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Double take on the right hand turn

7 November, 2013

Warren Sutton crashed with a bike rider when driving across a bike lane and writes hoping that others can learn from his experience.

Recently I was involved in a collision where I turned in front of a cyclist causing him to hit and subsequently somersault over my car. It was a shocking experience, which, if not for some fortuitous aspects, could have otherwise resulted in a tragedy or significant injury. In this instance the cyclist survived and although taken to hospital in an ambulance he was released later that day and was able to collect his damaged bike from the local business that had stored it for him. I was issued a police infringement notice for failing to give way after the incident, and have the bill for the insurance excess. I obviously regret what happened and would like to explain the details in the hope that other motorists and cyclists might learn from my experience.

I take reasonable care around cyclists on the road but the scenario which caused this incident was one I was not prepared for. It involved me completing a right hand turn into the driveway of my daughter’s day care facility in Bendigo, Victoria. As I approached the driveway the cyclist struck the left hand side of my car near the front wheel causing his bike to smash into the car and the cyclist to roll over the bonnet.  I have spoken to many people about this and they generally agree that if they had been driving the same thing would have occurred. To understand why you need to understand some other aspects of the turn I was completing. These were:

  1. I was turning against a single motor lane of peak hour traffic.
  2. The bike rider was travelling in the bike lane positioned between the oncoming traffic and parked cars against the curb.
  3. The cyclist was not visible to me when I commenced the turn as he was hidden behind the stream of oncoming vehicles.
  4. I wasn’t anticipating a cyclist as the cycling lane takes minimal traffic at that time of the morning.
  5. I initiated the turn when a driver in the oncoming traffic provided a break in the traffic and signalled me to proceed with the turn.
  6. The location of the turn was near the base of a slight decent for the cyclist.
  7. I don’t know how fast the cyclist was going when we first spotted each other but he was on a racing bike in cycling attire and was likely travelling between 20 to 30 km/h when he struck my car.

I can see this crash could have been avoided if I had made the right hand turn slower and not completed it until I had a clear view up the cycling lane. The problem is, as I have alluded to, other drivers would likely have done the same thing I did. They would not have expected a bike to suddenly appear in the bike lane nor would have they slowed when making the turn so as to allow for a clear vision up the cycling lane. Most drivers do not do a double take when completing this type of turn in this location. They do not look up the bike lane for a rapidly approaching occasional bike rider part way through a right hand turn but rather they are focused on the oncoming motor vehicle traffic and a range of other things—driving is complicated which requires a range of observations by motorists and unfortunately awareness of cyclists is not always high on that list.

So the warning to drivers is do a double take when you are doing a right hand turn across a bike lane, slow down as you complete the turn and peer up the bike lane as it comes into view. For cyclists the reality is in specific situations like this drivers may not look for you or see you—so travel at a slow speed in heavy traffic and be prepared to stop and evade vehicles.

I would be interested to know what experience others may have had in similar circumstances. Unlike other well documented instances of drivers cutting off cyclists when making a left hand turn and the dangers of drivers opening a door into a bike lane I don’t recall specific mention of something along the scenario which I was involved in.

A University of Adelaide study published in February 2013 found “drivers undertaking a right turn manoeuvre were found to pose the greatest threat, particularly those turning across multiple traffic lanes and in peak hour traffic conditions.” From

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74 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 November, 2013 2:05 pm

    ” location of the turn was near the base of a slight decent for the cyclist”
    “he was on a racing bike in cycling attire and was likely travelling between 20 to 30 km/h”

    Haha. I am old and fat and in non-cycling attire and ride a mountain bike and I would easily do 20-30kph down a slight descent.

    • Taz permalink
      7 November, 2013 3:58 pm

      yeah, typical statement & accusation – if the cyclist is in lycra & on a race bike then obviously the conclusion to jump too is they were riding recklessly without regard for others.

      I find it interesting the driver was aware there was a bike lane but failed to look for cyclists anyway -regardless of time of day?
      What about pedestrians as you crossed the driveway? Is it only cars you ever look for when on the road?

      • Malcolm Wilson permalink
        14 November, 2013 9:28 am

        To me it is clear that the cyclist was not reading the traffic properly. If the cyclist sees a break in traffic ahead he should have checked carefully – by preparing to stop – that no car or child or woman with a pram or a dog or cat were the reason for the break. It is a basic rule of driving on the road in any vehicle including a bicycle that you must drive a speeds that allow you to drive safely both for your safety and the safety of others.
        Imagine the same driver turning but that the stopped vehicle was a removal van. It would be impossible for the turning driver to see up the cycle lane without first intruding the bonnet of the car in the lane in which case the accident would have been entirely caused by the speed an lack of observation of the cyclist.

      • Giovanni permalink
        14 November, 2013 1:45 pm

        I agree with Malcolm, riding along side stationery traffic is always for me a bit nerve racking and you get that feeling something un-expect is about to happen. In similar situations along my morning bike route – during peek hour – you do get gaps in traffic where you know someone is about to pop out making a similar turn across the traffic lanes as Warren did and into a side street.

        I normally stand up on my pedals as I approach these gaps to see over the cars and in turn allow others time to see that I’m travelling down the bike lane.

        Another thing I have encountered both driving and riding is when making a turn through traffic lanes (like Warren), you can not rely or should I say place your trust in a stationery car driver’s waving you through as they most likely haven’t considered anyone else but them selves.

        It’s true all of these situations can be avoided, but it takes all sides to do that.

