Trucks vrs Bikes: No Winners . . .

Amelie Le Moullac's bicycle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bicyclists was following the rules of the road when she approached the intersection. The 26,000 GVWR truck came up from behind, overtook the 24 year old female rider and hit the bicycle as the truck made a right turn, resulting in a fatal collision.

The truck driver made an unsafe lane change, without signalling, according to a witness— and later retrieved video of the collision. After the collision, the driver called his company— before calling 911.

Merging into the bike lane and making a right turn is the number one question test-takers get wrong on the California Department of Motor Vehicles driver’s license test.

Merging into the bike lane, however, should be logical to any driver, who knows what a solid line (don’t cross except to park) and a dashed line (merge over when safe) mean.

Bike lanes

The above turn on the left is known as a “hook” and should be avoided.

A motor vehicle — regardless of size — when making a right turn, should always turn right from the curb. This avoids “conflict” (collisions) with bicycles and for larger vehicles like tractor-trailers blocks cars from getting between the truck and the curb (right turn squeeze-play).

Bicyclists have the right-of-way in a bike lane. Right-turning drivers need to to safely merge into the bike lane where the solid line becomes dashed, and then yield to bicyclists.

But many people are confused on this point. (2 minute KRON video on YouTube)

This confusion on Bike-Lane rules of the road may have one reason prosecutors declined to charge the truck driver with vehicular homicide or any criminal charges in the death of the bicyclist.

In January 2015 a jury awarded her family a $4 million dollar judgement against the truck driver and his company. The attorney for the family noted the 47 year-old truck driver was not required to have a CDL license, but suggested this be changed and everyone driving larger vehicles have training in their safe operation.

Key Lessons

Everyone has the right to use or cross the roadway if they are following the rules of the road. In fact, in cities like San Francisco, it’s illegal to ride on the sidewalk if you are over the age of 13. (SF Transportation Code Sec. 7.2.12)

Bicycles can leave the bike lane if they feel it is safer for them. If the bicyclist feels safer outside the bike lane, they can ride in other vehicle travel lanes. Motor vehicles should not crowd the bicycle. Some states have a three-foot rule.

As of December 2015, 26 states—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Virginia, Utah, West Virginia,  Wisconsin and Wyoming—and the District of Columbia have enacted 3-feet passing laws.

Two states have laws that go beyond a 3-feet passing law. Pennsylvania has a 4-feet passing law. South Dakota enacted a two-tiered passing law in 2015; with a three foot passing requirement on roads with posted speeds of thirty-five miles per hour or less and a minimum of six feet separation for roads with speed limits greater than thirty five miles per hour.  In 9 other states there are general laws that provide that motorists must pass at a “safe distance.” These laws typically state that vehicles must pass bicyclists at a safe distance and speed; Montana’s law, for example, requires a motorist to “overtake and pass a person riding a bicycle only when the operator of the motor vehicle can do so safely without endangering the person riding the bicycle.  National Conference of State Legislatures

Drivers need to become knowledgeable on the rules of the road regarding sharing the road with bicycles.

Thank you for reading this.

Related blogs: Preventing Roll-overs of Pedestrians

How can Pedestrian Collisions be Prevented?