Bicyclists: Don't squeeze past big trucks, ever! | Chester Kojro, Rolla Daily News

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Since my earliest columns in the Rolla Daily News about bicycling, I have urged cyclists to ride within the traffic lane and to never squeeze between lanes of moving cars, especially at intersections. The danger is that drivers reasonably do not expect to be passed on the right and might make a quick turn. This most common cycling crash is called the “right hook”. Whether the car hits the cyclist or the cyclist hits the car, it’s always bad for the cyclist.

But the deadly crashes in Chicago highlight an especially dangerous variation of the right hook, and that’s when it involves a long truck or trailer. You might have noticed those warning signs on the back of tractor-trailers that say “Danger! This Vehicle Makes Wide Turns!” When a long vehicle makes a tight turn, the driver first pulls forward and then turns the front wheels sharply, but the rear wheels don’t steer so they just drag along, cutting the corner to the inside. That’s why you see so many tire scuff marks on curbs and at roundabout aprons.

Now visualize that truck. Its cargo bed is above and wider than the tires. The cargo bed will cross above the curb before that rear tire scuffs it. Worse still, if you are knocked down alongside a turning vehicle the rear tires are trailing to the inside of the turn and could still run over you. This hazard also applies to pedestrians standing at corners. Never stand or squeeze in alongside trucks or buses, ever. If they start to turn, you will be trapped with nowhere to go.

MoBikeFed comment: This is an ongoing issue for bicyclists. Even experienced cyclists can be fooled by a truck that looks like it is moving to the left--but is actually ***preparing for a turn to the right***.

We have created a page and a downloadable/printable graphic that explains the issue and how to avoid this deceptive and dangerous situation: