Last night’s ride, in which I flip off an impatient driver

In retrospect, I should have been further out into the lane.

Instead, I tried to be polite and let cars move up next to me, not anticipating that one incredibly impatient driver would deliberately right hook me.

She couldn’t wait two seconds — literally — for the light to change. And it was worth it to her to risk the life of a total stranger because I didn’t get the hell out of her way.

I don’t recommend flipping off anyone.

But this one earned it.

If I’d gone when the light turned green, I’d be in the hospital right now.

Or worse.

27 comments

  1. Borfo says:

    Annoying, but isn’t it better to be on the left side off the right lane to let turning cars pass?

    • bikinginla says:

      Normally, I do position myself further left to allow cars to turn right. However, at this particular intersection, I’ve found it’s better to stay to the right to keep out of the way of impatient drivers when the light changes; I’ve actually had drivers swerve around me on the right in order to go straight around me when I’ve been positioned further left. And I always look to see if the driver behind me has a turn signal on, and move out of the way so they can turn.

      But in this particular case, she wasn’t signaling, and the light was about to change. Had she waited when the light changed, I would have been out of the way within seconds.

  2. I’m usually on your side, but you put yourself in a very bad lane position. The fact that you had to gesture to indicate that you were going straight shows why anyone behind you would have no idea where you were heading. Again a big fan, but not on this one.

    • bikinginla says:

      Actually, my gesture was a much to show the light was about to change as it was that I was going straight. You’re right, though, I should have been further left to control the lane and prevent something like this; in the past, I’ve found where I was to be the best lane position at this particular intersection. But I won’t make that mistake again.

  3. Jim Lyle says:

    Right and left hooks happen all the time; it pays to be careful. Yes, the driver deserved the digit, but it’s not a good idea. Stay safe.

  4. PhilCo says:

    The fact is this driver would not get home 2 seconds earlier. She may have reached her next red light 2 seconds earlier, and then waited in that line 2 seconds longer. She risked hitting (at the very least) another human being for absolutely nothing. NOTHING.

    I don’t know this intersection, so I really have no opinion on the best lane position. I do know that lane position should not be a decision that has such serious potential consequences. That is a crazy situation – but unfortunately seems to be the accepted norm.

  5. Michael S says:

    I watched the video 5 times to see if my initial reaction would be any different. Imagine you are in the car and have just honked at the cyclist in front of you to alert him that you are trying to go around him. The cyclist waves his left hand to a spot right in front of him, the same spot you (the driver) are trying to get to. I can see the driver following your direction and pass in front of you. I think you might want to re think your reaction

    • bikinginla says:

      Uh, no.

    • David Huntsman says:

      There is no “honking at the cyclist in front of you to alert him that you are trying to go around him”. These aren’t two semi-deaf farmers on tractors. There was no clear way for the rider to respond (other than climbing off his bike and getting up on the sidewalk). The only reasonable action on the part of the motorist was patience; the ambiguity of the rider’s hand gesture did not give her permission to interpret it as a “go” signal. And it’s her choice to be behind glass and use an electric horn to communicate.

  6. fatboss says:

    The situation is a really a little more complicated. Many times I am in right-turning lanes that are also straight lanes, so if I take the left side I am caught in between cars going straight when the light turns green.

    • Borfo says:

      Understood! It’s a constant dilemma for us on bikes. I can relate to his frustration. There’s no clear cut solution on how to make sure we are safe and courteous at the same time. However, I have found it to be more beneficial to give room for turning cars by moving far enough out front and to the left than be on the curb. That’s all! Thanks for considering my comment.

  7. […] Last link is a video of an intentional right hook on fellow bike blogger Ted Rogers of BikingInLA. Last night’s ride, in which I flip off an impatient driver […]

  8. Joe B says:

    Yeah, in general it would probably have been better to be farther to the left. But lane position in specific instances is best determined by the cyclist: they’re the one with the best view of the entire situation, traffic, road debris, etc.

    And all that’s beside the point. There’s no need to honk at another road user who is in front of you at a light. And there’s absolutely no excuse for pulling around to that person’s left and then right-hooking them.

