Auto accidents are down; bicycle accidents are up!

Steve DeFillippo’s Point of View

Auto accidents are down; bicycle accidents are up!

Here is an idea for a way to mitigate the road horror of bicycle accidents and deaths.

I have ridden approximately 50,000 road miles on my road bicycle over the years. I have been close to serious injury or death, more times than I care to remember from autos. I have not been innocent of some of those close calls but I can tell you that auto drivers, of all ages, are the cause of most.

Some close calls have been:

• Motorists who fear going over the middle road yellow line, even when there is no oncoming traffic; but choose to hug the right white line where cyclists tread; without allowing 3 feet from the cyclist.
• Drivers who approach a cyclist from behind and decide to turn right just as a cyclist reaches a drive way or street intersection. Wow! What are these drivers thinking?
• Trucks so wide they barely can clear the center line and the bicycle line; especially dangerous are fire trucks that barely fit between the lines and have mirrors protruding even further.
• Drivers who seem oblivious to anything on the road and won’t care until it is too late.
• Then we have the cell phone weirdo’s that feel they must speak to someone holding the cell phone or worse, texting something “important” while attempting to “drive”.

Yes, inconsiderate, selfishness and arrogance are at the root of these avoidable accidents and deaths.

Keeping cyclists and cars at a distance from each other is important to mitigate accidents and deaths of cyclists. Recently the State of Florida passed a law that requires drivers to be at least 3 feet from a cyclist but the bike lane is just a tad more than 3 feet wide on many streets. So moving across the yellow center line would be necessary to accomplish that. It is a rare moment where motorists give a cyclist a wide berth. Laws abound about every topic you can imagine but people do not pay attention to the written word or law, even if they know one exists. They are preoccupied with self-interests.

So what is a possible solution to this dilemma? More Laws? No! Add more roads with bike lines/lanes? No, same problem, different road. More publicity of tragedies? Maybe!

How about thinking outside the box and employing road conditions that could eliminate most of the above close calls and at a fraction of the cost of other solutions?

What if the bike lane was doubled in width and cyclists used one lane going in both directions; but the bike lane on the opposite side of the road was eliminated, thereby allowing for a very wide bicycle lane, naturally giving cyclists some room to avoid being hit by the line " huggers" and wide trucks?

Crazy? Well it is not unprecedented; Gordon Drive in Naples has such a bike lane for part of that road. Sanibel Island has a friendly cyclist policy with sidewalks that have a line down the middle of the walkway/bike lane and sign that says “Keep to the Right”.

The benefit of a wide lane solution is that when no cyclists are coming from the other direction the one cyclist has the comfort and safety of a very wide berth from auto and truck traffic. The cyclist coming in the direction closest to the auto line has the advantage of seeing what the driver is about to do and can react to an errant driver. Afterward, the cyclist closest to the auto lane can move to the left giving them a wide berth.

The material cost of doing this would be for paint, used to move the center road line over and eliminate the bike line on the opposite side of the road. While this solution may not be applicable to every road, it would be a start to mitigating the road horror of bicycle accidents and deaths on most roads.

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