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cycling instructor killed while taking the lane - discussion

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cycling instructor killed while taking the lane - discussion

Old 07-12-09, 08:37 PM
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cycling instructor killed while taking the lane - discussion

In another thread from this weekend the death of a highly regarded and prolific bicycling advocate and cycling instructor was reported to Bike Forums.

thread here

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread.php?t=561203

He died in a bike/car collision while bicycling and making a left turn on a high speed roadway.

more details here

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/cri...y/1604320.html



However skilled BR was, the principles of what he taught -vehicular cycling - failed him or he failed to effectively cycle vehicularily at the tragic moment he was stuck by oncoming traffic.

Before any of you jump on me, I mean the upmost respect for BR. Nontheless I am interested in discussing the particulars of the incident.

Some questions I have. Did BR use a mirror? perhaps use of a mirror to monitor overtaking traffic would have freed BR up to monitor oncoming traffic more effectively.

Was overtaking traffic part of the compounding difficulties for the cyclist?

If traffic was tight oncoming, why didn't BR wait in the road until traffic was clear? was overtaking traffic pressuring BR to make a turn he felt unsure of? Did he not want to stop in a 50mph traffic lane to let oncoming traffic pass?

I can think of several engineering mitigations to the elements that led to this tragedy. a couple general traffic, and a couple bike specific fixes.

The tragedy of a cycling instructor killed executing a vehicular left turn on a highway speed road is an example of the tenets of vehicular cycling education and autocentric infrastructure failing even a experienced cyclist in the face of heavy traffic and high speed differentials.

Last edited by Bekologist; 07-12-09 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 07-12-09, 08:48 PM
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It's hard to believe tht he turned left in front of oncoming traffic. I'd withhold judgment about the merits of VC in the case until the facts are clearer.
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Old 07-12-09, 09:11 PM
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As I said on that thread, a case of apparent mistaken judgment by an individual does not support or condemn an entire ideology, whether that ideology is VC or mode-specific facilities. VC does not claim to offer 100% protection. Anyone can make a mistake, even a fatal one, in the general roadway as well as in a bike lane. How many fatal right and left hooks have happened to bicyclists in bike lanes at intersections in the last year?

We may never know exactly what happened, or why. Even if it appears that Bruce mistakenly turned in front of an oncoming car, as seems to be the case so far, that does not condemn VC, because VC does not advocate that. Many people safely and effectively wait in the middle of the road to make a vehicular left turn all the time, even in heavy high speed traffic. I highly doubt that someone as experienced as Bruce would feel pressured to take such a risk due to traffic behind him. In fact, VC argues against feeling threatened from behind, daytime overtaking collisions being rare and all that. He would know that it was much more risky to go ahead and cross than to wait.

So what happened? We don't know. Maybe he was distracted. Maybe he misjudged speeds. Maybe the motorist did not see him and happened to speed up at the same time that Bruce decided he had time to make it. As I said, we may never know.

Regardless, using a single case to argue for or against an ideology is bad logic. Only valid statistics count, and we all know how hard those are to come by in this field.
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Old 07-12-09, 09:11 PM
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I'm still interested in discussing the case. make some assumptions, there's a lot of transparency in this incident - BR made a left turn into vehicle with ROW.

mechanics of the accident rule out the 'motorist overtaking - cyclist swerved' scenario and the nightime 'didn't see the cyclist' dynamics.

I'm thinking more along the lines of: high speed roadway, heavy oncoming and overtaking traffic, hesitancy to hold the lane and bad timing.

I've been in similar circumstances before, I've even crashed due to this. I know the sticky dynamics of high speed, high volume roads and left turns. I also can see several possible assists to make these types of tenuous road and traffic dynamics less dangerous to cyclists.

To expect cyclist education to be the primary way for society to accomodate cyclists on autocentric public rights of way is truly the 1 percent solution for managing cycling as transportation.

Cycling education and training failed BR this weekend in the types of riding conditions that represent barriers to cycling for the general population. There are obstructionists to better planning for bikes as transportation, many are LCI instructors like BR was.

Last edited by Bekologist; 07-12-09 at 09:15 PM.
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Old 07-12-09, 09:25 PM
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You might want to wait until after the Apex police have given the results of accident investigation to the widow before starting this discussion. The police are still asking for witness accounts.

