Philadelphia Cyclists Demand Safer Bike Lanes — Now

About 75 demonstrators took to the streets yesterday after a garbage truck driver struck and killed 24-year-old Emily Fredricks.

Protesters formed a human chain to protect the bike lane where a truck driver struck and killed Emily Fredricks. Photo: Rebuilding the Rust Belt
Protesters formed a human chain to protect the bike lane where a truck driver struck and killed Emily Fredricks. Photo: Rebuilding the Rust Belt

The death of 24-year-old Emily Fredricks has touched off a flood of anger in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday morning, Fredricks was biking to work down Spruce Street, on a buffered but unprotected bike lane, when a garbage truck driver turned right and fatally struck her. Spruce Street is scheduled to receive vertical posts to add protection for cyclists. But local politicians have been dragging their feet.

Locals have had enough. About 75 demonstrators took to the streets yesterday demanding protected bike lanes on Spruce immediately. They formed a chain and used their bodies to shield cyclists traveling down the corridor.

Bike advocate Dena Driscoll wrote a fantastic op-ed in the Inquirer spelling out the problem:

The buffered bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets stretch from river to river and are two of the busiest bike lanes in Philadelphia. The lanes were a campaign promise made by former Mayor Michael Nutter in 2007, installed as a temporary pilot in 2009, and made permanent the following year. At the time, these lanes were seen as groundbreaking in the United States. Since then, cities around the U.S. have not only installed buffered lanes but also protected bike lanes, which are the pinnacle of safety because they create a plastic physical barrier between cyclists and cars.

When Mayor Kenney ran for office, he promised voters that he would install 30 miles of protected bike lanes in Philadelphia. (For reference, 30 miles is about 1 percent of all Philadelphia streets.) Currently he has completed two small segments.

Part of Philadelphia’s problem is that it allows City Council members to exercise de facto veto power over bike improvements, she writes:

Unlike many of our neighborhood streets, Spruce and Pine have earmarked grant funding to improve them for safer mobility — including funds for re-striping and installation of flexi-posts to separate the bike lanes from car traffic.

However, before that money can be spent, we need our local Council people on board. Mark Squilla and Kenyatta Johnson have final say on bike lanes in their districts — Spruce and Pine run through both — but they often cede that power not to the city Office of Transportation and Infrastructure Systems’ team of expert planners and engineers, but to a select group of citizens and powerful residential associations who, at many contentious meetings about protected bike lanes, have demanded the convenience of using the bike lane as a de facto loading zone for their cars. This is something most Philadelphians do not get the privilege of doing on the streets where their homes are located. We cannot allow our Council people to “pass the buck” when they demanded as part of the Complete Streets bill to have final say for street design.

Meanwhile, Patrick Miner at Rebuilding the Rust Belt participated in yesterday’s people-protected bike lane and explains how it all came together. The demonstration, he says, “not only highlighted the outrage of a senseless and preventable death, it showed that people care deeply, and it educated the wider public on a practical solution, and thus hacked the political problem of making Philadelphia more humane.”

  • scoot777

    The truck driver that struck Emily was making a right turn at the intersection. How would vertical flexposts have made any difference?

  • JoeyBaggs

    If the posts went all the way to the end of the block (i.e. eliminating the turning lane), the truck would’ve been forced to make a slower 90 degree turn. Will this prevent 100% of crashes? No. But it would’ve made it much less likely to happen by providing all parties more time to respond to an irresponsible actor.

  • I am so sorry to read about the tragic death of a cyclist at the hands of an inattentive driver.

    I will say that, as a New Yorker who has visited Philadelphia on several occasions purely to ride around in the city, I find Philly a much more bike-friendly city than New York. The bike lanes are plentiful and are found all throughout the city. More important, I noticed to my surprise a tendency for Philly drivers to respond to my hand signals and to accommodate me when I was changing lanes or making a left turn across a lane of oncoming traffic. I also saw drivers in Philadelphia consistently stop at stop signs. Both of these observations stand in sharp contrast to the normal practice of New York’s drivers. For these reasons, I greatly enjoyed riding in Philadelphia. But clearly the drivers of garbage trucks operate with the same level of carelessness in both cities.

