It was one of those things that, thankfully, happens only once in a while. On the return leg of our Sunday ride, I was in the bike lane of a four-lane divided suburban arterial, probably moving at 18 mph, gaining speed. A road on the right made a T-intersection with my road. Oncoming traffic on my road could use a left turn lane to make a left. I saw a red pickup truck enter the turn lane.
No problem, I figured. He’ll just wait for me to go by him, then he’d turn.
After coming to a complete stop, the pickup truck driver looked as though he was weighing the pros and cons of turning in front of me. Don’t do it, I thought to myself. He did it.
By this time, I had covered enough ground that I was almost to the intersection. I pulled on the brake levers and slowed, just enough to let him turn in front of me.
I’m sure most of us have a had a similar experience while driving our cars. Sometimes, someone will make a left turn across your path, and you have to brake to avoid hitting them. It’s enough to make you grumble, or worse. So why doesn’t that situation apply when you’re making a left turn and it’s a bike in the oncoming lane, not a car?
Maybe some drivers just don’t have a handle on how fast bikes are moving. It’s a bike — I’ve got time to make the turn. Or maybe they figure that the result of a car-bike collision would be a lot less dire than a car-car collision. Specious reasoning, that.
Hey, if you’ve got to think about whether it’s safe to make that turn, you probably shouldn’t make that turn.
I’ve had plenty of drivers turn left across my path. I really don’t mind it, as long as I don’t have to brake. But if I do have to brake to keep from hitting the turning car, the driver of the car has made a bad move.
Unfortunately, this is one of those situations for which I see no solution. Just stay alert, and be ready to react if a driver does something dumb. (Which they do often enough that you should always be alert.)
Tom Accuosti says
My gripe is with those cars that speed past while you’re riding, only to brake suddenly and take a *right hand* turn immediately in front of you.
I had that happen to me at a traffic circle. Then the driver parked another 200 feet up the road. She perhaps saved 8-10 seconds by passing me, forcing me to slam on my brakes when she stopped and then parked.
If you would like a read indicating how deep the disturbance is between drivers & riders, check out this blog from Decatur GA: http://www.decaturmetro.com/2013/02/04/driving-your-car-in-a-decatur-bike-lane-may-soon-result-in-fine/
And Decatur is a highly cycling/pedestrian friendly community.
The classic right hook. They’re far too frequent, as you say. Riders get injured or killed by these. Heads up, everyone!
Bike Noob says
In my case, it was a left hook. The pickup was in the oncoming lane. No matter, though — they both suck.
Darryl (@lovingthebike) says
I’ve been having this happen to me more than ever over here in Grenada. It’s totally frustrating and so far my response has been yelling at them as kindly as I can.
I’d say it is one of the largest cause of bike accidents here in NYC. I will always let a vehicle that may turn to my right go ahead of me. I just won’t risk it. The worst is that cars will pull a right hook even across a bike lane, where you would think they would be wary of cyclists.
Jeff A says
Sorry, folks, but just to let you know, the link above gave my Avast! a Trojan Horse Blocked.
Bike Noob says
Which link? The decaturmetro link works fine on my computer.
Mark x says
Happen to me yesterday evening ….
Coming up to a side street, car waiting to turn …
I was doing about 18 MPH …
The lady & I met eyes … she looks DIRECTLY at me ..
Yup, she pulls out in front of me –I hit the brakes…