of town, or people that just don’t care and know they won’t get a ticket 99.999% of the time.

        Cars are not looking at signs or in their right rear-view mirror when turning right, they are only looking left, and for other cars. They frequently don’t even look for Pedestrians approaching from their right into the intersection.

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        • 9watts July 5, 2012 at 12:52 pm

          Thanks for your criticism. But I didn’t specify exactly where these signs should be posted. Perhaps they should go a block upstream from the trouble spots? I don’t think we have had a chance to think this through, tweak the idea, test it, to say a priori that they would have ZERO success.

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          • Randall S. July 6, 2012 at 9:58 am

            I understand where you’re coming from, but look at how poorly the distracted driving cell phone law is enforced. There’s no reason to believe signs would be any better.

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      • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 5:38 pm

        we certainly don’t need more signs, we need less signs so people will pay more attention instead of just “driving by sign”…

        and I’m not a fan of fear-enforcement…

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    • spare_wheel July 5, 2012 at 12:45 pm

      research in denmark suggests that separated infrastructure actually increases conflicts at intersections. sharrows, signage, and signaling would, imo, do a lot more to defuse the death/injury toll at problematic intersections than another mile or two of cycle track.

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      • Ted July 5, 2012 at 1:04 pm

        Hey, can you link us to that research?

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      • Jacob July 5, 2012 at 2:03 pm

        The best bicycle infrastructure in the world is in the Netherlands, where they segregate bicycle and motor vehicle traffic in both time and space. If bikes and cars are never allowed in the same space at the same time, there are zero conflicts. The Netherlands has the lowest cyclist injury and death rates in the world in addition to the highest bicycle use. Perhaps we should emulate them.

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        • Joe Adamski July 5, 2012 at 9:49 pm

          Looking at the latest transportation bill, I don’t think the Netherlands were on their minds. As pathetic as the bill is, i wonder if just driving a big honking SUV and burning as much oil as possible to speed the process up would the kindest thing to do.
          We are Portland, a microcosm of the United States. Not the visionary leaders, sad to say.

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        • Randall S. July 6, 2012 at 10:00 am

          Oh hey, I commented on that below: namely that there’s already proven infrastructure for solving this problem that we (the US) keeping ignoring.

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    • Carl July 5, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      Seeing as City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield helped Alta with this useful write-up (http://bit.ly/N9wrSF), it’s clear that PBOT is aware of many of the tools used elsewhere to make cycle tracks safe at intersections. It would be great to see more of them (particularly bike-specific signals for major intersections and narrowing of side streets for minor intersections) put to use. I think that Jonathan is correct in suggesting that the hurdle is political, not technical.

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    • was carless July 6, 2012 at 10:04 am

      I think this would be unaffordable for a city that encompasses 150 square miles, much of it very low density and strip retail.

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  • JRB July 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    So long as bikes and cars have to share the same roadways, hooks of every variety will occur until drivers are educated and understand that whenever they make a turn they are crossing an additional lane of traffic whether it is demarcated with paint or not. As a driver, I never change lanes without looking at my mirrors and over my shoulder to see if somebody is in my blind spot. Drivers now have to do this whenever they are making a turn as well. Until they do, hooks will continue to injure and kill.

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    • anon July 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm

      I agree! Education is as important a part of the solution as new infrastructure. Drivers need to be made aware that the bike lane is another LANE OF TRAFFIC, and turning right across a bike lane is equivalent to changing lanes on the freeway — a maneuver that should always begin with a shoulder check.

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      • Editz July 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        Lets have 12 months of free PSA’s being broadcast on all local media outlets during peak listening/viewing times. Oh wait, that won’t work as they don’t operate in the public interest.

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      • DoubleB July 5, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        ” . . turning right across a bike lane is equivalent to changing lanes on the freeway.”

        Flat out, 100% wrong. It’s not the equivalent to changing lanes. It’s equivalent to taking a right turn from the middle lane . . which is NEVER allowed unless the far right lane must also turn right.

        You want to solve a lot of right hook issues . . allow drivers to take the bike lane when making a right turn. They still have to merge correctly (which I get is its own issue), but it’s really hard to have a right hook when nobody can pass a vehicle to the right.

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      everyone should have to take their driver’s test again, with an automatic fail for checking the bike lane without looking…

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    • Randall S. July 6, 2012 at 10:02 am

      Ultimately, the problem is that there is little incentive for drivers to look. If you hit and kill another motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian, chances are you won’t even get a traffic ticket for it, let alone have your license suspended or face any jail time.

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  • Byron July 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    I was in Vancouver, BC this last week and looked at their separated bike lane on Burrard. It was nice but there have also been a large number of right hooks just before the bridge leaving downtown. This is where the protected bike lane has to cross a major cross street. The city decided to outlaw right turns here but it apparently does not stop people from turning right and hitting cyclists. Something around 11 bicyclists hit this year.

    I think until drivers accept the fact that bicyclists are on the road and they have to watch for them, and are responsible for their actions, these things will not go away. I know that most drivers do not want to hit a bicyclist, but some don’t really care and expect that a turn signal or their occupation of the lane next to the bicyclist is enough to make whatever they do legal and moral.

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  • NF July 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    There is a missing third option for bike/bus interaction that PBOT and TriMet seem to be vary wary of, the bus stop island:
    http://seattlelikesbikes.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/IMG_3355.jpg

    Something like this was proposed for Williams Ave, but TriMet killed the option in the early stages.

    This is a fantastic design for transit, as it speeds up stopping and starting, without the need for the bus to pull back into traffic. For bikes, they don’t have to leapfrog, but they do have the potential for more bike/ped conflict.

    The big loser in this design is auto throughput, since they can’t bypass the bus on single lane streets. You can see this in action on NE Alberta.

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    • Joseph E July 5, 2012 at 11:33 pm

      This is the best option for bus/bike interactions. The Netherlands use these bus stops (to the left of the bike lane) very frequently, with excellent results for everyone, both for safety and efficiency.

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  • Alexis July 5, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    It seems like there is a simple & obvious solution… Ride in the lane with the cars and you won’t be ‘hooked’ except in the kind if idiocy that endangers any road user.

    Having a seperate lane is convenient for drivers so you don’t slow them down. There’s nothing wrong IMO with taking the lane especially on slower surface streets.

    And if you ride on the right when there’s no bike lane you’re an idiot and I hope you never have to learn that the hard way.

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  • peejay July 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    We need to make structural changes, but no matter what ends up working best, the law has to change to reflect the seriousness of hitting a vulnerable road user, whether or not there is an injury or death. People have to start losing their licenses for this thing, and it has to be commonplace enough that it gets into the mindset of drivers.

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      exactly… there’s no incentive if you only get a ticket for failure to yield…

      they need to enforce assault with a deadly weapon, and manslaughter/murder for every single collision… until people have a reason to care then more collisions will happen…

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  • Joe July 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    lets not forget about 2 lane one way streets, car far right stops to allow car far left to turn right, happend to me and I hit the rear pass side of a car doing this in my life time. again always be alert.

    happy riding :) to all

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  • carlos July 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Explain to me how the video demonstrates a right hook? The light is green, the truck and its tow load are ahead of the cyclist, the truck is signaling a turn. The cyclist attempts to pass on the right a vehicle that clearly has the right of way. As has been noted before, the green boxes do not give cyclists the right of way in a situation like the one in the video.

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    • encephalopath July 5, 2012 at 2:25 pm

      Carlos, please tell me you don’t operate a motor vehicle in the state of Oregon. It would be frightening to know that someone with such little knowledge of the responsiblites of drivers is using mulit-ton machinery around others.

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    • are July 5, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      the cyclist did not attempt to pass. that is why the cyclist survived to post the video. the truck driver overtook, threw a signal, and executed the turn despite having been delayed at the light, though obviously he knew he had just overtaken a cyclist. if the cyclist had been in the travel lane to begin with, the truck could never have overtaken. since we are [ostensibly] required to submit to the sidepath, which does [technically, legally] have right of way at the intersection, the driver should have waited for the cyclist to clear. the cyclist behaved sensibly, in light of a blunder by the truck driver. what the video illustrates is that the bike lane should not even be there, which is what many of us have been saying from day one. albeit not BTA.

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      • Alan 1.0 July 5, 2012 at 2:53 pm

        I agree with your analysis, are, but I would still like to know the Oregon Revised Statute which assigns ROW to the bike lane in that case.

        Incidentally, it seems as though the following ORS has not caught up with the presence of bike lanes or else it would be worded “…as close as practicable to the right-hand edge of the right-hand motor vehicle</b lane." As it stands it requires drivers to enter the bike lane!

        811.355 Improperly executed right turn; penalty. (1) A person commits the offense of making an improperly executed right turn if the person is operating a vehicle, is intending to turn the vehicle to the right and does not proceed as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

        (a) In making the approach for a right turn; and

        (b) In making the right turn.

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        • are July 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

          http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/811.050
          and yes, i know judge zusman thinks otherwise.

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          • Alan 1.0 July 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm

            Thanks, that’s what I was looking for! (pardon the open html tag)

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        • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

          There is some ambiguity surrounding whether bike lanes are part of “The Roadway”. Looking at 811.355 and 811.050 together, it would appear they are not considered part of the roadway. Looking at definitions from the ORS:

          801.155 “Bicycle lane.” “Bicycle lane” means that part of the highway, adjacent to the roadway, designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law. [1983 c.338 §23]

          801.450 “Roadway.” “Roadway” means the portion of a highway that is improved, designed or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the shoulder. In the event a highway includes two or more separate roadways the term “roadway” shall refer to any such roadway separately, but not to all such roadways collectively. [1983 c.338 §83]

          A bike lane is “adjacent to” the roadway, suggesting it is not part of it. Yet if a bicycle is a vehicle, and the bike lane is considered to be “improved” (what with stripes and everything) and used for “vehicular” (i.e., “bicycle”) travel, then isn’t it part of the roadway? No wonder there is so much confusion about where bikes are allowed to travel and who must yield to whom and when…

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      • John Lascurettes July 6, 2012 at 11:05 am

        Never mind that the FLASHING LED LIGHTS that say “YIELD TO BIKES IN LANE” was flashing there. You can see it in the video.

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    • A.K. July 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Carlos, a turn signal in Oregon does not automatically give the car using the signal the “right of way”. It is that driver’s legal duty to ensure the bike lane is free before executing the turn.

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      • John Lascurettes July 6, 2012 at 11:06 am

        And the flashing “yield to bikes in lane” was flashing its LEDs in the video.

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    • GlowBoy July 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      Carlos, the cyclist hit the brakes to avoid being hit.

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 6:07 pm

      it’s not a right hook, because there was no collision… but only because the bicycle was paying attention and assumed the truck was going to illegally turn into them so the bicycle was forced to give up it’s right of way and slowed down… had the bicycle continued legally down the bike lane at their same speed then they would have been hit by the truck… classic right hook…

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  • Todd Boulanger July 5, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Speed (speed differential between the bike and car traffic) is the other “problem” on the approached to these conflict points.

    The traffic speed of all city arterials w/o separated facilities or separate signal phases (thru bike/ turning car) must have a lowered speed limit to mitigate for this unmanaged conflict. The signed speed limit should no longer be just a simple product of historic use and 85th percentile speeds…

    …this assumes the Portland is serious about successfully reaching its bike mode split w/i our lifetimes and without having to wait for major generational reconstruction projects vs. more timely retrofit upgrades.

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    • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 10:22 am

      Some would say that speed differential is the reason to allow approach merging, since the speed of a straight-ahead cyclist and a soon-to-be right-turning motorist will more closely match than they would at the point where the car is actually turning, when its velocity vector in the direction of cyclist travel rapidly drops to zero.