    • John permalink
      13 November, 2013 4:33 pm

      Exactly, when I am on my race bike and in Lycra, I would be doing the speed limit in any kind descent a lot of the time. 20-30kmh is less than cruising speed for most decent riders, how fast does he want us to travel before it is safe for Warren to operate his motor car?

  2. Stuart permalink
    7 November, 2013 7:06 pm

    Point 3 “The cyclist was not visible to me when I commenced the turn as he was hidden behind the stream of oncoming vehicles” is just not believable. If there was space in a car traffic flow to turn right then the cyclist must have been visible or the writer would have hit a car, Expecting cyclists to slow down on downhills because some car driver fails to pay attention is just complete BS. This is one long SMIDSY excuse for not paying attention. Also a warning for cyclists to take the lane and avoid those ridiculous “bike lanes” that are nothing more than car door lanes that increase the danger to cyclists.

    • John permalink
      13 November, 2013 4:34 pm


    • Alex permalink
      13 November, 2013 4:38 pm


      In defence of Warren, I have been hit in a similar situation where I was in a cycle lane with static traffic queued on my right. This static line had left a small gap allowing cars in the other direction to turn right between the row of static cars and across the cycle path into a side street. A driver did this directly in front of me and I rolled the bonnet and incurred bruised ribs and a few typical cuts.

      On replaying this in my mind I realised that the car driver could not see up the lane and even nudging forward to a point of suitable visibility would have meant the car would be part in the cycle lane. I also realised I could not see him through the cars until he would have been in the cycle lane. In this instance I cannot see how the driver could turn right without waiting for the traffic to be clear for unimpeded visibility which would not have occured to beyond rush hour!

      I have learnt from a bad experience to be extra vigilant at this point and slow to a point I can stop in a couple of metres safely. Other than changing the actual road layout, better warning signs for cyclists and drivers of potential for accidents or restriction on right turning during rush hour I can’t see any other practical options.

    • 14 November, 2013 8:10 am

      My experience of reviewing road crashes is that when people try to right turn across two lanes of traffic (one lane of cars, one lane of bikes in this case) vehicles in the far lane often get missed, resulting in a crash.
      This happens quite often when there are only cars involved, and from what I have seen there is nothing “special” about there being a cyclist involved. (Sorry to offend) This, IMHO, is more a reflection on the posters general driving skills (Sorry to offend again!!) which to me do not sound any worse than a “typical” road user.

      If you are on the road, keep your wits about you and pay attention to what is going on around you!!!!

  3. 8 November, 2013 6:10 pm

    I think the car driver and the cyclist both could have paid attention. Moreover, cyclists should stick to the bike lanes to avoid such accidents.

    • 11 November, 2013 1:57 pm

      The bike rider *was* in the bike lane!

    • John permalink
      13 November, 2013 4:35 pm

      Read the events again, get a good picture of what happened and where the rider was?

    • Pete permalink
      13 November, 2013 11:39 pm

      Bike lane or not, the driver making the turn is legally required to give way. Blaming the “situation”, the lycra-clad racer or anything else is just a cop-out. Most cyclists are also drivers of cars and face just this same situation often enough. Somehow most of us manage to keep a lookout for oncoming cyclists. If you really can’t see because their is a large bus or truck blocking the view DO NOT MAKE THE TURN. Life won’t end if you wait a while.

  4. gary permalink
    9 November, 2013 9:36 am

    If the cycle lane were a second lane containing car traffic I imagine he would have looked. The assumption that the lane was never used is idiotic. He turned across a lane of traffic without looking plain and simple.

  5. 13 November, 2013 4:10 pm

    The aggresssive and dismissive tone of these comments is a pity. The writer acknowledged his error and is trying to warn other drivers, which is a constructive response. Your comments simply reinforce the image of bike riders as agressively self-centred, rather than as reasonable and cooperative road users.

    • Geoff permalink
      14 November, 2013 6:28 pm

      Yes, he admitted a mistake, but makes lots of excuses. And why assume that the criticisms are coming from cyclists? I cycle. I drive. I walk. I take public transport. I care.

      • Malcolm permalink
        15 November, 2013 9:42 am

        I believe we should all cool down and think about what is important.
        This driver has ‘fessed up and shown good will in bringing it to our attention so we can consider how to manage this particular hazard – one of many.
        Safety is paramount.
        Most of us probably cycle and drive, and in my case when driving I can see why drivers get annoyed at cyclists – some of us are aggressive, flout road rules, kick cars and shout, and produces an antagonistic attitude to cyclists that may affect how they interact with all of us.
        Drivers often can’t see us, particularly if we don’t wear high visibility clothing, and pedestrians can’t hear us so can come into our path suddenly and unexpectedly.
        Have a look at the YouTube video- think jugadores -produced by London’s mayor and follow the instructions.
        Until more cyclists use the roads unanticipated encounters between cars and cyclists (and pedestrians)will occur frequently, as a reading of these comments demonstrates.
        This is a matter of life and death: there’s no place for blaming here.
        Let’s think how we can prevent these dangerous encounters and prevent serious injury and potentially, death.
        Cycling injuries and deaths will deter people from taking up cycling, to the detriement of the environment and our health.
        We need to cycle defensively.

  6. Kevin permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:13 pm

    Without defending any actions for the motorist or the cyclist, I would like to say that as a cyclist I want to encourage other motorists to share their stories. It’s a brave move. As a community, let us support dialogue and sharing. And for the record, I’m usually cynical and defensive but I think it’s time to ‘move on’ and talk with each other a bit more.

