I experienced a superb example this morning of how bike lanes can make cyclists irrelevant.
Rosalind Avenue through downtown Orlando has a designated bike lane. While it’s next to on-street parking, it is wide enough for a cyclist to stay out of the door zone, and in the morning there are very few cars parked there anyway. Since Rosalind is one-way, there is no concern about left-cross conflicts and crashes.
Relatively few motorists make right turns from Rosalind in the morning, as most of the large office buildings are on the left. Still, I always keep an eye open for right-turners. I’d have a very tough time making the case to a police officer or judge that staying in the bike lane at that time and place would put me at risk, and of course we now have a mandatory use law…
As I approached Church Street this morning I saw a van coming up in my mirror, right turn signal flashing. Seeing we would be reaching the intersection at about the same time, I placed all my attention on that vehicle. The signal had been green a while, and wouldn’t be changing soon. Moving out of the bike lane was not an option; she was too close.
As we both came to the intersection, sure enough, the driver turned right across my path. A bit of braking on my part averted a collision, though at nowhere near the level of an emergency stop. I yelled out “Hey!,” but saw not the slightest hint of a reaction from the driver. She pulled into a parking garage and I figured it wasn’t worth my time to pursue her further.
There was no other traffic around for her to be concerned about. No pedestrians, no potential conflicts with other vehicles. It wasn’t even one of those situations in which the cyclist is going fast, the motorist passes, get well ahead, misjudges the cyclist’s speed, and assumes the cyclist is well behind. No, we reached the intersection at virtually the same time.
My presence was simply irrelevant to her intentions at that moment.