Turning Right: Safety in Bloomington

I wanted to share this story, of an English mother who worked with companies to make trucks safer for cyclists. She did this after her daughter was killed by a cement mixer who turned left (the equivalent of turning right in the US) into her path.

This story touched me because, while I am not scared of riding, and I am a huge advocate of cycling, I have indeed had my share of run-ins, including cars turning into my path.  One vehicle, in particular, I want to tell you about. I wish I had this woman's name or driver's license number so I could publicly shame her.

Back in October, on a rainy afternoon, I was riding my son home from daycare. It was around 5 o'clock, and we were at the corner of Buick-Cadillac Road and College Mall. We arrived first at the stoplight, and we were stopped, intending to go straight to get on the cycle path that runs along College Mall Road.  My son was sitting in his seat, on the front of my bike.

A few seconds after we stopped at the light, an SUV pulled up beside me.  I didn't think much about it, but then I happened to look to my left, and I noticed that the car had its right turn signal on.  I looked at the car, and I made eye contact with the driver--a mother, no less, with her tween-aged daughter in the passenger seat. I signaled to her, the best that I could, that she shouldn't turn, that I was going straight.

This woman looked at me. And disregarded me. When the light turned green she turned, right in front of me and my 18-month old.  Luckily, I was cautious. I saw the turn-signal. I knew what she was going to do. So I got going slowly. But this was a rainy day. This was a day that I normally would have sprinted across the intersection, eager as we were to get home and get out of the cold rain. If I hadn't looked down by pure happenstance, this woman would likely have hit us, or come damn near to it.

I haven't written about this because I don't want to scare people into not riding. I don't want parents to fear riding with their children. The fact remains that you are much more likely to get in an accident in your car or on foot than on your bike. Bicycling is a safe enterprise. But you have to be cautious because not everyone is looking out for you.

1 comment:

Soichi Hayashi said...

Also, drivers seldom yield to bicyclists crossing a pedestrian walk who have right of way (walk sign is on). You have to look at the walk sign, then watch cars turning right...