    Some kind of physical protection is necessary on the lanes on the very narrow Spruce and Pine Streets. And they need to be barriers that drivers don’t want to run into. In New York we have flex posts as barriers at several locations, such as all along the new bike lane on Queens Boulevard. But these provide no more protection than paint does, because they offer absolutely no incentive to drivers to avoid them. The corner of Water and John Streets was formerly “protected” by flex posts; but so many drivers ran over them that the City gave up on replacing them.

    I hope the obstacles to installing real protective barriers in the bike lanes on Spruce and Pine Streets can be overcome; and I lament the fact that any improvements will come too late for this unfortunate cyclist.

  • scoot777

    Au contraire. Turning through the bike lane at the intersection (a la Oregon) will lead to more right hooks than a merge-then-turn design (a la California and most other states).

  • ride_it_like_you_stole_it

    Is that proven anywhere? The potential to hit a cyclist is no different when you merge into the bike lane before the turn rather than turn across it. What matters is that motorcyclists signal the intention ahead of the maneuver and confirm there is no one to their right before merging into the bike lane or turning across it.

  • Joe

    I was at the bike lane in the morning and the vigil in the evening. I’ve been to the Washington Square West Civic Association meetings where neighborhood residents vociferously argued that their convenience to drop off groceries was more important than the safety that any measure beyond simply applying more paint might bring. I truly don’t understand people who move to old cities and then obsess over their cars. I think this kind of self-centeredness is at the root of so many problems in American culture. I used to think that the idea that you “owned” the spot in front of your house was a misguided suburbanite belief, but some city dwellers clearly believe it, too, despite it being a public asset. The real battle, at the end of the day, is in people’s minds.

  • HamTech87

    I recall Montreal having steel posts. Perhaps these would be better.

  • “I truly don’t understand people who move to old cities and then obsess over their cars.” Super good point, my friend.

  • You’re correct. In Emily’s particular case, an intersection treatment, legal mechanisms, and/or a culture change could have prevented it. But there’s already flex posts planned for Spruce street, so this is an opportunity to point that out.

  • Guy Ross

    By cutting space to make the turn, it could slow the truck before and during the turn. Could have saved another life.

  • wright gregson

    I was a biker (too old now, tho) But I am sick an tired of bikers making all these demands while they don’t do anything about the thoughtless, wreckless riders in general.
    For instance why is there no demand from bikers requiring yellow reflective vests be worn at all times (as I do when I ride) for better visibility? Why is there no demand that bikers wear reflective/illuminated helmets? It is all well and good to have reflective material down around the wheels, but that doesn’t help with upper body visibility. Bikers, take responsibility for your selves.
    AND FOLLOW THE DAMNED TRAFFIC RULES OF THE ROAD.

  • disqus_1pvtRUVrlr

    Wrong. As someone who actually does bike/ped design and planning (and many years ago drove commercial vehicles), I can tell you that the posts wouldn’t have prevented the crash. That location is already constrained. Take a look at the overhead views of the crash scene. The large trash truck already has to swing wide and go slowly to make the turn without mounting the curb. Flex posts would not have prevented this, and small intersections like these don’t have the space to provide for the lane offset needed to achieve the safety improvements from “protected intersections”.

    Further, the notion of “protected intersections” is a myth. You have two converging paths with a bike through-movement and a motor vehicle turning movement (right or left). The turning movements make up the majority of urban crashes. Yes, some of the designs can mitigate the severity (again, with significant offset to allow a more perpendicular crossing), but it keeps being oversold as a magic bullet. Again, in this instance it would make no difference.

  • scoot777

    I was a young woman (too old now, tho). But I am sick and tired of women
    making all these demands while they don’t do anything about the
    slutty public presentation of women in general.
    For instance why is there no demand from women requiring all skin to be covered at all times (as I do when I walk) in order to lessen mens’ temptations? Why is there no demand that women wear niqabs? It is all well and good to wear modest clothing around your body, but that doesn’t help to conceal a pretty face. Women, take responsibility for your selves.