Before an accident reconstruction, discussion would be speculation.
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Old 07-12-09, 09:30 PM
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yes, speculative discussion of a bicycle accident.

there are already some fundaments in order on which to base the discussion.
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Old 07-12-09, 09:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
yes, speculative discussion of a bicycle accident.
Oh, you mean the usual A&S drivel that nobody particularly cares to hear anymore?

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Old 07-12-09, 09:42 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
As I said on that thread, a case of apparent mistaken judgment by an individual does not support or condemn an entire ideology, whether that ideology is VC or mode-specific facilities. VC does not claim to offer 100% protection. Anyone can make a mistake, even a fatal one, in the general roadway as well as in a bike lane. How many fatal right and left hooks have happened to bicyclists in bike lanes at intersections in the last year?

We may never know exactly what happened, or why. Even if it appears that Bruce mistakenly turned in front of an oncoming car, as seems to be the case so far, that does not condemn VC, because VC does not advocate that. Many people safely and effectively wait in the middle of the road to make a vehicular left turn all the time, even in heavy high speed traffic. I highly doubt that someone as experienced as Bruce would feel pressured to take such a risk due to traffic behind him. In fact, VC argues against feeling threatened from behind, daytime overtaking collisions being rare and all that. He would know that it was much more risky to go ahead and cross than to wait.

So what happened? We don't know. Maybe he was distracted. Maybe he misjudged speeds. Maybe the motorist did not see him and happened to speed up at the same time that Bruce decided he had time to make it. As I said, we may never know.

Regardless, using a single case to argue for or against an ideology is bad logic. Only valid statistics count, and we all know how hard those are to come by in this field.
Actually, in my opinion, this tragic case of autocentric roads and cyclist training failing a LAB cycling instructor is a damning condemnation of the views on cycling held by Triangle Roadway Bicycling and the North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving.

John Forester might suggest riding a bit more road sneak, perhaps taking up no space on the road until such a time a left turn can be made safely. I can think of a couple of engineering fixes that mitigate this. paint is cheap.

I understand this is a tragic occurance and am not making light of this, but the death of a cycling instructor making a vehicular left is noteworthy.

Last edited by Bekologist; 07-12-09 at 09:49 PM.
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Old 07-12-09, 10:01 PM
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This would seem to be the intersection, I think. (Google calls the intersecting road "Cardinal Parkway" before it becomes the Apex Peakway, but the only other place the Peakway crosses Salem is at North Salem Street, so I think this must be the correct location. Locals are welcome to correct me.)

Beke, thanks for keeping things civil and starting a new thread, and I appreciate your points. I just think that your argument that Rosar made the mistake because he felt pressured from behind is precisely what you ask us to make, an assumption, and one that I would not agree with. I think you are basing your argument on conjecture and your own experience.

I also disagree that cyclist education is a 1 percent solution. It may still be a minority solution, and we can discuss that, but I refuse to believe it is 1%. We know that the majority of adults can be educated to obey the rules of the road most of the time when driving a car. Granted there are special challenges (barriers, if you prefer) to driving a bike on the same roads, but 1%? No, it's more than that. In any case, additional education is still required to safely use areas that have bike-specific facilities, especially at intersections, so why not put your effort there anyway? I think that would be BR's approach.

Originally Posted by Bekologist
this tragic case of autocentric roads and cyclist training failing a LAB cycling instructor is a damning condemnation of the views on cycling held by Triangle Roadway Bicycling and the North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving
I have no more than a passing familiarity with their views, but again, how does a possibly honest mistake by one person condemn the views that that person held, when his mistake (assuming it was his mistake) is not what those views advocate? Are you saying it proves that it is not possible? What about the thousands of times that people do this successfully, some of them probably at this very intersection? There is no evidence to suggest anything more than that no method for making bicycling safe is 100% effective, and that people are still capable of making mistakes no matter what you do. We knew that.

Originally Posted by Bekologist
John Forester might suggest riding a bit more road sneak, perhaps taking up no space on the road until such a time a left turn can be made safely.
I have no idea where you get that from.

Originally Posted by Bekologist
I can think of a couple of engineering fixes that mitigate this. paint is cheap.
If I've posted the correct intersection in Google Streetview, how in the world would you do anything with paint in that narrow roadway? Traffic calming or a traffic light, maybe, but neither of those are bicycle-specific.
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Old 07-12-09, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnBrooking View Post
This would seem to be the intersection, I think.

