Too Many Motorists Fail to Respect Bicycle Lanes

December 08, 2020

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Too Many Motorists Fail to Respect Bicycle Lanes

Bicycle lanes are critical to the safety of those who travel on two wheels, but disturbing news reports suggest that many motorists are disregarding them. Unfortunately, this disregard imperils the lives of our friends and neighbors who choose to bicycle around the city.

According to WRTV Indianapolis, many residents have complained that motorists are actually using lanes reserved for bicycles. This improper lane usage can lead to collisions, as cyclists are not expecting a heavy, 3000 pound vehicle to be in their lane. Other residents do not understand that there are traffic lights that apply only to bike lanes. A bicycle light might be green, but this is not a signal for motorists to hit the gas on their car or SUV.

Lane Designations Are Not Clear

One source of confusion has been a lack of visual differentiation between bicycle lanes and other traffic lanes. On some streets, there is a bicycle emblem embedded in the bicycle lane, which provides an easy visual marker. Other lanes have clear, bold white lines.

However, other lanes are not clearly differentiated. And ongoing road construction certainly makes it difficult to know where a person should drive. We aren’t surprised that many motorists accidentally find themselves in a bike path.

As NBC 13 noted, the creation of the lanes took about two feet from the traffic lanes used by cars. This loss of space has made it harder for many motorists to stay in their lanes now that they are narrower. Unfortunately, the bicycle lanes do not have barriers separating them from the rest of traffic, so a drifting car could easily slam into a cyclist.

Other bicycle lanes swerve and bend dramatically, which drivers are not expecting. One bicycle lane, for example, dramatically expands to make way for a “turn lane.” This causes the rest of the lanes to snake in an awkward direction.

Cyclists Must Take Precautions

Things are so dire that some cyclists are not even using the bicycle lanes, instead preferring to ride out in traffic. Unfortunately, this defeats the purpose of having bicycle lanes. It also makes it harder for motorists to ultimately figure out where cyclists are coming from.

What is there for cyclists to do? We recommend using extreme caution when riding in a lane. Make sure to wear a helmet and elbow pads, which can help mitigate any injuries should you be hit and fall off your bicycle. Also do not ride too close to vehicles—you will need valuable seconds to take defensive action, if need be.

Bicycle Accidents Are Serious

If you are involved in a crash, stop the driver who hit you. Some might be so clueless that they drive off, so memorize as much of their license plate number as you can. The police can use that information to track down the driver.

Also contact an Indianapolis auto accident attorney at Keffer Hirschauer LLP today. Our team has experience with hit and run accidents and other motor vehicle crashes. We will gladly discuss your case in a free consultation.