Monday, 7 June 2010

Bike lanes screw you: accidents galore

No, I do not mean trails or purpose-built bikeways.
This is a disaster waiting to happen, if I was the one holding the camera on my bike.
There is absolutely no substitute to sharing the road with all vehicles.

Case in point: I collided with a car just by using a bike lane. Lesson(s) learnt.

The real deal is, I and probably a whole lot of other sophisticated cyclists understand why bike lanes on the street do not work.  Many of the motoring public probably do not.  So this is my attempt to explain this topic while also blending in my experience from my accident in.

Normally, bike lanes are placed as close to the side of the street as possible so that drivers of wide motor vehicles will not have to wonder why a cyclist is taking up their lane.  That means that the bike lane will be in the door zone of parked vehicles.  It also means that the cyclist cannot turn in the opposite direction of which the bike lane is situated (e.g. if the bike lane is on the right-hand side, the cyclist cannot reasonably turn left).

In my accident, I was riding in the bike lane coming up to a fork.  The bike lane is striped to fork left.  I needed to fork left, so I followed the lane.  Amazingly, a motor vehicle just has to creep up on me from behind; he pulls up enough on my left for me to be in his blind spot, and then forks right.  I continued in my lane hoping that he would realise that I was right next to him and at least slow down to let me through.  However, in the United States, there exist those drivers who are nothing but crackheads, faggots, arseholes, impatients, distracted and downright stupids.

I took my spill.  Because neither of us were going very fast, I only sustained cuts and bruises to my left elbow, left hand, left hip and right knee.  Other parts, including my head and the bike, were not damaged.

I guess the motorist would have at least most of the blame apportioned upon him, but after thinking about the issue, being aware of it and actually taking the time to write this, I may as well take some of the blame as well.  If I really wanted to fork left in that situation, shouldn't have I actually moved to the left instead of remaining in the poorly-positioned bike lane?  It's just simple traffic sense, where the bike lane violates it.

Some people will read stuff like this and still remain oblivious towards the rationality of the presence and well-being of cyclists in normal traffic lanes.  Perhaps due to the misconception that bicycles are not vehicles in the sense related to motor vehicles?

First off, vehicle is defined as "A conveyance; a device for carrying or transporting substances, objects or individuals."  Furthermore, the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, an international treaty ratified by most nations and regions, explicitly states:
"Cycle" means any vehicle which has at least two wheels and is propelled solely by the muscular energy of the persons on that vehicle, in particular by means of pedals or hand-cranks;
Now, most roads are designed for all vehicles.  Like the one in the picture above.  Only when all vehicles share the same roadway facilities equally and responsibly can safety be guaranteed.  In fact, I have never had any altercations with other road users when all vehicles use the same lanes.  Now compare that ideal situation to the accident described in this post.