  • scoot777

    Here’s a pic from after the collision:
    https://cbsphilly.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/11th-and-spruce-st-fatal-bike-accident_frame_26.png

    Look at how big that truck is compared to the size of this narrow urban intersection. Such a truck could not navigate this intersection at more than a few MPH. A typical through-cyclist would have a higher speed unless she stops to let him turn through. I can’t find any investigation details, but I’d be willing to bet that one of two scenarios happened: either a) Emily was moving faster than the truck at the time of the collision, or b) Emily had been moving faster than the truck until shortly before the collision, rode up on its side, then got run over while waiting for the truck to turn because its side cuts the corner at a sharper angle. The truck driver might even have been stopped to yield to pedestrians and then missed Emily riding up its flank.

    The best solutions to prevent these kinds of crashes:
    1) educate drivers that they must look for fast bicycles as well as pedestrians before turning at any intersection or driveway, especially if there is a bike lane on the inside.
    2) educate cyclists never to pass any vehicle on the side toward which it is indicating a turn
    3) educate cyclists to stay back and never ride alongside a large truck that might turn
    4) provide infrastructure that encourages cyclists to pass such vehicles on the left side instead. The proposed flexpost extensions up to this corner are counterproductive and should be expected to increase the likelihood of right-hook collisions.

  • scoot777

    I don’t have any data sources. It seems like a common-sense argument though. Merging into the bike lane before a turn requires that drivers yield to bikes only. This is a smooth merge on a typical urban street because a vehicle slowing in advance of a turn can easily match the speed of a bicycle. Turning through a bike lane at the intersection requires that one yield to both pedestrians in the crosswalk and bicyclists in the bike lane. With more hazards to look for, and a higher speed differential between the nearly-stopped turning vehicle and through-bicycles, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to predict a higher number of collisions in the latter scenario.

  • wright gregson

    I am not sure how to take your comment. Was it sarcasm? A direct reply? An original comment about the article? I was speaking of safety suggestions only

  • Taufik Abidin

    because car industries still don’t make the left and right corners beside the front window transparent, thus creating a blind spot.

  • Alicia

    What are we supposed to do about “wreckless” riders? Try to get them to have wrecks?

  • wright gregson

    oops hee hee. wouldn’t want the insurance rates to go up.

  • Guy Ross

    All very possible scenarios. However, I feel you missed one which happens often to me and should be included at the top of your propablitiy list.

    1) Emily was riding at 12 miles per hour, truck passes her at twenty and hits the breaks to make a rapid right turn with the rear right wheel set pinching the inside curb – eliminating any safe space she could have found.

    Not sure why you would leave this one out. Odd.

  • Guy Ross

    I should have made clear that I wasn’t concentrating on flexiposts per se. Rather, a permanent, solid feature. Place a bollard in the place of the manhole in this photo.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3199dcb422cee14cc334ebaf45fcd1d9322ac94a787bbaf29b40cae601ea26f5.gif
    It creates a safe space from it to the curb, slows turns, and saves lives.

    I’m not thinking of ‘safe’ as that is a simplistic binary impossibility. We are both talking about reducing risk. I don’t understand how you can claim that slowing turns has no effect on reducing risk. Is there data to support that slower moving vehicles are more dangerous?

  • scoot777

    Because I consider it improbable given the geometry of the intersection and vehicle in question. A driver who takes sharp corners NASCAR-style in that garbage truck will soon enough find his own face splattered on the pavement. Even drivers who are negligent of others’ safety usually care about their own. This truck is still upright.

  • scoot777

    I guess Poe’s Law holds after all.

    To clarify, there is no legal requirement for bicyclists to dress in a certain way, only to have minimal lights and reflectors after dark. Whereas it is a requirement that drivers avoid hitting other people who using the road legally. I interpret your post as victim-blaming bicyclists for their choice of attire, a stance that I find no less ridiculous than my parody response.

