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Bike meets car

By Rollersk8r - 2 August 2011 72

So there I was, cycling to work via the Northbourne Ave bike lane, feeling pumped up by this slightly warmer weather…

Then, as I approached the old NRMA building I had to make one of the decisions I have to make several times in any trip – has the car waiting to turn left into the driveway seen me or not?  Today they hadn’t.  They turned at the worst possible moment, I got collected and fell hard.  Slight damage to the bike, grazes to my hands, elbows and knees – but could have been a lot worse.  Driver and passenger hopped out and were very apologetic, offered to pay for the damage to the bike etc.

Before I’m swamped with comments saying I got what every cyclist deserves etc – I do accept my share of responsibility.  I don’t expect for the bike damage to be paid for because I accept that using bike lanes comes with increased risk, which I’ve made the decision to take.  Can’t say how I’d feel if I was badly hurt – but for now I think it was going to happen sooner or later and I’ll have to re-evaluate whether I keep using the bike lanes or snake through the suburbs on the path.  I have been cycling to work for 13 years, including using the Northbourne bike lanes ever since they opened, and this is the first incident I’ve had.  So I’ll take those odds.

Bring on the warmer weather and happy cycling!

What’s Your opinion?


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72 Responses to
Bike meets car
Watson 1:35 pm 02 Aug 11

Keijidosha said :

Surely if traffic is at a standstill, and the driver has their indicator on then they have made their intentions very clear. For that reason I would put blame with the cyclist, but only marginally as the driver should have checked their mirrors before crossing the cycle lane.

In any case I have tried using the Northbourne cycle lanes of death a few times and can’t fathom why any sane person would attempt running the gauntlet. There is a perfectly good cycle path running along Sullivan’s creek from Lyneham to the City that adds no more time to the trip and is infinitely safer.

Still I am glad to hear that the OP wasn’t seriously injured.

I don’t get why so many seem to get almost hysterical about the Northbourne cycle lane. Did they never ride a bicycle in any city other than Canberra, perhaps?

It takes me heaps longer to take the cycle path to the city than to take Northbourne, so if I’m in a hurry, I take Northbourne.

If the car was waiting for traffic to move before he turned, he should’ve checked his mirrors and waited for you. Situations like that occur often when they are waiting to turn left at an intersection too. You have to watch them like a hawk. What I especially cannot stand though is cars that will wait for the light ON the cycle lane. WTF? As if it will save them time anyway?

Henry82 1:20 pm 02 Aug 11

Keijidosha said :

Surely if traffic is at a standstill, and the driver has their indicator on then they have made their intentions very clear.

An indication doesn’t give you a legal right to change lanes, it lets people know you *want* to change lanes. Nobody is under any legal obligation to let you into their lane (except when a lane is ending/merging and the front car has priority)

Keijidosha 1:04 pm 02 Aug 11

Surely if traffic is at a standstill, and the driver has their indicator on then they have made their intentions very clear. For that reason I would put blame with the cyclist, but only marginally as the driver should have checked their mirrors before crossing the cycle lane.

In any case I have tried using the Northbourne cycle lanes of death a few times and can’t fathom why any sane person would attempt running the gauntlet. There is a perfectly good cycle path running along Sullivan’s creek from Lyneham to the City that adds no more time to the trip and is infinitely safer.

Still I am glad to hear that the OP wasn’t seriously injured.

Henry82 12:55 pm 02 Aug 11

AG Canberra said :

So who has right of way in situations such as these?

Cyclists have the same legal right to the road as anyone else, so i treat the cycle lane as i would for any other lane on the road – check its safe to do so before changing lane.

AG Canberra 12:34 pm 02 Aug 11

So who has right of way in situations such as these?

Is the car driver moving into another lane (the bike lane) before going into the driveway? And therefore has to ensure the lane is clear before doing so (like any other lane swap)?

Or is it up to the cyclist to give way to all traffic turing in front of them?

How does it work? Has it been tested in a court yet?

Rollersk8r 12:31 pm 02 Aug 11

alaninoz said :

I’m having trouble envisaging the accident. You say “has the car waiting to turn left into the driveway seen me or not.” Does this imply that they were waiting to turn left and that you attempted to pass them on their inside? Or is it a different way of saying that they partially passed you and turned across you path?

Yes. Car was stopped in traffic with indicator on. Traffic just started to move as I drew level. We’re talking miliseconds here but I thought I was in the clear as I was almost past them when they started to turn.

Have seen the same thing happen to others around the same area and hence purposely slow down from Haigh Park onwards on the way in.

