Safety and bike lanes

Over50

Well-Known Member
The link below is not about an e-bike accident so pardon me for posting it here. I felt the need since it is particularly upsetting to me as it is on my commuting route (and I used this bike lane today both before and after this accident) in an area where I really want to see cycling thrive. My turn to exit this bike lane is one block before the exact location where this occurred. Bike lanes are rather new in my area and new ones are being added frequently. Its nice to have them but drivers aren't used to them and they are far from a safe zone. I've only been doing this commuting thing since February and I've had a few close calls already. Just yesterday I was almost home, riding in a bike lane and I had a green light at an intersection when a woman in an SUV started a slow right on red right in front of me. I had a hi-viz yellow and orange shirt and two front lights one flashing and she still didn't see me. But I could see that she was more focused on finding a parking spot as she turned. It was the closest I've come to car contact. So I just wanted to remind everyone to stay safe and vigilant out there.
The scene of this accident is really an up and coming area in terms of pedestrian and bicycle traffic (lots of students and young people) and this sounds from the description like it was a "right-hook":

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/bicyclist-in-serious-condition-after-crash-with-semi-truck-in-midtown
 

hurricane56

Active Member
The most important thing that I've learned since starting bike commuting is not being in an area where a car might be or might go. For example, if you're in the bike lane and you're coming up to a corner or busy driveway, avoid at all costs being next to a vehicle. What happened to you sucks, but don't let that discourage you from using your bike. Other things that you should look out for are drivers making left hand turns from the opposite direction of traffic into your path of travel, and also avoid being visually shielded by large vans, box trucks, etc. Riding a ebike, you will also find yourself moving a lot faster in the bike lane compared to stopped traffic. Most drivers aren't looking for bike, and when they do see you, they're mostly not accustomed to seeing a bike move the at 25+ MPH, if you're on speed pedelec.

Oh yeah, always assume you're invisible.
 
Until I bought my neon orange fat bike and lit it up like a Christmas tree, I would have at least two unintentional attempts on my life a day. Now it is only two a week.
 

mrgold35

Well-Known Member
I've been ebike work commuting around 13-14 miles round-trip since Sept of 2016. I only have about 1/4 mile of bike lanes and under a mile of a walk/job/bike only path that parallels the hwy over the Rio Grande river. I have to share the road with vehicles the rest of the time. I feel safer in the morning at 5:30 am on regular streets because my light are extremely bright and reflective clothing. Our city is trying to build a 50 mile bike only loop around the city. Still a few years away from that and the older neighborhoods can be barely car friendly because of the narrow streets and sidewalks.

Coming home after work is a different story because of rush hour traffic and the lack of bike lanes. I only ride in the street if there is enough space to park a car. I see a lot of folks driving 10-25 mph over the posted speed limits and their side mirrors would hit me in the back because they hug the lanes so close if I didn't have a car width space as a buffer. I ride a lot slower and I actually see more bikes on the sidewalks than people. It takes me longer to get home; but, I feel safer on the sidewalks. Pretty much all the sidewalks are double wide and connect to asphalt bike paths in the newer neighborhoods for two way walk/jog/bike/stroller folks. I always slow down and usually acknowledge folks on sidewalks with a wave or head nod.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
So here is a bike lane story followed by a poll question:

I had a near-perfect commute today. Nice light tailwind coming home with light traffic. I'm in a bike lane doing about 20 mph on my class 3. This was a suburban bike lane not the busy urban bike lanes in the city by the university. The urban bike lanes are where I frequently have to avoid skateboarders, pedestrians, e-scooters etc.