      The speed differential problem I could foresee is the same one that leads to right hooks now: impatient driver does not want to merge behind a cyclist in a bike lane, so they speed up to do a quick mergeturn ahead of the cyclist–essentially the same right hook maneuver used by drivers under the current no-merge rules.

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  • Todd Boulanger July 5, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    What about Black Spot Mirrors at these conflict points with signals?

    Has PBoT conducted a review to add this tool for into their tool box yet? Any update after 4 years? (Convex mirrors are available locally, even if this specialized combo traffic signal head with mirror may not be.)

    http://bikeportland.org/2008/05/13/black-spot-mirrors-save-lives-in-amsterdam-7542

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  • Champs July 5, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Running bike lanes down the middle of a two-way street completely eliminates right hooks, mixing with buses, “invisible bikes”, and the door zone without adding a cent to a project’s budget.

    It’s weird, but I’d rather be conspicuous than hidden behind parked cars. It’s not perfect, but show me the existing design that is. Might as well experiment.

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    • Reza July 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Pennsylvania Avenue in DC uses this bike lane treatment, however that street is so wide that many times pedestrians (frequently tourists) who get caught in the middle of the intersection at a red light end up inadvertently blocking the lanes in what was once a “refuge area”.

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    • mabsf July 5, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      That’s my the illustration on the right freaks me out: Hidden behind huge cars with tinted window, you might as well wear a ninja costume… I DON”T THINK THAT IS A SAFE OR GOOD IDEA…

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm

      good luck merging into traffic to make a right-hand turn…

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  • Roger July 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm
    • David July 5, 2012 at 2:52 pm

      Thanks for the link Roger. This seems to be a really good option that I wish existed around the city. When on a bicycle, you still have the potential of being pinched out of your space but there seems to be more room to navigate in case you have to dodge a car. There must be a reason this is not implemented more.

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      • DoubleB July 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

        Yeah, it requires space. It’s not really feasible for the downtown area.

        And for what it’s worth, this is the equivalent of cars taking the bike lane to turn.

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        • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 10:45 am

          Not the equivalent at all. This is the equivalent of cars merging across the bike lane into a right-only lane, with stripes delineating a bike lane continuing through the intersection. Cars merging into a bike lane without the “shared” striping in the linked illustrations is equivalent to cars driving or parking (depending on the signal phase) in the bike lane, completely blocking it.

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    • jram July 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm

      I’ve seen these in gresham and vancouver. I am also a fan of these. I would think the issue is that right turning cars have to wait behind a bike rider that is going straight. Probably safer, but less convenient for some.

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm

      those are my favorite… and I treat every right-turn only lane as my personal bikes-go-forward lane when they’re missing…

      it shows that bikes will be in your lane, they can’t miss the pavement markings…

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    • John Beaston July 7, 2012 at 9:56 pm

      I ran into a few of these down in Albany and Corvallis yesterday. They seem to work nicely. Sometimes I had to wait behind a right-turning car; sometimes they waited behind me. I never felt there was a conflict.

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  • are July 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    there is a lot of information in that video shot at couch and grand. up ahead in the right travel lane is a red car with a motorbike right behind it. the light at grand appears to already be green at 0:00, but the red car takes awhile to roll out, possibly because of confusion ahead. traffic at the next light is also just getting started, and some kind of panel truck seems to have been in the middle of a lane change.

    meanwhile, this truck carrying all the cars, with yet another car in tow, is coming down the hill at a comparatively high rate of speed, especially considering what is waiting for him at grand. he does throw a signal, and if it were just the cab, without the trailer and the car in tow, it might not even look so much like a right hook.

    but things did not work out the way the driver apparently intended, and he had to wait for the red car and the motorbike to clear. at that point, knowing he had just passed a bike, he should have waited. might have been worth talking to his employer, frankly.

    the cyclist, sensibly, anticipated the blunder and held back. asserting the travel lane would have prevented the entire situation, but hey, we do have a mandatory sidepath law.

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    • A.K. July 5, 2012 at 3:37 pm

      I think I may have asked this before in another thread, but has anyone here been the recipient of a ticket for failure to follow mandatory sidepath laws?

      I’ll generally stick in bike lanes on flat ground, but will go outside of them on downhills if I deem them to be a danger – such as Couch or on the NE 21st ave overpass right when it jogs to the right at the south end of the bridge, cars *always* cut into the bike lane there. I just take the lane and hammer as fast as I can, keeping pace with (or going faster than) traffic.

      I believe if I *were* ever ticketed for failure to follow the sidepath (a longshot at best I’m willing to wager…), I’d stand a fair chance of getting the ticket dismissed in court by showing videos and news stories about these particular lanes not being safe, thus falling outside the “mandatory” need to use them.

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      • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm

        yes, I’m pretty sure people have… sorry I don’t have a link…

        it’s also been pushed that the bike path’s aren’t legal because a meeting was never held regarding their safety (required Portland code), to which the city answered that if they weren’t safe then they wouldn’t have installed them so therefore they’re all safe…

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      • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 10:50 am

        Ask “scott”.

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        • A.K. July 6, 2012 at 5:16 pm

          Is that a link? It highlights when I mouseover but doesn’t go anywhere…

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          • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm

            Try this… Don’t know what happened to my href…

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  • john July 5, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    Typically I will NOT put my life into the chance of a driver looking into the rearview mirror; I almost always try to pass on the Left.

    However I have now seen a serious Issue with this: I may go to the left, but other cyclists will continue on the right. So oops, if the driver is distracted by me, and thinks his/her right is now clear, the other cyclists are now in big danger.

    But I agree with the first comment. I think to simplify things and minimize confusion, we need to let people only worry about what’s in front of them (or to the left). For example, in almost all situations (as far as i know), if you rear-hind another vehicle, you are at fault. Worry about what in front of you, and in your field of vision !!

    So what does this mean for cyclist? If a car is in front of you (or passes you) and then puts on its signal light to turn right, it now has right of way to move right and turn. Cyclists then have the right to move to the left to go around. However, if the bike lane can be used as a turning lane for any vehicle, then I bet most drivers, would simple match speed, slide in behind you, and then turn right.

    Signal usage would need to be enforced and ticketed. But it already is the law, so no change.

    Pbot thinking this is “Fascinating and Frustrating”??? I don’t know know what to think of that! Kind of like Huh ? ‘Traffic experts’, didn’t you think this through or experiment before implementing? Obviously not. I think if they had, they would have come up with what I outlined above. Dust off your Design of experiments Books from College, and experiment this out in a section of town in the early morning or at night with bunch of cars and a bunch of cyclists, initially all PBOT employees. Various scenerios, etc. Half way through switch drivers to cyclists. Play roles of typical drivers , cyclists .

    I would tie this into PBOT salary. The more cyclists you can get out there, the more money you can save on not tearing up the roads, (or not killing some future Bill Gates on his bicycle), the higher your bonus.

    Oh oops first you somehow need to minimize use of the studded tires… (which i would tie into wx forecast )

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    • encephalopath July 5, 2012 at 2:33 pm

      Or when attempting negotiate a passage to the left, the driver stops and doesn’t turn at all and you go through the back window of an SUV like that poor guy on Broadway last month.

      Assuming that conditions are fixed or known in advance, there are suitable solutions to ride safely. But in practice conditions are constantly changing and in some cases unknowable. There are no simple rules that can be applied in advance to account for all possible conflicts.

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 6:01 pm

      downhill skiing rules!

      it’s the only rule, watch where you’re going… you are responsible for anything in front of you that you hit… period… no matter how it got there… if the front of you hit it then it’s your fault…

      too bad it doesn’t work when said vehicles have brakes and can pull right in front of you and stop…

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  • Kirk Ohly July 5, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    wow, when watching the video, it is clear way before the corner that the truck has it’s turn indicator on, and as riders we have to be more aware of what is going on around us. Each and every intersection holds a potential for a right hook. When I ride, I look for eye contact and then at turn indicators, then at the vehicles wheels and then at the speed of the vehicle. With all of these factors it is pretty easy to determine if a driver is turning right or not. I know this comment is buried amongst the rants and it won’t be seen or taken seriously, but as riders we have an obligation to be aware and to predict and to ride knowing that we are very small object in a sea of multi thousand pound objects and that safety is not a given.

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    • are July 5, 2012 at 2:39 pm

      we have not heard from the person who shot the video. i don’t think s/he is complaining jesus i was nearly killed. obviously s/he saw what was going on and held back. seems the point was that despite all the paint and signage motorists will overtake and turn.

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      • carlos July 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        The point of my original post was to pose the question about why the video represents a right-hook situation, which is how it is presented in the post, and see what responses my post generated. My concern is that this might or might not be a right hook, it is not clear to me. It is clear to me that the truck was signaling and the cyclist overtook the truck — I do not know what the truck driver was thinking nor the cyclist, but apparently others are more keen to deduction than I.

        As others have posted in the past, there seems to be an editorial habit of posting these sorts of half-sided stories, then all the uber-cyclists bring out the knives and the few reasonable posters get shouted down.

        It is what saddens me about this site.

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        • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) July 5, 2012 at 3:31 pm

          Hey Carlos,

          I understand your concerns about the video… But to me this is about the larger question of conflicts at intersections… Whether or not the video meets your definition of a right-hook is secondary in my opinion. The fact remains that the person who sent the video in is concerned about the intersection and the issue itself remains a problem in our city.

          Thanks.

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        • encephalopath July 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm

          Then tell us more things that are “obvious” truths, in your view. We could make a list of things that you firmly belive to be true that are also totally and completely wrong.

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        • davemess July 5, 2012 at 4:19 pm

          Did you miss the part at the beginning where the truck overtook the cyclist?

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        • are July 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm

          i do not think the video show the cyclist overtaking the truck. that is kinda the point. the video shows the cyclist waiting for the truck to complete a turn the driver was [in theory, based on the paint and the signage] supposed to wait to make.

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        • DoubleB July 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm

          Dude, welcome to the party. Sensible discussion involves $2500 fines for turning right and always making the assumption drivers are poor. Yet when 90 of 105 cyclists ignore a 4-way stop . . that’s just perfectly acceptable cycling behavior (How can we be expected to stop at a stop sign?).

          All that being said, the driver was technically in the wrong on the video.

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          • davemess July 6, 2012 at 7:51 am

            Redirection is not a useful tactic. Your argument is the equivalent of car owners complaining that their registration fees are too high, and then cyclists saying “well I see 85% of cars speeding on the freeway”. See how the two don’t really relate?

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            • DoubleB July 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

              My point was that drivers are universally considered poor by most cyclists commenting on this website. It is the “de facto” assumption. Yet those same commenters, who demand drivers be “held accountable”, ignore actual evidence that many cyclists don’t follow the rules of the road themselves.

              Accountability goes both ways.

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              • John Lascurettes July 6, 2012 at 11:12 am

                DoubleB, talking about THIS driver in THIS video, he broke the law. Not only is it law that he must yield to traffic in the side lane, there was a flashing LED sign reminding him of that.

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                • DoubleB July 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm

                  HEY JOHN, Carlos had a 3 paragraph comment. I was responding to his SECOND paragraph. I already acknowledged the driver was in the wrong. Please FULLY READ before commenting about something to which I’ve already concurred.

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              • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 12:11 pm

                Here is the big difference: poor drivers kill people, poor cyclists annoy people.

                Poor driving has much, much, more serious consequences, which are not suffered by the poor driver him/herself. The assumption that drivers are poor–as this very article and video illustrate–is essential for cyclist, and even pedestrian, survival. Had the cyclist who shot this video assumed the truck driver knew and would follow Oregon’s rules of the road–i.e., that he was a “good” driver–he would be dead. Again, the difference in consequences between poor driving and poor cycling.

                You will get no argument that both drivers and cyclists break the law. They probably break it at the same rate, but they tend to break different laws. Cyclists tend to roll stops, drivers tend to speed and not yield. Yet the consequences of said law-breaking are vastly more serious when drivers do it.

