Possible Right Hook Countermeasure?

I’ve been reading the book Permaculture by David Holmgren on and off for a while, and one of the concepts that has stuck with me is “The problem is the solution.”  For some reason that popped into my head this morning while biking in to work, as well as the problem of right hooks and bike lanes.  So here’s what came to mind (click on the picture to enlarge; the markings in the orange box read [bike symbol] BLIND SPOT):

And if one wants to do a bike box:

I welcome your critiques!  Any fatal flaws?

18 replies
  1. Fictition
    Fictition says:

    I like the idea of the orange lane marking. However I can see some motorist visibility issues if the intersection allows right turn on red. Cars are likely to pull forward into the bike box especially if there is an obstructed view left. Could work for a one way cross street or a no turn on red intersection.

  2. Eric
    Eric says:

    “Ford is supporting TfL’s ‘Share the Road’ campaign, which is designed to encourage co-operation between all road users, by displaying signs on 2,000 Ford trailers warning cyclists not to undertake the truck in front.

    Every year thousands of accidents happen when cyclists try to pass on the inside of a large vehicle turning left.

    Ford trailers travel more than 10 million miles every year and now display signs carrying the message: ‘Cyclists – beware of passing this vehicle on the inside’.

    They are designed to address the particular threat cyclists face from goods vehicles turning left, when HGV drivers are not able to see cyclists between their vehicles and the kerb.”


  3. Keri
    Keri says:

    The problem with the bike box is that it encourages cyclists to try to get to it. Combined with no-right-on-red, it does prevent right hook from a stop (like the one that killed Tracey Sparling). The problem is it likely exacerbates the moving right hook. It won’t prevent a right hook on green (like all the other right hook fatalities I listed in my truck article), and if cyclists are encouraged to try to get there while the light is red, they can get caught in the wrong place on a fresh green.

    The orange warning paint is interesting. But will the cyclists take it to heart and use more caution, or (like with the blue bike lanes) will they think it alerts other drivers and use less caution?

    My preference* would be to end the bike lane well before the intersection and use sharrows and signs indicating cyclists are merging with traffic for proper intersection positioning.

    Well, my real preference would be to have no bike lanes at all. But you know that 😉

  4. acline
    acline says:

    We have situations such as this in Springfield that badly need correcting. I like these ideas. I’m also wondering about eliminating the lane at least 100 yards before the intersection and replacing with a sharrow. The sharrow replacement could then allow for smoother merges for cyclists wishing to go left at the intersection. The bicycle box also accomplishes this.

    Do you have any stats or commentary on bicycle boxes. I know nothing about them. I’m wondering about the level of vehicle encroachment that can be expected.

  5. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Interesting attempt to mitigate a dangerous area. Why not label it more accurately as “Cyclist Kill Zone?” It’d remind cyclists to do the right thing – stay OUT of those orange areas if there’s any motor vehicle traffic in the vicinity.

    One fatal flaw present with many bike lanes is that if there are commercial driveways before the intersection, the whole lane will be orange.

  6. John Schubert
    John Schubert says:

    I appreciate Mighk’s serious work in trying to address this problem. But I don’t think orange paint is a magic bullet.

    First of all, there are many issues with paint: cost, maintenance, slippery issues, and the fact that this is not an approved uniform traffic control device.

    Second, these things always look nicer in drawings than they do in real life. I spent much of yesterday in a green barrier-separated bike lane on a one-way street in New York. Cyclists traveling in the correct direction were far, far outnumbered by wrong-way cyclists, hot dog pushcarts, construction equipment (getting around the ladder was a bike handling treat), pedestrians, workmen, and a wrong-way skateboarder who very nearly collided with a pedestrian who stepped out between parked cars. None of these people could have cared less what color the bike lane was painted or how it was marked. (Nor did the not-dead-yet carp that jumped out of a fish vender’s bucket and started wiggling across the sidewalk towards the bike lane. But I digress.)

    Similarly, as dreary as it sounds, the burden of proof would — and should — be on the experimenter to prove that Mighk’s orange marking was correctly comprehended and obeyed by the traveling public. We often take that for granted, but we shouldn’t.

  7. John Schubert
    John Schubert says:

    Oh, and I endorse Keri’s alternative:

    >>> My preference* would be to end the bike lane well before the intersection and use sharrows and signs indicating cyclists are merging with traffic for proper intersection positioning.

    >>> Well, my real preference would be to have no bike lanes at all. But you know that

    John Schubert

  8. fred_dot_u
    fred_dot_u says:

    Steve A.

    Having signs of such nature might be misconstrued. I saw it in a manner similar to “Hunting Zone”, which means that it’s open season on cyclists in that area. Sadly, that’s what it appears to be, without the signs!

    I, too, would not necessarily recognize colored paint on a road surface for anything specific and regulatory, without accompanying signs, but Keri’s answer still holds the most sway with me. Sharrows, properly placed, appear to be the most effective means of educating all road users, while providing additional resolutions for the intersection dangers and other troubles the cyclists face. Better educated cyclists also help, because the wrong-way types, the blow-red-light types are worse than motorists in too many cases.

