Darwin Award contender

Here’s the scenario: I’ve stopped at a red light, preparing to make a right turn. I look to my right, see no pedestrians wanting to cross directly in front of me (since they would have a walk signal), then look to my left, see no oncoming vehicles, and start to move. So far as I can tell, I’ve met the conditions under which a right turn on red is legal: no oncoming traffic on the roadway with the green light, and no pedestrians with a right-of-way in front of me.

What have I overlooked?

A bicyclist, deciding that he can come roaring up along the sidewalk in my right-side blind spot, turn left directly across my path, and cross the street in the pedestrian walkway. I didn’t see him because he was coming up from directly behind me on my right, and because he approached at a rate of speed much faster than the pedestrians I’d been watching for. Fortunately Rose in the passenger seat spotted him a millisecond before I did, and she alerted me sufficiently that I hit the brake. Also fortunately, I’d just barely begun to accelerate into the turn so I could stop almost instantaneously. If Rose hadn’t been there, I quite possibly would have knocked the bicyclist over – or worse.

Naturally, the bicyclist was insistent that since the light was green, it was my fault. I yelled at him that he’s not a pedestrian and doesn’t belong on the sidewalk or in the pedestrian walkway, where no one’s looking for anything approaching at that rate of speed. He wanted to make a left turn: he should have proceeded, on the roadway, to the left of the lane, signaled a left turn, and waited for a break in traffic to allow him to go left along the roadway on the right or far side of the crossroad from my perspective…not in the near-side pedestrian walkway.

I don’t know – what do you think?

It seems to me that either a bicycle is a vehicle, with all the rights of the roadway and responsibilities to obey the laws of the road…or it is not, in which case it may not have those responsibilities, but not those rights either. But the reason bicycles are vehicles, not “pedestrians,” is that they’re unsafe for pedestrians on sidewalks, since they move far too fast…and, as I suggest, when a driver is looking for hazards, sidewalks are the source of pedestrian traffic. Too many bicyclists want it both ways: they want the rights of vehicular traffic, but refuse (for example) to actually stop at stop signs, and insist they can cross in pedestrian walkways (even when, as in this case, they’re effectively going the wrong way, against traffic).

Luckily, I have good brakes and reflexes, and in this case a passenger paying attention to areas outside of my view (the bicyclist essentially materialized in my blind spot and moved directly from there to a position directly in front of what was clearly indicated by my turn signal as my line of travel).

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3 Comments

Filed under traffic, Uncategorized

3 responses to “Darwin Award contender

  1. villain

    you know where I stand on this, right? ” a bicycle is a vehicle, with all the rights of the roadway and responsibilities to obey the laws of the road” (except: bicycle does not have _all_ the rights of the roadway — does not belong on limited access highway). and bicycle traffic violations should incur the _same_ penalties as motor traffic violations. signed, angry biker.

  2. Yep – I was almost expecting you to respond to Stewart’s remarks on FB (not *all* bicyclists are the way he describes)…

    It would have been very schadenfreudey had there been a traffic cop nearby who gave the guy a ticket…

  3. Janet

    Bicycles are barred from sidewalks by law in Columbus. There might be an exception for little kids. It’s a good law. So are the rest of the laws regulating bicycle use. Too bad so many bicyclists disregard them. Motorists will never be bicycle-friendly as long as they regularly experience jerk cyclists being jerky.

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