Sunday, June 8, 2014

a mean right hook

Part I

My daily commute almost always takes me along this small portion of 16th Ave on my way to cutting across Civic Center park.

It’s a weird block because, as you can see, there is a bike lane and sharrows side-by-side on the road, coexisting happily, naturally as you please, as though this weren't an utter abomination.

What you cannot see in this picture is that one block back, there is a sign that says BIKE LANE ENDS.

That’s why the sharrows are there. The bike lane is a Shouldn't Be. And yet it persists. Cyclists are supposed to take the lane as the signage and the sharrows imply. And yet. That bike lane.

In direct contradiction of the signage, confoundingly, frustratingly, incomprehensibly, the bike lane doesn’t end at all. Like the cake, the end of the bike lane is a lie. It just stubbornly continues to exist. It hangs around like an unwelcome guest.

So this block is unique in that respect. Also of note is the vehicular traffic at this particular intersection. Coming from this direction, cars cannot go straight. (That direction is reserved for bikes and bus traffic.) The crossroad traffic is one-way, from the left to the right. The only thing a car can do is turn right.

You can see in the picture above the almost gravitational pull to the right that motorists experience. They want nothing but to turn right. Seriously, 100% of the cars here are turning right. And so, a cyclist camped out at the front of this Shouldn't-Be, Why-Is-It-Still-Here? bike lane is preventing the cars from proceeding.

This is doing it the wrong way. If you're on a bike in the bike lane here, you are doing it wrong, and are practically inviting the right hook.

Contrariwise, a cyclist positioned respectfully in the middle of the traffic lane, over the sharrows, creates enough space to the right of him for cars to continue on their merry way. This is doing it the right way.

99% of the cyclists I see at this intersection do it wrong.

99% of the cyclists at this intersection are both blocking traffic and putting themselves in danger.

One day I should say something to one of that 99%. (I'm an assertive rider, an angry blogger, but a timid person face-to-face.)

Part II

On 16th Ave, several blocks west of the intersection described in Part I. 
A couple of B-Cycle Bozos are tootling down the road in the bike lane. They, and me, and a car all come to a stop at a light.
The car has its right turn signal on. I'm right behind it. (Not in the bike lane because I'm turning left here.) I observe the bozos not observing the car to their immediate left.
The light turns green and the bozos are gabbing and gossiping, not paying attention, and not moving.
The car inches out and creeps forward. The bozos don't move, still gabbing.
The car honks its horn a few times to announce its presence and continues across the path of the bozos, executing a right-hand turn. The bozos never move. They don't even look up.
Those cyclists were oblivious to the other vehicles around them. That motorist was very aware of the bikes around it.
I think that was the most respectful right hook I've seen, and I can't think of a way I'd have done it better.
Good on ya, car.
Get your heads outta your asses, bike bozos.


Cyclists, myself included, rave about the treacherous right hook, about how they're avoidable if only cars would pay attention and be mindful of their surroundings.
But many times these situations are created by cyclists themselves through incorrect lane positioning, not paying attention, and dallying in bike lanes.