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Old 12-15-06, 10:01 PM   #1
jimmuter
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Bike lane rights?

There was an accident a couple of days ago on Duke University's campus involving a dump truck and a cyclist. An officer who sought clarification from the responding officer offered the following analysis:

Quote:
The cyclist was in the bike lane on the right. The truck was in the roadway travel lane and was slowing to turn on to Whitford. He put his turn signal on and started to make the turn. The cyclist attempted to pass him on the right as the truck was starting his turn and the two collided.
Now, bicycles are considered vehicles and must follow all vehicle laws...just like cars. In this case, the bicycle attempted to pass a vehicle on the right...in an intersection...as the vehicle was turning. These 3 factors combined are a recipe for disaster obviously and put the contributing factors for the accident on the bicyclist. The bike lane does not mean that the bicyclist can ignore traffic law due to the fact that they ride in that lane. They still are bound to see their way clear before crossing over the intersection. Compare it to a vehicle passing on the right and then attempting to pull back into the lane as you are making a right turn. There were 4 independent witnesses, and the witnesses statements and evidence left on both vehicles all support the finding of fault. In this incident the fault is clear and the correct finding was made by the Officer.
What do you think?
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Old 12-15-06, 10:14 PM   #2
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In most areas the bike lane ends before the intersection, the positioning of the vehicles when the bike lane ends (and not where the intersection is) determines who has the ROI.
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Old 12-15-06, 10:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmuter
What do you think?
I thought the whole point of bike lanes is that cars aren't supposed to enter them. This sounds like the worst of both worlds. Bike lanes are useless.
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Old 12-15-06, 11:38 PM   #4
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Compare it to a vehicle passing on the right and then attempting to pull back into the lane as you are making a right turn.
He's making the wrong comparison. The bike lane is a travel lane. The proper comparison is a two-lane road, and you are making a right turn from the left lane when a vehicle is present in the right lane.
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Old 12-16-06, 12:45 AM   #5
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What are the legal requirements in NC for a vehicle turning right in the presence of a bike lane? Here in CA, a vehicle must merge into the bike lane before making the right turn. Therefore, if the above scenario were to happen in CA, the motorist would be at least partially at legal fault.
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Old 12-16-06, 02:33 AM   #6
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The cyclist should not have tried to pass a vehicle on the right while it was signalling and making a right turn. Trucks frequently have to start a right turn further out in the roadway than cars, just because they are longer and have a larger turning circle than cars and other smaller vehicles. That's why so many 18 wheelers have signs on the back warning other road users not to pass on the right when they are making right turns.

One of the bad things about bike lanes is that they encourage cylists to pass on the right. They also reinforce the popular belief that bicycles are not real vehicles and do not have to obey the same rules that cars have to obey.
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Old 12-16-06, 03:20 AM   #7
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And cops make up rules for bike lanes so they can somehow find the cyclist at fault.
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Old 12-16-06, 03:34 AM   #8
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Sounds like they both screwed up. The truck driver should have merged right into the bike lane well before making his turn...and if he couldn't do so safely, should have waited till the bike lane was clear. (Unless he needed more room to make a wide turn...but in that case, he should have been aware that he was making a non-standard turn, and taken extra care to make sure his right side was clear.) And he drives for a living, so he should be expected to meet high professional standards.

The cyclist never should have tried to pass the truck on the right while approaching the intersection...ESPECIALLY if the truck was signalling a right turn.

I'd call the fault 60% with the cyclist, 40% with the driver.

Of course, this is all assuming the officer has his facts straight. If the truck driver was actually trying to pass the cyclist, rather than vice versa, and made his turn before completing the pass, then the blame would all be his. (Even then, the cyclist would have been wiser to take the center of the through lane while approaching an intersection, rather than the bike lane...but the driver's negligence would far outweigh that lapse in judgment.)
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Old 12-16-06, 06:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCI_Brian
What are the legal requirements in NC for a vehicle turning right in the presence of a bike lane? Here in CA, a vehicle must merge into the bike lane before making the right turn. Therefore, if the above scenario were to happen in CA, the motorist would be at least partially at legal fault.
Like every other state statute regarding cycling, it's vague:
" 20-153. Turning at intersections.
(a)Right Turns. - 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."
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Old 12-16-06, 07:02 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganesha
In most areas the bike lane ends before the intersection, the positioning of the vehicles when the bike lane ends (and not where the intersection is) determines who has the ROI.
Duke kind of did their own thing on their campus. Some of their 'bike lanes' are even on sidewalks. There is a street in Durham with nice bike lanes that have signs all along the way advising motorists to 'yield to bikes when turning right'. There are no such exhortations on campus.
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Old 12-16-06, 08:10 AM   #11
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This is a very good example of poor bike lane design and one of the inherent problems with bike lanes, in that they lead cyclists to a false sense of security.