  7. Paul permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:24 pm

    I had EXACTLY this accident about a week before yours. Except I was the rider. Happened in Grey st Stkilda. A driver turned tight in front of me in a gap with traffic at a standstill. Neither of us saw eachother until it was too late. Had no time to pull the brakes. Crunch. I have multiple fractures in fingers on both hands. Plus some bone chips. One finger sideways I had to pull back to straight. Fingers were in agony immediately after it. Then they went purple. Soft tissue injuries in fingers and right shoulder AC joint, landed on head goodbye helmet, a chunk of flesh out of my knee and bruises in leg. That was it. Nothing broken. Still missing some feeling in one finger but hope for full recovery. Fingers still very sore weeks later. The driver was upset and very sorry but I wished she had just given way as she should have. I think though that you are right the only way to avoid these is to ride SLOW enough to see cars coming through the gaps. Still getting over my accident.

  8. Malcolm permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:25 pm

    I had a similar experience on a two lane road separated from another two lane road going in the opposite direction, with a central plantation between them.

    I was approaching the cross road at dusk on the left of cars in the R hand lane waiting to turn right. I was obscured by these cars, and a car from the opposite direction road turned right, fast, in front of me, and obviously didn’t see me. He missed me by centimetres.

    Do we know how many bike crashes occur because the car driver didn’t see the cycist? I’ve witnessed two.

    I think we need to cycle defensively, at a speed that permits effective emergency braking, be alert that we may not be seen, wear high-vis clothing, reflectors and lights, and never assume that we can be seen.

    We’re at a point in cycling history where many car drivers are not familiar with managing encounters with cyclists. Until more people cycle, we can’t assume we’re seen all the time.

    You can be right, dead right as you cycle along,
    but just as dead as if you were wrong.

  9. John permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:27 pm

    Get serious, most drivers would expect the same, They would not have expected a bike to suddenly appear in the bike lane nor would have they slowed when making the turn so as to allow for a clear vision up the cycling lane, what a lot of crap. Of course there will be a bike in the bike lane, like there will be a car in the car lane. And to suggest that a speed of 20-30kmh is some sort of problem? What is the speed zone? Probably 50kmh or 60? The problem here is this guy has not taken the time to look at what is going on. EOS.

  10. Keith permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:30 pm

    I have come unstuck in a very similar situation as a cyclist – twice. This has made me reconsider the way I ride when there are parked cars / stopped traffic nearby. Friendly drivers are more than happy to assassinate you in the letting-a-right-turner-through-stopped-traffic scenario. Given how little bargaining power a cyclist has, I now ride much more slowly in this situation, or get out of the bike lane altogether in favour of more visibility.

  11. Kato permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:30 pm

    There is a scenario in the Vicroads visual hazards test that you must pass before being allowed to take the drive test. In it you must nominate when it is safe to turn right; a motorbike is hidden behind the oncoming traffic to test EXACTLY this situation – ie whether the driver will turn when they don’t have 100% vision. The correct response is not to turn. The fact that ‘other drivers would likely have done the same thing ‘ does not make it legal – as Mr Sutton discovered – and certainly wouldn’t protect you from failing a licence test.

  12. 13 November, 2013 4:37 pm

    I found this interesting reading and applaud the author and RideOn for writing/publishing it.

  13. Brent permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:37 pm

    It is the responsibility of the driver to check that there is no cyclist coming through but also important the cyclist notices the gap in traffic and realises a car is likely turning right. Then they can both slow down enough to avoid each other. This is particularly important when large cars or trucks hide the bike or turning vehicle. Thankfully in the 12 years of commuting all the turning drivers I’ve faced in that position have been thoughtful enough to check.

  14. Maggie permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:39 pm

    I think there are a number of outright positives here:
    1) this driver clearly acknowledges his mistake and is thankful the event did not result in a fatality
    2) he has raised the issue of rider safety – yet again – this starts people thinking
    3) we are not a bike conscious society in Australia and everybody needs to be more aware and more alert.

  15. 13 November, 2013 4:41 pm

    I regulary face this predicament while use the bike lane (outbound) on Mt Alexander Road between Flemington & Moonee Ponds. I have lost count of the numerous times I have had close shaves with right turning traffic (though 2 lanes), including a police car just the other week. For those of you who know the area – you are going up a rather steep long drag, so going fast is not my issue…. All road users need to look for each other irrespective of the vehicle type. I’m sure those turning right wouldn’t do so hastily & carelessly if it was a truck lane.

    • Robert permalink
      16 November, 2013 11:58 am

      Thanks Carolyn
      I often ride up this section of Mt Alexander Road and know the steep bit and I do travel slowly purely because it is too steep to ride fast. I haven’t had this experience along here but certainly heed the lessons from your experience. Thanks for sharing it.

  16. Leah permalink
    13 November, 2013 4:42 pm

    Thank you for your insights, Warren. It is brave and gracious of you to share this with us.
    I am disappointed to see there are (so far) many comments that are accusatory in nature about your post. Perhaps they have missed the point? I am certain your intention was to share insight from a bad experience with us, not form an excuse as other posts have suggested. Blame achieves nothing.

    I am both a driver and a bike rider (about 50/50 in my regular commuting time), and I rarely encounter the situation you describe (i.e. rarely right turn across a bike lane, because there are not many near me.).
    Thus I had never considered this situation as a driver. I try an be mindful of bikes when I drive because I know how it feels to be the rider, but I know this is difficult.
    I can certainly say that I would easily be caught out by this situation – as either driver or rider! I will endeavour to keep your story in mind when driving and riding.