                Pertaining to “rational” discussion, on what would you (and carlos) like to base such a discussion? Law? Well that’s the discussion being had! Carlos’ original post contained two blatant errors: 1) right turning vehicles do NOT currently have right-of-way over bikes in a bike lane in Oregon, and 2) green bike boxes may not confer any right-of-way (that is not their intention) but bike lanes, green or not, DO grant right-of-way to anyone on a bike traveling in them. I think it was mentioned above, but here is ORS 811.050 again (scroll down to get to .050).

                I fear that the definition of “rational” for some people that come to this site is “that which grants drivers of motor vehicles free rein and puts the entire onus of ‘safety’ on peds and cyclists to duck and cover”. The debate often revolves around whether this is the right point of view: should cyclists be bound to dodge out of the way of errant drivers, bearing the full responsibility for “safety”, or should we require those who are creating the danger (inattentive, unskilled, or uninformed operators of multi-ton motorized vehicles) to share a little more of the responsibility?

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                • DoubleB July 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

                  Nothing like starting off a post positing something wrong. Really, poor cyclists don’t kill people? I’m sure an old man in San Francisco has something different to say about that. I can’t imagine that’s the only bike / pedestrian death we’ve ever had. And poor cyclists, like poor drivers, kill themselves, unintentionally, as well.

                  “Yet the consequences of said law-breaking are vastly more serious when drivers do it.” You just stated that cyclists and drivers break the law at similar rates. So how are the consequences vastly different? If a cyclist runs a 4-way stop and I hit him or her after making my stop how is that different than the other way around. In the former, the cyclist broke the law. In the latter, the driver did. The result is the same. Or is every car/bicycle accident the automatic fault of the driver?

                  “The debate often revolves around whether this is the right point of view: should cyclists be bound to dodge out of the way of errant drivers, bearing the full responsibility for “safety”, or should we require those who are creating the danger (inattentive, unskilled, or uninformed operators of multi-ton motorized vehicles) to share a little more of the responsibility?”

                  As a driver, should I be bound to dodge out of the way of errant cyclists, bearing the full responsibility for “safety” or should we require those creating the danger (inattentive, unskilled, and uninformed operators of bicycles) to share a little more of the responsibility.

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                • El Biciclero July 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

                  Poor drivers kill people…on a daily basis. Nothing like always picking out one-in-a-million events and holding them up as regular occurrences…

                  The day a cyclist runs a stop sign and kills a driver by crashing into their car is the day I’ll buy into your inverted argument about danger. The point is that cyclists, by and large, only put themselves in mortal danger by ignoring rules of the road. Drivers put other people in danger by doing so. Sure you could conjure up a what-if where some cyclist swerves at the wrong time to avoid a pot-hole and a driver then swerves to avoid them and causes a pedestrian to jump out of the way into the path of another car, which then drives onto the sidewalk to avoid them and crashes into outdoor restaurant seating and kills 7 people, but then I could probably find 15 or 20 police reports per day from around the country where drivers ran over people or into buildings simply because they quit paying attention. Some lady did that in my quiet li’l ol’ neighborhood a while back. Didn’t see a curve in the road, so she drove across the oncoming lane, over the sidewalk, over a landscaping boulder, across the lawn, bounced off of my neighbor’s garage, careened down their driveway, knocked over a phone junction box, spun back across the street and ended up facing the wrong way in her original lane. Had a cyclist done that, he or she would have crashed on the curb and fallen off of their bike, suffering the attendant injuries. It is doubtful they would have done the tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage done by this lady in her SUV. See what I mean? The destruction caused by motorists screwing up vastly exceeds anything remotely possible by goofing on a bike. And the destruction caused by goofing up on a bike is usually mostly to oneself, not to someone else.

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                • DoubleB July 6, 2012 at 7:09 pm

                  “The day a cyclist runs a stop sign and kills a driver by crashing into their car is the day I’ll buy into your inverted argument about danger.”

                  I never mentioned that. My point was that poor cyclists are just as responsible for their accidents with cars as poor drivers are with their accidents with bicycles. And there are a lot of poor cyclists on the roads.

                  The assumption at this site is that any cyclist/driver accident is the automatic fault of the driver. That’s just not true.

                  Maybe I’m wrong but what you (and most others) seem to be advocating is that drivers need to hold the brunt of the acccountability when it comes to ANY driver / cyclist accident. Yet are drivers in large SUVs and vans required to be more careful around Smart Cars or other particularly small vehicles? Is there a Smart Car website expounding the dangers of SUV drivers?

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                • 9watts July 6, 2012 at 7:21 pm

                  DoubleB:
                  “The assumption at this site is that any cyclist/driver accident is the automatic fault of the driver. That’s just not true.”

                  Actually that is pretty much how we’re let to believe things work in the Netherlands (which you already made clear you think little of because of their penchant for citrus).

                  What you’re muddling is the present situation as it presents itself to us here in Portland in 2012, where those who drive cars through, over, into others not in cars but walking or bicycling, often face astonishingly little consequences.

                  El Biciclero as I understand him is suggesting that in fact the damage done by the average driver of a car who runs into or over a person bicycling is vastly greater than any damage a bicyclist might conceivably visit on another traffic participant of any flavor.

                  Getting all huffy about the symmetry between thoughtless (I don’t think poor is the best word here) captains of four-wheeled motorized conveyances and thoughtless captains of two-wheeled human powered conveyances seems a stretch given the facts as we all experience them.

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                • El Biciclero July 7, 2012 at 1:30 pm

                  “Yet are drivers in large SUVs and vans required to be more careful around Smart Cars or other particularly small vehicles?”

                  No, but commercial truck drivers are, which I think is a more apt comparison to the difference between SUVs and bicycles. Are passenger car drivers required to get special certification to drive around tractor-trailer rigs? No, it is the other way around; anyone wishing to drive a vehicle ten times larger than those around it must get the special training and be held to a higher standard. They also must be aware that not all drivers are going to respect the “This vehicle makes wide turns” signage and they must learn to anticipate drivers cutting in too close to the front of their rigs on the freeway, they must learn to leave extra stopping distance to avoid hitting cars in front of them in case of a sudden stop, etc. The driver piloting the more destructive vehicle must take more responsibility for that destructive capacity.

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                • DoubleB July 7, 2012 at 2:05 pm

                  “The driver piloting the more destructive vehicle must take more responsibility for that destructive capacity.”

                  So I have to take more responsibility for the fact YOU have chosen to operate a vehicle that is inherently less safe WHEN it gets into a collision, whether the cyclist is competent or not? Thanks for letting me know that it really is all about the bike.

                  You have made, as far as I know, a conscious choice to cycle on roads with motor vehicles. I don’t begrudge you that choice, but it’s not my responsibility to be extra vigilant because YOU have made it. It’s yours.

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                • El Biciclero July 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

                  “You have made, as far as I know, a conscious choice to cycle on roads with motor vehicles. I don’t begrudge you that choice, but it’s not my responsibility to be extra vigilant because YOU have made it. It’s yours.”

                  I’m trying not to chuckle right now. No, actually I am chuckling a little. Have YOU not made a conscious choice to use a vehicle that destroys things regardless of how careful you are? Are you saying that I must take responsibility for YOUR choice to chug around in a giant smoking missile? Haven’t you chosen to drive on roads with bicyclists and pedestrians? Or was your choice unconscious? Or do you feel you have no choice? If you feel like you have no choice, what makes you think I do? If you think I do, then what makes you think someone else doesn’t? Yeah, we ALL have to take responsibility for our choices.

                  Look, I’m not saying that cyclists bear zippo responsibility for their own safety–we all need to ride or drive in a sane fashion–but if some out-of-control driver runs over a competent, legally-operating cyclist, what is the first question people usually ask? Is it, “was the driver drunk?” Is it, “What was that driver doing, texting?” No. Typically, the first question is “was the cyclist wearing a helmet?” Or maybe, “what were they doing riding on that street?” Perhaps, “Why would anyone be out on a bike at that time of night?” In the minds of many, any cyclist that hasn’t gone far above and beyond the law in wearing protective gear, giving up right-of-way, taking “safe” routes that go miles out the way, staying off the street at the “wrong” time of day/night, etc., deserves anything they get–including killed. That attitude is backwards. If the cyclist truly did something to put themselves under a car, or was riding illegally, then sure, they bear some responsibility. But one of the big things people who comment here and who actually ride a bicycle take issue with is the idea that drivers should have free rein on the streets and anybody else is out there at their own risk. If you get run over, you must have done something wrong–even if it was just being there without a car. That is what commenters are referring to when they talk about driver entitlement–not that drivers are claiming they have a right to the road, but that they somehow feel they are granting some great privilege to non-driving road users by deigning to allow them on the street in the first place. The feeling that anybody on a bike is “lucky” someone doesn’t run over them. The idea that a legally operating cyclist must be “crazy” to ride in some location or fashion a non-cycling driver couldn’t imagine doing. The observation that drivers stopping for a bus, or for some other driver to make a left turn, or for peds to cross in a crosswalk, or slowing down in a school zone, or stopping at the end of a long line of cars is AOK, but slowing down for 15 seconds behind a cyclist legally using the full lane is rage-inducing. Generally the notion that cars are normal, and anything else is weird or insane. That is called “car-head”. It’s not name-calling, it’s a diagnosis.

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              • wsbob July 7, 2012 at 12:53 am

                “…Getting all huffy about the symmetry between thoughtless (I don’t think poor is the best word here) captains of four-wheeled motorized conveyances and thoughtless captains of two-wheeled human powered conveyances seems a stretch given the facts as we all experience them.” 9watts

                In addition to the fact that it’s beside the point. The idea is to avoid right hooks in the first place. Quibbling about what vehicle produces the greater damage is after the fact. The ‘nya- nya- nya- nya- nya…your vehicle is more lethal than mine!’, routine, supposedly from adults, gets a bit ridiculous when repeated more than once or twice.

                It’s every road users basic responsibility…in addition to what’s spelled out in the letter of the law…to use what common sense they have, and manage their vehicle in a way that allows the road to function for all road users. There’s give and take in that responsibility, and it may not all be ‘fair’, but such is life. This is far from a perfectly reliable way to be certain that the road functions, but human beings not being perfect, this responsibility continues to play a critical role.

                Kristen’s take: http://bikeportland.org/2012/07/05/despite-tragedy-and-focus-right-hooks-still-plague-portland-74020#comment-3051921 …on the actions of the driver in the video, and suggestions about how someone in a bike lane confronted with the type of situation the video depicts, might be well advised to handle it, seems like probably one of the more reasoned, realistic responses.

                People riding bikes in main travel lanes and bike lanes really need to have some sense of how to position themselves relative to other vehicles on the road and to intersections so that they can minimize the possibility of right hooks occurring. Doing this is a learned skill. Some driver-road users rush to get the jump on a bike in the bike lane moving towards an intersection…and cut them off short to do a right turn. Not pleasant, but experience and bike positioning strategy can help counter that tactic. Until all cars and motor vehicles are of the whizz-bang ‘autonomous’ computed operated variety, people that bike will have to take the task of defending against right hooks, upon themselves.

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    • spare_wheel July 5, 2012 at 3:02 pm

      This sounds much too complicated for me. I just take the lane.

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      • GlowBoy July 5, 2012 at 11:34 pm

        That doesn’t work so great if “the lane” is backed up a block from the intersection you’re trying to get through. A few years ago the BTA successfully fought to legalize bikes passing on the right even when there isn’t a bike lane, and we have people who won’t pass congested traffic on the right when they’re IN a bike lane?!

