I have been mulling over this question since being hit by a car just over a week ago. I have lost count of the number of times that vehicles have passed me on my bicycle and immediiately turned left or driven into a parking space. More than once I have ended up jammed between a curb and a parking vehicle. If I hear "Sorry, I didn't see you" again I think I'm going to lose it. Would it be safer not to use the bike lane? I have noticed that the situation has improved since the bike lanes in Murray St, Gawler have been removed.
Most recently, I was travelling along Adelaide Rd , Gawler heading towards the Twelfth St T-junction. (more of a Y than a T) Adelaide Rd, the main road into Gawler, has a lovely wide bike lane. As I got to the junction, a car coming in the opposite direction, which had stopped before turning right into 12th St took off and ran straight into me. The driver was still accelerating when she hit me. I don't think she saw me until I was flying over the bonnet of her car. Would she have seen me if I was in the road proper rather than in the bike lane? Would she have had time to build up speed if I wasn't in the bike lane?
Are bike lanes making cyclists safer or not?
For me, bike lanes make me less safe.
That is because I fall into the 5% of cyclists that are strong and fearless enough to get out and mix it with cars. Barry, I imagine that you'd fall into this category as well.
I reckon that the reason that it makes us less safe, predominately is that cars expect us to be in it and no where else, even when it disappears at intersections, we're crossing the road and so forth.
For most cyclists or potential cyclists, bike lanes are an invaluable form of protection that legitimises them being on the road. Furthermore, they'll probably not ride without bike lanes. And in encouraging them to ride, we all become safer.
I hope you came out without too many injuries.
I rode through that way on my way home for almost a year before I changed my route to include the SOG bike way. That intersection is like a turkey shoot on most days. The drivers are looking down the road for oncoming cars, and regularly don't notice bikes, even when you have the front light on. I don’t think it matters whether you are in the bike lane or not.
I have always said that the most dangerous part of my commute is when you ride through Gawler itself, and now that the council have removed the bike lane from Murray Street, the safest way to ride through there is to take the lane. The traffic is normally travelling at around 30Km/Hr, so I do not normally hold anyone up.
Ouch! That was a nasty accident.
I can understand your logic as a bicycle in a bike lane can be ignored by the car whilst passing - I mean the bicycle has its own lane so there is no impediment to the vehicle's forward travel. By that logic then the cyclist is "less on the radar" of the motorist. That doesn't really fit with the car that right-hand-turned into you.
Legally, cyclists must use the bike-lane but I am a firm believer in "taking the lane" when cycling. Road junctions are a prime site where I like to be out in the middle - one generally has more room to maneuver if something happens.
I'll also do what I term "the wobble" - ride somewhat erratically down the road. This is very much on purpose and aimed at making myself very visible on so caller "motorist's radar". Amusing to see cars half on the other side of the road as they roll past me.
Nonetheless - I would preffer to have bike-lanes as I do feel safer having my own space on the road.
At the (very great) risk of blaming the victim here. I have ridden on the road as a racing cyclist, daily commuter and courier for 34 years and I've been hit by a car on one occasion 16 years ago.
Drivers will always drive badly, so it would seem that cyclists must ride defensively. We can't just *hope* that drivers won't hit us. Nor can we rely on the law to keep us safe - stupid drivers break rules and don't consider the punishments.
So if you're being cut off a lot, and if cars are hitting you now and then, I'd suggest changing the way you ride.
An example. When a bus passes me, I move toward it. This makes the bus driver far less liekly to try to push in toward the kerb, and instead makes the driver brake as the next bus stop approaches. Techniques can also be used to prevent cars turning left on you - the simplest being to ensure they see and hear you if they begin to brake (the other being to give in and brake yourself, we're too puny to win an argument with a stupid driver).
As for bike lanes - I hate them. The more riders there are on the road the safer we are. Remove impediments to riding on the road (bike lanes and helmets) and we all ride safer.
I believe there are a few that should be done:
Firstly be policing of bike lanes.
Secondly greater driver education and public awareness of bike lane laws.
Finally paint the inside of all bike lanes green like they do in other states. This makes them easier to see and they don't look like car lanes.
Hope all goes well and you are back on the bike soon. When you are, we would be happy for you to join us on a Saturday morning ride with the Gawler Wheelers group.
We've met up with a couple of the Starplex people on Saturday morning at Jaspers, Peter.
Mark and Dale joined us last week for the Wheeler's NEXY ride, and set a cracking pace.
I love riding around the Gawler area - there's the hills and the flats within easy reach - but around the town, it's a bit like a mini Mount Barker, or maybe worse - getting busier and not coping very well. Hope you are recovering ok, though. Maybe see you out there soon.
I have a pretty simple rule when riding - I will ride in the bike lane when I consider it reasnobly safe to do so. Unfortunately a lot of the time bike lanes just aren't safe. They are often too thin (the gutter doesn't count as a bike lane), full of hazards (glass, potholes, garbage, dirt) and end without giving you anywhere to go. So I often find myself riding in traffic. I'm in the habit now of taking the lane a good 20m before a roundabout, though it took me a while to develop the confidence to do this.
On the up side, when Hampstead Rd was upgraded the bike lane they put in was fantastic, as is the one on Galway Avenue and Mullers Road. But overall I don't think bike lanes make me safer as the road that I feel just as safe riding on Main North Road (Regency Rd Intersection to the city) without a bike lane as I do riding down Hampstead or Mullers Rds in the bike lane.