If I've posted the correct intersection in Google Streetview, how in the world would you do anything with paint in that narrow roadway? Traffic calming or a traffic light, maybe, but neither of those are bicycle-specific.
Are you serious? a "narrow roadway?"




there's about 20 feet of extra road to the right of the double yellow without even encroaching more of that ample public right of way. Protected bike island, a protected pocket island, or a general turn lane, traffic calming that includes bike lanes and bike pockets along the road, a reduction of speed with new painted signs, signs and street emphasis could all help mitigate turning bicycle traffic at this intersection.

but the those NC coalitionists would stand against most of what I just mentioned on general "too bike specific" principles.
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Old 07-12-09, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
Are you serious? a "narrow roadway?"




there's about 20 feet of extra road to the right of the double yellow without even encroaching more of that ample public right of way. Protected bike island, a protected pocket island, or a general turn lane, traffic calming that includes bike lanes and bike pockets along the road, a reduction of speed with new painted signs, signs and street emphasis could all help mitigate turning bicycle traffic at this intersection.

but the those NC coalitionists would stand against most of what I just mentioned on general "too bike specific" principles.
???? The stuff to the right of the one lane going the direction the cyclists were is called "grass" around here. That wide section on the other side of the road is only about 1/4 mile long, then disappears. Making it like you describe would require paving another lane the entire length of the road.
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Old 07-13-09, 06:00 AM
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The lesson I've learned from a few of these incidents is that group rides are dangerous. In Boise an experienced rided died in a group ride too. When I was a USCF rider there were so many close calls I quit riding in large groups on the open road. People start taking chances to stay in the pack, then someone get hurt/killed. Intersections are the worst, half the group makes the light, the other half has to make a good choice, someone always pushes their luck.
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Old 07-13-09, 07:07 AM
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Originally Posted by esther-L View Post
You might want to wait until after the Apex police have given the results of accident investigation to the widow before starting this discussion. The police are still asking for witness accounts.

Before an accident reconstruction, discussion would be speculation.
How often do we actually get the results of an investigation? This may be the best info we get.
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Old 07-13-09, 07:14 AM
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according to the sign at the side of the road, it is posted at 45MPH... just before that rise on the road... I wonder how fast the honda driver crested that hill... headed for the fateful intersection...
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Old 07-13-09, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post

The tragedy of a cycling instructor killed executing a vehicular left turn on a highway speed road is an example of the tenets of vehicular cycling education and autocentric infrastructure failing even a experienced cyclist in the face of heavy traffic and high speed differentials.
We don't know exactly what Bruce did or didn't do, and perhaps never will.

But we can be sure that the Chief VC Mathematician and followers (who juggle and manipulate numbers and definitions to show the effectiveness of VC education in lowering cycling risk "80% reduction!") will flatly state that BR was not practicing Vehicular Cycling at the time of his accident.

By their definition and circular logic process, anyone who has an accident would have not had that accident if only they were cycling vehicularly; any accident is proof that the cyclist wasn't cycling vehicularly. Any cyclist involved in an accident is no longer considered a vehicular cyclist and vehicular cycling maintains its remarkable safety record.
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Old 07-13-09, 08:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
The lesson I've learned from a few of these incidents is that group rides are dangerous. In Boise an experienced rided died in a group ride too. When I was a USCF rider there were so many close calls I quit riding in large groups on the open road. People start taking chances to stay in the pack, then someone get hurt/killed. Intersections are the worst, half the group makes the light, the other half has to make a good choice, someone always pushes their luck.
I concur that group rides can be dangerous, precisely because of the right-of-way ambiguity at intersections. When I rode with the Los Angeles Wheelmen in the 1970s, we were not so concerned about maintaining a tight peloton -- if a light changed or if conflicting traffic appeared at a left turn such as this, we would usually simply allow ourselves to get broken into smaller groups. Some folks think a peloton should be treated as a single vehicle, and most of today's group riders seem to feel this way, but this gets problematic when oncoming motorists perceive the cyclists as individuals and expect the later arrivals to yield right-of-way, as required by law.
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Old 07-13-09, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Dchiefransom View Post
????

?????? you think the municipality can't do anything with that extra road pavement to restripe the intersection, or expand use of the unpaved right of way?

give me a paint gun and two hours and I'd have a painted bike island in the middle protecting narrow road users at that intersection. give me some concrete, another day and I'd make it a protected median island turn pocket.

passable by cars, protects the bikes.

Other engineering mitigations possible there, the Triangle Bike Coalition and the NC "bike driving" crewe would stand opposed to most of it.