        Seems to me that when the road is congested, the way to avoid right hooks — unless you prefer to spend extra minutes sitting in cager traffic — is to reduce your speed a bit, watch every vehicle closely, time your entry into the intersection and be prepared to hit the brakes and yell. It’s really NOT that complicated.

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        • Chris I July 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm

          Or, for those of us that don’t have the privilege of riding downtown… the “lane” is full of cars traveling 50-60mph (in a 45 zone), trucks, etc. You don’t take the lane in outer east Portland, or any of the other suburbs, if you value your life.

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  • Brian Davis July 5, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    This is a tough problem. I agree with Alexis & JM that the real solution (and what we should ultimately be working toward long-term) is separate signal phases for separate infrastructure. It’s worth noting that you will never see a lane configuration for motor vehicles at an intersection where you are allowed to either turn right or go straight in the two rightmost lanes, but that is precisely the lane configuration we use at every intersection where right-hooks are an issue. A better idea would be (no surprise) what the Dutch do (link below, if you have not yet seen the excellent You-Tube video explaining it), but unfortunately we’re not there politically, at least not yet. But gas is not getting any cheaper, and bike share (whose transformative power may be underestimated) is coming…

    Dutch intersection design:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA

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  • GlowBoy July 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    One reason we don’t have many of the shared turn lanes mentioned by Roger is that in the city we simply don’t have room for them at most intersections. You need to have not only room for a right-turn lane (which we often don’t have) but an extra-wide one to boot.

    I do see this design quite a bit in the suburbs where I work. It’s not as nice as the Dutch design, but it seems better than bike-lane-on-the-right for preventing right hooks. Downside is the time it takes to move through the mixing zone, especially while going uphill, but that’s less awkward than dealing with right-hooks. And it still has the right-hook problem if you’re coming through and car traffic is backed up behind the mixing zone.

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

      the Dutch don’t need as much room for cars…

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      • John Lascurettes July 6, 2012 at 11:14 am

        Clarification: The Dutch don’t need as much room for cars because they don’t make as much room for cars in the first place.

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  • wsbob July 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    A big part of the answer to reducing right hooks, is for people that ride bikes in traffic to receive better training and experience in how to avoid right hooks. Many experienced, seat of the pants trained people that bike, riding in the bike lane, will position themselves relative to motor vehicles as both approach the intersection, allowing motor vehicle operators an optimum view of the person on the bike.

    All the green paint and bike specific traffic signals in the world isn’t going to make up for inexperienced people on bikes unwittingly positioning themselves in the path of less watchful, competent or distracted motor vehicle operators. 5 seconds in traffic can be a lifetime.

    Assuming people driving along will see a person in the bike lane next to their vehicle, and remember the presence of the person on the bike as the vehicle operator approaches an intersection for a right turn, or that they will reliably gauge the arrival of the person on the bike to the intersection relative to their own vehicle…is definitely bad mojo.

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    • 9watts July 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm

      “inexperienced people on bikes unwittingly positioning themselves in the path of less watchful, competent or distracted motor vehicle operators.”

      So in your description you note that both parties are not paying attention, yet your focus is on training people on bikes to remember to watch out for inattentive drivers.

      Your suggestion may be pragmatic, but it is not really trained on the source of the problem, is it? Is this curious bias perhaps explained in part by the fact that there are (still) fewer people on bikes and in your mind it is statistically more promising to address them than the more numerous automobilists?

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      • wsbob July 5, 2012 at 5:36 pm

        “…So in your description you note that both parties are not paying attention, yet your focus is on training people on bikes to remember to watch out for inattentive drivers. …” 9watts

        In different words, I said in my post that people driving motor vehicles are obliged by law, in exchange for a driver’s license allowing them to operate a motor vehicle, to undergo testing and demonstration of their ability operate a motor vehicle in traffic. People choosing to ride a bike in traffic are under no such obligation.

        This is part of why I believe people riding bikes in traffic should be receiving training and testing to prepare them for riding bikes in traffic, rather than the simple fact that the percentage of people riding bikes is smaller than than the people driving.

        They should be receiving that training to prepare them for road users that aren’t paying attention, but also for those that are paying attention, but for whatever reason, somehow do not make the appropriate allowances for bikes on the road; blind spots, driver-bike error, etc.

        “…source of the problem.” 9watts

        You don’t say what you consider to be the ‘source of the problem’. There is no one problem, and there is no one source. Streets are complex systems that require responsible, thinking responses from everyone that uses them. There is no magic wand that will realistically relieve vulnerable road users of watching out for right hooks from non-vulnerable road users.

        Down below a bit:

        “…I have lots of EXPERIENCE sometimes it just passes you and WHAM right turn in front. ppl in cars these days can’t wait 2 secs for a person on the street. …” Joe

        Absolutely, despite their best efforts as bike road users, the possibility for that type of thing happening is very real, and as a competent road users, people that bike have got to be prepared for it, thinking ahead as much as possible, in a sense…managing the traffic.

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        • 9watts July 5, 2012 at 5:42 pm

          “You don’t say what you consider to be the ‘source of the problem’. There is no one problem, and there is no one source. Streets are complex systems that require responsible, thinking responses from everyone that uses them. There is no magic wand that will realistically relieve vulnerable road users of watching out for right hooks from non-vulnerable road users.”

          I appreciate your point that traffic is a complex dance, and that everyone needs to pay attention. But, just for a moment, imagine everyone’s riding a bike or walking. The all too human proclivity for inattention in this scenario isn’t likely to result in daily hospitalizations. Add the cars back in, and you get daily hospitalizations of people walking and biking. That is as far as I’ll go specifying the source of the problem.

          I don’t normally deal in magic wands, but taking away the cars is, as they say, a contenda.

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          • DoubleB July 5, 2012 at 6:59 pm

            “I don’t normally deal in magic wands, but taking away the cars is, as they say, a contenda.”

            Well at least we know what your end game is, which is very realistic by the way.

            And in your utopia, wouldn’t bike/pedestrian and bike/bike accidents increase enormously if we removed all motorized transportation from the city? It’s not just a cars issue. It’s a “a lot of people in a small space” issue as well.

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            • 9watts July 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

              “And in your utopia, wouldn’t bike/pedestrian and bike/bike accidents increase enormously if we removed all motorized transportation from the city? It’s not just a cars issue. It’s a “a lot of people in a small space” issue as well.”
              DoubleB,

              You crack me up. I’m trying really hard to imagine carnage, bike-on-bike mayhem as our numbers swell and cars fade from our landscape.
              I’ve never heard anyone argue that traffic density kills irrespective of mode share. I’d try speed, and large speed differentials.
              Here are some statistics from the Netherlands:

              In 2007, 189 people died in bike accidents in the Netherlands, about half of them hit by cars.
              • In Amsterdam about 6 people die in bike-related accidents yearly.
              • 16 million Dutch own 18 million bikes.
              • About half the population of the NL rides a bike once a day.
              • Overall traffic safety in NL is the best in Europe with 45 deaths per million inhabitants per year.
              • The US has 147 deaths per million inhabitants per year.
              • You’re more likely to die of murder in the US than by cycling in the Netherlands.
              • You’re more likely to die by drowning in the Netherlands than by cycling.

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              • DoubleB July 5, 2012 at 10:50 pm

                Your ability to not understand what I’m writing never ceases to amaze. And the sarcasm coming from someone who can’t seemingly understand basic English is just odd.

                First off, this country isn’t the Netherlands. Why people compare biking in Portland to biking in Europe is beyond me. It’s comparing apples and oranges.

                Second, I never mentioned “deaths.” I mentioned “accidents.” There’s a big difference. You have the unique ability to conflate the two.

                Third, using your statistics from the Netherlands, what happened to the 100 or so dead Dutch cyclists who weren’t hit by cars? How many pedestrians were hurt or killed by cyclists? How many cyclists are killed on the road in the Portland area by something other than a motorized vehicle?Those are at least on point.

                Fourth, what is your 45 deaths to 147 deaths per million citizens refer to? All modes of transportation, driving? What? If it’s driving, vehicle miles is a much, much better statistic.

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                • 9watts July 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

                  No need to get so hot and bothered.
                  I would like better statistics too, DoubleB. Perhaps you and I can find them? I’d also like to know how the other cyclists died )or were injured, and how many pedestrians were injured or killed by cyclists. These are not easy statistics to find. They well may be out there, but I’ve not managed to locate them.

                  I only picked the Netherlands because I don’t have statistics for a country that lacks all automotive traffic, which you will agree would have been a better comparison, given your ridicule of my scenario. The Netherlands’ very different mode split was precisely the point of my using them. If we’re trying (and I was) to figure out what traffic carnage might look like in the absence of the automobile this seemed like a good first step.

                  But, you see, if I had found statistics for Burkina Faso you would have said I was trying to compare apples and horned toads. Hard to win with you.

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    • Spiffy July 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm

      no way, sorry, never ever going to happen…

      I’m not going to spend my entire lovely bicycle ride completely paranoid that every single automobile is going to break the law and run into me…

      instead I like to think that everybody is paying attention and we’re all having a good time…

      I won’t live in your bubble of paranoia… thanks anyways…

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  • Alicia Crain July 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    As a bike planner and advocate, I’m not convinced we can engineer our way out of this problem. Part of why cycling rates are so high in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is that ALL individuals who grow up there receive transportation education from a very early age where it is emphasized that pedestrians and cyclists are unpredictable so everyone, especially people driving cars, must be extra cautious around them. In The Netherlands, any driver who hits a cyclist is automatically at fault unless it can be proven the cyclist did something egregious. There is serious lack of enforcement of traffic laws in Portland in particular and in the USA in general, partially due to auto-oriented mentalities, and also because of limited policing budget. Engineering is just one of the many e’s.

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    • wsbob July 5, 2012 at 6:53 pm

      “Part of why cycling rates are so high in Copenhagen and Amsterdam is that ALL individuals who grow up there receive transportation education from a very early age where it is emphasized that pedestrians and cyclists are unpredictable …” Alicia Crain

      Bingo! Especially “…ALL individuals who grow up there receive transportation education from a very early age where it is emphasized that pedestrians and cyclists are unpredictable…”. Lack of sufficient education is, I believe, part of the number one, key reason our streets aren’t more versatile for a wider range of transport mode…walking, biking, skateboarding, as well as operating and riding in motor vehicles.

      A higher grade of road use education is part and parcel of a more sophisticated culture of road use that certain countries in Europe, such as Netherlands, Denmark, seem to have, that cities and towns in the U.S. mostly don’t have. Without that early education and culture of more sophisticated road use, we couldn’t hire enough police officers to issue enough citations to bring the road using public around to the level of safety Netherlands and Denmark have.

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    • Greg July 5, 2012 at 10:40 pm

      How can *anyone* still say that sort of thing with a straight face at this point? The Dutch don’t think of their “strict liability” laws as important for achieving cycling rates *at all*:

      http://www.aviewfromthecyclepath.com/2012/01/campaign-for-sustainable-safety-not.html

      And no one, I mean not a single place on the whole darn planet has ever gotten anywhere by pushing training in the absence of infrastructure (aka engineering our way out of the problem.)

      Want mode share? There’s a proven way forward for that. Build it. They will cycle.

      (And do try actually going to a cycling city sometime and biking. You might find that, miracles of miracles, it doesn’t take much in the way of training to use world class cycling infrastructure. That’s one reason it’s world class…)

      (And yes, the Dutch do training. But it’s the icing on the cake. The infrastructure is more like the salad, the main dish and after dinner coffee.. :-)

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      • wsbob July 6, 2012 at 1:19 am

        Greg…the ‘campaign for sustainable safety’ article was the best I’ve read so far (not that I’ve regularly sought such articles out) about how the Dutch have conceptualized and configured their system of roads for safe and reliable use. And also for the articles’ clarification of Netherlands’ strict liability’ laws, and the purpose they’re intended to serve, which isn’t deterrence, but instead, to provide for justified compensation.