In the suburbs, I usually have the lanes to myself. There was a guy on a bike on the sidewalk that I barely noticed until he left the sidewalk and entered the bike lane just in front of me. He never looked. It wasn't a lock-up situation but I did have to brake. A couple of seconds difference and it would have been disaster. And then it wasn't just any bike, it was a gasoline-powered kit bike. The rider had street clothes, no helmet and was smoking a foul smelling cigar of some sort and using throttle only. After cutting me off, he was cruising in the middle of the bike lane with no room to pass on the left. I was inhaling exhaust and cigar as I tailed him for quite a while. I tried to take the extreme left of the bike lane so he could see me in his mirror. In that position I noticed his mirror was mounted towards the middle of his handlebars so he had a really good view of his own head but couldn't see anything behind him. With the noise of the gas engine, never having looked as he entered and a non-functional mirror I don't believe he ever knew I was there. He was cruising along at a noisy and smelly 17 mph. I had to wait until traffic passed, enter the car lane and then pass. I probably jacked it up to about 25 mph to pass him before I merged back in.

Part of me wants to say a gas-powered device shouldn't be in the bike lane. But hey, I'm on a class 3 e-bike and perhaps I shouldn't be in the bike lane. Plus, my cruising speed would have been about 20-22 in that situation (suburban bike lane very light traffic). In the urban bike lane by the university I am much slower, maybe around 15 mph, due to the amount of pedestrians, scooters, parked cars, joggers etc.

I do begrudge the man for entering the bike lane without looking and for riding right in the middle when he doesn't have a functional mirror. But I can't really begrudge him for having a gas-powered kit bike (he wasn't pedaling) in the bike lane? Can I? Or perhaps neither gas-powered kit bike nor class 3 e-bike should be in the bike lane?
 

indianajo

Well-Known Member
Hey, I almost ran over a squirrel today that executed a quick left hand turn right in front of me. Same level of smarts as your motor-biker.
Easter I was almost run over twice by cars turning right and not caring I was riding to the right of them. Panic stops both time. Neither even had the right blinker on. As Robert W. Greene said above, to motorists we are bugs that need to be squashed. In this city, the morning the fog was down to 10' visibility, the bike rider that was killed just jumped out right in front of the poor surprised motorist the paper said.
I frequently have to get out of the bike lane and ride with the cars to pass cars parked with people talking on the phone, or cars parked of people inside at a family gathering (lots of that Easter) or utility phone or cable TV trucks. For 3 months they had the bike lane dug up for a mile to put a pipe under it. On both roads to the grocery store at the same time. (Actually on the main E=W street the city is replacing the bike lane with a car lane). At least I have that Garmin rear alert device where I don't have to turn my head all the way around to see what is coming up to rear-end me.
 
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DouglasB

Active Member
As I was coming out of my doctors office, I watched in jaw dropping awe as a cyclist riding in the bike lane, coming down a hill at a fast rate of speed,T-boned a car that pulled out from a side road. Should I mention that the guy on the bike was on a one way road going the wrong way? Aparently he thought the bike lane wasn't restricted to one way. Fortunately he was young and after rolling over the guys hood, picked up his bike and went on his way.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
As I was coming out of my doctors office, I watched in jaw dropping awe as a cyclist riding in the bike lane, coming down a hill at a fast rate of speed,T-boned a car that pulled out from a side road. Should I mention that the guy on the bike was on a one way road going the wrong way...
I have to dodge a fair number of bikes going the wrong way in the bike lanes in the urban areas. I guess in those areas it is kind of the norm to ride facing traffic. And when they added the bike lanes just a couple of years ago, although very well marked, the same style still applies.