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Old 07-13-09, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by john brooking
I also disagree that cyclist education is a 1 percent solution. It may still be a minority solution, and we can discuss that, but I refuse to believe it is 1%

what is it - the 1.2 percent solution?

mixing bikes and cars on narrow laned high speed roadways is a 1 percent solution to planning for bikes in the transportation mix.

I'm sorry, autocentric transportation grids represent a huge barrier to participation in bicycling for Americans. high speed, high volume, narrow-laned roads will only ever be ridden on by an extreme minority of citizens despite cyclist "education" and the cycling conditions there are fraught with peril due the closing speeds and speed differentials.

A one percent solution unless communities better plan for bikes,
with enhancements for bicycle transportation including bicycle specific on street infrastructure.

A cycling instructor killed on a high speed roadway - as he reportedly was so intent on monitoring traffic behind him he pulled a fatal left turn into oncoming traffic - IS indicative of the failings of an autocentric road system and the expectations of cyclist education to ensure safe bicycling.

Last edited by Bekologist; 07-13-09 at 10:03 AM.
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Old 07-13-09, 09:26 AM
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Sounds to me like he mis judged the speed of oncoming traffic, or took a chance and got killed.
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Old 07-13-09, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
However skilled BR was, the principles of what he taught -vehicular cycling - failed him or he failed to effectively cycle vehicularily at the tragic moment he was stuck by oncoming traffic.
Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
Cycling education and training failed BR this weekend in the types of riding conditions that represent barriers to cycling for the general population.
Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
Actually, in my opinion, this tragic case of autocentric roads and cyclist training failing a LAB cycling instructor is a damning condemnation of the views on cycling held by Triangle Roadway Bicycling and the North Carolina Coalition for Bicycle Driving.
I'm calling "foul" here. You have already made your conclusion prior to the facts (and the discussion). You are spinning the discussion to favor your opinion.

It should be clear that it's nearly impossible to draw a conclusion from one single rare event (of which the facts are not completely known).

====================

Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
killed on a high speed roadway as he reportedly was so intently monitoring traffic overtaking he pulled a fatal left turn into oncoming traffic is indicative of the failings of an autocentric road system and the expectations of cyclist education to ensure safe bicycling.
Who is saying that anything "ensures" safety?

I say we do away with all cycling education and wait (many decades) for the "autocentric" road system to be improved!

(I think you need both and you are going to wait a very long time, maybe forever, for the second to happen.)

Last edited by njkayaker; 07-13-09 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 07-13-09, 09:59 AM
  #21  
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give me some paint and a couple hours and I'd mitigate intersection conflicts at the scene of the accident to make turning left there much easier for vulnerable road users, njyaker.

don't HAVE to wait decades- but infrastructure obstruction efforts in NC undertaken by some from the NC 'bike driving' crewe WILL ****** cyclist safety there.
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Old 07-13-09, 10:07 AM
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What you are trying to claim is that the death of one cyclist who practiced vehicular cycling somehow proves that vehicular cycling is the wrong solution, because this person evidently was not able to follow it safely 100% of the time. Why then does the death of a cyclist in a bike lane not prove that bike lanes are the wrong solution, because a cyclist is not able to use them safely 100% of the time? Human beings have failures in judgement either way. If you want to argue from example which system is more generally safe and reliable, you have to expand your sample pool, and then we are talking statistics (again <sigh>).

I myself am not necessarily arguing against making some infrastructure changes at this intersection. I think you are conflating all vehicular cycling proponents with inflexible infrastructure obstructionists. Some are, some aren't, most vary by degree. That's a different discussion than just "this proves that VC is a failure." The latter conclusion is what I'm objecting to. It's too general a statement to make from a single example.
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Old 07-13-09, 10:10 AM
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Error correction: According to a friend of mine, a left turn only lane does now exist at this intersection, after the Google photo was taken and after my last trip through that area. My apologies for making an incorrect claim. I will leave the rest of this post intact.

Bekologist's posts and title in this thread are as disrespectful as they are ignorant.

South Salem Street is a rural two lane road with narrow lanes. There is no left turn pocket at its intersection with Apex Peakway, which Ts into it.

There is intermittent redevelopment on the road including near this intersection. It is slated to be widened per the transportation plan, so when development occurs on the street, the developer is required by the town build to the new curb and gutter and pave a wide paved shoulder to fill the expanded roadway section. In many cases this leaves a short section of wide shoulder next to two narrow lanes, which seems like a waste because it cannot provide a left turn pocket or additional lane width for passing cyclists. However, unless the city or state buys additional property around the site, they do not own enough land to properly engineer a new travel lane configuration. With major shortages in the state and city budgets, this is unlikely to change.