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      • are July 6, 2012 at 8:32 am

        in fairness to alison, who has earned a certain amount of credibility in this town, take a look at the infrastructure depicted in the article you link and tell me how you are going to install that at couch and grand. what used to be where the separated track is now? a commercial building? or open space? right now there is a lot of private property where you want to put your separated infrastructure. until we are ready to tear up everything that has been built over the past hundred something years, “engineering” is constrained here. we are working with what we have. yes, over time the landscape will change, and we should not repeat the errors of the past. [among other things, we should not continue to put striped bike lanes inside permitted right turns.] but for the foreseeable future, engineering will be able to accomplish only so much. a lot of people are out on the streets, motorists and cyclists, who have nearly no idea what they are doing. we need education. we also need enforcement, but that may require a much more aggressive weeding out of the miscreants than seems to be culturally acceptable just yet. again, education can change this as well.

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      • spare_wheel July 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm

        I think you confuse correlation with causation.

        Cycling mode share in amsterdam was ~31% in 1986 (www.fietsberaad.nl). Importantly, this was prior to the construction of most of the slickly engineered bike paths highlighted in glossy transportation planner brochures. By 1998 mode in share in amsterdam rose only 5%. The other interesting point about cycling mode share in Amsterdam is that from 1900-1950 it ranged between 50 and 70%. I think the message is not *only* “build it and they will come” but rather “tame the bull and they will come”. PDX has made some progress on infrastructure but has really done very little to tame the bull (more like coddle it and fed it apples).

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    • Barbara July 6, 2012 at 8:00 am

      Exactly. The same thing in Germany. All kids do traffic and safety bicylcing training in 4th grade. I think a long-term solution is better education of drivers. It was drilled into my head in driver school in Germany to look over my right shoulder before turning right. Here people look left when turning right. I also think that “right on red” is a big problem. It gives drivers a sense of entitlement to turn right no matter what.

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  • Joe July 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    9watts
    “inexperienced people on bikes unwittingly positioning themselves in the path of less watchful, competent or distracted motor vehicle operators.”
    So in your description you note that both parties are not paying attention, yet your focus is on training people on bikes to remember to watch out for inattentive drivers.
    Your suggestion may be pragmatic, but it is not really trained on the source of the problem, is it? Is this curious bias perhaps explained in part by the fact that there are (still) fewer people on bikes and in your mind it is statistically more promising to address them than the more numerous automobilists?
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    I have lots of EXPERIENCE sometimes it just passes you and WHAM right turn in front. ppl in cars these days can’t wait 2 secs for a person on the street.

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  • Peter July 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    For most of us, what happens in this video is a regular occurrence. There is a good chance that the driver is on the phone too. Lack of enforcement, combined with an absent-minded disregard for other’s safety is partially to blame.

    Not that motorists deserve much defense here, but if a vehicle slows you down and lengthens your commute by 7 seconds, that’s not a big deal. I’ve seen many cyclists freak-out at minor inconveniences.

    But, when you have been right-hooked, left bleeding in the road, and the driver continues on, (as has happened to me), then there is a fundamental problem with a small percentage of motorists that should not have driver’s licenses.

    I don’t have a magic bullet, but making driving a privilege that can be easily taken away, rather that a god-given right, might help.

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  • Ted Buehler July 6, 2012 at 8:38 am

    This problem can be solved on a “case by case” basis if you turn your headlight on to blink mode when riding in traffic.

    It’s much easier far drivers to see a rapidly flashing light in their right side mirror than the shape of a bicyclist amidst background clutter.

    This is a poor solution overall, as it requires extra equipment, but if you already have a headlight installed, cars give you lots more space in the right hook conflict areas.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Spiffy July 6, 2012 at 10:39 am

      I always ride blinking… maybe that’s why I’ve only been hit once and only had to take evasive action a few times…

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  • John Landolfe July 6, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Why not make training to drive around bikes mandatory in Driver’s Ed? We already have the venue, we just need to add to the curriculum (my Driver’s Ed was in New York 15 years ago; perhaps Oregon’s has training I don’t know about). We would need to make this a national issue since people, obviously, move a lot. It’s not a silver bullet but it’s something to consider for the arsenal.

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    • Alan 1.0 July 6, 2012 at 11:54 am

      Yes! But but start teaching rules-of-the-road way before Driver’s Ed; start when the kid starts walking and rolling. 3 year olds on kick bikes can learn basics like “ride to the right” and “look before turning.” I see that happening at Sunday Parkways, I’ve seen videos of Dutch nursery schools with playground cityscapes to ride in, and my elementary school had “bike rodeos” way back when. Then build on that start *every year* of school, at least a couple hours of training per semester. That way, when kids are old enough to start venturing out on their own, they already have some sense of how safe streets operate, and by the time they are ready to take Driver’s Ed they are prepared to study the more advanced skills needed to operate a car safely.

      Now, how to fix public school systems to accommodate that…

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  • Kristen July 6, 2012 at 9:53 am

    Ok, I’ve watched the video a dozen times, mainly the clip where the truck overtakes and turns.

    The traffic signal is green before the truck gets to the intersection. The truck’s towed vehicle is past the cyclist. The truck has its turn signal activated, in advance of the turn.

    If I had been the cyclist, I would have coasted/stopped pedaling and let the truck take the turn unimpeded. Then I would have gone straight through the intersection with no worries. The truck and the vehicle it was towing were past the cyclist, as a cyclist I would have let them take the turn.

    My philosophy is that once a vehicle has gone past me completely and is signaling the turn, they should take the turn in front of me. I’ll slow up to facilitate it, or I’ll merge into the lane behind them to make it clear that they can take their turn. I don’t expect or want other traffic to come to a complete stop once they’ve gone past me to make a turn they are signaling. I’m an observant enough cyclist and driver to accommodate that.

    This doesn’t seem so much like a right hook as it does someone taking the turn. To me, a right hook is when a vehicle makes the turn directly next to (and into) a cyclist.

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    • davemess July 6, 2012 at 12:39 pm

      No the issue is more with people speeding up to pass cyclists and then making turns right in front of them, when they probably should have just hovered behind the cyclist as they both approach the intersection and then make the turn after the cyclist is through.
      The truck in this video clearly did not do that. They raced past the cyclist and then cut them off.

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  • Randall S. July 6, 2012 at 9:54 am

    So this is what I don’t understand: Why are we trying to reinvent the wheel? Denmark and the Netherlands both have proven bicycle infrastructure that mitigates this problem. Why are we not using that?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlApbxLz6pA

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  • Steve Brown July 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

    What a great video. It brings so many points about cycling/traffic safety to the front. First, we are still a long ways from integrating bikes into traffic. It will take several years to build safer places to ride, provide better driver education and for drivers to just be more aware. My wife and I ride the Velibe bikes in Paris, even going against traffic on bike paths with arrows showing it is the way to ride. The only time we have had anything dangerous happen is when my wife was almost right hooked by an SUV with California Plates. That being said, the first comment in this string was important. We need to consider adopting the California law. Taking the lane requires the motor vehicle operator to actively engage in the process. It might cause an increase in riders driven to the curb, but will dramatically decrease right hooks.

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    • wsbob July 6, 2012 at 10:42 am

      I’ve not seen any persuasive case made that the California right turn using bike lane reduces right hooks. The Cali strategy moves the potential for a right hook further back from the intersection. It allows people that drive to travel in the bike lane for up to 400′ prior to their turn (not positive on the distance…heard it word of mouth rather than having read the law.).

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  • was carless July 6, 2012 at 10:12 am

    There is a lot of speculation above on little things that might help the situation.

    The bottom line, however, is twofold:

    1) there is practically no driver’s education in the state of oregon anymore. Virtually anyone can get a driver’s license, excepting a DUI. Uneducated people driving cars think they own the road and run people off the street at the first opportunity, hence you get a lot of red light runners and right-hookers.

    2) crappy or nonexistent bike infrastructure, particularly on major streets

    Addressing both these points would drastically raise the profile and awareness of how to properly driver and bicycle on the street.

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  • GlowBoy July 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    war carless is right about there being no Drivers Ed here. I was dumbfounded to learn that myself a few years ago. I grew up in a state (MN) where it was not only mandatory, but it was offered in the public schools in 10th grade and you needed a note from your parents (very, very rare) to get exempted from it, so I had just assumed that everyone had taken it.

    But knowing it’s not required explains a lot of the behavior I see on Oregon roads.

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  • Brian Willson July 6, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    As a handcyclist who arm-powers a low riding 3-wheeled recumbent, using a large rear view mirror and a large flag flying above, I have to be extra careful to make myself as visible as possible to motorists. I often wonder when my moment with destiny is to arrive, especially when approaching intersections as cars are eager to turn right. Of course, design of roadways is critical, but so is keen awareness on the part of both cyclists and drivers. Designs can be a created by policy. Awareness cannot be legislated, only encouraged with signage. That is why I dream/imagine totally separate infrastructure, respectively, for cars and human powered cycles such as they have in the Netherlands. It is such a practical solution. But, in my ultimate dream, I imagine no more cars on the road, period – the end of King Car – something that in fact will occur in the not too distant future as we face the end of cheap, easily accessible oil. The fact that we have been born and raised in the one century (in all of history) blip of oil has conditioned everything in our minds around speed and size. Imagine life as it was in the 1890s, the last decade before access to cheap oil enabled the mania of private cars and grid electricity. In one century this addiction depleted half the carbon in the ground that took 200 million years to develop, and put it in the air, water, and soil. All this because of our choices. I know I am not saying anything new for viewers here, but life is a creation of one’s imagination, including realizing that invention and use of private cars is one of the worst inventions ever, one of the most destructive applications of perhaps the greatest of the Neolithic inventions – the wheel. Yeah for the human powered bicycle and handcycle.

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  • Eric in Seattle July 6, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Passing on the right is iffy at the best of times. Passing a motor vehicle on the right when you know or suspect it is turning right is asking for a right hook. In the video, the truck had it’s right turn signal on, so the cyclist should not have been surprised when it turned right. Yes, it’s the responsibility of the driver to make sure it is safe to turn, but it’s also difficult to see a bike coming up on the right even if the driver checks. In this particular case I would have gotten in behind the truck and gone through the intersection after the truck turned (although that might be in violation of Oregon’s manditory bike lane law). The design of this intersection, with a through lane (the bike lane) to the right of the right turn lane is problematic, but I’m afraid it’s the reality and will be until we get the traffic engineering standards changed.

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    • Chris I July 6, 2012 at 10:02 pm

      The truck literally passed the cyclist 5 SECONDS before trying to turn. Yes, obviously the smart cyclist would not get hooked here, but you are completely missing the point. Something is wrong if this can happen so easily. Would a 10 year-old girl riding to school know that this truck is about to kill her if she doesn’t move to the left, out of the marked bike lane? Who are we building our bike infrastructure for? How can we expect to get more people cycling when hazards like this exist?

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  • Zaphod July 6, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    The only time I attempted to use the cycling specific infrastructure in N PDX, with a full on illuminated “no turn on red” sign. The sign turned on which triggered the driver to initiate the turn on red. While this is a single incident, it was my first (and last!) time I will trust such design. On paper it’s perfect. I mean it’s a giant glowing sign that pops on with extremely clear instructions and the driver still makes the error.

    Taking the right lane is often required to stay safe with the current infrastructure. I’d like it changed but until this happens, this is my approach.

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  • Byron July 6, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    1. Given that many people feel that a bike lane offers little or no rights, (carlos et.al.)
    2. and that a judge has ruled that the bike lane does not exist in the intersection,

    I would then argue that bike lanes are inherently dangerous at all times and should not be used. Taking the lane will slow down traffic but until drivers respect bike lanes, the law respects bike lanes, and that bike lanes continue so as to protect bicyclists, then invoking the part of the law that allows bicyclists not to ride in a bike lane for safety is the only real alternative.