  • dfiler

    Bikers are just as law abiding as drivers. Ever notice how most people exceed the speed limit pretty much all the time? That’s what you should be worrying about. It is the people driving cars too quickly who are responsible for killing thousands of people per year. So hopefully you’re even more adamant about drivers following the rules of the road, aka: not speeding.

    Drivers are also killing pedestrians. Should everyone walking down the sidewalk also have to wear a reflective vest and helmet?

    No country in the world has taken that strategy. Why? Quite simply, because it is everyone’s responsibility to not kill people. There are many places in the world where it is safe to ride a bicycle and none of them require high-vis gear or helmets. If your impatient or reckless driving poses a risk of killing someone, it is your responsibility to modify your own behavior.

  • Guy Ross

    Strange, driving at 30, slamming on the brakes to take a turn without signalling is more the norm than exception for commercial vehicle operators in the city from my experience.

  • Bob

    Cars drifting in too bike lanes is far more of a danger than not wearing a yellow vest

  • Bob

    Nailed it. The belief that your slight convenience of dropping off groceries once a week is more important than the safety of dozens (if not hundreds) of bikers on your street is peak selfishness. Either that or it’s just peak delusion, thinking that you have can park a car wherever the fuck you want in a crowded city

  • Bob

    Wow, if you think cars stop at stop signs in Philly than NYC must be really bad with stop signs. Regardless, it’s sad to hear that my fear with the flex posts is true. It’s really no protection, probably just mental comfort for some of the more timid bikers in the lane

  • Bob

    Apparently you have never ridden a bus, because those drivers fly around ridiculously tight turns all the time, narrowly missing collisions in both the back and front only by inches. They know the dimensions of the bus so well they can do it all the time. I’m sure garbage trucks are no different

  • Every bicyclist who wants to ride on major roads should be forced to get into the driver’s seat of heavy trucks and buses just to see how little such drivers can see on their right side. In fact it might be safer on divided boulevards for the bike lanes to be in the median rather than on the right side of the roadway.

  • At some recent iterations of Summer Streets, there has been a truck cab there for specifically that reason, for bicyclists to climb into in order to get a sense of what a truck driver sees.

    I didn’t avail myself of this, because I already employ the practice of staying well back of trucks. But, from a policy perspective the answer is not to tell bicyclists to be more careful, but to make trucks safer and to hold truck drivers accountable for the harm that they do.

  • Philadelphia government take a right and timely step. https://bikeinquire.com/

  • If an 18-wheel truck is turning right and the cab is turned to the right of the trailer by 15 degrees, how much of the pavement to the right of the truck can the driver see in his flat non-distorted mirror? The answer is none, as all the driver can see in right flat mirror is the side of the trailer.

    At a 35-40% degree angle between the cab and the trailer the driver can’t see anything along the right side of the trailer even in the distorted fisheye mirror, and it is impossible for an 18-wheel truck to turn right at any intersection without pavement along the right side of the trailer being temporarily completely blind to the driver.

    Of course the truck driver must look in several different directions when turning right and can only devote about 1/4 of total time when turning right to view what little can be seen in the right side mirror.

    Bike riders just can’t have the right of way along the right side of trucks and buses that are turning right as the chance you will be seen by the driver there is poor, in-fact when trucks and buses must start a right turn by first swinging to their left anyone behind the right side of the trailer or the bus is blind to the driver too.

    Maybe collision avoidance radar might solve this problem someday but before that happens bike riders need to stay back from the right side of trucks and buses on city streets (left side in the UK and Australia), and you are much more-likely to be seen in the mirror by the driver on the driver’s side rather than the passenger side, especially when the truck or bus is turning toward the passenger side.

  • It is wrong to frame the existence of blind spots on trucks as a matter of inevitablity. In order to eliminate blind spots, we don’t have to wait for some futuristic technology; we could long ago have mandated the use of cameras and additional mirrors that would do the job.