  9. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Of course Fred is correct that “kill zone” might be misinterpreted, and I did think of that before posting. Perhaps we ought to be more PC and label it as a “Cyclist Danger Zone.” Better yet, divert the bike paint budget to buying bike racks.

    If we want to educate people, bag the sharrows and educate people directly. The most common motorist problem I have is teenagers, recently out of driver’s ed, who never got taught about sharing the road with anything but motorists. Requiring learners to be taught the rules doesn’t seem unreasonable, even where cyclist inferiority is rampant. As a next step, a bicycle question on driver tests would help reinforce the message.

  10. August Schömner
    August Schömner says:

    How about labeling the orange section “Darwinian Selection Zone”?

    Maybe we could colour-code the the whole length of the bike lane: pink, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red, to correspond to to whatever danger might be close at hand. Oh, wait. The threat changes.

    How about a whole string of post-mounted lights connected to video cameras and computers, constantly telling the cyclists whether or not they should be paying attention by changing colour relative to the observed danger?

    Perhaps loudspeakers shouting out warnings, too.

    Or how about applying Ockham’s razor to the problem, and go with basic black the entire length (eliminating the white stripe as well)?

  11. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    Thanks to everyone for the feedback. Some explanation for those who don’t know me (and since I didn’t go into detail as to my philosophy on this topic):

    I do not believe any engineering or design treatment can replace proper cyclist training. For example: those of us who’ve got sharrows in our areas still see plenty of cyclists hugging the curb.

    The idea I presented was more to get us thinking about ways in which to turn a problem into a solution. That’s not to say it’s possible in this case!

    August’s mention of Ockham’s razor may not be appropriate with this problem. Leaving out all striping and marking (i.e. wide curb lane) does not teach cyclists to avoid the conflict zone either. Make the lane narrower? The untrained/unsavvy cyclists will just go to the sidewalk. (Plus the narrower lane cuts the radius and may put pedestrians at risk from off-tracking trailers.)

    I’m quite aware that right hook conflicts can be present at other locations along a street, but my experience and analysis of our local crash data leads me to believe it’s worst at signalized intersections. Vehicles are stacked, and are either moving at cyclist speed or even slower. Cyclists at these locations are more likely to be beside a car where they can’t see the turn signals. It is normal practice to sign areas that have particularly high risks of certain hazards but not areas with lower risk for the same hazard.

    The problem is more than just large trucks; any right-turning vehicle poses a risk. But of course large trucks are especially problematic due to larger blind spots, trailer off-tracking and lethal under-carriage height.

    The variations on “Kill Zone” are of course amusing, but I was trying to provide more specific advice to the cyclist. “Blind Spot” is probably not specific enough; it would probably require far too many words to get the point across. I’ve seen many supposedly experienced cyclists (high-end bike and kit) sitting at the curb oblivious to our loop detector pavement markings and the associated sign reading “To Request Green Wait On [symbol]”. So by no means do I have absolute faith in signage!

  12. MikeOnBike
    MikeOnBike says:

    A while back, I read some of the books by usability guru Don Norman. One of the concepts he discusses is “affordances”.

    Oversimplifying, if something is physically possible, some people will do it. Putting up signs won’t stop people from doing it.

    For example, a flat surface affords stacking things on it. An open space to the right affords cyclists passing on the right.

    If you don’t want things stacked on top of an object, don’t make the top of the object flat.

    Can we design intersections in which passing on the right of right-turning traffic is not physically possible?

  13. Mighk
    Mighk says:

    “Can we design intersections in which passing on the right of right-turning traffic is not physically possible?”

    Yes. It would involve putting up a vertical barrier between the roadway and sidewalk so that cyclists could not use the sidewalk. But since one can’t block driveways, cyclists could use them to access the sidewalk. One could put steps or other vertical changes on the sidewalk, but that would not be well-received by wheelchair users.

    On Orlando’s Livingston Street at the approaches to the intersection with Mills Ave the bike lanes are dropped and the through lanes are narrowed to make room for left turn lanes. Many cyclists leave the bike lane and ride up a driveway to use the sidewalk at this intersection.

    To see it in Street View go to:
    (The wide gutterpan is a bike lane.)

  14. Keri
    Keri says:

    An example of what Mighk and Mike are talking about:

    I recently watched a cyclist (expensive bike, colorful lycra) arrive behind a queue of 3 or 4 cars at a light that had just turned green. The cars were moving, but apparently not fast enough. He couldn’t pass in the narrow lane, so he rode up onto the sidewalk to pass them. Of course, by the time he got to the intersection the cars he had been behind were through the intersection (because cars accelerate, who knew!) and new cars had arrived in the queue and were turning right in front of him.

  15. Dan Gutierrez
    Dan Gutierrez says:

    Here’s a video example of a cyclist passing right turning cars on the right in a badly faded bike lane. Luckily the motorist at the head of the queue saw her and didn’t hook her as she passed him. I’m presuming he saw her in his side mirror, since he was part way into the turn as she passed him on the right.

    My own peeve about this behavior, whether in the road, or from a sidewalk crossing, is that cyclists like Brian and me in the video, who use proper destination positioning by waiting in the queue, are delayed by these “hook bait” cyclists, since we have to wait for these rude bike riders to pass before traffic can start to accelerate.

    – Dan –

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