Any traffic engineer or vehicular cyclist knows that the appropriate engineering approach to remove conflicts between a waiting left-turning vehicle operator and overtaking through traffic is to provide a left turn pocket, aka left turn only lane, so that through traffic passes on the right. This allows the left turning driver to wait for a gap in oncoming traffic without social pressure from drivers waiting behind or possible conflict with drivers passing on the left.

We cannot conclude at this time what caused my friend to turn in front of an oncoming car. We can only speculate if a left turn only lane would have reduced social pressure from following drivers or improved sight lines around the 50 or so bicyclists who were continuing straight ahead in the lane in front of him that curved gently to the right prior to the intersection. However, the left turn only lane is the only credible engineering improvement related to improved safety and reduced traffic friction for left turns on this type of road. This is a not an "autocentric" enginering design but a universal improvement for all vehicular traffic. It is one that I am sure the traffic engineers would like to provide for all drivers, but without money to re-engineer every intersection incrementally, there is only so much they can do.

Last edited by sggoodri; 07-14-09 at 08:52 PM. Reason: Error correction
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Old 07-13-09, 10:16 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by I-Like-To-Bike View Post
We don't know exactly what Bruce did or didn't do, and perhaps never will.

But we can be sure that the Chief VC Mathematician and followers (who juggle and manipulate numbers and definitions to show the effectiveness of VC education in lowering cycling risk "80% reduction!") will flatly state that BR was not practicing Vehicular Cycling at the time of his accident.

By their definition and circular logic process, anyone who has an accident would have not had that accident if only they were cycling vehicularly; any accident is proof that the cyclist wasn't cycling vehicularly. Any cyclist involved in an accident is no longer considered a vehicular cyclist and vehicular cycling maintains its remarkable safety record
.
Too true. And the "other side" often does the same thing. It's best to avoid a pot-kettle debate whenever possible.
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Old 07-13-09, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
Bekologist's posts and title in this thread are as disrespectful as they are ignorant.

South Salem Street is a rural two lane road with narrow lanes. There is no left turn pocket at its intersection with Apex Peakway, which Ts into it.

There is intermittent redevelopment on the road including near this intersection. It is slated to be widened per the transportation plan, so when development occurs on the street, the developer is required by the town build to the new curb and gutter and pave a wide paved shoulder to fill the expanded roadway section. In many cases this leaves a short section of wide shoulder next to two narrow lanes, which seems like a waste because it cannot provide a left turn pocket or additional lane width for passing cyclists. However, unless the city or state buys additional property around the site, they do not own enough land to properly engineer a new travel lane configuration. With major shortages in the state and city budgets, this is unlikely to change.

Any traffic engineer or vehicular cyclist knows that the appropriate engineering approach to remove conflicts between a waiting left-turning vehicle operator and overtaking through traffic is to provide a left turn pocket, aka left turn only lane, so that through traffic passes on the right. This allows the left turning driver to wait for a gap in oncoming traffic without social pressure from drivers waiting behind or possible conflict with drivers passing on the left.

We cannot conclude at this time what caused my friend to turn in front of an oncoming car. We can only speculate if a left turn only lane would have reduced social pressure from following drivers or improved sight lines around the 50 or so bicyclists who were continuing straight ahead in the lane in front of him that curved gently to the right prior to the intersection. However, the left turn only lane is the only credible engineering improvement related to improved safety and reduced traffic friction for left turns on this type of road. This is a not an "autocentric" enginering design but a universal improvement for all vehicular traffic. It is one that I am sure the traffic engineers would like to provide for all drivers, but without money to re-engineer every intersection incrementally, there is only so much they can do.
Out of respect, Bek started this thread... to avoid this discussion in first thread.

Bek has NOT said that a left turn pocket was at the intersection, merely that one might have made the difference and it would not be that difficult to install. However most likely a left turn pocket on this isolated road has a much lower priority than some new freeway lane somewhere in the state. (pure speculation on my part)... that level of priority IS "autocentric."

Regarding the idea of "social pressure," I know of at least one VC advocate that calls that "pressure" "cyclist inferiority syndrome..." and cites it as an ailment of our society... are you implying that even a VC instructor may be the victim of that shop worn ailment?

I myself have to wonder at the speed of the approaching vehicle on that 45MPH road.

And last, one has to consider that no matter how VC we are, "rights" never trump physics.
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