In the past three weeks, I’ve had four distinct “Right Turn of Death” experiences. Also known as the “Red Light of Death,” this is when a motor vehicle pulls alongside (or the cyclist pulls alongside the motor vehicle) and the motor vehicle then turns right cutting off or hitting the cyclist.
These instances are precipitated by one of two behaviors or their combination – motor vehicle operators who are simply not conscious of what they are doing and/or cyclists who have not learned from their own observations or from those of others – that being to the right of any motor vehicle at any intersection puts them at risk.
Here’s my recent score:
Case #1 – Forgot that she passed me about 60 feet back and pulled alongside at the red light.
Case #2 – Totally clueless (in moving traffic)
Case #3 – SUV rudeness (in moving traffic)
Case #4 – See #2 above (pulled alongside at a 4-way stop sign – then looked everywhere except at me)
All were on 2-lane streets in Albany.
Aside from being careful and mindful of your own surroundings, here are a couple suggestions when coming to an intersection at which you must stop and there are motor vehicles following you.
1. Take the lane
2. Take enough of the lane so that those following can see you but still get by – just angle your bicycle to the left as you put your foot on the pavement
3. Put a little wiggle in your ride as you come to a stop – they will think you are either nuts or going to fall over and will avoid you (trust me, it works)
4. Make eye contact with the driver next to you (so you are seen)
If you are moving and the motor vehicle operator passes and then turns into or in front of you and you cannot stop, execute a “quick turn” that will result in a miss or, at worst, a glancing collision with the side of the car.