A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Bike hit-and-run victim seeks witnesses

Via Craigslist:

My husband was riding his bicycle east on Park Ave on Wed at approximately 1:45pm when he was hit by a gold sedan that turned right from Park onto Deering Ave without using its blinker. He fell off of his bike and broke his back and the car never stopped. Any information at all is appreciated.

If you happened to be in the neighborhood, contact the poster by hitting the reply button on the Craigslist post.

And also: several vehicular cyclists have voiced their concern about the new bike lane at this location for directing bike traffic to the right of turning vehicles. The intersection design creates a right-turn lane to the left of a straight-traffic (bike) lane, which makes cyclists vulnerable to crashes like this one, especially when aggressive, negligent drivers are involved. A good rule of thumb is to treat every car as one that might turn right, and to ride in the center of the vehicle lane (where cars are certain to see you) through intersections like this one. Watch the video below from CyclingSavvy for more details.

Right Hook Prevention in Bike Lanes from Keri Caffrey on Vimeo.


Scott Harriman said...

I wonder if a personal injury lawsuit from this cyclist would discourage the city from continuing to install bike lanes that explicitly encourage unsafe behavior.

C Neal said...

Suing the city would be a big misdirection of blame here, and most case law from car crashes indicates that it would be a challenging argument to make - it's very difficult to blame infrastructure in crashes, especially if the infrastructure in question is as subtle as a dashed line on the road.

Besides, this attitude (blaming the city) abrogates drivers of their own responsibilities on the road, and acts as though some paint on the pavement can trump the free will and good judgement of road users. Isn't that completely opposed to the ideals of vehicular cycling?

Scott Harriman said...

I see your point. It's just frustrating to watch municipalities continue to install -- and people continue to get injured or killed while using -- bike infrastructure that is inherently unsafe.

Infrastructure should be designed in order to accommodate all users, even those with a minimum amount of knowledge.

A newly-licensed automobile driver has the knowledge (though not necessarily the maturity) required to operate their vehicle safely on our automobile infrastructure.

A brand new cyclist, however, has not been trained that they should ignore the bike lane in many circumstances. In fact, they have probably been taught the opposite -- that bikes belong in bike lanes. After all, why would the city paint this special lane here if it isn't safe to use?

You shouldn't need years of experience in order to safely use a street with a bike lane, but that seems to be the reality. Most cyclists that I observe have no clue about the hazards of door zones and incorrect lane placement at intersections.

There is no automobile infrastructure that blatantly directs users into hazardous situations. We should not settle for bike-specific infrastructure that does.