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Mark J. Williams
Mark J. Williams
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Road Bike Safety: Be Careful Around Buses & Intersection Stops

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During recent bike rides around the streets of the Salt Lake Valley, I can’t help but notice several hazards that could lead to injury or death to bicyclists, unless extra care is taken to recognize and avoid these traps. As a follow-up to my earlier blogs, I thought I would shine a light on a few specific situations that could trap the unwary biker:

1. The bus traveling along side the bike lane. After encountering this issue several days in a row last week, I finally realized that I needed to slow down and take my time to assess the situation each time I came up to an intersection or mid-block bus stop where a bus had stopped to pick up or let off passengers, and was begining its re-entry into traffic. Initially, I tried to pass the bus on the left (riding in the middle of the lane of traffic) if I had enough speed to make the pass safely. However, I soon realized that manuever carried another set of risks: a) a car overtaking me from behind that doesn’t notice or see me; b) vehicle from a cross street or driveway coming from the right or even left, that is trying to beat the bus; or c) the bus driver does not see me and swerves quickly into my lane as I try to pass. Under any of those scenarios, I lose. Buses are so big and unwieldly, they block all views and have huge blind spots for the driver. My rule: Don’t pass buses on either the right or the left. EVER. Wait to see where they are going, let them pass, and then go on your way. You might lose a few seconds, but you are still alive.

2. Pulling out from stop sign/light. Don’t pull out from a stop sign or even a stop light that turns green until you have determined the intent of the drivers from cross traffic. This rule should apply even when you have the right of way. Over the last few weeks, I have personally observed at least 4 drivers who have either ignored a stop sign, and blown completely through the intersection without stopping, or they have failed to observe me on my bike, and have treated the intersection as a yield sign.

The end-of-light cycle is particularly dangerous. It is common to see drivers continue through an intersection after the light has turned from yellow to red. Those cyclist who anticipate this change by beginning their roll into the intersection are exposing themselves to these "light runners". Again, always observe the cross traffic before entering into the intersection, even when you have the right-of-way! Better safe than dead.

Be aware. Be safe. Enjoy the Ride!