Not a bike lane incident but since you had a story about the bike/car accident: Just today I'm walking to lunch and crossing an urban park. Fair amount of pedestrians. Guy on a regular bike, no helmet, may have and been a delivery rider of some sort judging from the baskets full of stuff he had rigged on his bike, riding too fast on the sidewalk for the amount of pedestrian traffic IMO. He misses the pedestrians after startling a few, but then tries to do a frogger and shoot across a busy, low-speed boulevard. He made it two lanes but on the third lane which was a right curve that veers off from the the first two lanes, I heard screeching tires and a thump. As I turned to look and expecting carnage, the cyclist was rebounding, after a sideswipe, off the side of an SUV that was also a delivery vehicle. The cyclist wobbled and fought for control and regained control without falling nor did he ever fully come to a stop. I was pretty impressed with his ability to recover without falling but certainly not impressed with his careless riding style. The SUV driver and the bike rider exchanged a few curse words before they both went on about their business, presumably making deliveries.
 

elliot friedman

Active Member
As to Over 50's statement, I see no reason why a class 3 ebike shouldn't be allowed to ride in any bike lane as long as you drive at a responsible distance and speed in regards to the other bikes and traffic around you. I've been passed countless times by H-powered bicycles when I'm cruising at ~20mph on my own class 3. But that's a topic for another thread. It's subject matter that really upsets me.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
I've gone on about it in multiple threads but I feel like each time I see extraordinary things in the bike lanes I feel the need to post about it: last night coming home I have a cyclist in front of me in the bike lane that was moving at a very good clip of about 15 mph. I was content to sit behind him. But along come 2 guys on a single Bird or Lime scooter headed for us in the wrong direction. Since they were two larger young men, they had little control over the scooter and were careening all over the bike lane. Both the cyclist in front of me and myself had to come to complete stops and hug the curb with our bikes to avoid collision. The cyclist in front of me was stopped and looking back whilst screaming at the youngsters. As the cyclist was stopped, getting a load off of his chest, I opted to pass him and forego the opportunity to curse the youngsters on the e-scooter. But just a block later I am thwarted by a youth on a skateboard. Skateboarder has his back to me and is skating down the bike lane in a serpentine fashion and doing his arms like an airplane whilst singing. About 8 mph. He had headphones on and didn't hear my loud shouts or my bell. A couple of times as he serpentined right I tried to pass left but we almost collided both times and he still never saw me. So I had to wait for my opportunity to head around the parked cars and into traffic in order to pass him. It was that or sit behind him for four more blocks watching him play airplane and listen to his horrid singing.
 

hurricane56

Active Member
I've gone on about it in multiple threads but I feel like each time I see extraordinary things in the bike lanes I feel the need to post about it: last night coming home I have a cyclist in front of me in the bike lane that was moving at a very good clip of about 15 mph. I was content to sit behind him. But along come 2 guys on a single Bird or Lime scooter headed for us in the wrong direction. Since they were two larger young men, they had little control over the scooter and were careening all over the bike lane. Both the cyclist in front of me and myself had to come to complete stops and hug the curb with our bikes to avoid collision. The cyclist in front of me was stopped and looking back whilst screaming at the youngsters. As the cyclist was stopped, getting a load off of his chest, I opted to pass him and forego the opportunity to curse the youngsters on the e-scooter. But just a block later I am thwarted by a youth on a skateboard. Skateboarder has his back to me and is skating down the bike lane in a serpentine fashion and doing his arms like an airplane whilst singing. About 8 mph. He had headphones on and didn't hear my loud shouts or my bell. A couple of times as he serpentined right I tried to pass left but we almost collided both times and he still never saw me. So I had to wait for my opportunity to head around the parked cars and into traffic in order to pass him. It was that or sit behind him for four more blocks watching him play airplane and listen to his horrid singing.
I feel your pain. It’s always someone going against traffic and you can tell that they only care about their own convenience, are ignorant to traffic rules, and would gladly put you out of the bike lane into vehicle traffic.
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
My post that started this thread was in reaction to a horrific crash on my bike route (see article link in 1st post), involving a cyclist in a bike lane, wherein the cyclist was run over by a gravel hauler. A friend pointed me to a more recent article about Detroit's bike lanes that recounts her incident (link below). The great news is she survived and is riding again. The bad news is that she had and has a long journey to recovery. Sounds like, too, like the police report faults the cyclist whereas the cyclist faults the truck. It also might be interesting to some, the story itself, about shrinking car lanes in favor of adding bike lanes. Drivers are not happy. Many of the areas mentioned are used by me and my wife ... and story has some pictures from my bike route:

