Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bike safely

Guys (and Ladies),

This is a very sobering video on cycling safety on our American roads.


tornado said...

I stay off the road as much as possible. There were parts of the video that the guy could have been on the shoulder instead of the white line. He will end up "dead right" or crippled if he does not change his attitude.


munsoned said...

The main part is to ride predictably. He might have been on the white line because there were sewer grates along the shoulder. Bike-on-roads law usually states, "to ride as far right as safely possible." When there's potholes, sewer grates, sand, glass and everything else along the side of the road, you take the lane. If you ride like a car, people should treat you like one, and that includes passing safely at a distance. Traveling on the road safely is everyone's responsibility not just cars or bikes.

The Unicycle Guy said...

i think if you ride to the right as far as you can, it's almost encouraging cars to squeeze into the lane with you and push you outta the way. said...

I agree Unicycle Guy. I've noticed that if I'm as far to the right as I can possibly be then it's easier for cars to pass me very closely.
I live in downtown OKC and I have no choice but to ride on city streets. I just pedal fast and stay aware.

I posted this video because it's a scary thing to know that our law enforcement is not aware of the cycling laws of the road. Can we rely upon them to have our backs when we need it? Possibly not.

The Douglas said...

Munson, T.U.G &'re righ to n the money. Tornado...where you ride is your choice, but it should be the responsibility of all road cyclists to ride on the road when practical. The video does not show the cyclist doing anything wrong. He has as much right to the white line or even the lane as any of the vehicles. This is the law.

Andrews point about law enforcement having our backs....I'm confident that most are NOT aware of the law regarding cyclists right to the roadway. Some of you may remember a few years back when a cyclist was riding up Leavenworth Street near 50th when a police officer pulled up next to him and yelled at him to get off the road. This story made it to local media and was reported. The officer was corrected.

Posted below is a conversation via email and phone I had with the lead Douglas County City Prosecutor. This was his answer to the question: Do cyclists have a right to ride in the road? Below is his response:

"A bicycle has the same rights as motor vehicles on the roadways (regular streets) of Omaha. If the street has a paved shoulder, the bicycle is supposed to drive on the shoulder. If there is no paved shoulder, the bike should ride on the right-hand edge of the street. A bicycle may also legally be driven on a sidewalk as well, but the bike is not required to ride on a sidewalk. So, a bike may be driven on either a road or sidewalk, but is not required to ride on a sidewalk if one is present.

Legal argument:

1. The general rule for bikes is at 60-6,314. A bike “shall have all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle under the Nebraska Rules of the Road”…Thus, a bike has the same right as a car to be on a street. I researched several cases involving car bicycle accidents, and every case made clear that a bike had as much right to be on a street as a car, regardless of whether or not sidewalks were present.

2. Section 60-6,317(3) (which we discussed on the phone) mentioning “usable paths for bicycles” refers to 60-6,142 which says bikes “may be operated on paved shoulders of highways” (state highways, but not the Interstate.) In 60-624, “highway” is defined to mean “any street, road avenue, boulevard or way…” So, if a paved shoulder is available, a bike should use it. If not, the bike should ride on the right-hand side of the street.

3. A bike may operate on a sidewalk, but certainly does not have to ride on the sidewalk if one is present. In Luellman v. Ambroz, 2 Neb. App. 855, 516 N.W. 2nd 627 (1994), the Nebraska Court of Appeals said “In the absence of a specific statutory prohibition, bicycles, skateboards,…may legally be used on the sidewalks with pedestrians.” The use of the word “may” is important. Notice the court did not use the word “shall”. The courts are very careful when using “shall” and “may”. “Shall” means something must be done. “May” means something is allowed to be done, but is not required to be done. The court was essentially saying that a bike could be on a street or a sidewalk, but a bike was certainly not required to be on a sidewalk. The legal reality is that a bike can be on a road or a sidewalk, while a car must be on a road only."

erik said...

while those car drivers are out of line, the guy is definitely doing the gutter bunny and asking for people to squeeze by even if there's oncoming traffic and the situation doesn't warrant it.

i either ride on the shoulder if it's amply wide, or take the far right lane (sometimes meaning the only lane, especially in low-traffic environs or ones where i can keep up with the 25mph speed limit)--i've found it really goes far to reducing the buzz-by motorist encounter. of course it angers some, but we have the right to the road and behaving like a car seems to facilitate being respected like one.

this guy seems to be taking some arterial single lanes that leave little option. sometimes unavoidable, but never a good idea.

one other thought worth consideration. Using a BRIGHT light on solid mode, front and rear, has made night time riding a totally different experience for me. Blinking lights scream "i'm not a car treat me like shit" in my experience, yours may differ.


johnny said...