  17. 13 November, 2013 4:46 pm

    I agree with others, that the motorist has come up with many lame excuses and cliches for not paying enough attention. Bike lanes in Bendigo at peak hour are used by many cyclists, and it can be dangerous. This accident is almost identical to mine earlier in the year: motorist turning right through a break in the traffic which was stationary. Truck driver obscuring the view of the bike lane waved a driver through, instead of me hitting the side of the car, the car hit me. I landed on the bonnet, while watching my new Scott bounce down the road. Very small car, low speeds involved, insurance claim to repair the bike, replace helmet, and massage the rider. Aches & bruises appeared later, but it could have been a lot worse.

  18. 13 November, 2013 4:58 pm

    Multiple lanes and good samaritans letting people in are always fraught with danger whether in a car, on a motorbike, or a bicycle. The driver was issued the correct infringement notice and should pay more attention in future. To suggest the cyclist contributed to this accident is ludicrous, they were just in the wrong spot at the wrong time. A very very astute cyclist may have been able to anticipate this accident and avoid it, but should not have to. Unfortunately, the reality is that the most vulnerable road user is the one who gets hurt, never assume anyone has seen you on your bike, always ride like everyone else on the road is trying to kill you. And sometimes that can include other cyclists!!

  19. Chris permalink
    13 November, 2013 5:02 pm

    Even if there was no bike lane (say the cyclist was riding between parked cars and slow moving traffic) the legal responsibility is on the driver turning right. My Uncle caused a similar accident and hit a motorbike squeezing between stopped traffic and he was found at fault.

    And to be honest, I really don’t understand the comments criticising the author/driver. There are many times in life when we all make honest mistakes. Was he careless? Could he see the rider? Was the cyclist riding too fast for the conditions? These questions (and any assumptions about the answers) are irrelevant in the face of the intent of this story;
    1. Drivers need to be vigilant for ALL oncoming traffic when turning right and should not assume that stopped traffic gives them absolute right of way, and
    2. Cyclists are responsible for their own safety and should ride defensively at all times. Being legally not at fault in an accident is poor consolation if you’re permanently injured.

  20. Brenton permalink
    13 November, 2013 5:11 pm

    This is a case of the cyclist being dead-right. Every other driver may also have caused the cyclist to have a crash in the same situation, but they would all be similarly responsible. If I am riding in traffic and see other cars pause to obviously make room for a driver to make a right hand turn, I would certainly be in a heightened state of awareness until I can make eye contact with the turning car, to let them know Im coming through.

    Sorry you had the accident though. Lets all help each other get home safely everyday.

  21. Ian Gardner permalink
    13 November, 2013 5:11 pm

    I am the victim of a very similar incident, broke both arms and the driver didn’t stop, nor did any vehicle driving witnesses. Drivers please take more care – look for bikes, bike riders are extremeley vulnerable and are people too, just like car drivers, not some form of road vermin. Drivers and riders can make mistakes – leave margin for error. If there is a bike lane, there are likely to be bikes in it!

    It’s very similar to one of the simulated scenarios on the learn to drive test, DONT ASSUME the lane beyond the car you can see is clear, if you can’t see – don’t turn.

    Don’t blame the cyclist, 20-30kmh is a perfectly reasonable speed (significantly less than the 40kmh required in school zones).

  22. 13 November, 2013 5:12 pm

    I really appreciate bike lanes and happily scoot along them at over 30k most days.
    I say this because I’m writing from a cyclists perspective.
    One of the things that I quickly realised is that stopped traffic next to a bike lane is deadly.
    Pedestrians think it’s safe and wander blindly into traffic and drivers create breaks for exactly the circumstances described.
    The thing I’ve learnt is if the traffic is stopped stick your head up, partly because it increases your visibility, and be prepared to take evasive action.
    On the idea of sticking your head up, wearing a Fluoro coloured helmet seemed to me to be a good idea, so I do.
    Increasing my visibility to drivers is a small thing I can do to reduce the chances I’ll end up in hospital. Hopefully I get to continue to safely commute and enjoy my ride.

  23. 13 November, 2013 5:33 pm

    There’s something missing in this story…..cyclists typically sit higher than cars. Driver should be able to see the cyclist’s head, and as a cyclist I can usually see cars trying to turn right like that. The major problem for the driver is even if he’s conscientious, I know he won’t see me until his bonnet is already poking into the bike lane, that’s just the way cars are shaped…so I ding my bell.

    A friend of a friend’s brother (yeah…always a trustworthy source) had a similar situation but had to have reconstructive face surgery. Seems like a very similar situation. The issue there was neither the driver nor the cyclist could see each other because the cars in-between were 4×4’s or SUV’s, and therefore taller, so no-one could see the other until it was too late.

    I commiserate with the driver. Technically you broke the law (hence the infringement notice) but completely understand you cannot give way to something you cannot see. It’s a problem more to do with the design of the roads. Even careful drivers (and cyclists, of course) may fall victim far too easily.

    • crank permalink
      13 November, 2013 7:15 pm

      somewhat depends on the bike. i’m far taller and more visible on my dutch bike than my fast bike, and usually slower moving which benefits my personal safety. although there is way too many bloody SUVs in victoria. dangerous in so many regards – can’t stand them.

