ON BIKE CULTURE IN EUGENE | Fine blogging since 2010 (with periodic long breaks)
Using an exacting research methodology — known colloquially as “watching my ass” — I have tried to correlate a motorist’s use of a turn signal to the motorist’s actual intentions. Results are as follows:
So when you are in a situation like this, where a car has casually drifted over and looks as though it might — or possibly might not — turn right, it’s a good idea to …
Glance at the turn signal if you want. But that is advisory information only. Front wheels don’t lie. Of course, they don’t give you much advance notice, either.
Still, it’s a good habit to help you avoid getting hit by — or being unable to stop before hitting — a car that makes a right turn immediately in front of you. Some people refer to this situation as the “right hook.” This also is a right hook:
I was right-hooked once. Not by Muhammad Ali. At least I don’t think so. I don’t know who it was — because after I crashed my bike into the right rear quarter panel of their hatchback and hit the pavement, they merely slowed, then spun their tires and took off.
This was in Los Angeles in the 1980s. I was in college. I was cruising along Colorado Boulevard — which is probably a very bad place to be riding a bike. I was going to a job I had at a restaurant called the Rusty Pelican. I was wearing some of those black-and-white checked chef’s pants and one of those chef’s shirts with all the big buttons on the front.
Fortunately, I was OK, except for some road rash and a tear in my chef’s pants. It was educational, though — one of the most memorable lessons of all my college years.
But I must say that far more common in Eugene is the motorist who does notice you as they cruise past and prepare to turn right. If it’s a close call, they stop and wait for you to go by before making the turn. That’s been my experience anyway.
I always try to give those people a wave as I go by. I used to flash a peace sign, but I worried someone would mistake it for middle finger.
Positive reinforcement pays off, I think. If you see that somebody noticed you and watched out for you, give them a wave. In the meantime, watch your ass, too.