[Updated] Cyclist hit in the Bearinger Albert Bike Lane

Around 5.20pm Monday May 2 2011 a cyclist traveling east on Bearinger was struck just about 75 meters from the Albert Street intersection. The vehicle was making a left-hand turn into the small plaza from Bearinger.

It was a good thing the cyclist was wearing a helmet, it was crushed and the cyclist managed to stand up and walk around.  Although it did take a while as he was kept immobile until emergency services showed up.

I didn’t see the collision but saw the emergency vehicles arrive as I was leaving my work place. I walked down and chatted with a few eye witnesses who were getting ready to give statements to police.

It’s unfortunate that our bike lanes don’t make us safer.

[Update – May 3 2011: An esteemed colleague dropped by this morning whose wife was an eye witness and stopped on her bike to call 911. The situation is not as black and white as originally reported.  There was a line of stopped vehicles lined up for a red light on bearinger. The line of vehicles left a gap for vehicles to turn left into the plaza entrance.  The cyclist was travelling down the bike lane beside stopped traffic when he was struck by the left turning car.

According to the eye-witness account the cyclist was unconscious for at least 2 minutes.  When he came to he was obviously disoriented and had trouble remembering his name and age (although he pointed to where he worked). He refused to take the ambulance to the hospital. I hope he’s ok today!]

The map below is dated, road has been resurfaced and now has a designated bike lane, however in front of the plaza entrance the bike lane line is dotted.

16 thoughts on “[Updated] Cyclist hit in the Bearinger Albert Bike Lane

  1. I saw this on my way home last night. Happy that the guy seemed OK.

    I wonder how the news will blame the cyclist for this one. It seems like he did everything right.

  2. Updated the post as I talked to another eye witness. It’s not as black and white as I suspected. I’m curious how the police would interpret the situation.

    1. RE: update,
      If he t-boned another car by driving through a gap in stopped cars, there would no question he’s at fault.

      Same holds for bicycle. He should have looked before proceeding. The line is clearly painted.

  3. Maybe I don’t totally understand the accident, but I don’t see what’s not black and white about it. If he was travelling straight in a bike lane, he has right of way over anyone turning left across his lane.

    1. Agreed – Until Matt relayed what happened, I wasn’t certain that bike lanes were given the same treatment as other lanes on a road. I still have a question out to my brother-in-law whose a police officer on how he’d handle it. If you’re in the law enforcement business and reading this, let us know how the situation would be interpreted.

  4. I have to agree that the at-fault party is the car turning left. If the guy turning left had hit another car or a pedestrian, it would be 100% his fault. This is no different. I think the cop would be tempted to charge the car driver with Careless Driving. In court, this would probably be reduced to turn not in safety or failure to yield right-of-way.

    I think the gray area is introduced when bike lanes are used not exactly as designed. For example, a cyclist is travelling in the bike lane, but on the wrong side of the road (ie. facing into vehicle traffic), or when one cyclist overtakes another in the bike lane by swerving out into the car lane without checking. This situation seems pretty cut & dried!

  5. Hello, I am the one who was riding the bike. Thanks for your concern and thoughts. I definitely want to say thank-you for those who stopped to help out/call for help/and wait around to make a statement. I am ok, just a few bruises and a little stiff (elbow and knee).

    The posts are very accurate as to what happened. I was in the bike lane coming down the hill with stopped cars on my left. A car travelling in the opposite direction turned left through the line of cars and crossed into the bike lane. As soon as I saw him coming I tried to stop but didn’t have the time. I was on the bakes real hard but hit the front corner of the car and went over the bars and then over the hood (I think). I guess I could have tried to swerve around him but I wasn’t sure if he was stopping and I do remember thinking that I didn’t want to end up in front of him on the ground.

    So, as far as I know I did nothing legally wrong. I wasn’t charged and as the officer explained it I was in the right. It is up to the driver crossing any lane to ensure that the way is clear. I assume the driver will be charged with an illegal left turn.

    Now realistically, I guess I should have noticed what was going to happen. It’s cliché but it’s true, even though I was in the right, I was the one laying on the pavement while the guy in the steel box was fine. For sure I learned a lesson about commuting. There was a clear road for me all the way to the stop light and then suddenly there wasn’t. Riding in traffic is definitely a different game then cruising out on the highway.

    1. Hi Matt. Thanks for the update and good to hear you’re ok other than minor scrapes and bruises.

      I’m encouraged with by the fact that bike lanes are treated the same as any other lane when it comes to the highway traffic act. That was the part I was most unsure about.

      Actually I think some driver education needs to happen, particularly when roads are changed by painting bike lanes on them. I’m sure drivers are not aware that they need to treat bike lanes as they would a car lane.

      Let us know how it turns out especially if you’re called upon if the driver fights the charge in court.

      Again thanks for letting us know you’re ok!

      Cheers,
      Graham

  6. Dude, That’s great that you’re OK.

    I guess your conclusion is the buzz around my office. It’s insufficient for a cyclist to be in the right. We have to be more skilled than that.

    Not saying that you’re not skilled, just that we all really need another level of awareness when on a bike.

  7. Matt – So glad you are okay. Thank goodness you were wearing a helmet too.

    My question is: why are the bike lanes dotted in front of the entrance and what difference does that make to the rules?

  8. I think the driver should be charged with attempted vehicular manslaughter for this. It’s obvious he didn’t care who’s lane he was crossing into and you are by default in the right, which makes him a criminal.

    Maybe a decade in prison would encourage drivers to watch what they’re doing as they destroy our environment.

    1. Rob and I went for a run at lunch today and took a look at the scene as we ran by … it’s definitely not a black and white situation.

      The bike lane markings have largely been scraped off the road. The lane markings in front of the plaza driveway have completely disappeared. The only way the driver who was turning left could tell that there was a bike lane was if he could look down the road. If there’s a queue of traffic leaving a gap, there’s no way he could see.

      I wonder if the city has any liability in this instance?

      @Mike – I applaud your passion for the protection of our environment and our fellow cyclists, but I’d encourage you to lighten up on extreme rhetoric as it stifles conversation. The approach that seems most effective is to become the change we want to see in our community, being a positive force for change.

  9. I’m glad Matt is okay… cars are dangerous! “Never trust anyone with a steering wheel in their hands”

    The very nature of bicycle lanes on busy streets leads to issues like these. I’d hardened myself by riding King Street for a long time but I’m just sick of the hassles. Side-streets and trails are much nicer riding for me. It’s also collisions like these that make me wonder why many clamour for more bike lanes?

  10. I try to stick to the side streets and trails as well but this wasn’t always the case. I had an incident similar to this in London. I was riding down a street beside a row of cars waiting at a stop light. In those days there were no bike lanes so I was probably in the wrong there as I was riding between the cars and the curb… I’m sure many of us have done this in order to scoot by the traffic. What happened to me was a person opened their door and my bike hit the car door and I was thrown over the car door. The force was so great it broke my bike frame at the stem. I was okay other than some cuts and bruises. This just goes to show that cyclists have to be super vigilant especially when they are passing idling cars at a stop light.

    I hate to quote Rob Ford but “Cycling in our cities is like swimming with the sharks”. I do believe that as more people begin to commute by bicycle that the drivers will become more aware and tolerant. Having been to Belgium on a work day it is a chaotic coexistence of cyclists and cars on their streets but the car drivers are aware that cyclists are all around them and they are tolerant of it and careful. Let’s hope Canadian drivers will become as aware of cyclists on their city streets as Europeans are today.

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