    • Pete permalink
      13 November, 2013 11:42 pm

      Not a problem with the road design at all. It’s a problem with lax driver expectations and poor attitudes. Drivers simply do not ‘think bike’.

      • Malcolm Wilson permalink
        14 November, 2013 10:05 am

        Not at all. The cyclist was going too fast for the traffic conditions. He did not correctly read the traffic – nor for that matter did the car driver. My guess is that the cyclist was racing along the traffic with little regard to anything but the pleasure of a clear bike lane getting him past all those cars stuck in a jam. Cyclist must fit their activities to the conditions of the traffic.

  24. Geoff permalink
    13 November, 2013 5:42 pm

    Where do they sell those magic bicycles that ‘suddenly appear’. Very impressive.
    My bike is just visible all the time, and I have never seen it suddenly appear.
    The original post is so full of lame excuses. If you can’t see a bike, hand in your licence and apply for a guide dog.

  25. Rob Wilson permalink
    13 November, 2013 5:46 pm

    Both the bike rider and the motorist omitted to do something necessary and both are responsible for this accident regardless of what the law says.
    Placing myself in the cyclist’s position I know that if a gap appeared in the traffic on my right I would be wary and suspicious of that gap and would not have crossed it until I was clear to because such gaps indicate that the stationary or slowing stream of traffic has halted or slowed to allow someone from the right or someone turning right a clear way through. To cross such a gap at speed is potential suicide and it does not matter that the cyclist is in the right. If he is crippled or dead it is no help that he was in the right. He should look out for his own body. It is the most valuable possession he has and cars are very hard and fast and heavy and deadly.
    Secondly if I was in that situation, and I have been in it many times, I would have been travelling more slowly to avoid car doors opening into my path on my left. Travelling between parked cars and a moving stream on the right is a situation requiring high alertness.
    Placing myself in the motorists position I would feel an idiot and guilty of negligence if I had an accident as a result of crossing a cycle lane without checking to see if I was crossing a cyclists path.

    Both have made human errors and thus such a situation could arise in the future.

    To guard against being the loser in these situations we riders must remember that control is in the hands of us. We can control the situation by never crossing a gap in the stationary or slowing stream of traffic on the right; by never proceeding at speed without clear vision.
    One of the most dangerous situations is when a pedestrian is skipping through slow or stationary traffic lanes and crosses a lane a cyclist is using between cars. Moving between stationary cars is legal in Queensland. Both the cyclist and the pedestrian (who has no helmet) can come off badly so really there is no excuse for riding at speed even in a cycle lane in heavy traffic.
    Heavy traffic often slows us down and resort to the footpath only increases the opportunity to have T bar accidents like this from cars and pedestrians and cyclists exiting private properties from hidden driveways emerging from gaps in high front fences or hedges which obscure the view of traffic on the private driveway from us cyclists.
    So heavy traffic always slows us a little no matter what we do or where we are.

  26. Jim Philp permalink
    13 November, 2013 5:50 pm

    Bike lanes do present a very serious threat to cyclists when cars are stationary on their right hand side. Passengers so often open the car door only to collect a cyclist. Really is Very Unnerving – one of the hardest potential accidents to predict. Very scary!

  27. louise thomson permalink
    13 November, 2013 7:30 pm

    Thank you quimby lips for being the only seemingly reasonable person making comments. The thing I really hate about this ride-On mag is the ever present ‘anti-drivers’ comments. This is not us vs them – this is about sometimes life and death and it is as much up to the cyclist to be careful as it is up to the driver. Being in the right doesn’t guarantee that you will live through the accident.

  28. Pete permalink
    13 November, 2013 8:28 pm

    Drivers should always honk their horns when entering or exiting ‘blind’ driveways. It’s then the responsibility of the pedestrian or cyclist to get out of the way!

  29. 13 November, 2013 10:17 pm

    i got hit by a car in almost the exact same situation. i was coming down a hill in the bike lane, traffic was stationary. a truck driver apparently signaled the car driver to right turn in front of him into a driveway. i couldn’t see the car sized gap or the car, and the car driver couldn’t see me around the truck until just before we collided, it was an almost unavoidable accident unless we were both moving at walking pace, which we were not…

  30. sue permalink
    14 November, 2013 12:42 am

    thanks Warren Sutton for starting this discussion. instead of attacking the messenger, let’s focus on what we CAN do to about this problem.

  31. Ted Re permalink
    14 November, 2013 12:55 am

    “They would not have expected a bike to suddenly appear in the bike lane..” Drivers need to assume that there could be bikes in a bike lane. Also, it will help if drivers are not in such a rush. They should treat safety as more important than getting to your destination the quickest way possible. Think about leaving 5 minutes earlier and taking it easy.

    One option for cyclists might be to use a moving car as a shield when travelling in these deadly door zone lanes, but also presents risks if adjacent cars are free to swerve into the bike lane. Cyclists should assume that all cars can and will hit you, especially if even the friendly drivers are driving like this.

  32. Chris Ryan permalink
    14 November, 2013 7:17 am

    The biggest difficulty I have with this gentleman’s story is the statement that the bike lane carries minimal traffic at this time of the morning. Peak hour? I don’t commute to work on a bike unfortunately but common sense tells me that peak hour for commuters on bikes and those in cars would coincide.

