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Urging safety, DOT reports 900-plus bike crashes per year

Posted May 1, 2008

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— Each year, more than 900 bicyclists are involved in wrecks with vehicles in North Carolina, according to the state Department of Transportation.

In honor of National Bicycle Safety Month in May, the state Department of Transportation wants to remind drivers to share the road.

Last week, Nancy Leidy, 60, died after police say a drunk driver hit her in Raleigh.

A "ghost bike" marks the crash scene. The white bikes are left by the side of the road to remind people of cyclists who lost their lives.

On Wednesday, a man was riding his bike at the corner of Millbrook and Falls of Neuse roads when he was hit by a car. He survived the crash, but it doesn’t always end that way.

Leidy was biking near Western Boulevard when North Carolina State University student Brian Reid hit her with his pickup truck, police said. Leidy later died at the hospital.

Reid was celebrating his 21st birthday and was drunk at the time of the crash, investigators said. He was charged with felony death by motor vehicle.

“There is no way I can forgive him for doing that, because he hurt a friend,” said Vince Foote, Leidy’s friend.

Most crashes between bicycles and vehicles in North Carolina happen between May and September, the state said.

To read about North Carolina's bicycle laws click here. To see bicycle crash data, click here.

In 2005, the most recent year for which data are compiled, there were 976 car-bike collisions reported.

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  • bjandthebear May 2, 2008

    uncgchipper wrote: "I think law enforcement should work both ways. Make sure reckless drivers are punished. However I notice way too many people on bikes who hold up traffic and go well below the speed limit on major streets. They refuse to get on the sidewalk or bike trials and ride a bike but will go 15mph in a 45mph zone right in the middle of the lane. That can also be dangerous to people on the road and should be punished as well."

    Again, it's transportation. I won't speak for every cyclist out there, but *personally* if I'm taking the lane while cycling there's a very good reason for it.

    Read your driver's manual. It specifically states that cyclists can take the lane when necessary for their safety. And the NCDOT guides for cyclists say we should. So...punish someone for obeying the law?

  • bjandthebear May 2, 2008

    howdidigettothis wrote: "I often see cyclists on Six Forks Road, and other busy streets. Vehicle drivers honk, get mad, try passing, etc. During peak hours, it becomes a dangerous, frustrating situation, and cars back up......causing travel times to lengthen for motorists......all because of someone's exercise routine.

    Create a safe, fair place for cyclists to enjoy their form of exercise.

    The busy streets ARE NOT THE PLACE!"

    It's not exercise; it's TRANSPORTATION. And you're likely to see a lot more of it this summer.

  • sggoodri May 2, 2008

    bendal wrote:
    "NCDOT uses two designs to incorporate cyclists on the road. One is to make the lane wider (14') and expects the cyclist to use the lane just like a vehicle. The other is to provide a separate lane for cyclists on the right side of the travel lane. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but both are better than using the sidewalk or nothing at all."

    I prefer to describe those engineering features as facilitating passing rather than facilitating bicycling. Bicycling works quite well on narrow roads, and has been protected by law for as long as we've had roads. It's the passing by faster traffic that sometimes needs better facilitating. Wider pavement is as much a motor vehicle convenience enhancement as a bicycling enhancement. I would caution against using any language that suggests that bicycling is somehow not accommodated or not legitimate unless the pavement is wide.

  • sggoodri May 2, 2008

    thinkbee wrote:
    "Many times I have been behind a biker at a traffic light in the middle of the lane. When the light turns green the cars have to wait for the bike to get moving - obviously very slowly compared to cars. This should NOT be allowed and they should be ticketed."

    Cyclists who use the entire lane at intersections do so because it is safer than using the right edge of the lane. A cyclist who uses the edge of the lane is likely to end up in a car driver's blind spot at the intersection, which is especially dangerous if the car driver makes a turn.

    A cyclist who approaches a red light should generally use the center of the lane just as other drivers do, and not pass other drivers in the same lane or filter forward on the right, because right-turning drivers are unlikely to see them.

    -Steve Goodridge, League Cycling Instructor #1690
    http://www.bikeleague.org/cogs/programs/education/instructor_detail/1662

  • sggoodri May 2, 2008

    piperchuck wrote:
    "One of the few places where someone could be ticketed for going to slow is if a minimum speed limit is posted. Since this is rarely, if ever, done anywhere other than a limited access highway, on which cyclists are not permitted to ride, so that example wouldn't work. "

    Actually, NC law exempts drivers of vehicles with limited speed capability even where minimum speed limit signs are present. The only roadways on which bicycles are prohibited are "fully controlled access" highways. The term "fully controlled access" is used to make it explicitly clear that there are no driveways or at-grade intersections whatsoever. There are a few exemptions to this law - bicyclists are allowed to use a few fully controlled access highways in NC that provide exclusive access to destinations, such as some bridges on the coast.

  • john60 May 2, 2008

    "There are also plenty of curves that have a 55 mph rating, yet are sharp enough that you could literally fly right up on a cyclists."

    And since you obviously know about them, do you slow down as you approach one? Or do you keep flying around that curve, naively believing that the road ahead of you will always be clear of all obstructions?

    Because, next time you go flying around that curve, it might not be a cyclist in the lane, but a disabled car, a pedestrian crossing the road, a tree, or some other obstruction.

  • piperchuck May 2, 2008

    "The point tht I'm trying to make is that what if I am patiently riding behind someone on a bike and they hit something in the road that causes them to wreck. Then hopefully I can stop in time but what about those behind me? In that situation, the person on the bike would have caused the acciednt and most likely would not have insurance to cover the damages. Who would pay for that...me."

    Actually, if one driver wrecks they are only responsible for their own wreck. If one or more other drivers crash into them the fault for the additional wrecks lies with the second person, and subsequent people, for failing to maintain control of their vehicle. People have become way too complacent about maintaining a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you. All drivers are obligated to follow another vehicle at a great enough distance to allow you to stop if the vehicle in front of you stops.

  • piperchuck May 2, 2008

    tommy175 wrote: "Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving."

    LOL, I didn't think you'd answer the question of how license plates would help prevent car drivers from running over cyclists who are obeying the law. And for the record, you did not prove any point earlier. You asserted that cyclists can and/or should be ticketed for going below the speed limit. To date you have yet to show how that could be done on the typical road in this area. One of the few places where someone could be ticketed for going to slow is if a minimum speed limit is posted. Since this is rarely, if ever, done anywhere other than a limited access highway, on which cyclists are not permitted to ride, so that example wouldn't work. Keep trying though, your anti-bike rants are quite entertaining. :-)

  • piperchuck May 2, 2008

    tomm175 said: "There are also plenty of curves that have a 55 mph rating, yet are sharp enough that you could literally fly right up on a cyclists."

    A point that you don't seem to understand yet is that the speed limit on a road is the maximum you can go. It does not imply that you can safely do 55 on every inch of the road, only that you are not permitted to go more than 55. Each driver is responsible for maintaining control of their vehicle. If there is a turn or hill crest that reduces visibility, the driver is obligated to slow down enough to allow them to safely stop if there is an obstacle in the road such as a deer, cyclist, fallen tree, child chasing a ball, farm tractor, or whatever. Any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving.

  • caselawz28 May 1, 2008

    It's blaringly obvious as to those using logical arguments, and those using emotionally charged, irrationally yet selfishly based arguments.

    I hope the second lot of you decide to grow up and cool down. Going through life angry at everyone else and believing they are the root of your problems is misguided.

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