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  1. #1
    Junior Member carpjam's Avatar
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    Who's fault was it?

    Commuting home today and was cruising down a hill in the bike lanewhen dude in front of me executes a last-second pass of a left-turning car using the bike lane on the right as passing real-estate.

    Granted I was intending to pass both cars (part of the beauty of bike lanes, right!) but instead locked 'em up in an effort to avoid becoming part of his trunk. Haven't layed down a skid mark like that since I was a kid on my BMX bike!

    So who was REALLY in the right? (putting all pro-commuting bias aside if possible)

  2. #2
    the commutor / tourer mcavana's Avatar
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    sorry man, the situation you explained does not paint a very good picture. please try again.
    "Ready to retire, just can't afford it yet!"

  3. #3
    Sensible shoes. CastIron's Avatar
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    Bike lanes are generally a protected AND separate right of way. If the other driver breached that lane he was in error. In any case your action wasn't terribly prudent and all road users have an obligation to avoid traffic collisions (by statute here).
    Mike
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  4. #4
    Weapons grade stupidity wneumann's Avatar
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    Depends on your local laws, but most likely he was as, in most places, cars are not allowed in the bike lanes.

  5. #5
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    Don't see anyway this was your fault. It's bad enough when cars run you off the road but when they run you off of a bike path . . . geez!

  6. #6
    3 seconds ColorChange's Avatar
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    I agree, the truck driver cut you off in the bike lane no less. That is why I just got my new Zound horn.

  7. #7
    Two H's!!! TWO!!!!! chephy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wneumann
    Depends on your local laws, but most likely he was as, in most places, cars are not allowed in the bike lanes.
    That's not true - cars have to go through bike lanes to execute turns, and in many places are in fact encouraged to merge early if they are making a right turn. But the merge must respect the cyclist's ROW (i.e., no cutting people off!). And it's true that cars absolutely are not allowed to use the bike lane to pass. So the driver's fault 100%.

  8. #8
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    I think it's less a matter of being right than being alive. Think of it this way. If you were driving in a car that was in the right lane and a guy in the left lane swerved around a stopped left-turning vehicle you would have the right of way as he was merging into your lane.

    Now, is it prudent to insist upon that right and have a very expensive collision? Perhaps not. That applies even more so when you don't have the benefit of a seatbelt, air bag, crash cage and crumple zones. Think of it as a semi cutting you off in your compact sports car. The results won't be pretty.

    Sometimes it's not worth asserting your rights and driving/riding defensively.

  9. #9
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Another one for totally the drivers' fault. Legally, that is. Some would say that you had no way of knowing he would violate your space, so how could you have done anything differently? But there's also the school of "expect anyone to do something stupid at any time, and be prepared for it".

    I think I've gotten accustomed to be on the lookout for this possibility anytime I see a left-turner ahead of me with one or more cars between us. In fact, there's a certain road I pass every day where people often turn left and others pull to the right around them. Only difference is that in my case, it's a plain shoulder and not a bike lane, so I have even less reason to expect them to respect the white line. When I see a left-turner here, I automatically slow down a bit, keep my hands on the brakes, and watch the intervening cars to see which they are going to do, pull out or slow down. Even if it looks like they are slowing, be careful, they could change their minds at any time!

    I don't have a lot of bike lanes where I ride, none on my regular commute, in fact, but from what others have said, I think I would trust drivers to respect bike lanes about as much as they respect shoulders, which is only when it is convenient for them.
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  10. #10
    Junior Member carpjam's Avatar
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    I think both Lurker1999 and JohnBrooking make excellent points. Better to be alive than right.

    This one almost gobbled me up principally b/c the 2nd car was essentially stopped behind the left-turning car until the moment I approached from behind (again - in the bike lane). Almost as if he decided "hey - I'm tired of waiting here and I think there's room over there for me to squeeze by this guy"

    whoo-boy.

  11. #11
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    I don't have a lot of bike lanes where I ride, none on my regular commute, in fact, but from what others have said, I think I would trust drivers to respect bike lanes about as much as they respect shoulders, which is only when it is convenient for them.
    For someone without bike lanes, you summed up their effect perfectly. Drivers don't respect bike lanes at all. In the situation the OP described, I would have seriously considered just getting out of the bike lane and passing on the other side.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  12. #12
    Yabba-Dabba-Doo! AlmostTrick's Avatar
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    You have to be ready for anything, that's for sure. I had a tractor trailer dump truck pull out of the left lane to go around stopped traffic just as I was flying up the right lane at 20 something MPH. He was in the wrong but I certainly made sure to avoid it!
    Have Bike, Will Travel

  13. #13
    Mr. Maximan1 maximan1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ColorChange
    I agree, the truck driver cut you off in the bike lane no less. That is why I just got my new Zound horn.
    Screw the horn, get a pepper spray grenade . Let him see it up close when he opens his window to yell at you.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpjam
    Haven't layed down a skid mark like that since I was a kid on my BMX bike!
    Glad you're OK. I agree with the above posters that the car would be at fault. But who cares? Cars win, even if they're at fault!

