Stop the madness!

Completely avoidable

Completely avoidable

This morning at 7:40 AM a Minneapolis biker was hit by a semi-truck and killed. The identity of the biker has not been released, but I am familiar with the intersection where the accident occurred. It’s no surprise that this tragedy involved an ill-conceived bike lane (death stripe) that pits bikers against vehicles moving at speeds in excess of 40 mph.  The bike lane terminates in the middle of intersections and leaves a biker at the absolute mercy of inattentive drivers taking left hand turns.  When will this madness end?

Lone wolf bikers think that safety is achieved by reaching a “critical mass”; more bikes on the streets equals more attentive drivers.  I’m not discounting this notion in its entirety, but there are a lot of bikes where this latest accident occurred.  Critical mass did nothing to save this poor soul’s life.  The only way to make biking safer is to completely separate automobiles from bikes.  How many more people have to die for the urban planners to figure this out?

Why can’t the bike lanes be situated on low traffic side streets?  Such a solution would please drivers, bikers, and the residents of the streets with bike lanes. Until then, please PLEASE don’t ride on these asinine death-striped routes.  It’s your life and you only get one.

3 responses to “Stop the madness!

  1. Sad news. I’m not so sure about the separation though. I mean, if it is done really well and car drivers are aware of them, then this is great. But the problems is that on segregated bike paths there are many more intersections. And intersections are dangerous, especially if not designed properly. In Vienna, most cyclists are killed on bike paths and bike paths crossings, simply because motorists didn’t expect another vehicle aside of the road.. It’s different though (and this is how it is done in Denmark and the Netherlands) if the bike paths are separated but directly beside the car lanes. In Vienna, in most of the places, there is a line of parked cars or bushes in between which makes intersections with bike paths very very dangerous spots. I just want to point out, that segregated bike paths are not “naturally” better than bike lanes on the road — safety on both essentially depends on good planning.

  2. I know this intersection well, also. I am angry that this was called an “accident” as if it were unavoidable. These bike lanes do leave riders vulnerable to turning traffic so there is a design issue. I think Anna above has some great points that I completely agree with (and know is true from my experience of riding the Midtown Greenway at points that it intersects motor roadways).
    In the Netherlands a motorist would have difficulty escaping any penalty for striking a cyclist or a pedestrian who was legally following traffic laws. The onus must be put on the driver of the dangerous vehicle to pay attention to their driving; that will be the surest way to get rid of this lame “I didn’t see him” excuse.

    I am angry because this is the second consecutive cyclist death in the metro that involved a cyclist in a bike lane riding ‘safely’ and following the rules. They were struck by motorists who claimed they didn’t even see their victim. Why is that okay? Why is there no consequence to operating a dangerous machine inattentively?

  3. Separation of autos and bikes also has to include crossing signals and timings for bikes. At least that’s how I’ve seen it done in Germany. If the little bicycle light is green, cross. If it’s red, don’t. Pretty simple really.

    This morning on the radio an update on the accident indicated that the victim was “an avid biker who always wore his helmet.” Unfortunately a helmet isn’t going to do much when you are hit by a semi-truck. I wonder at times if the silly foam hat contributes to bikers feeling safer than they should in dangerous intersections.

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