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Old 10-09-04, 06:13 PM   #1
bemoore
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New Way to Wipe Out

I found a new way to wipe out. I got caught by surprise yesterday. I guess all accidents are a surprise, or else we could avoid them. Anyway, I was on a local bike lane in a section I hadn't been on before where there was construction and traffic barrels blocking the bike lane. The barrels were staggered a bit so that you had to pass some on the left, some on the right, etc. I took one on the right and drifted over the righmost white line and discovered that the surface was now VERY soft dirt. I found myself on my side sliding along at about 20 mph toward the next barrel. Luckily, I stopped right before I hit it. The dirt was so soft I don't think I could have stayed up on my mtn bike. The bike lane was covered by a thin layer of dust that was the same color as the dirt that was also graded smooth and flush to the road surface. It all looked like the same surface. Most of the other sections of the bike lane did extend past the righmost white line, but not here. I've never been fooled by the road surface like that before. Just thought I'd alert everyone to a potentially unrecognized danger.
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Old 10-10-04, 02:34 AM   #2
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It's not unrecognised. It happens all the time. The problem with bike lanes as opposed to shoulders is that there seems to be some idea that we have to use the bike lane. Personally, I wouldn't have even tried use the bike lane at all in that situation.
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Old 10-10-04, 03:27 AM   #3
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Got to agree with you Chris. Here in FL, paved shoulders are not legally part of the road so cyclists are not required to ride on them.

I suppose "bike lanes" are fine in theory but they tend to be indifferent to dangerous in execution. Often they are functionally a paved shoulder with a bike lane marker on it. They are frequently left in an indifferent state of repair, they often have debris in them, and they are often functionally interrupted by ramps for driveways and so on.

I believe that the people involved in the design, planning, construction and maintenance of bike lanes are totally innocent of any contact with or knowledge of cycling.
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Old 10-10-04, 12:31 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
It's not unrecognised. It happens all the time. The problem with bike lanes as opposed to shoulders is that there seems to be some idea that we have to use the bike lane. Personally, I wouldn't have even tried use the bike lane at all in that situation.
so, is it not a law that if there is a bike lane, you have to use it?
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Old 10-10-04, 02:13 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by lt1aggie
so, is it not a law that if there is a bike lane, you have to use it?
Safety trumps any bikelane laws. Most bikelane laws that require bikes to ride in the bikelane all contain the EXCEPTION that allowes the bike to leave the bike lane if a right turn lane starts, making a left turn, and to avoid conditions that make it unsafe to continue in the bike lane. This is the same as the slow bike stays to the right rule.

The bikelanes are there not for the safety and convienance of bikers, but to get bikes out of the way of cars.
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Old 10-10-04, 05:23 PM   #6
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Around here (suburb of Atlanta), cyclists are determined to be at fault in accidents when they are not keeping to the right of the right turn lane if one'e available. The law states to stay "as far right as practicable". But the local police (in more than one recent incident) have ruled that the motorist was not at fault because the cyclist wasn't as far right as he should have been. So if a bike lane is available and I'm not using it, I'm fair game. Yes, the bike lane often has debris, and has many driveway entrances, but the road in question is a 4-lane, 45 mph artery where the typical speeds are 55, and it's frequently used by dump trucks and semi's. I agree that safety outweighs the law, but in this case I feel the bike lane was safer than any other option.

BTW, I didn't relate this story to spark a debate on bike lanes. I just wanted to alert everyone to the potential danger when the road surface looks the same as the adjoining dirt surface which could be very soft.
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Old 10-10-04, 09:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lt1aggie
so, is it not a law that if there is a bike lane, you have to use it?
I'd suggest reading your local laws very carefully and looking for the "if practicable" phrase. We have one in our "mandatory bikelane laws" out here, which changes the meaning of the law entirely. It's not practicable to ride through debris on any section of the road, hence that would render the law as it is written in this part of the world meaningless. I'd be prepared to argue that point in court, but as yet I haven't needed to.

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Originally Posted by bemoore
Around here (suburb of Atlanta), cyclists are determined to be at fault in accidents when they are not keeping to the right of the right turn lane if one'e available. The law states to stay "as far right as practicable". But the local police (in more than one recent incident) have ruled that the motorist was not at fault because the cyclist wasn't as far right as he should have been. So if a bike lane is available and I'm not using it, I'm fair game. Yes, the bike lane often has debris, and has many driveway entrances, but the road in question is a 4-lane, 45 mph artery where the typical speeds are 55, and it's frequently used by dump trucks and semi's. I agree that safety outweighs the law, but in this case I feel the bike lane was safer than any other option.