Holden Caulfield 12:21 pm 02 Aug 11

grump said :

how about the onus on the person appoaching from behind, who admits knowing the vehicle was going to turn left across their path in to a driveway, taking appropriate action to avoid the possibility of being unseen and being hit?????

Which is what the OP has hinted at, I think.

However, one of the seemingly insurmountable issues with bikes and cars sharing the road is the imbalance in closing speeds. That is, the OP probably had a clear road ahead, then in a second or two said car appears and turns in front of him/her.

Only takes a minor distraction from either party to end up with the cyclist in the gutter.

Doesn’t matter who is at fault, really, the outcome is no win for either party.

Glad the OP is okay.

Watson 12:20 pm 02 Aug 11

lalainoz said :

I think it is great that you are willing to continue to brave the cycle lanes, if I lived closer to work I think I would give it a go too.

As a driver though I often worry about how the cyclists behave too. I try to always check before turning and indicate my intention to turn in plenty of time but still some cyclist don’t pay attention, especially those using the path instead of the cycle lane. It is really all our responsibility to keep a look out. I have seen plenty of inconsiderate drivers and cyclists and probably been less careful than I should be myself sometimes when my mind has been elsewhere.

If I am ahead in traffic and have indictaed in time, I will make the turn but sometimes despite this some cyclist seem to barrel along and expect me to wait for them to pass first. If they re ahead of me they have right of way but if not I think they should slow down to allow me to turn as they expect this from me too.

I’m trying to visualise what I do in that situation as a driver.

If I am turning left and there is a cyclist on the cycle lane, I would’ve overtaken him at some point. If I then attempt to turn when he catches up with me, it essentially means Icut him off, which is a total no-no in my view. If I think I can safely turn before he catches up with me, I will do so, otherwise I slow down until he has passed the intersection and I can turn behind him. Common sense, I would think?

If he’s on the cycle path however, that is a totallly different situation. Unless there is a marked crossing, the car has right of way. Which is the main reason why cyclists often prefer riding on the road of course. When on the path, they have to stop and give way at pretty much every intersection.

Watson 12:12 pm 02 Aug 11

I’m a bit confused by the situation you describe too. Even though the car still should’ve checked his mirrors before he turned. But if you saw he was going to turn, why did you overtake? Or didn’t you? Who was he “waiting” for if he was turning left?

Postalgeek 12:12 pm 02 Aug 11

grump said :

how about the onus on the person appoaching from behind, who admits knowing the vehicle was going to turn left across their path in to a driveway, taking appropriate action to avoid the possibility of being unseen and being hit?????

Of course, therre’s always the variation when the onus is on the person approaching from behind who, knowing the slower vehicle (bicycle) on their left is going to continue straight, refrains from passing them and then cutting them off by turning left across their lane.

lalainoz 12:09 pm 02 Aug 11

I think it is great that you are willing to continue to brave the cycle lanes, if I lived closer to work I think I would give it a go too.

As a driver though I often worry about how the cyclists behave too. I try to always check before turning and indicate my intention to turn in plenty of time but still some cyclist don’t pay attention, especially those using the path instead of the cycle lane. It is really all our responsibility to keep a look out. I have seen plenty of inconsiderate drivers and cyclists and probably been less careful than I should be myself sometimes when my mind has been elsewhere.

If I am ahead in traffic and have indictaed in time, I will make the turn but sometimes despite this some cyclist seem to barrel along and expect me to wait for them to pass first. If they re ahead of me they have right of way but if not I think they should slow down to allow me to turn as they expect this from me too.

grump 12:02 pm 02 Aug 11

how about the onus on the person appoaching from behind, who admits knowing the vehicle was going to turn left across their path in to a driveway, taking appropriate action to avoid the possibility of being unseen and being hit?????

Gungahlin Al 12:01 pm 02 Aug 11

Glad you are OK.

Too many scares on the stunningly skinny Northbourne “cycle lanes” for me to go near them any more. I use the parallel streets.

Sometimes I have phone interviews with journos while I am riding (using my headset!) and I think they are sometimes shocked at the running commentary of stupid things that happen around me and close calls.

alaninoz 12:00 pm 02 Aug 11

I’m having trouble envisaging the accident. You say “has the car waiting to turn left into the driveway seen me or not.” Does this imply that they were waiting to turn left and that you attempted to pass them on their inside? Or is it a different way of saying that they partially passed you and turned across you path?

qedbynature 11:51 am 02 Aug 11

Coincidently I witnessed another accident involving a left turning taxi and bike one morning about a month ago in the same place. Frankly I think you should be compensated for having a car run you off the road, I believe there is an onus on driver to give way to bicycles in the indicated bike lanes. If there isn’t a legal onus then the lanes are useless.

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