All I know of this crash is what I read in the OP, but from that, I have to agree with the below:
Quote:
The cyclist was in the bike lane on the right. The truck was in the roadway travel lane and was slowing to turn on to Whitford. He put his turn signal on and started to make the turn. The cyclist attempted to pass him on the right as the truck was starting his turn and the two collided.
Now, bicycles are considered vehicles and must follow all vehicle laws...just like cars. In this case, the bicycle attempted to pass a vehicle on the right...in an intersection...as the vehicle was turning. These 3 factors combined are a recipe for disaster obviously and put the contributing factors for the accident on the bicyclist. The bike lane does not mean that the bicyclist can ignore traffic law due to the fact that they ride in that lane. They still are bound to see their way clear before crossing over the intersection. Compare it to a vehicle passing on the right and then attempting to pull back into the lane as you are making a right turn. There were 4 independent witnesses, and the witnesses statements and evidence left on both vehicles all support the finding of fault. In this incident the fault is clear and the correct finding was made by the Officer.
If that is all there is to it, the cyclist could have avoided this crash, and should have, by placing himself in the center of the lane that proceded in his intended direction of travel. In this case, the right most straight ahead lane.

If the truck passed the cyclist, then began it's right turn, the driver of the truck was wrong, but the cyclist could have avoided this by taking the lane before reaching the intersection.
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Old 12-16-06, 10:53 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCI_Brian
What are the legal requirements in NC for a vehicle turning right in the presence of a bike lane? Here in CA, a vehicle must merge into the bike lane before making the right turn. Therefore, if the above scenario were to happen in CA, the motorist would be at least partially at legal fault.
While motorists in CA are supposed to merge into BL before a turn, they frequently do not... and to compound issues, if the motorist had come from Oregon, they probably would not merge as the law there tells motorists to cross BL, not merge.

These are the issues that tend to cloud the whole BL issue.
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Old 12-16-06, 11:00 AM   #13
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the real issue and one not illustrated by either police or thread is if the truck driver pulled partially ahead of the bicyclist before right hooking them, or was the semi truly at a stop, waiting to turn right, and had started their turn before the bicyclist was on the trucks' right?

The issue of partial passing and the subsequent right hook is common with long commercial vehicles. This issue is independant of any road striping scheme, and bicyclists face this issue REGARDLESS of how the road is accomodated.

If the bicyclist truly did what the cop claims, well, that's a poor way to pass a turning semi truck.
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Old 12-16-06, 02:51 PM   #14
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Bekologist has it right: who was passing whom in this incident? Passing a cyclist with the intent of making a near-immediate right turn is dangerous, discourteous, and illegal. A cyclist who passes a motor vehicle which is obviously preparing for a right turn is suicidal.
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Old 12-16-06, 08:10 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John E
Bekologist has it right: who was passing whom in this incident? Passing a cyclist with the intent of making a near-immediate right turn is dangerous, discourteous, and illegal. A cyclist who passes a motor vehicle which is obviously preparing for a right turn is suicidal.
Based on the eyewitness accounts, it sure sounds like the latter was the case. The truck was going 5 MPH. I doubt the bike was going anywhere near that slow. When the cyclist gets out of the hospital, maybe we'll find out more.
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Old 12-16-06, 09:42 PM   #16
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I think both were surely at fault, but the presence of the bike lane clearly, IMHO, confuses the issue of how motorists are supposed to make a right turn. Normal traffic law says they must move to the right of the road to make a right turn, but the BL implies (rightly or wrongly) to them that they must not enter it. So what is the motorist to do? Although both drivers made bad decisions, it should also be noted that the presence of the bike lane here sends a mixed and confusing signal to everyone.

Last edited by JohnBrooking; 12-18-06 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 12-17-06, 05:46 AM   #17
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There's probably not enough information in the report to draw a clear conclusion about the relative responsibilities of the two peopl involved, but there seem to be three possible scenarios:

1. The driver cut across the front of the rider leaving him too little time to stop, so he hit its side. Conclusion: driver's fault as he interfered with the cyclist's right of way.

2. The driver was far enough ahead of but not in front of, the cyclist for the rider to have slowed down to avoid hitting him. Conclusion: the rider was not paying sufficient attention so hit the side of the truck, but a possible shared responsibility because you shouldn't interfere with the right of way of the person in the kerbside lane.

3. The rider ran into the back of the turning truck so he should have been paying more attention.

The officer's conclusion, however, seems to have been automatically weighted towards the driver and pays insufficient attention to the rights of the cyclist if scenarios 2 applies. If scenario 1 applies, then the officer had his finger up his arse, trying to scratch what passes for his brain into action
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Old 12-17-06, 09:05 AM   #18
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I'm giving 10 to 1 odds the truck driver failed to use his turn signals 300 feet prior to the intersection or whatever state law requires.

