Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Two Jarring Incidents--and another cyclist down

Sent to Police Chief Torpy and the Transportation Board

Yesterday I rode my motorcycle home for lunch after some training at White Rock. Headed East on Diamond Drive, I saw in my rear view mirrors a County garbage truck gaining on me from some distance back. Finally, with the truck just about filling my mirrors, I hit the gas in a lower gear, sped up, and then looked back as if to say "what are you doing"?

The County driver slowed precipitously and kept about a hundred yards back the rest of the way to the roundabout. I wonder if he realized he nearly hit me.

Today, again heading home for lunch on the motorcycle (we have had a complicated life lately requiring us to take turns going home for lunch, so I'm often motorized), I saw an older motorist weaving back and forth between the bike lane and travel lane in an older brown American car, headed northbound on Diamond near the First Baptist Church. Not just slightly in the bike lane, but driving for long periods ENTIRELY in it and seeming to be daydreaming. I saw a bicyclist up ahead and maneuvered forward to warn him to watch for this guy. Seeing me riding my MC in the bike lane and pointing at him, the older gentleman suddenly found the wherewithal to keep his vehicle under control and drove straight as an arrow all the way to the roundabout, where he headed onto Barranca Mesa.

Is distracted driving on the rise here? I hope that when our LAPD sees such bad driving, they are citing under Sec. 38-297. - Careless driving

As much as I would hate to be a statistic, I would really hate to have to read about the next one. Most of these are preventable if the public paid attention.

Khal Spencer

To which Jerry adds this:
Is distracted driving on the rise?

Just last Friday afternoon I was standing by the side of the street by my house when a car with 4 kids in it drove by with the driver’s window open.  The driver had his phone in the center of the steering wheel and was texting with his thumbs.  Didn’t see him look up at all to see where he was going.

Regarding cars using the bike lane:  I see it all the time…  mostly on sweeping right hand turns on Diamond.

Send your stories in as comments. Let's see who can win the prize for nuttiest driver story. Winner gets a six pack of their favorite beer or non-alcoholic beverage.


Steve A said...

You have an advantage on a bike you lack on a motorcycle. Bicycle = slow = change lanes early. Motorcycle = not slow so no immediate need. I don't say it is entirely rational, but sometimes it isn't so bad to be pegged as a slug.

Jon said...

I think the "winner" is the gentleman I saw flat on his back in the Metzger Mobil parking lot, bike and lights strewn around. Since someone was on the phone and someone else was showing a badge (thus hopefully at least as well trained as I in emergency medicine), I got out of the way and continued on to work. Hope you're doing okay, and beverage of your choice on me once you're feeling better.

This spring has been ridiculous. I don't know if it's work stress or that Diamond isn't torn up so it's treated as a speedway or what, but motorists, many of you need to STOP IT. Stay in your lane. Stop for red lights and stop signs before crossing the crosswalk (even if it isn't marked) or entering the bike lane. Slow down. Look. Don't hit things right in front of you. In other words, obey the law and pay attention. And thanks to those of you who do.

We need to stop tolerating the level of sloppy, dangerous driving that's commonplace around here. I was going down Sandia the other day and saw that the motorist in front of me was gaining on me...looked down and I was going 35. Ten over! So do I slow down to the speed limit and get smacked by the next guy behind me that's going 40 in a 25? I routinely have motorists encroach on the bike lane (as in, one tire entirely in the lane) right next to me.

Khal said...

I stopped momentarily when I saw it was a cyclist down, but the person was being loaded into the ambulance at that point so I got back on my bike rather than make a pest of myself.

That section of bike lane worries me--too many curb cuts, leading to the potential for the classic right hook and left cross crashes. I don't know if that was what this crash was, but it sure would make sense if it was.

Jon said...

According to the Monitor, the CYCLIST was cited for failure to yield. I hope he fights it.

Khal said...

I don't understand how you can be cited for FTY when someone else is encroaching on YOUR lane. But I have not seen a police report or a witness account. Has anyone else?

Anonymous said...

Question for the house:

Say I'm the driver in this sort of situation, and I need to turn right. There is the bike lane that isn't "mine", and the car lane that is. When I get ready to turn with my car, do I merge over into the bike lane then turn, or just turn through the bike lane from my car lane?

