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Boonville Daily News - Boonville, MO
Walking and bicycling for transportation, fitness, and fun
The Left Hook
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About this blog
By Rachel Ruhlen

My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the ...

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Bicycling and Walking Around

My bicycle is our second car. I love to bicycle in all weather, for all distances, and on all routes. Bicycling has brought so much joy to my life, and I want to share it with anyone who is interested. I will use my soapbox to tell you about the joys, the freedom, the benefits, and, yes, the challenges of bicycling and walking for transportation.

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A common motorist mistake is to make the left turn immediately after a car goes through the intersection, never seeing the bicycle that was just behind the car.
Unfortunately, I don't know the source of this photo.
A common motorist mistake is to make the left turn immediately after a car goes through the intersection, never seeing the bicycle that was just behind the car.
By Rachel Ruhlen
Jan. 5, 2013 6:15 p.m.



The right hook, when a right-turning vehicle collides with a bicycle traveling straight-through, can be prevented with assertive lane position and never passing on the right. Another common bike-car collision is the left hook, when an oncoming car turns left into the path of a bicyclist going straight through an intersection.

left hook

The reason for this is the same as for most car-bike collisions: the motorist doesn’t see the bicycle. That may come as a surprise, because in the left hook situation, the motorist is facing the cyclist. The failure of a motorist to see a bicycle right in front of him can be explained by the “Moonwalking bear test”, a short video which challenges the viewer to count the number of times a ball is passed between players in white. The viewer is so focused on counting passes that he never sees the prominent moonwalking bear.

Motorists and bicyclists alike don’t see what we aren’t looking for. A motorist making a left turn may be looking for oncoming cars, cars coming from the right or left, and cars that may be already in the target lane. In places like Kirksville where there aren’t a lot of bicycles, motorists don’t expect to see them, and aren’t looking for them.

As a motorist, you can prevent a left hook by avoiding distractions while driving (such as talking or texting) and by watching for bicycles.

As a cyclist, you can prevent a left hook using again the Third Layer of Crash Prevention, “Discourage drivers’ mistakes” with an assertive lane position. Allow at least an arm’s length from the edge of the road, but when approaching an intersection, especially if an oncoming motorist is waiting to turn left, move more toward the center of the lane. (Always check behind before changing your lane or your lane position). This assertive lane position makes you more visible. Finally, keep an eye on the oncoming traffic, whether or not you see a turn signal. Being aware that a motorist might make that left turn even though you have the right of way can give you that extra bit of reaction time you need to avoid a collision.

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