What should I do to avoid being left and right hooked?

I was almost left and right hooked several times last week while riding in bike lanes in downtown Portland, Oregon so am planning to buy a $65 Orp. The below video and photo show how an Orp works.

Unfortunately, I can’t use the Orp to communicate with motorists waiting at a stop light that I’m planning to continue straight from the bike lane. The Orp just alerts motorists that I don’t want to be hit. It doesn’t inform motorists whether I will be turning or continuing straight. Since I can see whether the motorist’s turn signal is on, I know when I need to communicate with the motorist that I plan to continue straight. In order to inform motorists that I plan to continue straight, I have been pointing straight, trying to make eye contact with the motorist and yelling “straight”. Even with all of this, I had two motorists almost hit me while I was biking in the door zone bike lane on SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland on Thursday, October 22. I kept trying to make eye contact with the motorists and yelling, but their windows were up so they couldn’t hear me and they didn’t see me until I heard their brakes squeak. Thankfully, they both were going slow, which allowed them enough space to stop in time. However, I felt my heart beating very fast so know it was way too close for my safety and comfort.

Since my strategies aren’t working to keep me safe from being left and right hooked, what should I do to avoid being left and right hooked in the future? Vehicular cyclists (according to this discussion, I have now learned that they prefer to be called bike drivers) keep telling me in the Cyclists are Drivers! facebook group that I need to “just line up with the rest of the traffic that’s going straight.” Unfortunately, as I wrote in this blog post, Oregon law requires me to use the bike lane in most situations and doesn’t allow me to impede traffic so I am forced to feel unsafe and uncomfortable in the bike lane. I have copied the Oregon statutes to show you why the law needs to be changed. Section 814.420.3.e is copied below.

“A person is not in violation of the offense [of leaving a bicycle lane or path] under this section if the person is able to safely move out of the bicycle lane or path for the purpose of: (e) Continuing straight at an intersection where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right.”

Note the phrase: “where the bicycle lane or path is to the right of a lane from which a motor vehicle must turn right”, as this only applies to bike lanes to the right of right turn only lanes, and not lanes where motorists can go through or turn right, which is the overwhelming majority of cases on the streets.

After receiving more advice from the Cyclists are Drivers! facebook group, I am planning to break several Oregon laws starting on Monday by controlling the full travel lane on roads with a bike lane and impeding traffic. Since I value living another day more than following unsafe Oregon laws, I am open to being arrested and receiving a ticket. Do you see any safe and comfortable options that are permitted under Oregon law so I don’t risk dying while biking?

5 thoughts on “What should I do to avoid being left and right hooked?

  1. You are required to be in the bike lane as long as it is practicable. When you continually feel unsafe or have had the experience of knowing it is not practicable to be in the bike lane, you can choose the lane that is most practicable to you. No law can force you to be exposed to danger.

  2. Make friends with your local Bike Law lawyer: Bob Mionske – located in Portland. He may be able to find the legal language like Pam is using (practicable, etc.) in order to indemnify you from any wrongdoing if you choose to use the lane the way you’d be allowed back here in NC. Be safe out there!

  3. Ray, please do whatever you need to be safe, even if it violates the letter of the law. I really doubt you’d get arrested (!) and the cost of a ticket is well worth your physical safety.

    Sadly, if you’re going to stay in the bike lane, you have to assume *every* car is going to turn in front of you, which means getting just far enough back to not get hooked but be visible to the next car back in the traffic lane. Not always easy!

    On a related note, I worry about the actuation lever of this horn. It looks like you might have to move your hand from a grip (or lever hood or hook on a drop-bar bike) to “honk”, and that hand is 100X more useful on a brake lever than a horn in a quick maneuver. Hooks also happen so fast that I think you’d end up honking at a door as you hit it. IMHO a bright strobing headlight would be a better preventative.

    Good luck out there (from a Greenville, NC native)!

Leave a Reply to Ray Atkinson Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s