Cyclist: Bike lanes may have a dangerous design flaw

Jul 29, 2015, 1:09 PM | Updated: Jul 31, 2015, 12:35 pm

Some of Seattle’s bike lanes might be more dangerous than actually sharing the road with cars...

Some of Seattle's bike lanes might be more dangerous than actually sharing the road with cars, KIRO Radio's Dori Monson says. (SDOT)


It wouldn’t be a normal day for cyclists in Seattle without a close call with a vehicle, or in Trip Volpe’s case, full contact.

Volpe was riding in a protected bike lane on Dexter Avenue North when an SUV cut him off as it turned left. The driver sped away without checking on the cyclist.

The video of the hit-and-run taken by Volpe has since gone viral. And while there is plenty of criticism &#8212 rightfully so &#8212 of the driver’s actions, one factor in the crash hasn’t really been the focus: the bike lane.

Related: Video of SUV hit-and-run with cyclist Trip Volpe

Like others in Seattle, the bike lane on Dexter is located between the sidewalk and a lane for parked cars. The car lane is on the other side of the parked cars.

“What makes it difficult [about riding in the bike lane] is having it separated by a line of parked cars,” Volpe told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “It may account for a visibility problem.”

And that’s coming from a cyclist, not a driver making excuses.

Volpe said the danger of some bike lanes isn’t just from a lack of visibility, either. The danger is also from behind, when drivers have to cut across bike lanes in order to reach a turn lane. That means cyclists have vehicles turning in front of them and jostling for position behind them.

Between the lack of visibility and other threats to cyclists, Dori said he believes people riding bikes are safer sharing car lanes.

But are bike lanes really that dangerous?

Some people have criticized Volpe for not stopping or swerving to avoid the collision with the SUV. He argues that by the time he applied his brakes, it was too late; he was checking behind him as the driver decided to turn.

“When something comes up suddenly, you can brake or turn, you can’t do both,” Volpe said. “Cyclists don’t have the advantage of anti-lock brake systems.”

Luckily for Volpe, he always rides with his GoPro. It’s become a type of insurance for him, after a crash a few years back.

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Cyclist: Bike lanes may have a dangerous design flaw