    There goes bike lanes off the books, what next?

    As far as the video goes, the rider knew the truck was coming up fast behind,most likely exceeding the speed limit in the hope of getting to the intersection first. Given that the driver of the truck had to have seen the bicyclist for more than a block, the driver knew the bicyclist was there. Not sure what he was thinking, if at all, but there is no way that he could say the he did not know, unless he was playing with his phone or whatever. The fact the video is here suggests the bicyclist did the “right” think by not asserting his “rights.” Turning on signals does not give a vehicle rights.

    Also, I agree that bicyclists break the law. I try very hard not to do so because I feel that we are all judged by how we act. But drivers break the laws more frequently. Speeding is number one, but the number of drivers who mimic bicyclists and run stop signs and red lights are more common than bicyclists. Yes, drivers run red lights, either when the light has just changed to ignoring red lights at “no right turn on red.”

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  • 007 July 6, 2012 at 9:39 pm

    A simple message on signs all over the city, in the driver’s manual, repeatedly, on buses, billboards, everywhere: YIELD TO THE BIKE LANE. YIELD TO THE BIKE LANE.

    Ban all right turns at red lights for a year. That should get these morons to remember.

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  • Ted Buehler July 7, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Carlos wrote:
    “Explain to me how the video demonstrates a right hook? The light is green, the truck and its tow load are ahead of the cyclist, the truck is signaling a turn. The cyclist attempts to pass on the right a vehicle that clearly has the right of way.”

    & Kristin wrote:
    “My philosophy is that once a vehicle has gone past me completely and is signaling the turn, they should take the turn in front of me.”

    If ya’all turn to the Oregon Drivers Manual, Page 38-39, you’ll see that the bicyclists have the right-of-way in the bike lane, and turning vehicles need to yield to overtaking traffic in the bike lane.

    “Right Turns
    “Well ahead of the turning point, check for traffic behind and beside you. Turn on your right turn signal at least 100 feet before the turn and before you need to brake. Get as close as is practical to the curb of edge of the road without interfering with pedestrians or bicyclists. Do not move into a bicycle lane in preparation for a right hand turn. Just before entering the intersection, look to the left, front and right for oncoming traffic and cross traffic that may also be turning.”

    “Always check for bicycles in your blind spot on your right before turning, especially ones you have just passed. Be alert for bicyclists who may ride up on the right side of your vehicle while you are preparing to make the right turn. You must yield to bicyclists in a bicycle lane or on a sidewalk before you turn across the lane or sidewalk. Pay special attention to the crosswalk on your right. Check and stop for pedestrians. Do not swing wide before or while turning.”

    http://www.odot.state.or.us/forms/dmv/37.pdf
    screenshot at http://www.flickr.com/photos/11599639@N03/4946027041/in/photostream

    *************

    On the other hand, the Oregon Bicyclist Manual advises bicyclists to halt and allow trucks to make a right turn, rather than overtake on the right.

    “Blind Spots and the Right Hook
    “A right hook occurs when a right-turning motorist crosses the path of a through bicyclist at an intersection. While it is legal to pass a line of stopped cars on streets with a bike lane, it is advisable to stop behind the first vehicle, particularly if it’s a large truck, with limited peripheral visibility.” (p. 6)

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/hwy/bikeped/docs/bike_manual.pdf

    *************

    This, of course, makes a stalemate, where turning vehicles need to go to extra work to not only look for bicyclists, but to determine whether the bicyclist is exercising their right to proceed down the bike lane, or is halting on ODOT’s advisement.

    On streets with high volumes of bicycles, you’d get a whole mishmash of behaviors, since there’s often nowhere to safely pull over and stop without obstructing other bicycle traffic. And if all bicyclists stopped behind the rows of cars when approaching traffic lights, you’d never actually get anywhere faster than cars, which is one of the big appeals to to converting drivers to bicycles in congested areas.

    ***********

    So,

    Carlos —
    ODOT’s manual lays it out pretty clear — the truck driver on Couch failed to yield to overtaking an bicyclist in the bike lane.

    Kristen —
    Your philosophy is legal, and “advisable,” but it also creates a stalemate situation where the turning vehicle needs to go to extra work to make sure you’re stopped.

    FWIW,

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler July 7, 2012 at 12:33 am

    Eric in Seattle wrote
    “Passing on the right is iffy at the best of times…”
    and
    “The design of this intersection, with a through lane (the bike lane) to the right of the right turn lane is problematic, but I’m afraid it’s the reality and will be until we get the traffic engineering standards changed.”

    In Oregon, it’s the law and the standard that the bike lane is on the right, and right-turning motorists yield to through traffic in the bike lane.

    It’s kinda unusual (relative to Washington or California) but it allows bicycles to travel around the city much faster than cars.

    There’s no room on most Portland streets for both a right turn lane and a bike lane. If they had a shared right turn/bike lane like CA or WA, then bicyclists would be stuck in traffic sucking fumes all day.

    I like it this way.

    Here’s a graphic to show the difference between the two types of right turn procedures in CA and OR.

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/multimedia/2007/10/right_of_way_animation.html

    Ted Buehler

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    • Alan 1.0 July 9, 2012 at 2:14 pm

      1/ Vancouver WA uses at least two designs. Where there’s not enough room for a car right turn, it uses a merge zone (dashed 8″ stripe) where the car moves into the bike lane for the turn (a). Where there is room for a complete right turn lane, the bike lane and car lane cross in a merge zone well back of the intersection, dashed line in the merge zone turns to back to solid line as it approaches intersection, so the bike lane is to the left of the car right turn lane (b).

      examples:
      (a) http://goo.gl/maps/Fdxx
      (b) http://goo.gl/maps/rRcm (zoom in to see merge; not all of this design have such long between-the-car bike lanes)

      Personally I find that second type more comfortable. The merge happens as a separate event from the right turn, giving a bit more time to focus attention on a few less radar bogeys once. I’m concerned, though, that newer, more timid riders will not like being moved out from the curb, actually between two car lanes. And I’d really like to see some good real-world studies about how different configurations actually perform.

      Some downsides are using two designs means that much more confusion, disorientation, etc., and the bike-lane-left-of-right-turn-lane needs more intersection space, which itself is at odds with enhanced bike/ped use.

      2/ Copenhagen Delegation Tours Portland By Bike by Rob Sadowsky

      When we got to the intersection of SE Couch and Grand to see the design of the intersection with the sign that detects bicyclists and lights up when they are present, they felt unsafe. They would treat the intersection much differently. First of all they would create an advanced bicycle signal to allow bicycle traffic to go through prior to releasing automobile traffic. They would also add a right turn arrow preventing right turns until the bicycle travel has stopped by a red light.

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  • are July 7, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    DoubleB
    not my responsibility to be extra vigilant

    okay then, how vigilant should you be?

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    • DoubleB July 7, 2012 at 8:47 pm

      I should be held accountable for the rules of the road, just as any driver or cyclist. That’s not what El biciclero believes according to an earlier comment.

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      • are July 9, 2012 at 6:32 pm

        i myself personally do not think that is careful enough. every day i as a cyclist have to take various precautionary and/or evasive maneuvers because a motorist who is operating within “the rules” nonetheless does something that endangers me. so yes, i guess i am asking motorists to take on “additional responsibility” over what they have been led to believe is enough. they are operating dangerous machinery in an environment in which there are others vulnerable to their mistakes. most formal safety instruction that has been given to motorists has to do with avoiding injury to themselves or (g*d forbid) property damage.

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      • Psyfalcon July 10, 2012 at 10:16 am

        On boats, there are two standards. The first normal rules of the road, and a second that says do not run into anyone. Even if it is their fault it is still your fault for not avoiding it.

        I think that is the basic standard we should be working on (and which most cyclists already do because of the threat of grave injury).

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  • 9watts July 7, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    DoubleB
    So I have to take more responsibility for the fact YOU have chosen to operate a vehicle that is inherently less safe WHEN it gets into a collision, whether the cyclist is competent or not? Thanks for letting me know that it really is all about the bike.
    You have made, as far as I know, a conscious choice to cycle on roads with motor vehicles. I don’t begrudge you that choice, but it’s not my responsibility to be extra vigilant because YOU have made it. It’s yours.

    DoubleB,
    take a deep breath.

    We who bike are not “choosing to operate a vehicle that is inherently less safe.” There is nothing inherently unsafe about a bike. The risk for the rider emanates quite disproportionately from the category of vehicle you favor. No amount of verbal contortions from you will change that fact.

    Furthermore your “You have made, as far as I know, a conscious choice to cycle on roads with motor vehicles” is hilarious.
    What alternative is there?!

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    • DoubleB July 7, 2012 at 8:46 pm

      I just don’t understand how your reading comprehension can be so poor. I really don’t. Please re-read my comment–” . . inherently less safe WHEN it gets into a collision.” You’re right, there is nothing inherently unsafe about bikes. But if you’re in an accident with a motor vehicle, I think it’s safe to say a bike isn’t the place to be.

      You have a number of alternatives for your transportation choices. El biciclero and you I presume have chosen a bike–a vehicle that doesn’t provide a lot of safety on the road, just like motorcycles, mopeds, and really small cars. But apparently, THE BIKE, is special and requires drivers to be extra vigilant as opposed to putting that vigilance on the person who made the CHOICE to ride a a bike.

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      • 9watts July 7, 2012 at 9:06 pm

        “But if you’re in an accident with a motor vehicle, I think it’s safe to say a bike isn’t the place to be.”

        Do you remember the early days of the automobile when cars were recognized to be a new menace on our roads, and laws were written requiring a person to run ahead of a car with a red flag?
        You seem to take the view that it’s bikers’ own damn fault for having made all those unsafe choices to mix it up with cars. How quickly we forget, grow accustomed to the carnage.

        “El biciclero and you I presume have chosen a bike–a vehicle that doesn’t provide a lot of safety on the road…”

        Safety isn’t something you can purchase at the convenience store, DoubleB. Safety is the collective result of circumspection and modest speeds that we all (can) produce. Roads before cars were vastly less dangerous for everyone. They will once again be vastly less dangerous once we’ve passed through the phase of auto dominance we’re currently still in. In the meantime, though, you’re busy arguing about the risks we take by ‘choosing’ to mix it up with cars.
        Yours is the logic of the arms race, the logic of the folks outraged by Emily Finch’s irresponsibility, the dangers they felt she was exposing her children to by biking with them. But this is a lose-lose proposition. All of us can’t and won’t buy or hop into cars just because ‘it’s so dangerous out there.’
        We have the same rights to be safe from the dangers emanating from the overwhelming presence of cars that pedestrians should enjoy. Would you say to pedestrians: ”
        El Pedestriano and you I presume have chosen your feet–a most primitive ‘vehicle’ that doesn’t provide a lot of safety on the road…”?

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        • 9watts July 7, 2012 at 9:16 pm

          DoubleB,

          I recommend Peter Norton’s Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age. It is written just for you.

          He begins:

          “How did the American city become an automotive city? Why was much of the city physically destroyed and rebuilt to accommodate automobiles? The case presented in this book is that before the city could be physically reconstructed for the sake of motorists, its streets had to be socially reconstructed as places where motorists unquestionably belonged. [...] New automobiles were incompatible with old street uses. Until the 1920s, under prevailing conceptions of the street, cars were at best uninvited guests. To many they were unruly intruders. They obstructed and endangered street uses of long-standing legitimacy.”

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        • DoubleB July 8, 2012 at 12:16 am

          It’s exhausting responding to you since you have such difficulty with basic facts and staying remotely on topic. Really, waving red flags in front of automobiles.

          “Safety isn’t something you can purchase at the convenience store, DoubleB.”

