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#1 2018-08-23 11:34:37

Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 231

Right Hooks and Situational Awareness Studies

Two recent reports of traffic studies show again the danger of bicycling to the right of traffic that might be turning right. [ types 6 and 7]

-> Researchers in the University of Toronto, Canada studied the eye movements of drivers at busy Toronto intersections and found that more than half failed to make necessary scans for pedestrians or cyclists at right turns. It is the first study to date that used eye-tracking equipment to accurately assess where drivers were looking when turning at an intersection. Researchers found 11 of the 19 drivers failed to gaze at an area of importance, where cyclists or pedestrians would be located, before turning. There were more failures turning onto Major Street, due to parked vehicles blocking drivers' views of the bike lane. They concluded changes to road infrastructure are needed to improve traffic safety. "The takeaway for pedestrians and cyclists: Drivers aren't seeing you. Not necessarily because they're bad drivers, but that their attention is too divided." 

-> Safety Science published a paper that explores the effect of driver Situational Awareness (SA) on "right-hook" bicycle-motor vehicle crashes involving right turns into adjacent bicyclists. Researchers found the bicyclist's position significantly influenced motorists' overall SA: it degraded when oncoming vehicles were present and the bicyclist was approaching from behind; when the bicyclist was ahead of the motorist and oncoming vehicles were present. Motorists focused more attention on cars in front of them and less attention on bicycles in the peripheral vision. A common cause of observed crashes in the simulator was detection error. The bicyclist approaching from behind the motorist is the most vulnerable to a right-turning motorist. "The Role of Driver's Situational Awareness on Right-Hook Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Crashes" 

The first thing I was reminded of in reading those was the southbound facility on the west side of Guadalupe near campus--riders on it are out of sight, pretty much, when a driver is turning.    The second thing was my concerns about the new facility on S. Congress on the approach north to Oltorf--the city now wants cyclists to move off the street onto the sidewalk and cross at the crosswalk area.  Without separate signalization to prevent right turns while a cyclist is crossing Oltorf, the danger to cyclists is high.  Cyclists were better off before this was built and would've been better off still if the city had set off a short bike lane to direct northbound cyclists to the left of the right turning traffic.  The city did that at Barton Springs Rd. and Congress by the bridge, so why not at Oltorf?

Last edited by Jack (2018-08-24 17:35:30)


#2 2018-08-24 13:19:35

Registered: 2013-03-27
Posts: 231

Re: Right Hooks and Situational Awareness Studies

On the Congress/Oltorf intersection, I just received an e-mail from the city that indicates that maybe separate signalization for motorists/cyclists is part of the scheme.  As I've been riding north on S.Congress there, I've stayed in the street because that seems safer to me with all the conflict points the "protected" route creates at the intersection and at curb cuts and potentially with pedestrians, but FYI:
Austin Transportation has completed safety and mobility improvements at the intersection of South Congress Avenue and Oltorf Street. This is the second 2016 Mobility Bond-funded Intersection Safety/Vision Zero project to complete construction.

The purpose of the South Congress Avenue/Oltorf Street improvements is to reduce crashes and make it safer to walk, bicycle and drive through this intersection.

As part of the project, the configuration on Congress has been upgraded to include an off-street protected-style bicycle facility where people on bikes and people walking are physically separated to provide a higher level of safety and comfort. This is the first signalized protected-style intersection in Austin.

Additional improvements include:

Raised medians on Congress Avenue, north and south of the intersection
Reconstructed driveways along Congress Avenue to reduce conflicts between people walking and vehicles entering/exiting businesses
A relocated driveway on westbound Oltorf Street to reduce rear-end collisions
High-visibility continental crosswalks and ADA-accessible ramps on all four sides of the intersection           
On August 7, Austin Transportation staff teamed up with the Austin Police Department to educate people traveling through this intersection about the new intersection features. As a result of community feedback on the improvements, Austin Transportation will update the bicycle signals to the bicycle-shaped icons that light up in red, yellow or green.

Last edited by Jack (2018-08-24 17:34:31)


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