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2019/06/10/autos-vs-bikes-watch-shrinking-roads-metro-detroit/3694123002/
 

Over50

Well-Known Member
So while we are on the subject of bike lane safety: Sometimes there are just absolutely crazy people out there. Below is a link to a police dashcam video wherein a woman stole a police SUV recently. The video is from the stolen police vehicle. When the woman turns right and heads the wrong way into oncoming traffic, this is on my bike route. Shortly thereafter you'll see her pass some bike lanes on her left. I have to ride a section of this road without bike lanes which is just before her horrific crash where you see some construction barrels. Fortunately for me I wasn't around at the time. But I guess you can do everything right as a rider (or a driver) but sometimes you are at the mercy of some crazy folks and chance:

https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/oakland/2019/07/09/video-dash-cam-stolen-ferndale-police-car-crash/1687436001/
 

J.R.

Well-Known Member
I sometimes listen to local news-talk radio via live streaming from mid Atlantic cities. Places where I lived or worked, once upon a time. Cities not unlike Detroit. These cities are installing bike lanes and the show hosts and callers are extremely angry. The arguments are the cost, congestion and the condition of the roads. Many mention how crime ridden the city is, yet they're wasting money on bike lanes nobody uses. They go off about bike lanes every week. Considering the amount of anger there is, it's surprising there haven't been more "accidents". The hosts really fan the flames. It requires more engineering than just taking a lane away from vehicles for a bike lane. Unfortunately we're in an age where we slap on a band-aid and move on.

How come there's never enough time or money to do it right the first time, but always enough to do it over?
 

AZOldTech

Active Member
DUI also another reason to be killed while cycling... so always use your rearview mirror (I use the Bike Peddler Take A Look Cycling Eyeglass Mirror) to watch for erratic drivers...
Costa Mesa fire captain dies 2 days after being struck by DUI suspect while cycling[/SIZE]
https://abc7.com/costa-mesa-fire-captain-dies-after-being-struck-by-dui-suspect/4622698/
PD: Impaired driver hit, killed man riding bicycle along Mesa street[/SIZE]
https://www.azfamily.com/traffic/pd-at-least-killed-in-crash-involving-bicycle-in-mesa/article_a2cd805c-a2ac-11e9-874d-9b20706d3abc.html
 

Toomanycats

Active Member
I've been ebike work commuting around 13-14 miles round-trip since Sept of 2016. I only have about 1/4 mile of bike lanes and under a mile of a walk/job/bike only path that parallels the hwy over the Rio Grande river. I have to share the road with vehicles the rest of the time. I feel safer in the morning at 5:30 am on regular streets because my light are extremely bright and reflective clothing. Our city is trying to build a 50 mile bike only loop around the city. Still a few years away from that and the older neighborhoods can be barely car friendly because of the narrow streets and sidewalks.

Coming home after work is a different story because of rush hour traffic and the lack of bike lanes. I only ride in the street if there is enough space to park a car. I see a lot of folks driving 10-25 mph over the posted speed limits and their side mirrors would hit me in the back because they hug the lanes so close if I didn't have a car width space as a buffer. I ride a lot slower and I actually see more bikes on the sidewalks than people. It takes me longer to get home; but, I feel safer on the sidewalks. Pretty much all the sidewalks are double wide and connect to asphalt bike paths in the newer neighborhoods for two way walk/jog/bike/stroller folks. I always slow down and usually acknowledge folks on sidewalks with a wave or head nod.
I live in a suburban community that has some really nice bike lanes, but in several of our 6 lane major streets, they’ve painted a 3 foot wide strip and called it a day. No sane person would use them, as those streets get a lot of warehouse traffic. Anyone who does have to ride in that area rides on the sidewalk.