I am sick of the of police representatives making excuses for drivers who crush cyclists.
Yesterday a 37-year-old woman was traveling down Milwaukee Ave., in a bike lane to the right of a dump truck. The dump truck fatally right-hooked her. Once again, the cycling community mourns for a tragic death and for the loved ones of the victim.
Police spokesperson Sally Bown commented that the truck driver was "legally making a right turn" and "did not see the bike on the right side". The old "blind spot" excuse lives on. The old implication that killing somebody because your vehicle has a blind spot is somehow just one of those unfortunate things that happen....
Drivers have a duty to keep a proper outlook when they drive. They are not excused from this because they are driving some poorly-designed vehicle with a blind spot. Especially when there are many ways, including better mirrors, sensors, and camera systems, to eliminate such blind spots. This is 2019, not 1919. It is negligent on its face to drive a huge truck on crowded residential streets with blind spots along its sides. No such vehicles should be allowed on the road, period.
So no, Sally Bown. That dump truck driver wasn't legally making a right turn. He was a lazy sod who, even though bicycles are all over on Milwaukee Avenue, didn't bother to make sure he was clear before he turned. And it is of no relevance that he didn't see the bicyclist on the right side -- it was his responsibility to make sure that he could before he made that turn. That driver acted completely recklessly and should be charged appropriately. No doubt the police will give him a minor ticket or two, if even that.
There is a duty at all times to be aware of such situations. If your truck renders you blind, then find another job or a better truck. Those trucks with the stupid diagrams on the back showing that they might run you over if you're to their right should be banned from city streets. Telling someone you're going to kill them before you kill them doesn't make it legal.
Bike lane or not we, as cyclists, need to be aware of, and avoid riding in any vehicles blind spot. Getting run over hurts, even when that person is in the right, and hollering for a change in the law of some sort is all fine and good, but until things change it's foolish to put ones self in that hazardous of a situation.
I've driven a truck, and it can be hard to see a large car in the mirror, let alone a bicycle. I also ride a bicycle, and I am always aware of keeping myself visible.
My priority is to put myself in a place where I can see the drivers face in the vehicles side view mirror. If I can see the drivers face and eyes the driver can see me.
Whether the driver is paying attention or not is out of my control, but if I can see that drivers face I can have a fair to good idea if s/he is paying attention.
This video, https://www.youtube.com/embed/-vMMuh3guCg is part of the Ride Illinois bikesafetyquiz.com. It demonstrates a truck's right-side blind spot that TonyP mentioned.
I hesitated to speak about our obligations when I posted as I did not want to give any hint of victim blaming but Tony and Larry make a very good point. We have to do everything we can (and I am making no judgement on what was or was not done by Carla) to minimize our risk of injury. Sometimes that doesn't matter. We can do everything and still be hit, yet we still have to be aware that a big lumbering machine such as a truck may not see and may not maneuver as well. Consequently, we have to take that into account to give ourselves the best chance of getting to our destination in one piece.
Thank you, Dave. The more we learn, the more we improve our chances of getting there in one piece.
Agreed Dave and Larry and Tony (and Anne). Blind spot education and reminders (and therefor even signs on trucks) shouldn't be dismissed as victim blaming, and so please everyone, let's not say it is. It's unfortunate we can't change what happened, but we can be mindful of what Dave, Larry and Tony point out.
Green light shmeen light. Any reports on whether or not the truck driver actually signaled for a right turn? I usually do try to assume the worst about people, but sometimes at a red light I do ride up to the right of someone I'm pretty sure is not going to turn right---and then they turn right.
It just makes me want to scream. I'm out here trying brake, steer, and possibly even downshift all with one hand while the other one is waving around like I'm confident everyone even knows what that means. (I have been asked.) All you as a driver need to do to inform people that you're turning is activate a little doodad on the steering column, and you can't even bother to do that?
You're preaching to the choir Jennifer! We all agree. We want to scream too.
But I hope this death will convince you not to ride up alongside these open-sided trucks! Because the dynamics of any vehicle are:
THE LONGER THE LENGTH OF THE THE VEHICLE, THE MORE THE REAR WHEELS TRACK INDEPENDENTLY OF THE FRONT WHEELS.
In other words, when a long, open-sided truck turns 90 degrees to the right, the front wheels may stay in the lane as they go around, but the rear wheels 'cut the corner' and often even go over the curb as they come around! And that big, dangerous open-sided 'cave' under the truck, between the front and rear wheels, swings directly AT cyclists and even pedestrians, threatening to knock them down and then run over them with the eight rear wheels, that are now coming directly at them! Very dangerous! And any PBL curbs would only give a cyclist a false sense of protection; those rear wheels could easily come right over them too!
That's why some long vehicles, such as 'hook'n ladder' firetrucks, actually have a second driver over the rear wheels, to steer the rear set of wheels around the turn exactly in the track of the front wheels.
More important info on this matter from almost two years ago. This is a known and related issue, and yet CDOT keeps doing this as well.
Good short read ketoguy! Thank you
...[PBLs] also suck for cyclists because drivers can't see oncoming cyclists till they're practically in the intersection. And the parking lane is so far out into the street that drivers are motivated to nose out into cyclists' path. I'd almost rather ride on the other side of the parking lane, out in the street, where I'd at least be more visible....
I usually ride out in traffic too, rather than in that PBL. STOP THE INSANITY; NO MORE PBLS!
Actually, John Greenfield’s comment to the opinion piece is worth reading:
For what it's worth, when a street is reconfigured for parking-protected bike lanes, CDOT eliminates a few parking spaces near intersections in an effort to provide proper sight lines. However, if you're a fast rider, you may find you don't always have enough time to spot right-turning drivers, and vice-versa.
The elimination of parking spots at intersections is one reason why there's sometimes a backlash against protected bike lanes from residents. For example, in 2012 CDOT installed protected lanes on Independence Boulevard in Garfield Park, but neighbors objected to the new layout, so the parking lane was moved back to the curb and the bike lanes were downgraded to buffered lanes, with no physical protection.
On October 2 of this year Leonard Anderson, 70, was fatally struck on his bike on this stretch of Independence. While Anderson was allegedly riding against traffic, it appears that if he had been in a curbside protected bike lane there would have been virtually no way this crash could have occurred:
Which merely highlights yet another fatal flaw of that design variation, despite the apparent effort to do the opposite: "However, if you're a fast rider, you may find you don't always have enough time to spot right-turning drivers, and vice-versa."
This just means that you're riding too fast for conditions