I admire those who commute on roads to work daily as it seems he might be doing just that. We all have to put up with stretchs or road we would rather no be on. Coming from the country to Bellevue I find it sobering the amount of cars and BIG trucks who try to buzz the tower so to speak. While living in Hastings and Hutchinson KS. I rarely encountered any of this. I ride the Keystone unless in a group or at least 2.
I used to commute from Hasting to work in Grand Island at 430 am cars who give you a couple of feet in the day with a bright light give you the lane at 430. I suppose not in Omaha.

tornado said...

I support our rights a cyclists to ride the road. Drivers don't pay enough attention.
I was hit last year while commuting from work. I was in the crosswalk with the walk light on in my favor. The car bumper knocked the side bag off my rear rack. I was not injured.
I don't want to be dead or worse, crippled so I can't ride my bike anymore.
Ride safe and Ill see you on the trail sometime.

2sean9er said...

Erik: Have you ever been to that area of Wisconsin? I spent about a month driving a 26' box truck around wisconsin for a job that I had. In most cities and towns and even if you get off the interstate, there are no other paved roads except for those two lane no shoulder roads like the ones that he was riding. Granted I do agree that he is leaving the door wide open for vehicles to squeeze by. My route to work takes me down four lane and two lane roads. If there is not a shoulder to ride, or another lane, I ride right down the middle of the lane. This "normally" forces cars to not buzz me and even after they have been behind me for a bit.

Tornado: That sucks that you were hit even when in the cross walk! I know that everyone has their own responsabilities and obligations that affect their life but I was hit back in september (guy pulled out of a parking lot in front of me destroyed my ride and I had to go to the hospital) but do you still ride at all?

Scott Redd said...

I do almost all of my riding on the streets of Omaha as part of my daily commute and errand running. Given the nature of city riding, I have many options on the routes I take, so often I choose roads that I know afford me more lane width and with slower moving traffic. Sometimes I choose differently based on the time of day, and even the weather.

I understand that when riding between cities, or out on highways, one doesn't have the same luxury of choosing among multiple routes.

Basically, I'm saying that despite the right to the roads, as afforded by the law, I feel that sometimes it's wise to choose routes that are more friendly and accommodating to bicycles to avoid putting oneself into potentially dangerous situations.

I also echo Erik's comment about lights. In the pre-dawn and night hours, I run a solid white light on the front, plus a solid red and flashing red on the rear. The flashing red gets attention (gotta love the Planet Bike Super Flash!) and the solid red is to help in zeroing in on my position.

During the day I run a white flasher on the front. I have seen motorists do a double-take when seeing my lights (day and night), usually behaving in a way favorable to my motion, such as pausing at an intersection or even waving me through.

I agree with Munson on behaving as predictably as possible and operating as a car would. I think this makes a big difference. I also think it's important to signal when it's safe to take the hands off the bars and wave when motorists give me a little break. In my opinion, the signaling and waving is a show of respect to the motorists that helps them take me more seriously.

erik said...

sean, sounds like michigan is pretty poorly designed--even more so than omaha--if that's the case. i'm not trying to be an apologist for car-suckage, never would try, just pointing out my experience that taking the lane is almost always the best way to stop that crap around these parts (unless traffic is going over, say, 40-45mph, depending.


T-bone said...

I agree with 2sean9er about riding down the middle of the lane. Back when I used to commute, if I was on a 2-4 lane road like Leavenworth or Farnam I would ride down the middle of the lane. Sure it would piss some people off because they would have to actually take the phone away from their ear and change lanes but I didn't get buzzed nearly as much. When you ride to the right of the lane what you are saying is "go a head and share the lane with me". Oh and my favorite is when someone would come up behind me and lay on the horn. I would slow down to a walking pace just for them. If I ever take to the road again I think I'll invest in the camera setup like the guy in the video.