    Bicyclists should indeed stay back of trucks for their own safety. But this is only to compensate for the negligence on the part of trucking companies for the failure to outfit trucks with the equipment necessary for safe operation, and also the negligence of legislatures for accommodating these shoddy industry practices.

    The doer of an act is responsible for the harm that can reasonably be forseen as a result of that act. Nothing exempts trucking companies and truck drivers from this universal principle of morality. The fact that these people have been allowed to impose on other road users the mortal hazards caused by their own actions is utterly scandalous.

  • Talk to the Federal DOT if you don’t like it, and they will tell you the same thing that I will. You don’t know anything so it isn’t worth my time to try to explain it you.

    How about blaming Ronald Reagan for deregulating the trucking industry, which cut gross income to a bare minimum. Urban taxicabs get paid double what 18-wheel trucks do thanks to deregulation. There is no money for TV camera systems. There is barely enough revenue to put diesel fuel in the tank and pay the driver. My grandfather got paid more to operate an 18-wheel truck in the 1940s than truckers make now.

    The Federal DOT regulates safety items on interstate trucks, not your local Legislature. Is it legal for a bike to pass a truck on its right and ignore its signal, especially when the driver can’t see you there? No, it is not legal for cars or motorcycles to ignore turning trucks turn signals either. If you ignore the truck’s turn signal and try to overtake on the same side that the signal is flashing on and you get run over by the trailer it is your fault.

    When the driver sits on the left side of the car his eyes are 7 feet away from his right mirrors, which is why so little can be seen in those mirrors. If you add any mirrors on the right side the same problem will exist, the driver won’t be able to see much in those mirrors because he is sitting 7 feet away. If you add more mirrors and TV cameras it will just further distract the driver and result in even less time spent looking at 7-8 different things rather than the 5 things a truck driver must look at now.

    Here is a good video you should watch. It was made in Great Britain so the driver sits on the other side of the cab. and drives on the left side of the road rather than the right side. In the UK and Australia the big blind spot is on the trucker’s left. This video simulates a left turn situation from the driver’s vantage point sitting on the right side of the cab, the same exact scenario reversed is what truckers in the US, Canada, and Mexico see turning right.

    Like I said, if you don’t like it call the US DOT. Even though I have 31 years behind the wheel of an 18-wheel I also have a recent Master’s degree in Urban & Regional Planning from a major Pac-10 university specializing in regional sustainability and urban transportation. I don’t feel that it is generally safe enough for bikes to ride on heavy truck routes, nor will the US DOT approve bike lanes on a Federally-regulated heavy truck route either.

  • You’re right to put on Reagan’s deregulation the ultimate blame for trucking companies paying peanuts and skimping on safety. It’s one example of the tremendous harm to workers’ interests that that appalling administration is guilty of.

    But you make a mistake when you assert that cameras covering the blind spot would be a distraction. In fact, a monitor showing the spot that the mirrors don’t cover would provide drivers with 0essential information.

    And no one has to tell me to keep back of a truck when I am riding my bike, because, as I mentioned, I already do that. I ride every day on Johnson Avenue in Brooklyn, a street with plenty of warehouses that have trucks pulling in and out.

    I

  • You assume wrong. A garbage truck has a high center of gravity. The load is entirely within the box behind the cab. There is a huge heavy steel hydraulic packer ram at the rear of the truck up high-enough to pack the box. The only thing lower that weighs a lot are the axles, the fuel tank only if it is full, and the engine and transmission. City and highway buses have a much lower center of gravity with extra weight built in low between the frame rails so that they can corner faster without tipping over. Bus frame rails are much lower than truck frame rails. I doubt that he could have made that corner at much faster than 15 mph.

    That garbage truck is a standard size in-use all over the city. If the driver can make the turn in one try without having to back-up the vehicle isn’t oversize. If you use much smaller garbage trucks you will have to have 2-3 times as many of them, and that will cost more and produce much more pollution. The driver passed her, may or may not have signaled, and tried to make the turn. It is possible that his signal was out. That can happen. Car drivers not signaling is much more-common in Ohio, PA, WV, and Western NY State than it is for truck drivers not to signal turn intentions. Do bike riders always signal their intentions 100 feet in-advance of turning as that is the law? All vehicles on the road must have working brake lights too.

