Non Sequitur

Maybe it’s just me, but the following story just does not compute. This incident occurred last June on one of my more oft-used commuting routes. A cyclist would either need to be asleep or drunk for this to happen. Where else besides Jackass or Wipeout can someone plow full speed into a stationary object and get paid for it? The bike lane is about eight feet wide and traffic is really light.

I feel it is okay for me to question every aspect of this decision as I have experience on the route. Bike lanes are for bikes, sure, but every so often there are exceptions. This is one of those exceptions. I just don’t understand.

I want to make it clear that as a cyclist, I look out for my own, but there needs to be a level of honesty here.

Here is a picture of Centennial for some context.

15 Comments

  • June 20, 2011 - 7:25 pm | Permalink

    It seems extreme, and, as you say, you are familiar with the route, and I am not, but I wonder about this: “Bike lanes are for bikes, sure, but every so often there are exceptions. This is one of those exceptions.” What makes it a valid exception? It doesn’t sound like it was an emergency. The driver wanted to take a call and decided to park in a valid lane of travel to do it. In my experience any obstruction in a bike lane can be hazardous, and this case doesn’t sound clear on how much time elapsed between the vehicle pulling over and the collision, nor how fast the cyclist was going. I have been cut off more then once by vehicles that either did not see me or misjudged my speed, and it doesn’t seem clear to me that this definitely is not the case here.

    But even if the vehicle had parked before the cyclist ever came into view, there was no necessity to park in the bike lane. The driver simply didn’t consider the bike lane to be a valid lane of travel.  Had there been no bike lane and no shoulder, it seems likely that the driver would have continued on until a safe place to park was found. It does seems a little fishy and likely the accident could have been avoided with a little attentiveness, but blocking the road is a hazard, and it bothers me when people don’t consider bike lanes part of the road.

  • Biking Viking
    June 20, 2011 - 8:15 pm | Permalink

    It is an exception because there is nowhere else for the truck to ‘park’ temporarily to do its job. If the bike lanes were created for bikes only and nothing but bikes were allowed in there, then construction or sewer maintenance would never happen. As we must share the car lanes with motorists, we must also share our lanes for legitimate purposes.

  • June 20, 2011 - 8:37 pm | Permalink

    I agree that there are situations where vehicles do need to use the bike lanes, I just don’t think this is one of them. If they had business that required them to be there, I would be more sympathetic (mail delivery and trash pickup being common around here), but this vehicles only need was to get out of the way in order to stop and have a conversation. It didn’t need to do it in a lane of travel, so it should have found better parking.

  • Biking Viking
    June 20, 2011 - 9:26 pm | Permalink

    I think you misunderstood the facts, or the article may have not represented what actually happened. The truck was on official roadkill removal business – this was not a pull-over to have a conversation. My entire point was the regardless of why the truck was there, this is a wide open road, and the cyclist was not right-hooked. The vehicle was established in the lane. Having ridden this route hundreds of times, there is absolutely no excuse for not seeing what is on front of you. I receive my helmet cam this week and will post video of the ride. It just upsets me that cyclists like this make those of us who are more responsible look awfully bad.

  • June 21, 2011 - 9:19 am | Permalink

    One of the arguments that we as cyclists use on the road is that we are vehicles just as cars and truck are, and that we are bound by the same laws that affect motor vehicles. Assume for a moment that this same accident occurred between two motorized vehicles. If vehicle A (the “bike” standin) plows into the rear of vehicle B (the truck), the driver of vehicle A is at fault, regardless of whether vehicle B is blocking all or part of the roadway. Vehicle B in this case could be cited for blocking a lane of travel (i.e., he was making a call, not broken down), but the responsibility to avoid the accident remains vehicle A’s. Both cited, both at fault, the city shouldn’t have paid.

  • June 21, 2011 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I agree. At least in theory. The linked article makes it sound like the driver parked in the bike lane to communicate with the dispatcher. I find that unacceptable. There are safe places to pull over and have a conversation, but that’s not appropriate/safe in any lane of travel, bike lane or otherwise. Biking Viking feels that they were pulled over to remove something from the road, so that’s a different situation. Also the article makes it sound like the vehicle was stopped shortly before the bike came upon it. If that’s the case, clearly the cyclist should have been able to avoid the vehicle, but “two or three minutes” is a short enough time to leave room for doubt in my mind, allowing for the possibility that things actually happened a little faster than that, which might make the cyclist’s failure to stop more understandable. I’m not saying that’s what happened. I’m just saying that in the linked article, I can see enough wiggle room in the language to prevent me from saying the cyclist was 100% at fault.

  • June 21, 2011 - 5:13 pm | Permalink

    I agree. At least in theory. The linked article makes it sound like the driver parked in the bike lane to communicate with the dispatcher. I find that unacceptable. There are safe places to pull over and have a conversation, but that’s not appropriate/safe in any lane of travel, bike lane or otherwise. Biking Viking feels that they were pulled over to remove something from the road, so that’s a different situation. Also the article makes it sound like the vehicle was stopped shortly before the bike came upon it. If that’s the case, clearly the cyclist should have been able to avoid the vehicle, but “two or three minutes” is a short enough time to leave room for doubt in my mind, allowing for the possibility that things actually happened a little faster than that, which might make the cyclist’s failure to stop more understandable. I’m not saying that’s what happened. I’m just saying that in the linked article, I can see enough wiggle room in the language to prevent me from saying the cyclist was 100% at fault.

  • June 21, 2011 - 5:43 pm | Permalink

    The guy who hit the truck is a triathlete, which might explain a few things.
    The driver shouldn’t have pulled over (the News 5 story points out no parking is allowed on Centennial) and he should have been cited, but the triathlete could have and should have moved left to merge around the obstruction.

  • June 21, 2011 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    i bet he was head down in the bars when he hit

  • June 21, 2011 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    i bet he was head down in the bars when he hit

  • June 21, 2011 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    i bet he was head down in the bars when he hit

  • June 21, 2011 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    i bet he was head down in the bars when he hit

  • June 21, 2011 - 6:47 pm | Permalink

    i bet he was head down in the bars when he hit

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  • June 22, 2011 - 1:43 am | Permalink

    I’m uncomfortable with this one too.  If we start treating bike lanes as some kind of holy ground that no other vehicles may touch, we risk the backlash of mandatory bike lane laws.
    I’ll accept that other vehicles may occasionally enter a bike lane when necessary, so that I can use a travel lane next to a bike lane if it’s necessary.

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