  33. terry permalink
    14 November, 2013 7:20 am

    terry i concer with quimby lips as some times you cant see the bike rider as the bike rider did not see the car untill the collision

  34. James permalink
    14 November, 2013 8:48 am

    This is nothing but victim blaming, the driver was in the wrong, didn’t give way, didn’t llok properly, assumed that there would be no cyclists in the cycle lane, turned too fast, but oh no, the cyclist was asking for it as they were wearing lycra! A similar analogy about a girl in a short skirt at night comes to mind. Shame on you Bicycle Network!

  35. Jon Thornton permalink
    14 November, 2013 8:52 am

    I was nearly hit by a car in identical circumstances. Fortunately, the driver saw me at the last moment and stopped. At the time, I felt very self-righteous about the situation. I had right of way. Later, I felt that I was partly to blame for the near miss. I should have anticipated that a car might try to turn in front of me.

    The more I ride, the more I believe that a knowledge of road user psychology is much more important than a knowledge of the road rules. No, this doesn’t mean that I think it is OK for drivers to break road rules. It just means that I think cyclists need to think more broadly than the letter of the law.

  36. 14 November, 2013 9:24 am

    yes technically the bike rider is not at fault but as I cyclist and car driver I always slow down when I can see a break in the traffic when on a bike for exactly this reason and others should do so. Drivers may not ‘think bike’, but neither do many bike riders think car. We all need to shgow some empathy towards each other otherwise this bike vs car debate will never end.

  37. Commuter permalink
    14 November, 2013 10:08 am

    I completely understand this situation. I nearly ran into a car (or a car nearly hit me) turning right across a line of stopped traffic on my commute to work. The car couldn’t see me coming in the bike lane which was beside three lines of traffic and I also could not see that a car was being waved through by the stopped cars. I didn’t see the car until it zoomed across in front of me with an inch to spare. Had I been a second earlier I would have been hit. If the car came to a complete stop and peered up the bike lane it may have seen me but most cars wouldn’t even think to do this.
    It is the most dangerous type of intersection I have encountered as a cyclist and after my experience I am always careful to slow right down and check for cars in this situation. Although I might have right of way I am also aware that I can’t be seen until I am level with the bonnet of the front car in the stopped traffic and if I am going to fast cars wont have time to act and neither will I.

  38. steveko permalink
    14 November, 2013 10:14 am

    Hi Warren,
    I really, really appreciate you speaking up about the accident and risking the wrath of a thousand vengeful cyclists. Yes, the design of our bike lanes seems to promise a lot more safety for bike riders than they actually deliver. And although we as cyclists feel we should be able to ride as fast as legally allowed, and that car drivers should look out for us, the truth is that we have to take additional precautions for our own safety.

    For my own part, as a cyclist, I am very cautious in the situation you describe: fast moving bike to the left of slow moving traffic. It’s just too dangerous, because at every intersection (or even driveway, as you point out), there could be cars turning across. Or aggro drivers suddenly zooming out of the slow lane through the bike lane to get somewhere. Or aggro passengers deciding to abandon the car, fling open the door and walk. Riding through the (Melbourne) CBD in the morning is often like this – I just accept that the safest thing is ride just faster than traffic and constantly look out for *everything*.

    (PS For the sake of harmonious relations with cyclists, you shouldn’t refer to road bikes as “racing bikes” – they’re mostly not. And point out “cycling attire” seems like a bit like blaming the victim somehow – do you think that what he was wearing put him at fault? Would it have been better if he was wearing jeans?

    And lastly it’s a bit unfair to say a cyclist “suddenly appeared”. They didn’t. They were moving at a constant rate the whole time, the motorist just didn’t know about them. We’re not magicians!)

    Thanks again,

  39. Katrina permalink
    14 November, 2013 12:46 pm

    This kind of accident landed me in hospital with broken ribs and punctured lung ~ 18 years ago. I was frustrated that the police did not attribute fault to the driver. I battled successfully, with Bicycle Victoria’s support, to get funds from the driver to replace my bicycle.
    Bike lane or not, cyclists travel on the left of the cars, and are likely to travel faster than cars in slow moving heavy traffic.
    Cyclists and motorists alike need to beware of this dangerous every day circumstance!

  40. peter S. permalink
    14 November, 2013 5:13 pm

    I am angry . Here is my letter to Warren Sutton.
    You say you wern’t prepared for such an accident.Neither was the cyclist. You appear to be a careless ,irresponsible driver who hasn’t acknowledged that you caused a terrible collision. You have luckily just avoided a possible Manslaughter charge.
    You say ” I take reasonable care around cyclists” – well how about taking some more care!
    There was a bike lane! That means bikes could be on it! Derr.
    “I wasn’t anticipating a cyclist”. You are turning in front of traffic,then over a bike lane. Well perhaps you could just consider that other vehicles could be using their designated piece of road. Stop assuming that there will be no traffic.
    You obeyed some other random driver’s wave! Incredible!This doesn’t absolve you of your duty to check as well. If I told you to turn in front of a train – would you do that?
    The location – a slight descent – only confirms that you should have taken more care.
    The collision could have been avoided if you had taken more care. Don’t try to absolve your guilt by saying that other drivers would likely have done the same thing – plain unsupported hogwash.
    Awareness of cyclists had better get higher on your list of things to check as a driver – you might kill a cyclist next time.
    Don’t you dare try to shed resposibility of causing this accident onto the cyclist.Instead of warning other drivers how about looking at yourself and your apparent poor driving ability and attitude. Think about ALL other road users – your own child will be one soon.

