Q: I know you’ve answered a bazillion questions about bikes and cars and right turns, but I thought what the heck, what’s one more.
A: OK, it’s now a bazillion plus one.
Q: I bike down El Camino Real in Mountain View/Palo Alto pretty often. It’s often a dicey adventure. There is one particular intersection at which I’ve come a bit too close to getting hit by drivers turning right.
Sometimes, I can shake it off and tell myself that there are just some people who don’t know to look out for bikes, but the last two times I had someone hook in front of me. This is what happened:
As I biked toward Showers Drive from Jordan Avenue, a car saw me and slowed down, following pretty far back for about a half block. But as we approached Showers, the car revved its engine and sped in front of me to make the turn. It’s not like the light was turning yellow or anything like that.
The driver just suddenly got impatient and nearly slammed into me.
Can bike lanes be painted in that area?
Diana IngleLike Mr. Roadshow’s Facebook page for more questions and answers about Bay Area roads, freeways and commuting.
A: Bike lanes are planned from San Jose to Palo Alto as part of the bus rapid transit project that remains under consideration for El Camino Real. But these drivers should know better. They took part in one of the most dangerous stunts on the road — the right hook.
It occurs when a motorist makes a right turn directly in front of the bicyclist. Drivers need to treat the biker as a car. Move behind him and wait to pass through the intersection.
Q: What’s the reason for adding red lights to crosswalks between intersections like San Tomas Expressway and Kiely Boulevard on El Camino Real?
A: I’ve written about this before, but it needs repeating. Santa Clara has activated four HAWK beacons along El Camino Real at the intersections of Alpine Avenue, Buchanan Drive, Morse Lane and Harrison Street. The reason: safety.
HAWK beacons improve safety for pedestrians attempting to cross high-speed multilane roads such as El Camino as they provide a red light to stop motorists along with a walk interval for pedestrians. When the flashing “Don’t Walk” interval starts, the lights go to flashing then solid red which requires vehicles to stop and permits pedestrians to cross.
While the HAWK traffic signal is inactive or dark, drivers should proceed with caution.
Q: Which is safer for bicyclists — flashing or solid lights?
A: California law doesn’t dictate whether or not the front white light may be flashing, but is clear that the rear red light may flash. Other than that, bicyclists are on their own to determine what makes them feel safest.
Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.