Friday, January 23, 2009

Shit happens.

Today I had an accident. Not a bad one, but it hurts a bit and I will have several bruises. My friend Anna from Barcelona once said that the bicycle infrastructure there isn't very good and that she would like to have more bike lanes. I thought I will do a pro and contra list one day to show her that less bike lanes can be an advantage too. I won't do that now. But this is going to be a contra bike lanes argument..

Well, as every morning I rode my bike on the bike lane (in German "Mehrzweckstreifen" - the one with the broken line that trucks are allowed to ride over) to the university. Actually I like that bike lane although I already had an accident there in 2007 (a car driver overlooked me and cut me off), but at a different spot. I like it cause there's always a traffic jam that I can pass easily on the bike lane. And the progressive signal system is set up in a way that I have green lights in a row. It is the only street in Vienna that I know where they favor cyclists. Well, I was constantly going around 18-20 km/h which isn't fast, but also not slow. The cars on the left were sitting in a traffic jam. And suddenly there appeared an old lady in front of me that I didn't see before cause the cars blocked my view. She was on a crosswalk, but run a red light. Probably she only saw the standing cars but didn't look out for other road users. So she suddenly appeared in front of me, I shouted and braked hard. She turned her face in my direction but stopped in the middle of the bike lane rather than continue walking. I couldn't maneuver around her cause there was a car to my left and a scaffold to my right. In the last moment I pushed my front wheel to the left so that it didn't hit her frontal. But of course I lost my balance and we both fell. I helped her to get up. She was really confused. I asked her whether something hurts and if I should call an ambulance or accompany her to a doctor. She said it's ok and wanted to walk away. I think she felt ashamed cause it was her fault. I wanted to give her at least my details in case that she suffers from the accident later (I know that this happens), but she didn't want them.

Usually in Austria you only have to report an accident if people got hurt. So at first I thought it was not necessary. But then I kind of felt responsible cause I was on the "stronger" vehicle and reported it to the police. Unfortunately the old lady is gone. I don't worry to much about my injuries, cause they are not severe (although they hurt). But my front wheel is warped and I probably have to get it fixed from my own money.

I just hope that the old lady will not run red lights in the future and watch out for cyclists too. And hopefully she will not tell bad stories about bicycle rodwys. I still feel a bit sorry though. I don't want to hurt people, even not accidentally.

What's the contra bike lanes argument:
  • Most pedestrians are not aware of bike lanes and that there are actually cyclists driving there independently of the car lane - they ignore them, trust their ear (you can hear cars, but not bicycles!) and don't look.


Anna said...

I agree with your argument against bike lanes (people overlook them even driving or walking), but still, I think that they are safer than cycling on the road or on the sidewalks.

Think about this accident happening to you in the middle of the road with car driving there and you and the old lady crossing in red...

By the way...a suggestion for your post about bike lanes: Bike lanes, Sidewalks and Roads. THE GUIDE FOR BIKERS :P. I will say it more easily: if there are no bike lanes...where I am I supposed to cycle and why? I prefer cycling on sidewalks -you can do it here, I think- (my german teacher told me that this is forbidden in that true?) because I am afraid of cars driving fast (people drive fast in the cities).

Hey, you're a much more productive writer than I am. I have many ideas but also a lot of laziness...
Keep track with it :D

anna said...

Yes, in Austria it is not allowed to cycle on the sidewalk (except for children). But I will think about the article you suggested, good idea. Maybe a modified version (since I don't know anything about cycling on sidewalks) which is called "Where should I ride on the road if there is a bike lane and where if there isn't one.." ;-). I have some suggestions for how to drive on the road safely even without bike lanes..

Scott said...

In Chicago you will be arrested for cycling on a sidewalk. It is dangerous to pedestrians but also to the cyclists. When a cyclist is crossing a street, cars turning right may not see you if parked cars are blocking the view. You are actually safer if you ride in the street.

Anonymous said...

In Brazil, we wrote a manifesto ( we do not claim for bike lanes, but for respect.

Indeed, bike lanes is not a solution. Maybe just a small part of the solution. A bike culture is much more than bike paths.

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