    The driver couldn’t have given much more room, maybe a foot at the most and then his mirror hits the tree branches on the opposite side of the road and she still hits the side of the truck and possibly gets run over by the drive tires after crashing. Turning right in a truck is an inexact science, you give the drivers far more ability and control than they actually have. If he can get around that corner without hitting a post, the tree branches, or dragging the drive axles over the curb that is as good as it gets.

    Once the vehicle is turned toward the right his rearward visibility is almost none toward the side she was coming from, just 6 or 7 feet wide. With reaction time one-half second and air-brake application time another quarter-second if he is moving at 15 mph he still moves 17 feet before anything happens to slow the vehicle down under ideal conditions, and likely another 20 feet or more until the vehicle stops.

    Do remember that the truck driver also has pay attention to his forward movement, he must turn sharp-enough to miss the tree and post on the other side of the street, he must worry about any pedestrians, and also check his right and left mirrors too. Often garbage truck drivers are in a hurry as they are often under lots of time pressure. Such drivers work 12-hour days and sometimes longer, plus however long it takes to drive to work and back home. If there is a lot of trash he has to make extra trips to the dump, and he still has to get his scheduled run finished before he can go home. If he is new on the route he may be trying to read a map or written directions while driving.

    In the US as we drive on the right side of the road from the left side of the vehicle it would be safer if the bike lane was on the left on one-way streets. The right side involves poor visibility especially in heavy trucks and buses, which have operational requirements vastly different than bicycles. Loaded trucks take 3-4 times as long to stop as bikes do from the same speed and sometimes take the entire intersection to make a right turn.

    If the truck driver swung left as is fairly common before turning he wouldn’t have been able to see her in his right mirror except momentarily as the front end swung to the right. How long does it take to stop from 15 mph? About 35-40 feet including reaction time and air brake application time, about the length of the vehicle, which is how he ended-up where he is at. He saw he coming just as the cab swung right, hit the brakes, and still moved 35-40 feet before stopping. He may have been moving slower than 15 mph too.

    If you want to make bicycling safer on one-way streets put the bike lane on the left where the driver has a much better chance of seeing you alongside or to the rear. On divided boulevards the bike lanes would be better in the median than on the right side. Even most cars and especially little delivery trucks and vans have a big blind spot on their right that mirrors don’t fix. It is because the driver sits on the left side and is 6 or 7 feet away from the right mirror, which greatly limits his field of vision.

    Of course maybe he didn’t see her until the last second. There has been a safety campaign involving motorcycles that says “Start Seeing Motorcycles” that has been going for at-least 25 years that I know of, and bicycles have a smaller narrower profile than motorcycles do.

    About all you can do is ride very defensively and get used to the fact that some people aren’t going to see you. Don’t assume that people especially in trucks and buses see you on their right side as the chance is poor. It isn’t a design defect and more mirrors won’t solve it.

    The fact is that heavy trucks, full-size buses, and bicycles are not terribly compatible on the same roads. Some US cities are moving away from on-street bike paths because of the danger involved, as well as several studies that have found negative health consequence for bicyclists riding around vehicle pollution which includes brake dust, pavement dust, unburned diesel fuel particulates from operating at low rpm, oil, grease, and antifreeze in-addition to lots of exhaust pollution.

    If there is room perhaps the bike lane should be separated from moving traffic by a line of parked cars. Denver has done this in its downtown area but the same problem exists when trucks and buses are turning right, very simply the driver can’t see you on his right, and the problem is even worse when you are 10 feet further to the truck’s right, to the right of a line of parked cars.

    My advice if a heavy truck passes you in the city and then swings a little left and slams on the brakes to stay back as if you get on the truck’s right and the truck turns right, the driver won’t be able to see you but momentarily as the cab moves to the right. On a one-way street or even on a wide two-way street you are safer on the left than on the right.

