Safety and bike lanes

Over50

Well-Known Member
#1
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...dition-after-crash-with-semi-truck-in-midtown
 
#2
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.
 
#4
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
#6
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
#7
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
#8
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
#9
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
#10
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.
 
#11
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.