|New York Avenue Bike Lane|
An adult bicyclist was killed Thursday morning after colliding with an Indianapolis Public Schools bus on the Northwestside.
The bicyclist, whose name has not been released, was traveling west in the bike lane on Westlane Road when he collided with the eastbound bus turning north on to Ditch road, authorities said. The accident, just north of Westlane Middle School, was reported shortly before 7:30 a.m.Readers of this blog will know that, as a bicyclist, I have long been a critic of Indianapolis' bike lanes. Most of those lanes are poorly designed and actually make bicycling more dangerous. Reasons?
- Visibility: Bicyclists are taught to not ride at the edge of the road but instead to "ride wide" and "take the lane" so they are more easily seen. Then when a car approaches, the bicyclist moves to the side of the road. Bike lanes ignore this safety tip in favor of placing the bicyclist at the edge of the road where he or she is least likely to be seen.
- Narrowing of Lanes: Inevitably the result of bike lanes is that traffic lanes are reduced in size, often barely wide enough to contain large vehicles. As a result it creates a more dangerous experience for drivers as well as the bicyclists who will be right next to outermost traffic lane. In a wide lane, a motorist (perhaps looking at a cell phone) can "drift" without incident. But if a motorist drifts in a narrow lane the result can be tragic.
- Hazards in Bike Lanes: Because bike lanes are at the edge of the road, they inevitably end up with glass, gravel, debris and standing water in them. Then you have potholes. When faced with these obstacles a bicyclist in a bike lane has no choice but to hit them or swerve out into a traffic lane. Both options can result in injury or even death.
- Dooring: One of the biggest dangers faced by bicyclists in a city is "dooring." That is when a motorists, quite understandably, doesn't see an approaching bicyclist and open a door. The bicyclist hits the door or quickly swerves out into a traffic lane. Several bicyclists are killed annually by "dooring." Dooring can best be avoided by never riding right next to parked cars. Yet several Indianapolis bike lanes run right next to bike lanes, so close than an opened door covers the entire bike lane.
- Disparity in Speed: The safest places to bike are places where there is not much difference in the speed of a bicycle as opposed to a car. Downtown streets are pretty safe as bicycles can, depending on traffic, pretty much keep up with cars in many places. Where you have the greatest danger is places where bike lanes are located and there is a great disparity in speed. For example, on Allisonville Road, cars are traveling 50 mph right next to bicyclists traveling 15 mph in the bike lane along that road, assuming there are bicyclists who actually use that bike lane.
- Framing Bike Lanes with High Curbs: A bicyclist riding in traffic should always be thinking of an escape route, in particular what to do if a car begins drifting toward you. The problem is that in Indianapolis, many bike lanes are framed with high curbs, leaving the bicyclist with no escape route.
- False Sense of Security: Riding in bike lanes, many bicyclists, especially those that are weekend or recreational bicyclists, feel they are magically protected from traffic. They take less precautions and are less wary of potential dangers.
- Drivers Less Attentive: Similarly, with bicyclists are confined to bike lanes, drivers are less aware of their presence and may not even see them.