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Old 06-30-05, 10:57 AM   #1
skanking biker
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deadly right turns

Drivers' right turns can be deadly

By Lee Sensenbrenner
June 30, 2005

When a collision between a FedEx truck and a bicycle killed the 33-year-old cyclist on the east side of Madison earlier this month, it was a repetition of the kind of crash that city safety officials say they see again and again.

A driver typically looks left into traffic while turning right, keeping attention directed away from bicyclists or pedestrians in the crosswalks ahead, city Transportation Department safety educator Steve Meier said Wednesday.

Of 510 collisions reported between bicyclists and motorists between 1998 and 2003, the most recent period for which statistics are available, 65 involved a driver turning right. Only one involved a driver turning left, Meier noted.

Although it is legal to ride a bicycle on the sidewalk throughout most of Madison, Meier said the practice probably contributes to the risk of these accidents.

"We would like to make our streets safer so people feel comfortable riding in the streets," he said.

While Madison continues to add more bike paths and bike lanes across the city, Meier said those sharing the streets and sidewalks must improve their habits and realize that Madison supports different means of transportation.

"It's not just kids on sidewalks," Meier said. "The average age of a bicyclist involved in an accident is 30."

Meier, a bicyclist, said he wouldn't cross in front of a driver unless he had first established eye contact and was sure that the driver wouldn't pull out in front of him.

Police haven't charged the FedEx driver with any wrongdoing, saying the bicyclist ran into his truck as he pulled away from a stop sign, turning right onto Milwaukee Street from Marquette Street.

Theresa A. Kacynski, whom police said was killed instantly, was approaching the driver from his right on the sidewalk along Milwaukee Street. Her bicycle was dragged under the truck for 35 feet, police said.

Tom Royston, the general manager at Badger Cab, said one of his drivers, who was off duty and on foot at the time, saw the crash and was on the phone with his company's dispatcher at the time. The incident has been another reminder for the company that their workplace is a sometimes chaotic mix of cars, bicyclists and pedestrians.

"It gets to be an unintentionally adversarial relationship," Royston said, recalling stories from his drivers about how a car in the right lane might stop for a marked pedestrian crosswalk with a yield sign, but traffic in the left lane races on through.

"We've got a heavy mix of pedestrians and bicyclists, especially downtown, and everyone has to use some caution," Royston said.

Of the other relatively recent fatal accidents between motorists and nonmotorists in Madison, two others have involved a car or a truck turning right. A German tourist walking near the Capitol Square was killed when a 25-year-old woman hit her with her SUV in 2003, and a minister died crossing North Sherman Avenue when a car driven by a 76-year-old woman turned right from Vahlen Street.

"The pedestrian in each of these cases was in the crosswalk and was acting legally," Meier said. "But I encourage pedestrians to look behind them for turning vehicles just to be sure there isn't a driver who is about to turn."
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Old 06-30-05, 11:06 AM   #2
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I went and visited the site on my way home the other day. On the very corner that the accident happened is the house of a guy who recycles bikes from the dump, fixes them up, and sells them for like $30-$50. Odd coincidence.

We need to be educating drivers and riders better than we are now. Kids need to be taught how and where to ride a bike in school and drivers need to know about their responsibilities and the rights of cyclists.
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Old 06-30-05, 01:37 PM   #3
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The problem of drivers creaming people as they turn right is so bad that in some cities they put little orange flags in boxes at each end of the cross walk. The pedestrian is supposed to take one to wave at the motorists so he can get their attention while they cross, then leave the flag at the other end.

As a cyclist who does not subscribe to the take the lane all the time philosophy, I've found it to be a good policy to never pass anyone on the right if they even show the slightest hint they might turn into me, and to never pass anyone on the right who is moving.
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Old 06-30-05, 05:31 PM   #4
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Diane's rule
Quote:
Originally Posted by sbhikes
... I've found it to be a good policy to never pass anyone on the right if they even show the slightest hint they might turn into me, and to never pass anyone on the right who is moving.
Excellent advice.

If cyclists would follow your rule religiously, there would be no need for motorists to change their behavior (which, realistically, isn't going to happen anyway).

It is a human tendency to look for solutions outside of ourselves, despite the fact that most of the time the solutions lie within. The irony is that we of course have much more abiilty to make changes within, than without.

A great example of this is how cyclists typically seek to blame "cars", "bad drivers" and "poor facilities" for our problems, rather than blaming our own reluctance to learn to cycle safely in traffic (like by following Diane's rule religiously, to start).

Last edited by Helmet Head; 06-30-05 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 06-30-05, 05:35 PM   #5
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This is exactly what happened to my sister today, luckily she got away with some bruising and no real damage to the bike. She was filtering up towards an intersection and the car next to her turned. I almost always filter to the left of the cars.

Good thing it was less than a block to a LBS - she finally got around to getting herself a helmet
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Old 07-01-05, 01:43 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skanking biker
Drivers' right turns can be deadly

By Lee Sensenbrenner
June 30, 2005
What is the source of this article, i.e. name of newspaper, website, etc.

Can you provide a link?
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Old 07-01-05, 01:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Diane's rule
A great example of this is how cyclists typically seek to blame "cars", "bad drivers" and "poor facilities" for our problems, rather than blaming our own reluctance to learn to cycle safely in traffic (like by following Diane's rule religiously, to start).
We can still blame bad drivers, but I agree that it's bad cycling to take a risk of passing on the right near an intersection. I try to follow "Diane's Rule" myself. Plus I have my head on a swivel.
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Old 07-01-05, 02:52 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
Diane's rule

Excellent advice.
To add to the rule: Don't even rely on turn signals. A few days ago I was riding into my neighborhood in a 25mph zone with a small truck pulling a small car width trailer ahead of me going about 15mph. I gained on them, but held back to stay in their visible mirror zone. The right turn signal came on and the truck started veering right, so I started to pull to its left to go around, when I suddenly noticed that the left turn signal of the truck was on and the truck was veering right to make a wide left turn, but the trailer signal that I saw first was mis-wired (reversed). Just as I noticed the correct left turn truck turn signal, it started turning, in time for me to back off and let them turn.

Given the low speeds, wide road, and wide berth I had, etc. it wasn't really a particulary dangerous situation, but a good reminder that you can't rely on signals either. Similarly I've seen cars with left turn signal on turn right, not a wiring issue, but user confusion/mind changing/error.

Al
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