Mary Ann said;
Are bike lanes in essence more dangerous to the cyclist than having none? Do they present a feeling of safety? Would riding in one make it easier to overlook a truck to the left of them with a turn signal on? What if the turn is made by a truck mid-block into an establishment or parking lot rather than an intersection? What can be done to avert these tragedies? Are there mirrors that prevent blind spots?
My nephew was run over by a cement truck while he was in a designated bike lane as the truck turned left mid-block into the company parking lot. I wonder if the outcome would have been different if he were behind the truck. He was conscious of safety. He rode motor cycles. As a firefighter, ambulance runs were a daily occurrence. He was alert by nature and aware by experience, yet still he was killed.
What can we do to make bike lanes safer?
Iím so sorry you have lost your nephew. Stories like this break my heart.
Unfortunately, bicycling safety is not as intuitive as it should be. One reason is the stigma our society has attached to it ó the belief is that bicyclists must stay out of the way as their primary objective. Another is the idea that cyclists should take advantage of their narrow profile and pass stopped traffic (perhaps to make up for being slow and shoved out of the way).
The problem with bike lanes is they reinforce both of those things. They discourage a cyclist from riding in a position that would prevent a truck from passing immediately before making a turn, and they encourage a cyclist to ride past a stopped truck. There really isnít any way to make bike lanes safer in the face of these human factors.
There are mirrors that can help a truck driver see into his blind spots, but it is still a human-factors challenge. The driver may need to focus on whatís ahead or around the turn. Or he may just be distracted. Not putting the cyclist there in the first place is by far the best solution.
I began my journey as an advocate trying to find a way to make bike lanes safer (because of conflicts I kept having in them). My research led me to the conclusion that the best solution is to get rid of themóat least in an urban environment where there are lots of driveways and intersections.
The best solution for cycling safety is to promote cycling education. It may seem counter-intuitive, but because cyclists are nimble, relatively slow and have 360į awareness of their surroundings, they are at a tremendous advantage to prevent crashes. They just need some knowledge of traffic dynamics and where the dangers are. Door zones and turning trucks are two killers that we really need to teach people to avoid because most just arenít aware. But education is made much harder by paint that contradicts it.