I can make arguments both ways, but the thing I would (and have) done is move my car into the bike
lane and take the whole d*mn thing, no matter what anybody else says either way. That way nobody ends up plastered against my right hand side door no matter what I do, because there is no room to be there at all.
Barring only that look before moving over so as not to hit someone in the merge itself.

But I have little doubt it would make at least some bike riders rather ticked off at me, for taking their lane...

so what is right(er)/less wrong here?

MikeOnBike said...

Anon: In every state except Oregon, motorists are required to merge into the bike lane before turning, for the very reasons you mention.

In Oregon, it's the opposite. Motorists are prohibited from merging into the bike lane before turning.

So you're doing the right thing. I wish more motorists would.

Khal said...

66-7-322. Required position and method of turning at intersections.

The driver of a vehicle intending to turn at an intersection shall do so as follows:

A. both the approach for a right turn and a right turn shall be made as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway;

B. at any intersection where traffic is permitted to move in both directions on each roadway entering the intersection, an approach for a left turn, except where left-turn provisions are made, shall be made in that portion of the right half of the roadway nearest the center line thereof and by passing to the right of such center line where it enters the intersection and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection to the right of the center line of the roadway being entered. Whenever practicable the left turn shall be made in that portion of the intersection to the left of the center of the intersection;

C. upon a roadway with two or more lanes for through traffic in each direction, where a center lane has been provided by distinctive pavement markings for the use of vehicles turning left from both directions, no vehicle shall turn left from any other lane. A vehicle shall not be driven in this center lane for the purpose of overtaking or passing another vehicle proceeding in the same direction. Any maneuver other than a left turn from this center lane will be deemed a violation of this section;

D. at any intersection where traffic is restricted to one direction on one or more of the roadways, the driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any such intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle and after entering the intersection the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection, as nearly as practicable, in the left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in such direction upon the roadway being entered; and

E. local authorities in their respective jurisdictions may cause markers, buttons or signs to be placed within or adjacent to intersections and thereby require and direct that a different course from that specified in this section be traveled by vehicles turning at an intersection, and when markers, buttons or signs are so placed no driver of a vehicle shall turn a vehicle at an intersection other than as directed and required by the markers, buttons or signs.

History: 1941 Comp., § 68-2421, enacted by Laws 1953, ch. 139, § 76; 1953 Comp., § 64-18-21; Laws 1965, ch. 108, § 1; recompiled as 1953 Comp., § 64-7-322, by Laws 1978, ch. 35, § 426.

66-7-310. Overtaking a vehicle on the left.

The following rules shall govern the overtaking and passing of vehicles proceeding in the same direction, subject to those limitations, exceptions and special rules hereinafter stated:

A. the driver of a vehicle overtaking another vehicle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left thereof at a safe distance and shall not again drive to the right side of the roadway until safely clear of the overtaken vehicle; and

B. except when overtaking and passing on the right is permitted, the driver of an overtaken vehicle shall give way to the right in favor of the overtaking vehicle on audible signal and shall not increase the speed of his vehicle until completely passed by the overtaking vehicle.
History: 1953 Comp., § 64-7-310, enacted by Laws 1978, ch. 35, § 414.

Anonymous said...

My understanding of law enforcement is that since they rarely deal with bicycles that the outcome depends on the individual police officer and judge; I've never heard of a sober motorist cited for hitting bicyclists, even when the officer explains what the motorist's offense was (failure to yield, leaving the scene of an accident, etc.)

While DE law is basically the same as that you cited (no specific recognition of bike lanes), planners and some JP (lower court) judges refuse to accept that motorists ever have to yield to bicyclists (so the bicyclist is automatically at fault in any collision). This is sometimes overturned on appeal, but this is obviously burdensome to cyclists.

Similarly, planners here deliberately put solid bike lane stripes across entrances to shopping centers and gas stations "to highlight the danger." I would have preferred sharrows to actually reduce the danger. For the bike lane in questions, I find motorists have no problem when I ignore it and use the lane, but don't yield to bicyclists in the bike lane. (I think there are significant visibility problems - it's hard to see bicyclists at the edge of the road from the parking lots.)

To my mind, if the state is installing bike lanes that won't comply with AASHTO standards (after this is pointed out to them), citing them for collisions is consistent with their view that bicyclists have no legal right of way unless they are willing to contest decisions up to appeals courts.