          That’s just wrong. There are studies that show large cars provide more safety for their passengers than small cars.

          “Roads before cars were vastly less dangerous for everyone.”

          No reason to disagree with that. I can’t imagine a more useless invention.

          “They will once again be vastly less dangerous once we’ve passed through the phase of auto dominance we’re currently still in.”

          Won’t happen within the next 50-75 years.

          “Yours is the logic of the arms race, the logic of the folks outraged by Emily Finch’s irresponsibility, the dangers they felt she was exposing her children to by biking with them.”

          I have no idea who Emily Finch is.

          “But this is a lose-lose proposition. All of us can’t and won’t buy or hop into cars just because ‘it’s so dangerous out there.”

          I have NEVER argued that you or others can’t cycle around Portland.

          “We have the same rights to be safe from the dangers emanating from the overwhelming presence of cars that pedestrians should enjoy.”

          You do have those rights. But by the intrinsic nature of your mode of transportation, you are NOT AS safe as someone in a motor vehicle.

          Would you say to pedestrians: ”
          El Pedestriano and you I presume have chosen your feet–a most primitive ‘vehicle’ that doesn’t provide a lot of safety on the road…”?

          Yes.

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          • Alexis July 8, 2012 at 8:17 am

            The thing that you’re missing here is that pedestrians/bicyclists are only ‘inherently unsafe’ because there are people speeding around at 60 miles an hour in a giant metal machine. A world of ONLY bicyclists and pedestrians is inherently MORE safe–bicyclists do sometimes get killed in accidents that don’t involve anyone else, yes. They do very very very rarely kill pedestrians. But in general, the only reason bicycling is less safe is because YOU are out there in a death machine.

            YOU, and everyone else in a car (we just bought a sweet little hatchback, so that counts me too) has CHOSEN to drive a car that is inherently less safe for EVERYONE AROUND YOU. ‘Oh a big car is safer for its inhabitants’–that’s because you are banking on the fact that in a collision you’re hoping to kill the OTHER person instead of yourself. There’s something about that logic that just makes me shudder in revulsion. It doesn’t matter whether the SUV caused the accident or my little hatchback or a bicyclist, you’re hoping that you’re going to be OK because you’re going to kill somebody else. This is the ‘arms race’ that everyone talks about. Once everyone is in an SUV, you need a Hummer to be bigger and safer! And so on and so forth… where does it stop?

            My saying is that (as a pedestrian/bicyclist) even when the laws of the road are on my side, the laws of physics are against me. And so I act like I can’t trust anyone, because people WILL carelessly mow you down for daring to cross the street and not feel bad about it at all, because hey you should have been in a giant SUV. And that just says something really depressing about this country.

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      • El Biciclero July 8, 2012 at 1:05 pm

        You must have missed my reply to your earlier comment regarding “choice”. We all make them–including those who choose to drive.

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        • DoubleB July 8, 2012 at 2:21 pm

          What do you want me to say? According to you, I bear an inordinate amount of responsibility because I’m driving the larger vehicle. In order words, THE BIKE rules and everyone else can suck it.

          Your first paragraph is basically you trying to prove to yourself you’re better than me because you cycle and I don’t. What are you alluding to about my vehicle destroying things? The environment? If you have ONE child you have ruined the environment more than I ever will. So let’s get off the high horse.

          Hell you can’t even admit a cyclist ever has FULL responsibility: Quoting you, “If the cyclist truly did something to put themselves under a car, or was riding illegally, then sure, they bear SOME responsibility” (emphasis mine).

          “But one of the big things people who comment here and who actually ride a bicycle take issue with is the idea that drivers should have free rein on the streets and anybody else is out there at their own risk.”

          You ARE out there at your own risk. Just as I am in a car. Just as a pedestrian is on foot.

          “The feeling that anybody on a bike is “lucky” someone doesn’t run over them. The idea that a legally operating cyclist must be “crazy” to ride in some location or fashion a non-cycling driver couldn’t imagine doing.”

          Hold on, that has nothing to do with driver entitlement. Those are feelings or opinions of most people to those who choose to cycle on city streets. I think people who rock climb are crazy. That’s not a risk I would be willing to take, but obviously some people do. That doesn’t make me anti-rock climber or “entitled.”

          Now do some drivers feel “entitled” about their vehicle. Certainly. Just as some cyclists feel the same way.

          “The observation that drivers stopping for a bus, or for some other driver to make a left turn, or for peds to cross in a crosswalk, or slowing down in a school zone, or stopping at the end of a long line of cars is AOK, but slowing down for 15 seconds behind a cyclist legally using the full lane is rage-inducing. Generally the notion that cars are normal, and anything else is weird or insane.

          So you just acknowledge that drivers are willing to stop behind a bus and pedestrians but then claim that “anything else (other than cars) is weird or insane.” Well according to what you just wrote, drivers don’t find buses or pedestrians “insane.” Secondly, drivers in general don’t like slow moving vehicles of any kind whether it’s another car, bike, or god knows what. Why do you assume it’s because of the bike and not the behavior? Do you really think interstate highway driving (in which there are only vehicles) is some “Kumbaya” love-in where we secretly plan our crusade against the cycling community? I can promise you it’s a lot of honking, gestures, and other “rage-inducing” behavior.

          “That is called “car-head”. It’s not name-calling, it’s a diagnosis.”

          No, it’s name-calling to make you feel better about yourself. I hope it’s working.

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          • El Biciclero July 9, 2012 at 10:04 am

            You still didn’t address the actual main point of my post, which was that we ALL choose to operate on the roadways in vehicles of all kinds. You implied earlier that MY choice shouldn’t affect you at all, but that YOUR choice should give me pause and put me on high alert. Why shouldn’t that be the other way around, or at least put users of all vehicles on alert to watch out for others? You choose to drive, you accept the burden of responsibility. You could compare driving vs. cycling to carrying a gun vs. carrying a knife: who needs to be more careful?

            “Hell you can’t even admit a cyclist ever has FULL responsibility…”

            I was speaking in general terms. I’m sure there are specific incidents where a cyclist has done something that a driver absolutely could not avoid.

            “What do you want me to say? According to you, I bear an inordinate amount of responsibility because I’m driving the larger vehicle.”

            Not an inordinate amount, but an amount commensurate with your vehicle choice.

            “You ARE out there at your own risk. Just as I am in a car. Just as a pedestrian is on foot.”

            Sure we are. The problem comes when a cyclist gets run over due to driver error and society takes the attitude that he shouldn’t have been there; getting run over occasionally comes with the territory. I’m sure the poor driver didn’t mean it! We tend to bend over backwards to remove blame from drivers and shift it over to cyclists simply because, well, they knew the risks going in!

            “‘The feeling that anybody on a bike is “lucky” someone doesn’t run over them. The idea that a legally operating cyclist must be “crazy” to ride in some location or fashion a non-cycling driver couldn’t imagine doing.’

            Hold on, that has nothing to do with driver entitlement.”

            Oh, but it does. That’s the missing link that many don’t see. You might think rock climbers are crazy, but you don’t have to be anywhere near them and there are no rules that say you need to yield to rock climbers if you see them on a cliff somewhere. When we think of cyclists as “lucky” to survive, it means that getting run over would be par for the course–the most likely outcome. So when it happens (even if the cyclist is not at fault), we say “oh, well! That’s what you get when you roll the dice!” When we think of cyclists as “crazy”, then when they get run over we can equate it to some gun-toting lunatic getting shot by police–he was asking for it.

            I attempted once again to explain the societal bias against bicycles and their riders, and you chose to focus on semantic irregularities. Sure drivers get upset by any slow-moving vehicle, but when was the last time a driver attempted to run a farm tractor off the road or threw a beer bottle at the farmer? How many stories are there of drivers who ram little old ladies because they are driving 10 under the limit? My general point was that most folks tend to think that streets are the “turf” of motorized vehicles, and anyone else is an uninvited guest who survives due to the magnanimous goodwill of the driver kings. I don’t think drivers as a group consciously plot anything, it is just the unconscious default thought pattern that has been ingrained in everyone thanks to AAA and Henry Ford.

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            • DoubleB July 9, 2012 at 6:18 pm

              “Why shouldn’t that be the other way around, or at least put users of all vehicles on alert to watch out for others?

              Putting all users of any vehicles to be on alert is what I’m advocating. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s not what you’re implying. You’re implying I need to be on HIGH alert EVEN when the cyclist is at fault. I disagree with that.

              “I’m sure there are specific incidents where a cyclist has done something that a driver absolutely could not avoid.”

              Considering roughly half of all bicycle/motor vehicle accidents are the bicyclist’s fault, it seems greater than “specific incidents.”

              “Not an inordinate amount, but an amount commensurate with your vehicle choice.”

              Which means what in real terms? Bicyclist runs a 4-way stop and I hit him–who’s at fault? Bicyclist turns left into my vehicle despite the 3-foot cushion–who’s fault? Beyond following the rules of the road, what else do I need to do?

              “I attempted once again to explain the societal bias against bicycles and their riders, and you chose to focus on semantic irregularities. Sure drivers get upset by any slow-moving vehicle, but when was the last time a driver attempted to run a farm tractor off the road or threw a beer bottle at the farmer? How many stories are there of drivers who ram little old ladies because they are driving 10 under the limit?

              Because it’s a bias you and this community have created. I’ve seen drivers throw stuff at other drivers. We’ve all heard of drivers shooting and killing other drivers on the road. So yes, the examples you used have and do happen on roads across this country daily. It’s not a bias against cyclists. I’m presuming you don’t drive at all otherwise I think you’d know this.

              “My general point was that most folks tend to think that streets are the “turf” of motorized vehicles, and anyone else is an uninvited guest who survives due to the magnanimous goodwill of the driver kings.”

              They aren’t the turf of all motorized vehicles. They are the turf of each individual vehicle. It’s an individual driver issue, not an all drivers are against cyclists one.

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              • are July 12, 2012 at 11:53 am

                fault, fault, fault, fault, fault. you need to be on high alert when you turn the ignition key, regardless whether there is a bicyclist on the horizon.

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              • El Biciclero July 12, 2012 at 2:29 pm

                “You’re implying I need to be on HIGH alert EVEN when the cyclist is at fault. I disagree with that.”

                As is noted by 9-watts, alertness precedes fault. If everyone were alert, there would be no incidents for which anyone had fault.

                in your four-way stop example, an alert driver could likely determine beforehand whether a cyclist was slowing down enough to show intention to stop, and if not, could wait an extra second or two–infuriating as it might be–for a scofflaw cyclist to run the stop sign before proceeding. I’m not saying that running stop signs is OK, but that it is often predictable–and collisions avoidable–if drivers are truly alert. Cyclists daily have to give up their rights under the law of the State to defer to the laws of physics and the jungle, so mere compliance with the law as written is apparently not enough–why should only cyclists be expected to go beyond the law to avoid incidents? my reply below outlines some of the “real terms” of what greater responsibility for auto drivers means.

                “Fault” is a fluid concept. Even if someone else breaks a rule and violates your right-of-way, you often have a choice: plow into them because doggone it, they took my right-of-way! Or you can take defensive/evasive action to avoid an incident–cyclists do this all the time to avoid drivers who aren’t looking for them. Fault is rarely 100%/0%; usually it’s more like 60/40 or 51/49. Just because judgments come down in favor of one party over another, it does not mean one party is completely innocent.

                “Because it’s a bias you and this community have created. I’ve seen drivers throw stuff at other drivers. We’ve all heard of drivers shooting and killing other drivers on the road. So yes, the examples you used have and do happen on roads across this country daily.”

