Safety: Variation on a Right Hook -Portland Bicycling Club

Safety: Variation on a Right Hook

Have you noticed there’s a rising epidemic of drivers who use the bike lane, due to the increase of cars rushing to get around other drivers, to make righthand turns? This happened to me in early September 2023, when I was only inches from a car, and caused me to crash. Additional cars to my left prevented me from being able to maneuver around the first car. The driver stopped and asked if I was OK, but I suffered a concussion and experienced muscle soreness. I can’t imagine, for people who are twice or three times my age, or more, how this could turn out on the roads where we all want to be safe and return back to our families.

How can we prevent this? We can prevent it by encouraging drivers to use their turn signals way before they currently do. A lot of them barely use signals to get around the corner at the traffic light – let alone 100 feet as required by Oregon law. We also can get on people’s cases, politely, to represent the club well. Or invite them on bike rides, so they can know what it feels like to ride and be cut off by a car going into the bike lane. 

I sound like I’m trying to encourage the good behavior of car drivers. But we as cyclists can ride defensively and look farther up the road, expecting that drivers may put on their turn signals briefly and merge into a bike lane. Also, we cannot and should not fall to these poor turning standards ourselves – on or off the bike. I encourage myself and my fellow bike club members of all different backgrounds to make a point of communicating visually with our hands as we ride on the road.

For me, the recovery from this bike accident has been long. Even though I’m still planning and want to ride with the club in 2024, this has put me off my joy of riding my bike. Some people in a similar situation could end up with broken bones and be off the bike for months. This accident should be a good reminder that if you keep riding then you may be in contention for the Old Fart Award at the banquet. Though I have several years before I’m eligible, this should not harden any of us to the need to use our turn signals all the time.

Scott Ticknor, Member at Large

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