Where’s That Driver Looking?

The following images are a series of crosswalk scenarios. The orange arrows show where the cars are going. The black arrows show where the bicyclist needs to look for a potential conflict. (All the drivers are not necessarily there at the same time.)

What direction is the driver of each (1-4 when crossing the side street, or 1-6 when crossing the 4-lane) of those cars looking?

Where is that driver’s primary attention — what’s he focusing on?

What elements, fixed or moving, might obscure a driver’s view of the bicyclist (and vice versa)?

Comments encouraged 🙂
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Scenario 1: Bicyclist traveling opposite the direction of traffic, crossing a minor street.

Scenario 2: Bicyclist traveling in the same direction as traffic, crossing a minor street.

Scenario 3: Bicyclist traveling in the same direction as traffic, crossing the 4-lane road.

Scenario 4: Bicyclist traveling opposite the direction of traffic, crossing the 4-lane road.

11 replies
  1. NE2
    NE2 says:

    Not having a rearview mirror, I find 1 better than 2 when sidewalk riding alongside a road with left turn lanes. If anyone’s in the left turn lane, I’ll either wait for them to go or make absolutely sure they’ve seen me.

    (It goes without saying that I understand and accept the risks of riding on the sidewalk, and won’t do it in an area with high driveway density. But I am convinced – and I may be wrong – that there is a slight increase in safety between intersections on a well-maintained empty sidewalk vs. the far right side of a wide outside lane.)

  2. Dave
    Dave says:

    This is why I avoid riding on sidewalks!! I use a sidewalk on 300 feet of my commute, to access a midblock perpendicular MUP that has no curb cut. I ceoss the busy street at the stoplight, riding as a vehicle in the road after tripping the signal with a ped actuator button. To me, #4 seems best because the drivers are more likely to see peds (sidewalk users) who are going opposite the flow of traffic on that side of the street. The left-hook is a dangerous problem for cyclists in urban traffic, so it pays to be seen. I wear a hi-vis shirt/jacket/vest often for this reason. Again, sidewalk riding should be a LAST resort. If this shows a bike lane, I would depend on traffic signals calibrated appropriately at these sorts of crossings.

  3. Vincent H
    Vincent H says:

    I agree with Dave riding on sidewalk is less than ideal. The same potential for problems may also occur in a dedicated “bike path” that is parallel to a major street, for example at Cady Way trail when it becomes the Cross Seminole trail (Aloma Ave & Howell Branch Rd). In this case, I always think it is safer to get off and walk your bike just like any pedestrian. The risk for cyclists should not be greater than that of a pedestrian, although we live in the most dangerous metro area for pedestrians (http://t4america.org/resources/dangerousbydesign2011/)

    • NE2
      NE2 says:

      The risk for cyclists is a bit higher than that for pedestrians, because a person walking a bike has less maneuverability than a person alone.

      Seminole County’s solution of tunnels is good but probably expensive (and I seem to remember reading that they close at night…)

      If you want a silly redundant sidepath, see the Shingle Creek Trail as it twists and turns under I-4, as well as the recent extension next to Obama Parkway. All of the streets it parallels have bike lanes.

  4. Steve A
    Steve A says:

    Your analysis is spot on, but it will not touch the souls of sidewalk riders such as the one at the website link. I wish I knew what would shake some logic into such people, or at least those that read them and absorb such stuff.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] is a helpful article on where drivers are looking at intersections. Looking at the diagrams will help you to be more […]

  2. […]   Where’s that Driver Looking? Drivers typically have their attention focused on other areas of concern — like conflicting automobile traffic. When they do scan for pedestrians, they look for them immediately at the curb — not 20ft away, traveling at 20ft per second. […]

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