    • Rob Wilson permalink
      15 November, 2013 10:26 am

      Well said Peter . . . . as far as you went.
      There is of course more to say to give it balance
      The bike rider was just as negligent or more so because he was negligent of his very life
      They were both lucky this time
      The world is not perfect yet and until it is we riders will have to ride with care.
      Or expect to die young and healthy.
      The only upside of which an organ donor might benefit from some good spare parts
      And we might have a good looking corpse at our funeral.

  41. Ros permalink
    14 November, 2013 5:35 pm

    Maybe motorists could modify their route to avoid RH turns across peak hour traffic. Perhaps turn right at the next set of lights and make a U turn where safe. Or turn Right at the previous set of lights and then left and left and left to arrive at the same side of the road as the destination. I have to do this all the time on my bike as attempting a similar RH turn across peak hour traffic is just suicidal.

  42. 14 November, 2013 7:17 pm

    the exact same thing happened to me in brisbane riding through west end once. I saw traffic banked up at traffic lights ahead, and was cycling very slowly along the green painted lane. I saw a car had stopped in front of a side street as they sometimes do to let cars in, it doesn’t necessarily mean there is a car turning. Of course back then I was fairly new to cycling and not so aware of situations but as I crossed the empty space on my green lane a car turned in very fast and I slammed on my brakes and was about to land across his bonnet but just saved myself in time. I looked up to see him angrily yelling at me!! I feel it was entirely his fault, yes I was not aware he was turning, but he turned in too fast and I was going very slowly (around 10km/hr), if I had been going faster I would have ended up across his bonnet like the cyclist in the story. Nowadays I look if there is a gap, but I think cars should also slow down in these situations because at the time I had thought, I am right next to a primary school and that easily could have been a kid crossing the road he mowed down.

  43. ripley permalink
    14 November, 2013 7:50 pm

    I have been “cleaned up” by a motorist executing a right turn through traffic, though there was stationary traffic in the right lane and I was in the left lane which was empty of cars. The driver saw a gap and floored it thinking because one lane was clear that all was good. The only way to improve the outcome is to take your time – if you go slowly, then it gives everyone more time to react…the cyclist could be doing a head check to see if his riding mate is still following and not looking forward, a car might be encroaching into the bike lane and has drawn the cyclist’s attention away from what is happening further down the lane. Bike lanes are a bad idea as they give people a false sense of security and right-of-way and also car drivers wish to banish riders from the main carriageway as they don’t want to have to cater for cyclists – but it tends to result in less active thought by both road users. I have many years of riding experience and am instantly wary of road intersections where cars look out for cars but bikes are harder to spot – but new riders are always going to be at risk until they realise how fast “stuff” can happen. I was just cruising when my accident happened…the GPS says I hit the car at 40kmh, I wrote the car off and spent the week in hospital but broke no bones thankfully.

    • Rob Wilson permalink
      15 November, 2013 10:17 am

      That one is going in the scrap book
      “. . . Bike lanes are a bad idea . . . “

  44. MoreBikesPlease permalink
    14 November, 2013 9:18 pm

    Good discussion! Here’s an idea for the next one – roundabouts. Sometimes drivers who must give way don’t see you because of their fat A-pillar.

  45. Clinton permalink
    14 November, 2013 11:48 pm

    I’m a cyclist. I’m also a driver of a car.

    I can understand the issues Of reduced sight lines as described in this post. It is for this reason, that as a cyclist I ride like someone on a motorbike – which is to always anticipate the unexpected (as best you can).

    The responsibility of care lies both ways in this example. But as a cyclist you are more vulnerable to injury, so logic would dictate that it’s less about seeking blame when an accident occurs, and more about trying to avoid the accident in the first instance.

    Ride safe. Drive safe.

  46. Adam Hersbach permalink
    15 November, 2013 10:25 am

    We need bike ROADS, not bike LANES

  47. Cam permalink
    15 November, 2013 10:47 am

    I appreciate the sentiment, but the excuses are pretty pathetic. Wasn’t expecting to see a bike in a bike lane? What were you expecting to see – spaceships? Open your eyes – it’s not that hard.

  48. Grant permalink
    15 November, 2013 10:47 pm

    Any honest and experienced cyclist, which I am, would know that this classic scenario requires both parties to pay attention to avert a collision. To my fellow cyclists, stop expecting motorists to understand you and anticipate you – most don’t ride bikes. However, most adult cyclists do drive cars and should therefore should be able to anticipate most of the possible mistakes of drivers.

  49. Lyndal permalink
    18 November, 2013 10:56 am

    It is the cyclist that is going to come off worst, so (in response to some fo the comments above) solely blaming the driver and not being alert won’t help a cyclist when it comes to injury. I am a cyclist and a driver – I like to think I am alert for bikes on the road, but sometimes you just don’t spot them. Self righteous cyclists aren’t helping themselves. I recently pulled out of a driveway onto a busy road (when waved out by another driver) – not seeing the cyclist racing along, blocked from vision by a row of parked vehicles. The cyclist put himself at further risk by not slowing down, but swerving out in front of not one, but two rows of traffic. He was more concerned about keeping his pace up (and swearing and gesturing at me) than considering the conditions and the concept that just because he has right of way, doesn’t mean he’s been seen.

  50. Su Chan permalink
    18 November, 2013 11:12 am

    Sounds to me like inattentional blindness (a recognised condition) combined with excessive speed on the part of the cyclist. Why did he undertake a car that had stopped for someone turning? Also going too fast to stop safely; e.g if a child fro this centre had walked out onto the bike path.