    Two suggestions:
    1. Be careful with "closing speed." I learned this motorcycling. If you're passing cars more than, say, 5-10mph than they are moving, you won't have the reaction time to get out of their way when (not if) a bonehead pulls out to take your lane. Your closing speed is too high. You will avoid many accidents in life following this rule.

    2. Use your front brake next time, not your rear. Practice using it until that's all you use. Locking the rear and laying down a skid mark, while fun, isn't nearly the fastest way to stop. You're lucky you missed him.
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  15. #15
    Neat - w/ ice on the side dalmore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carpjam
    I think both Lurker1999 and JohnBrooking make excellent points. Better to be alive than right.

    This one almost gobbled me up principally b/c the 2nd car was essentially stopped behind the left-turning car until the moment I approached from behind (again - in the bike lane). Almost as if he decided "hey - I'm tired of waiting here and I think there's room over there for me to squeeze by this guy"

    whoo-boy.
    The only thing worse than someone changing their mind like that is if they wave you across and then decide to pull out too...
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  16. #16
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    Does it really matter who was right? The trick (imo) is learn your route & its "issues" & to make it home in one piece. It definetly sounds like a trouble spot that needs extra attention. You may need to speed up/slow down, take the lane, avoid the area, etc.... If the streets are wet - it will be more of a challenge.

    Good luck.

  17. #17
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Short answer: No accident. Nobody "at fault".

    Long answer: I don't really know. I suspect it has something to do with the official status of your bike lane. Does it have bike lane signs and markings on the pavement? Most of the bike lanes I ride in don't. I have this suspicion that they are officially just the shoulder of the road. That way they can run right turn lanes through them and not feel like they've done the bicyclist a disservice. So, if your bike lane is indeed a bike lane, I think the cars should stay out. If it is just a paved shoulder on the right side of the white line, who knows. Probably both of you aren't officially supposed to be there.

  18. #18
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    In general, don't pass on the right.
    But if you are going to pass on the right, do it with extreme care.
    If you're doing it from a bike lane, be doubly careful. Many drivers will not expect you to be there and use that space like any other solid stripe demarcated pavement: rarely, but whenever it's useful.

    For those of you who suggest passing on the left... uh, no, cuz the first guy was turning left.

  19. #19
    Junior Member carpjam's Avatar
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    many of the bike lanes in Portland, OR are indeed well-marked, maintained and obvious bike lanes. Now if they could just go about installing that force-field. . . . .

    Ducati - your point about closing speed is an excellent one ("If you're passing cars more than, say, 5-10mph than they are moving, you won't have the reaction time to get out of their way"). Great to keep in mind.

  20. #20
    Conservative Hippie
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    This is one of the inherently bad things about all bike lanes. Some drivers see them as only being there for their convience.

    It's nearly always safer to pass on the left, but not in this case because of the left turning driver.

    If this had resulted in a collision, the fault would have be shared, because of passing on the right. The safest thing to do would have been take the lane and wait with the rest of traffic.

  21. #21
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    The second driver is clearly at fault because he broke rule number one, which applies at all times for both cars and bicycles: he put another user of the road in danger by making a sudden, reckless move.

    It's clear he wasn't paying attention and didn't see you. But as others have said, as a cyclist you have to assume that the cagers don't see you, even if you are covered head to toe with so many blinking LED's that you could land the space shuttle single-handed. I try to be hyper-alert at all times for potential situations like that developing in front of me.

  22. #22
    Cat None SDRider's Avatar
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    The cager was in the wrong. Cars are not supposed to use the bike lane to go around other cars.

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Legally has been answered (unsafe lane change, perhaps illegal use of BL, etc.)
    Defensively it has been answered too (unsafe passing slow/stopped vehicles on right)

    One comment I wanted to add is that when driving a car this situation is often encountered as well. For example driving in the right lane of a two same direction lane road. You notice up ahead a car slowing to make a left turn (with no LT lane). The cars behind in left lane then start slowing to. Being in the right lane you have the option to keep at your cruising speed, or also to begin slowing and preparing for a quick stop. This is defensive driving as you know that of the several drivers being slowed by the LTing vehicle, one or two of them will decide to make a last second merge into right lane to avoid delay. Because it is a quick decision, they will often not check properly for a safe merge and even if they see a car in the right lane, often will choose to merge anyway to fit a quick gap, forcing the driver in the right lane to slow for them.

    Similar situations occur in freeway driving when encountering slow vehicles and also in cities for passing stopping busses.

    Al

  24. #24
    Happy old man al-wagner's Avatar
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    It is ALWAYS the other persons fault
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  25. #25
    domestique squeakywheel's Avatar
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    Who's fault was what?

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