A Message to Motorists #4

Dear Motorist,

You’ve probably heard of the right hook; you know, it’s the punch in boxing that is performed by turning the core and back, thereby swinging the arm in a horizontal arc into the opponent. The hook is a powerful punch with knockout power. You might be surprised to know there’s also a right hook on the road, but this one packs a different kind of punch. The right hook on the road often ends in tragedy, with a mangled bike and rider wedged underneath the bumper of an automobile. Here’s how it works.

You’re driving along at the speed limit, maintaining a steady pace, and as you approach an upcoming corner where you plan to turn right, you notice a cyclist on the right-hand shoulder of the road. Being that you’re in an automobile and the cyclist is on a bicycle, you assume you have plenty of time to overtake the rider before you reach the corner. You accelerate pass the cyclist, and then brake hard in preparation to make your right turn. What you don’t realize is that the cyclist was traveling faster than you thought, and while you were braking, the cyclist caught back up with you and is now in your blind spot. You then proceed to make your right turn, assuming the cyclist is far behind you. If the cyclist is fortunate enough to have a clean, dry road and powerful brakes, she may be able to stop in time to avoid a collision. If she does, you continue on your way without ever knowing you almost caused an accident. But if the conditions are poor and the cyclist is unable to stop in time, you’ll have executed a perfect right hook with the resulting deadly knock out.

A safer way to handle the above scenario is simply to slow down and stay behind the cyclist until after the corner. You’ll only be delayed a few seconds and you just might save a life in the process.

Thanks from all of us bike riders, some of whom may be your friends, neighbors, or loved ones.

6 Responses to “A Message to Motorists #4”

  • dW says:

    That describes my one and only car-induced bike crash to a T!!! Luckily it was at very low speed and no permanent damage to my person resulted.

  • Chris from DE says:

    Another option – the cyclist can “take the lane” and park his/her big fat ass in the middle of the lane in preparation for the upcoming right turn. That’s what I often do. It is our legal right as cyclists to do that. I’d rather have drivers aware of me, and perhaps slightly pissed at my audacity, then the scenario where I’m stuck in their blind spot.

    Thanks for posting!
    Chris from DE

  • Peter says:

    Here is the latest from Victoria. Why try and pass the bike to turn right when you can simply drive through it. Unfortunately the cyclist was badly injured. This happened on broad daylight!


  • Tom says:

    It happened to me this morning. No collision, because I sensed the car was going to turn across my path and I don’t/can’t ride that fast on my commuter. I turned with the car and let out a loud screem when the lady had to stop for pedestrians. She looked at me like I dropped down from Mars and gave me a shoulder shrug and hand gesture that seemed to say “where did you come from?” Still, I was angry. I ended up getting to work 5 minutes quicker.

    Had I been hunched over and moving at 20mph on my faster bike, I would have crashed. There is no way I could have reacted quick enough.

    Here’s to the slow bicycle movement. I think it’s the most overlooked factor (not the only one so don’t kill me) in why crash statistics are much higher here (US) than in major European cycling capitals.

  • Rick says:

    You HAVE to take the lane. Never count on the motorists to take you into account. You may be annoying to a motorist, but like Alan said (and I have counted!) it is always about three to five seconds that the motorists are delayed, and you can ensure your safety.

    The really annoying cyclists are the ones who ride without lights, and ride unpredictably through traffic. So, be seen, and ride in the right tire line of the lane to control the lane, using turn signals, eye-contact, and smiling to let others on the road know you are aware of them. If we are all predictable cyclists ALL the time, drivers will begin to understand better how to behave when we are sharing the road with them.

    That said, I had what almost amounted to a right hook yesterday. I was riding in the right tire line approaching a right turn, when I noticed a car hunch up behind me. About 40 ft. from the turn, the car buzzes around me to beat me to the turn, saving them a grand total of about two seconds! I just don’t get it…

  • Elaine says:

    That’s how I almost got hit by a semi. Absolutely terrifying.

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