BTW, I didn't relate this story to spark a debate on bike lanes. I just wanted to alert everyone to the potential danger when the road surface looks the same as the adjoining dirt surface which could be very soft.
It's all about trying to avoid the accident. What would have happened if you'd it the debris and then fallen sideways onto the roadway? What you need to do is scan the road ahead, signal your intentions, and then move gradually into the traffic lane. The fact that it has four lanes is a blessing rather than a curse -- that provides even more overtaking room for the other vehicles on the road.
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Old 10-11-04, 06:52 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris L
It's all about trying to avoid the accident. What would have happened if you'd it the debris and then fallen sideways onto the roadway?


I ride around the debris. So far, I've not encountered a bike lane completely blocked by debris. If I do, I will stop if I have to, and wait for traffic to clear, then I will use the traffic lane to move around the debris.


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What you need to do is scan the road ahead, signal your intentions, and then move gradually into the traffic lane. The fact that it has four lanes is a blessing rather than a curse -- that provides even more overtaking room for the other vehicles on the road.
I do scan the road ahead and signal my intentions. But gradually moving in to a flow of 60 mph traffic is not what I consider safe. Even if the motorists have the best intentions (which they don't), I wouldn't trust them to react properly to a vehicle moving 40 mph slower than they are. The 4-lanes around here seem to be regarded as training for the NASCAR circuit. Nature abhors a vacuum. Motorists around here abhor an an empty space in traffic. Someone will fill it. Motorists are not looking for slow moving vehicles in the bike lane. They are looking for the next void to fill. I avoid 4-lanes, and I wouldn't use this one if didn't have a bike lane. I'll ride busy 2-lanes as the motorists are not distracted by racing each other, but 4-lanes, no thanks. The fact that a 4-lane has more overtaking room does not matter if the motorists do not allow the cyclist any of that room.
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Old 10-11-04, 10:47 AM   #9
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As has been said before police don't legally determine fault. The courts have that responsibility. If the police write you a citation you can always challenge it in court and court should side with you. But also usually bike citation are small compared to potential medical bills even with insurance so do what is safest and worry about the police later.
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Old 10-11-04, 11:40 AM   #10
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While it's true that the courts assess blame, when the cyclist is dead and the officer is biased....
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Old 10-11-04, 12:56 PM   #11
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Here sometimes it's the construction crew that I think is the most negligent. They can chop off a bike lane or a path with no warning to bike traffic and then give us no alternate route. Recently I was riding a path and when I came to an intersection with construction work 10 to 15 yards to the right of the path, I was shocked to find the path abruptly dug up and a 8-10 inch drop onto huge 2" loose rocks. It was on a slight downhill so you really didn't see it coming because it was the entry point across a street that was NOT dug up at that point. Very strange and I wonder how many people wiped out right there. No markers, warning or signs of any sort. When driving I saw many people carrying their bikes over that spot it was so bad.
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Old 10-11-04, 09:02 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bemoore
I ride around the debris. So far, I've not encountered a bike lane completely blocked by debris. If I do, I will stop if I have to, and wait for traffic to clear, then I will use the traffic lane to move around the debris.
Which is fine if you're expecting the traffic to clear anytime that day. Generally doesn't happen on the roads I commute on, you could be waiting for a very long time.


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The fact that a 4-lane has more overtaking room does not matter if the motorists do not allow the cyclist any of that room.
And they allow it on the 2-lane roads that you're quite happy to ride? As I've said before on this list (and as I do everyday), don't rely on the motorist to give you space, take that space.
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Old 10-12-04, 08:45 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Chris L
Which is fine if you're expecting the traffic to clear anytime that day. Generally doesn't happen on the roads I commute on, you could be waiting for a very long time.
This road has several redlights which provide periodic gaps in traffic.


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Originally Posted by Chris L
And they allow it on the 2-lane roads that you're quite happy to ride? As I've said before on this list (and as I do everyday), don't rely on the motorist to give you space, take that space.
On the 2-lanes, they aren't necessarily more or less willing to allow me more space, but they are more aware of me. I don't dissapear into the scenery amidst the distractions of their pursuit of getting to the next redlight first. I'll take the space on a 2-lane when I think it's warranted, but on a 4-lane, I feel the motorists are just too distracted and too busy racing each other to the next redlight.
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