    That said, the driver was legally at fault, and has shown great courage to come to a cycling forum with this story. He’s the one that has to pay, both financially and emotionally for his mistake.

    That’s what it was and Mr Sutton should be commended for raising awareness of this issue.

    Put down the pitchforks guys, and look at ways to make this better, not crucify someone.

    For my part, if I’m in a bike lane, I will be traveling slowly on the triggers and expecting to get doored/pulled out on at any second. If I’m going to be dooring 30+, I’m be doing it in the center of the lane, not the bike lane.

  51. 18 November, 2013 4:36 pm

    I have to agree entirely with the rationale of peter S., James, Geoff, Chris McShane, Kato, John, Geoff and Stuart: the driver has absolutely no excuse. However, I don’t see that Warren was making any.
    This was an accident, and establishing who to blame will not reduce the risk of a recurrence.. Looking at contributory causes and seeing how we can change our behaviour to reduce our risk may, however be worthwhile.
    I was recently involved as the driver in a similar right-hand turn scenario. In this case there was no bike lane, but the single-lane road was quite wide. The incident occurred at the bottom of a long, steep descent and the rider was probably travelling considerably faster than the queue of traffic, which was only going at about 40kph
    I thought I had a clear view when I started my turn, but as I looked ahead to check again for pedestrians, and for the van that was waiting to pull out from the street I was turning into, there was a dark blur across my path and a very slight bump. I was unable to turn my eyes/head fast enough to see what the object was before it had disappeared (no, not magic) behind the van that was turning into the main road.
    I had stopped with the nose of the car halfway across the oncoming traffic lane, so I completed my turn and raced back to find out what had happened, and found the cyclist lying on the grass verge some distance from the junction. By some miracle, despite hitting the other vehicle and somersaulting over it, he had suffered only grazing and bruises.

    The pedestrian, the cyclist and other witnesses all said there was no way I could have avoided this accident, but I disagree: if I had been thinking: “Cyclist!” as I prepared to make my turn, I cannot believe I would not have been able to spot him before I had obstructed his path. Maybe if he had been wearing brightly coloured lycra instead of dull brown and black it might have made a difference, maybe if he had not been going much faster than the traffic on his right I would have had a chance to see him before I started my turn. I just don’t know.

    What I do know is:
    #1. It was absolutely my responsibility not to get in the path of an oncoming cyclist;
    #2. It is not possible to look in all directions simultaneously; and therefore
    #3. Careful assessment and planning are crucial in avoiding an accident during an intrinsically dangerous maneuver, but
    #4. The fact is that these accidents, however theoretically avoidable, still happen. Cyclists as well as drivers need to have heightened awareness and work out what they can reasonably do to minimise risks.

    Riding at a speed allowing a safe braking distance is virtually impossible on a bicycle, overtaking on the inside is always dangerous, but practically unavoidable, while flashy Lycra is easier to spot but offers no physical protection and may not be the fashion statement that a person wants to make.

    The only things I can think of that might help are “Be Aware” – drivers and cyclists – and more specifically, drivers must keep looking to the left as well as ahead throughout a right-hand turn, while cyclists must try to keep their attention spread beyond that narrow tunnel of trajectory all I can think of.

    Remember: the driver bears the responsibility for all these accidents, but it is the cyclist who is liable to pay the penalty.

    Keep safe!

  52. Peter Crawford permalink
    21 November, 2013 1:48 pm

    I was fascinated by the advice “Do a double take on right hand turns”, which seems to be the main thrust of the writer.
    I was lucky enough to have had an enlightened driving instructor who had various sayings including “Look twice before you turn” and “Don’t turn right until you can see right”. These seem to have worked for me over 51 years of motoring and commuter cycling. From time to time you see something on the second look which you missed on the first and wonder where it came from.
    Apparently it is now considered reasonable to merely look once, even if it is along a poor sightline, and then go ahead.
    If you cannot see that the road is clear, what about waiting until you CAN see before you proceed – and this goes whether you have an engine or pedals under you.
    Better advice would be “Always do a double take”.

  53. 2 December, 2013 12:50 pm

    I am normally a cyclist, but after being hit by a car failing to give way I use a motor bike for longer distances now. One advantage is a bit more power and being registered, the excuse of many drivers why cyclists shouldn’t be there😦
    However I get the same unobservant problems of drivers still exists.
    I was hit in Bridge road last year at the clear way change over time. I was able to use left lane to pass a few late leaving cars but other vehicles weren’t. As I got to a minor road there was a long gap ahead and a gap across the intersection. There were several tall 4WD’s and vans to my right in the centre lane near a tram.
    I slowed to same speed as a cyclist <30km/hr, looked right and saw no car but as I crossed the intersection gap a car appeared coming slightly diagonally towards me and hit me but only enough to make me wobble, and I stayed up but stopped. If I was a cyclist i would have been thrown over. I hit with enough force to break foot peg mount and sustain a slightly crushed heal, the car disappeared. I was wearing a motor cycle jacket that I had added special canvas vinyl paint in a safety yellow colour. I surmise the car decided to dive out of Office work, go along tram line and turn quickly left in the side street to avoid traffic and being hit by the tram.

    One problem as I see it is the abundance of tall 4WD that block the view of cyclists heads over the cars for the drivers. The second is that drivers never even think that cyclists would be on the road. Wet weather is the worst. In Europe/Asia they ride any weather but here people assume cyclist will be using their cars. I don't have one, and haven't for over 12 years.

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