    Cleveland just approved a center bike boulevard on Superior Ave east of downtown where the trolleys used to run. Superior was 6 lanes wide before the change and now there will be one lane of non rush-hour parking on both sides, one travel lane in each direction, and a median bike boulevard that is separated from moving traffic by heavy planters. They also have a design for a bike boulevard on one side with parked cars between bikes and travel lanes. Bikes may need a separate signal to ensure safety however.

    http://www.cleveland.com/architecture/index.ssf/2017/12/noaca_boosts_protected_bike_la.html

    Click on the #9 in the center of the photos to expand the photo section and view all 9 photos.

  • If you put a bollard where that manhole is that garbage truck won’t be able to make that turn without backing-up, and the driver will be forced to swing left, which will block his rearward vision to his right, and then you will still hit the side of the truck if the driver doesn’t see you in the moment the cab is straight as the cab swings to the right. Remember that the driver has to look at several other things at the same time. He has to check his left mirror to swing left, he has to check oncoming traffic if it is a 2-way street, he has to watch pedestrians, and check his right mirror too. Then you slip in to his right and he doesn’t see you. Don’t assume that a truck or bus driver can see you on their right as rearward vision on the right side of such vehicles is very poor.

    Do you have any concept how long that it takes for a truck like this garbage truck to stop from 15 mph? First there is driver reaction time, at-least a half-second, and then there is air brake application time, probably another quarter-second if not more. In an 18-wheel truck air brake application time is a half-second. At 15 mph the truck is doing 22 feet per-second, and I seriously doubt that garbage truck could make that turn any faster than 15 mph. Garbage trucks are top-heavy especially loaded. I figure that he hit the brakes just about where the back end of the truck is in the photo above. Heavy trucks take 3-4 times as long to stop as a bicycle does from the same speed.

    If you want bike lanes to be a lot safer put them on the left side of a one-way street and maybe even separate them from moving traffic with a line of parked cars. Truck and bus drivers will be far more-likely to see you alongside them if you are on their left here in the US.

  • Fixed obstructions like posts are generally illegal in the US. Maybe breakaway posts. The problem is that the garbage truck takes the entire intersection to the right to make the turn with no more than one foot of extra space. If he moves a foot to his left his left mirror hits the tree branches.

    If you want to be safe don’t assume that a truck or bus driver can see you on their right as rearward vision on the right side of such vehicles is very poor. The second that the driver swings to his left he can’t see anything behind him on his right except the sidewalk. Then when he swings back right to make the turn he can only see to his right rear for a moment as the cab swings right. If that truck is loaded his stopping distance from 15 mph is between 35 and 40 feet. I suspect that he reacted to hit the brakes at just about where the back end is and the length of the truck is how long it took to stop.

    If you want bike lanes to be a lot safer put them on the left side of a
    one-way street and maybe even separate them from moving traffic with a
    line of parked cars. Truck and bus drivers will be far more-likely to
    see you alongside them if you are on their left here in the US.

  • Here are a couple of studies. The first is one done in 2016 by Denver’s city planning, traffic engineering, and bike route planning departments.

    Metro-Denver is an urban area of 3.5 million people where most of the city and suburbs are post-Euclidian zoned but the older parts of the inner-city are not. Inner-city Denver has a problem with narrow streets as the city was much smaller as recently as World War II when it had a population of just 250,000.

    Most bike crashes in Denver involve bike riders riding on sidewalks who try to enter intersections from sidewalks and get hit. Other popular crashes in Denver are bikes running red lights and stop signs, riding the wrong way on a one-way street, and either the car or the cyclist swerving into each other.

    The Denver study found that bike routes with lots of cyclists had a much lower rate of accidents than routes where there were few cyclists. Here in Denver downtown they have recently built several bike lanes separated from traffic by a line of parked cars which cuts down on dooring as the bikes ride along the passenger side of parked vehicles.

    https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/705/documents/denver-bicycle-motor-vehicle-crash-analysis_2016.pdf

    The second study is peer-reviewed in the Journal of Transportation Research from April, 2017. However, it was done by Aalborg University in Aalborg, Denmark, a city which only has a population of 207,000, and a city with a much-higher percentage of bicycling than most US cities have. The study made some interesting findings on five different types of right turn bicycle infrastructure scenarios and involved 80 hours of video at various high-accident intersections in the city.