I'd also put money on the bicyclist getting right hooked due to an incomplete pass by the dump truck as in scenario #1 or #2 described by abtman.
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Old 12-17-06, 11:19 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atbman
There's probably not enough information in the report to draw a clear conclusion about the relative responsibilities of the two peopl involved, but there seem to be three possible scenarios:

1. The driver cut across the front of the rider leaving him too little time to stop, so he hit its side. Conclusion: driver's fault as he interfered with the cyclist's right of way.

2. The driver was far enough ahead of but not in front of, the cyclist for the rider to have slowed down to avoid hitting him. Conclusion: the rider was not paying sufficient attention so hit the side of the truck, but a possible shared responsibility because you shouldn't interfere with the right of way of the person in the kerbside lane.

3. The rider ran into the back of the turning truck so he should have been paying more attention.

The officer's conclusion, however, seems to have been automatically weighted towards the driver and pays insufficient attention to the rights of the cyclist if scenarios 2 applies. If scenario 1 applies, then the officer had his finger up his arse, trying to scratch what passes for his brain into action

Either way it looks like the the truck driver failed in his approach to the turn, as he was not ..."as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway," as specified in the law.
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Old 12-17-06, 01:43 PM   #20
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20‑154. Signals on starting, stopping or turning.

...

All hand and arm signals shall be given from the left side of the vehicle and all signals shall be maintained or given continuously for the last 100 feet traveled prior to stopping or making a turn. Provided, that in all areas where the speed limit is 45 miles per hour or higher and the operator intends to turn from a direct line of travel, a signal of intention to turn from a direct line of travel shall be given continuously during the last 200 feet traveled before turning.
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Old 12-18-06, 03:59 PM   #21
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This is a text book right hook crash -- the most frequent type of bike-car crash.

For cyclists, legal liability is moot when we're killed or permanently maimed by a right hook crash. Regardless of what the law says (which is ambiguous at best anyway), it is our responsibility to ourselves, families, friends, co-workers, fellow forum members and everyone in the world to whom we matter, to avoid being hit. When a cyclist is hit, he has not met this responsibility, by definition.

How to avoid right hooks (not to mention left hooks and right and left crosses) should not be a secret to any regular reader of this forum (hint: it involves using lane position to control the rightmost traffic lane, regardless of how narrow or wide it is, and regardless of whether there is a bike lane present, at all intersections - no matter how minor - and their approaches, and, even then, being vigilant for the right hook potential from the adjacent lane to the left).
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Old 12-18-06, 04:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
Either way it looks like the the truck driver failed in his approach to the turn, as he was not ..."as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway," as specified in the law.
It is often not practicable to be anywhere near the curb when making a right turn in a large truck with a long trailer....
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Old 12-18-06, 04:31 PM   #23
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Based on what is provided, I don't think things would have been different if there was no bike lane.

But the accident report does not provide enough detail for a reconstruction over the internet.
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Old 12-18-06, 05:56 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Helmet Head
It is often not practicable to be anywhere near the curb when making a right turn in a large truck with a long trailer....
And while that is true, it is also true that according to law such a vehicle must signal before making such a turn...

Since we are talking hypothetical here (as the OP was discussing dump trucks) then the cyclist would be at fault for not heeding said signal.

However, this may be more of a case of right hook (as you mentioned earlier).

But without knowing exactly the situation of whether the truck went past the cyclist and then made their turn or whether the truck properly signaled and the cyclist failed to heed the signal, it is difficult to place blame on either.

Further, since a cyclist even in WOL is going to be riding in the exact same place as they would in a BL... the stripe cannot be considered to be the cause of the accident in this situation.

Bottom line, there is too little information for US to properly determine fault... But the police officer on scene had at least the statements from the eyewitnesses.
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Old 12-18-06, 06:46 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by genec
But without knowing exactly the situation of whether the truck went past the cyclist and then made their turn or whether the truck properly signaled and the cyclist failed to heed the signal, it is difficult to place blame on either.
What's the significant difference between the two situations? Even if the dump trucked passed the cyclist before starting to slow down in preparation for a right turn, the cyclist continued to pass on the right. That's irresponsible, no matter what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by gettocruiser
Based on what is provided, I don't think things would have been different if there was no bike lane.
There is no way to know if in this particular case the bike lane contributed to the incorrect behavior, or whether the incorrect behavior would have occurred even if the bike lane was not there. But there should be no doubt that bike lanes to the right of right-or-straight lanes at intersection approaches, whether striped dashed or solid, encourage incorrect behavior on the part of both right-turning motorists and through cyclists.

Quote:
But the accident report does not provide enough detail for a reconstruction over the internet.
The fundamental elements in any right hook crash are so similar that details of a particular instance are not required to be known in order to reach certain conclusions that apply to all right hook crashes.
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