  9. Mountaineer says:

    What I like to do? i do the ‘after you gesture’ the most safest. I do an ‘afteryou gesture’ works for me and it gets a lot of laughs. Never fails. Rarely, I get of the bike and ‘I bow then do an after you gesture’, I’ve done that in busy intersections. I’m not the one for flipping off but I like to turn a would be disaster into a positive experience.

  10. Mountaineer says:

    that is “Rarely, I get off the bike and “i bow then do an after you gesture”, good for laughs.

  11. fsethd says:

    If it happened in the city of LA, that’s harassment and subject to a civil suit under the anti-cyclist harassment law passed a couple of years ago.

  12. ROZA says:

    For a cyclist it can be a tough decision on where to be at a light. Sans a bike lane or if I have one of those bike lanes that turn into a turn lane I try to be in the center of the lane, but that looks like a fast and large intersection. I would think that being in the center of the lane could get you run over.

    If you truly think the driver did nothing wrong or LA had some responsibility in the wrong, then I suggest you might look at your own driving habits.

    And if you are honking at a cyclist who is following the law to get their attention, Michael… JUST STOP IT!

  13. billdsd says:

    I generally find that it’s easier for right turners to get past me if I position myself on the left side of the right lane while waiting at a red light. It’s usually not a problem. I’ll pull into the crosswalk if necessary to make room. A lot of drivers have given me a friendly wave (yes really) because they realized what I was doing and a couple have even verbally thanked me.

    On the right side like that, you’re always going to be in conflict with people making right turns. It’s not a good place to be.

    That said, she was a short sighted idiot and a jerk. As PhilCo says, it just meant she got to spend 2 more seconds waiting at the next light.

    I’m also pretty sure that it didn’t occur to her that if you had been driving a motor vehicle straight through, she would have had to wait until the light turned green. However, because you were on a bike, she though she shouldn’t have to. It’s nothing but plain old double standard bigotry.

  14. sevencyclist says:

    Someone should show her that the commercials regarding texting while driving, that it could wait. Waiting for the light to change is the same message. At least cooler heads prevailed here.

  15. Anj says:

    All in all by the cyclists position caused an awkward and confusing situation for the cars waiting to turn right. The driver gave a polite beep, not a angry long beep. It was the kind of honk, asking a question, “which way are you going cyclist”? Across the intersection toward chase bank or the other way? Think of the driver, he/she had people behind him/her waiting, putting pressure on him/her to figure this situation out. The biker gave a clear go ahead to the driver, by giving his arm gesture to make the turn right, but the driver still being cautious delayed just long enough to cut the bicyclist off when the light changed and made the turn, just as at the same time the cyclists was going to go, which on the cyclists part looked as if the driver cut him off intentionally, but in reality the driver did just as they bike rider gave them permission to do, make the right turn. So why did they deserve to be flipped off? Or did I get the arm gesture wrong? Was the rider indicating the direction he was headed? And didn’t tell the driver to make the right turn? I personally would never have put myself in that position at the intersection. As mentioned by other posts I would have been close to the curb on the right facing the same direction as the traffic. Not opposing on coming traffic at the corner. Please re-think this situation, and think from the drivers point of view as well as your own. I do personally do flip drivers off when I think they deserve it, but sometimes I realize I was wrong and regret doing it. So I usually just don’t do that unless I’m positive now.

    • bikinginla says:

      Funny how people who weren’t there think they understand the situation better than someone who was.

      No, the gesture wasn’t a a clear go ahead, despite what it may look like on the video. And no, the honk — which can’t even be heard on the video — was not polite, nor was the angry expression on the woman’s face.

      There also should have been absolutely no question which direction I was going, as my bike was clearly angled to go forward, and I had given no indication whatsoever that I was going to turn.

      And no, the driver did not politely wait a moment to go around me, but rather, gunned the engine to cut me off the second she was able to do so, regardless of whether it was safe.

      As indicated previously, the mistake I made was not positioning myself further to the left in the lane ahead of traffic going forward, rather than putting myself in a position where a dangerous driver could cut me off.

      • Anj says:

        Yup, guess you had to be there. I trust what you say what happened. The video can’t show the angle of the bike, or the woman’s angry face. So I agree she deserved the finger, maybe even more than that. Karma will catch up with her eventually.

    • Joe B says:

      Yeah, but Ted responded to her polite honk by politely flipping her off. So it all evens out.

  16. james says:

    What is the intersection?

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