                In cases of driver-on-driver road rage or collisions between two automobiles, it is quite common that a reasonably fair investigation is done to determine fault and the aggressive or guilty party is usually found to blame. This is not the case in more than a few incidents involving bicycles. Take a quick look at Bob Mionske’s web site, bicyclelaw.com, and check out some of the articles under “road rights”. Here are a few articles and blog posts that Mr. Mionske references in which lawfully-operating cyclists are blamed for incidents caused by dangerous drivers, or attitudes exposed by the public or law enforcement personnel that reveal a bias in favor of motor vehicle drivers:

                http://sf.streetsblog.org/2012/03/13/nightmare-on-oak-street-couple-harassed-while-biking-blamed-by-sfpd/

                http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2011/03/28/the-bikelash-continues/

                http://bicyclelaw.com/road-rights/a.cfm/road-rights-adding-insult-to-injury

                http://bikinginla.wordpress.com/2011/12/06/no-wonder-we-continue-to-die-on-california-streets-when-chp-says-killing-a-cyclist-is-just-an-accident/

                http://bicyclelaw.com/road-rights/a.cfm/road-rights-buzz-kill1

                http://www.saratogian.com/articles/2009/05/23/news/doc4a176696ca884152592474.txt?viewmode=fullstory

                http://www.bicyclelaw.com/blog/index.cfm/2011/8/9/Blaming-The-Victim

                This is a small sampling.

                I drive quite often, BTW.

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  • DoubleB July 8, 2012 at 8:50 am

    “that’s because you are banking on the fact that in a collision you’re hoping to kill the OTHER person instead of yourself.”

    Really, you believe that I hope to KILL another person with my car. Hoping to SAVE myself and other passengers riding with me should I be in an accident is not the same as hoping the other person, or persons, in the accident dies.

    The fact you equate the two is what is truly revolting.

    “because people WILL carelessly mow you down for daring to cross the street and not feel bad about it at all, because hey you should have been in a giant SUV.”

    What is that based on? Conjecture? Personal anecdote? your mind-reading capability?

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    • El Biciclero July 9, 2012 at 10:08 am

      …For the record, I didn’t get that from your response; I don’t believe most drivers (including you) are hoping to kill anyone in the event of a collision…

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  • Chris Tuttle July 8, 2012 at 9:40 am

    The basic concept of bike lanes on the right side of right-turning automobile traffic is the problem. It’s very unfair and bike-partisan to assign all the blame to “oblivious” motorists. I grew up driving in Michigan, and had been driving for 25 years before ever driving next to a right-side bike lane. So — never had any reason to check my mirror or look over my shoulder when turning right from the right-most lane. Right hooks will continue to be a big problem until bike lanes are redesigned, or until we reach a point where ALL drivers have become fully educated on how bike lanes work. I think the former (bike lane redesign) is more realistic and workable.

    In the meantime, cyclists can drastically reduce their risks by always assuming they are not seen by the motorist, and by staying in front of or behind cars that potentially will be making a right turn. High-speed overtaking on the right is the riskiest behavior. Defensive riding is all the more important with high-clearance vehicles like large trucks. I don’t remember exactly, but I think all the recent right hook-fatalities in PDX have involved trucks. Caution, whether exercised on a bike or behind the wheel, will slow you down, but you’ll live to roll another day.

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    • GlowBoy July 8, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      The right-hook problem existed before bike lanes. I saw this growing up and learning to bike and drive in Minnesota in the 70s and 80s. Even without delineated bike lanes, cars tend to be to the left of bikes (because cars are – generally – faster, and I’m sure as shit glad they rarely pass on the right). And even back then oblivious drivers would sometimes turn in front of a cyclist they had just passed. The risk goes up exponentially with speed: in my experience, the most dangerous right-hook intersections are overwhelmingly ones with at least a little downhill grade to them, causing drivers to not expect cyclists to be going as fast as they are.

      “Defensive riding is all the more important with high-clearance vehicles like large trucks … Caution, whether exercised on a bike or behind the wheel, will slow you down, but you’ll live to roll another day.”

      Agreed, we should all ride and drive defensively. And most of us who ride bikes [i]avoid[/i] right hooks on a very regular basis by doing just that. For every cyclist who does get hooked, there are literally thousands of cyclists avoiding right hooks dozens or even hundreds of times. I think that cyclists are in general extremely scrupulous about this, and if anyone needs to be more careful it’s the average motorist.

      I know many of the recent posts exhorting cyclists to be extra-extra cautious not to get right-hooked are well-intentioned, but to me it’s starting to seem to veer towards blame-the-victim territory. Right-hooks are still the fault of the driver doing the hooking.

      If I forget to lock my house and a burglar breaks in, is it my fault? NO! I was stupid for leaving my house open, but it’s still the damned burglar’s fault!

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  • GlowBoy July 8, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    “What do you want me to say? According to you, I bear an inordinate amount of responsibility because I’m driving the larger vehicle.”

    Yes, you do. You pose more danger to others than a smaller vehicle, so you must exercise more care. Just as a semi driver has to be more careful not to endanger others than the driver of a car. And a cyclist has to be more careful not to harm others than a pedestrian. Does this need explaining? Really?

    “In order words, THE BIKE rules and everyone else can suck it.” No, he didn’t say that. The bike doesn’t rule.

    Apparently (like, as I have learned, many Oregonians) you haven’t taken Drivers Ed. If you had (and paid attention) you would recall that motor vehicles are deadly weapons, and require the exercise of due care.

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    • DoubleB July 8, 2012 at 10:35 pm

      ” . . . so you must exercise more care.”

      What does that mean in practice? I think we all agree that as a driver I have to follow the rules of the road. Beyond that, what more do I have to do? What does that entail?

      “In order words, THE BIKE rules and everyone else can suck it.”

      Well it’s certainly implied. I have to be MORE responsible for his CHOICE to ride a bike.

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  • DoubleB July 9, 2012 at 10:05 am

    “Most drivers don’t follow all the laws all the time. But when your failure to follow the rules has a high chance of actually hurting someone, there’s more responsibility to actually follow them.

    So you are particularly responsible to exercise care in following the rules of the road when failure to observe them might get people hurt. Like not right-hooking cyclists. Like actually stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks, both marked and implied.

    Most cyclists don’t follow all the laws all the time. Am I responsible for them breaking the law? If a cyclist doesn’t stop at a 4-way stop and I hit him, is that my fault? If a cyclist “takes the lane” but never looks behind to see if it is safe and hits the side of my car, is that my fault?

    “This may be a surprise to you, but even though you “have” to follow the rules of the road, most do not do this all the time.”

    Nor do most cyclists.

    “No, you have to be MORE responsible for YOUR choice to drive a car.” See my comment above about What You Would Have Learned in Drivers Ed, If You Had Taken It And Paid Attention.

    Why do I have to be MORE responsible? Why can’t I just be responsible? You went through an entire comment without answering the crux of my question about what MORE RESPONSIBILITY actually entails.

    “See my comment above about What You Would Have Learned in Drivers Ed, If You Had Taken It And Paid Attention.”

    I’m not originally from Oregon and I did take Drivers Education. But I appreciate you believing you know everything about me based on blog comments. Shows intelligence and thought.

    “No one is saying “everyone else can suck it” except the voice in your overcompetitive brain. But *I* will go out on a limb and say that YOU can suck it, DoubleB.”

    Ahh . . the class of the cycling community. Just like clockwork.

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    • are July 9, 2012 at 10:48 am

      you come on this site and bait people day after day and when you succeed in eliciting the occasional uncivil response you talk about “class” and “clockwork” and a bike “community.” possibly you will tire of this soon.

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    • El Biciclero July 9, 2012 at 12:19 pm

      Come, on–that’s the class of *one person*. Another flaw in logic is assuming cyclists are some cohesive band and one represents them all.

      I’ll attempt to break down the practicality of responsibility for you. More responsibility, for the most part, means more paying attention, more careful attention to following the rules. Are you speeding? Did you really stop before making that right on red? Are you looking to the left while driving to the right? There’s an unmarked crosswalk at every intersection–did you yield, or did you brush that pedestrian back onto the sidewalk where they belong? Are you paying attention to the edges of your field of view? Are you keeping an eye on the sidewalk or bike lane to look for potential incursions by peds or cyclists into your lane? Are you going too fast around “blind” corners, assuming the road will be clear? Before you pull out from a side street, are you looking far enough to your left (where the the shadow-filled bike lane is)? Are you positive that you are stopped at a four-way stop, or is it a two-way? Are you crossing a “neighborhood greenway?” Did you give that cyclist plenty of room when passing, or were you trying to “teach them a lesson”? Did you check over your right shoulder before making that right turn to be sure there were no cyclists in the bike lane? Did you turn right on red, even though there was a sign telling you not to? Did you even signal that last turn? Etc.

      Beyond that, driver responsibility is in the hands of the government. Why does a driver who drifts into the bike lane and runs over a cyclist only get a ticket for failure to yield, if that? There is no incentive built into current law for drivers to pay the necessary attention (or, I should say, no disincentive for NOT paying attention) when driving around so-called “vulnerable road users”.

      None of that is an excuse for cyclists or pedestrians to NOT pay attention–trust me, we have all the incentive in the world to pay enough attention for everybody. But why would you think that only cyclists need to pay extra attention and not drivers?

      Of course, everyone is responsible to follow the law as written. All are subject to fines if they break the law. But cyclists and pedestrians are much more susceptible to potential death if someone else (in a car) screws up. The driver who screws up and kills someone gets a stern talking-to (if that–and if they stick around at all) and is back driving the next day.

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    • spare_wheel July 10, 2012 at 1:16 pm

      pot calling kettle black. wake me up when you start ranting about pedestrians jaywalking or motorists failing to signal a lane change (let alone rolling through a stop).

      DNTT!

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  • GlowBoy July 10, 2012 at 10:40 am

    If you disobey the law, you are responsible for the consequences. If MY failure to follow the law gets me hurt, then it is MY fault I got hurt. If YOUR failure to follow the law gets me hurt, then it is YOUR fault I got hurt.

    Since illegal carelessness around cyclists is more likely to result in maiming or death, and as a lawbreaker YOU would be accountable for those consequences, you have more responsibility not be illegally careless around cyclists.

    “Am I responsible for them breaking the law? If a cyclist doesn’t stop at a 4-way stop and I hit him, is that my fault? If a cyclist “takes the lane” but never looks behind to see if it is safe and hits the side of my car, is that my fault?”

    No, no and no. In the situations you describe, it was the cyclist’s failure to follow the law that got them hurt. These incidents would not be your fault, nor is anyone here saying they would be.

    “You went through an entire comment without answering the crux of my question about what MORE RESPONSIBILITY actually entails.”

    Most cyclists AND drivers break the law on a regular basis, even if they consider themselves nominally law-abiding. MORE RESPONSIBILITY means you taking care to ACTUALLY not break the law when doing so might hurt somebody.

    If you really are a flawless, scrupulously obedient driver and NEVER break the law, then you would be exempt from taking MORE responsibility not to break the law, since you are already Not Breaking The Law perfectly.

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  • mo July 11, 2012 at 9:22 am

    I was right hooked this week heading east on SW Madison at SW 3rd. Does anyone know where I’m supposed to report this to? Terrifying experience and it comes down to the driver’s inability to do a simple head check before turning.

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  • 9watts July 12, 2012 at 9:37 am

    DoubleB,

    I’m putting my response here at the end because once the number of comments exceeds a certain number the formatting at least on my computer gets so scrambled I can’t locate the nested comments at all. (!)

    Anyway, you wrote:
    “…You’re implying I need to be on HIGH alert EVEN when the cyclist is at fault. I disagree with that.”

    I am pretty sure no one said that, and I’d disagree with it too, because it makes no sense. Your level of alertness precedes and has nothing to do with any finding of fault or crash. You’re confusing two things here.

    By being extra alert in the ways El Biciclero suggested you can avoid causing or contributing to a crash. Determining fault in a crash that did occur is a separate matter.

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