    I found their research on right-hook crashes interesting as their design “e” (“full-length recessed bicycle track combined with a shared lane for straight traffic and right-turning vehicles”), had by far the lowest number of crashes. Their worst type of infrastructure of the 5 designs for right-hook crashes was a combination right turn lane and bike lane.

    It is interesting that their design “e” has a wide radius and designs with a narrow radius had higher crash frequency. See Section 3.2 and Figure 3 for their right turn infrastructure designs and Section 4.1 for discussion of their findings.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369847816300705

    In another piece about a similar crash involving a garbage truck and a cyclist a West Coast traffic engineer advocated having separate traffic lights for bikes/peds and motor vehicles, which let peds and bikes leave several seconds before vehicles do, which prevents some types of right-hook crashes but not all, and likely would not have prevented this crash in Philadelphia.

    He also advocated bike boxes though I talked Denver’s bicycle planner out of bike boxes due to several issues, including drunk and drugged drivers and heavy trucks and buses having a much longer stopping distance than bicycles.

    The Aalborg study advocates extending the bike lane ahead of the vehicle stop line but not a bike box ahead of stopped traffic. See design “a” in Figure 3 for their extended bike lane design. Both Denver and Portland tend to try to build bike routes off major arteries and routes with lots of truck traffic though garbage trucks always run residential neighborhoods too, and increasingly so do package delivery vans.

    A fair number of bike crashes in Denver involve aggressive cyclists who refuse to use adjacent off-street and off major artery bike lanes and instead insist on mixing it up with heavy arterial traffic where there are no bike lanes. It is interesting to note that Denver’s bike fatality rate is considered low by their study authors and it is higher than Philadelphia’s rate, but much lower than either Indianapolis or Los Angeles.

  • Here is a good piece I like:

    https://i1.wp.com/www.virtuousbicycle.com/BlogSpace/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/bike-truck-blindspot.jpg?resize=615%2C329

    Here is another good piece I found. I shared it further down the page. A peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Transportation Research from April, 2017, though it was done in a mid-sized city in Denmark where the percentage of bicyclists is much higher than in the US. See Section 3.2, Figure 3, and Section 4.1 for their research on the types of bike infrastructure.

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1369847816300705

    One unusual type of separated bike lane with an offset crossing and a longer turn radius had by-far the lowest accident rate of the 5 types of bike infrastructure studied involving right-hook accidents. The intersection design where your accident in Philadelphia occurred was one of the two highest in accident rate.

    Here is another good 2016 study from Denver, CO, by their city planning and traffic engineering departments. Metro-Denver is 3.5 million people and over 3% of travel demand in the metro area is by bicycle.

    https://www.denvergov.org/content/dam/denvergov/Portals/705/documents/denver-bicycle-motor-vehicle-crash-analysis_2016.pdf

    If you want the advice of Denver’s former bicycle planner and current Mobility Director her name is Emily Snyder. She also teaches 600-level graduate bicycle planning (2nd-year Masters) at the University of Colorado Denver.

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/emily-snyder-88064848/

  • Check this out: It happened earlier this afternoon: Whose fault was this one?

    “A bicyclist was fatally struck by a Metra train Saturday evening in Chicago’s South Shore neighborhood on the South Side, officials confirmed.

    The victim was identified as a 49-year-old man, according to Chicago police. The man disregarded the train signal, CPD said”.

    http://abc7chicago.com/travel/bicyclist-fatally-struck-by-metra-train-in-south-shore/2817445/

    Here is a photo of a Metra train in Chicago: They often run 60-70 mph.

    http://c8.alamy.com/comp/CWAJ8P/metra-commuter-train-heading-for-chicago-through-geneva-illinois-CWAJ8P.jpg

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