Lane Splitting (Que Jumping)
Eric commented: Every once in a while people like to argue about why lane splitting or filtering should be legal. In my experience, people that make a habit of passing cars on the right, whether in a designated bicycle lane or not, have many “interesting” stories about how dangerous bicycling is. So, when I arrive at a line of stopped cars, I get in line behind them. This, of course “wastes time”, but I can assure you that the small amount of time I waste waiting for the light to change is nothing compared to the time this man will be wasting. Hazard a guess as to which statute they charged this fellow with?
It is difficult to understand the exact circumstances from the article. Depending on the circumstances, que-jumping or lane splitting can be safe and legal, usually due to lane width. Cyclists regularly do it in other circumstances which are not legal or safe. See these posts and the article on CommuteOrlando.com
Having looked at the intersection,
if the driver with the trailer made a left turn from the through lane, it would seem he was at fault if the cyclist was in the left turn lane and turning left.
Fixed link to intersection: http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=26.250526,-81.801646&spn=0.008564,0.016512&t=m&z=17&layer=c&cbll=26.250556,-81.801849&panoid=dv2imz2NEtYbVpFr3xfw2Q&cbp=12,91.29,,0,8.89
It sounds like Jackson (the cyclist) entered the intersection when the light was red, intending to turn left, and proceeded forward on the line between the left turn and straight lanes. Then the straight light turned green and Blackwell’s vehicle, which was then to the right of Jackson, moved forward. Since there was very little space between the lanes for Jackson to use, he was too close to Blackwell, and when Blackwell moved forward his trailer hit Jackson. Blackwell had no expectation of someone to his left in the same lane, and so was not at fault.
There is not enough information in the article to assign fault.
I read this the way NE2 read it. The reason being is that several local utility manufacturers make their trailers at absolute maximum width allowed in Florida, then they extended the axle even more than that and put the tires on the outside of the carrying area.
This is apparently legal, but it means that the trailer is at least a 18″ wider on each side than most trucks that are pulling them. Knowing this, the snippet here:
“Upon the through lane traffic signal changing to green, Blackwell drove toward the U.S. 41 intersection. In doing so, the left side trailer of his vehicle stuck Jackson,”
makes more sense. The extra width of the trailer would likely catch the cyclist as it moved along on his right even though it appeared to him that he had plenty of room between the cars.
For the record, I read “left side trailer of his vehicle” as “left side of the trailer on his vehicle” and a crappy editor.
Google Earth measures the width of each lane (rightmost LT lane and leftmost through lane) at this location as 11 ft. If a maximum-width 102″ trailer were centered in the through lane, it would leave a clearance of about 15″ on each side (i.e., to center of lane stripe). Typical cyclist width is 24″. If a 24″ stopped cyclist were positioned on the lane line to the left of the towing vehicle when it began moving forward, the perfectly centered 102″ trailer would pass cyclist with 3″ clearance.
If the trailer were centered a few inches to the left of lane center, or swayed slightly to the left as it moved forward, or if it were somewhat wider than 102″ (apparently not unusual, according to Eric’s information), it could strike the cyclist.
S. 316.151 allows cyclist to use the full width of a left-turn lane. Waiting in a LT lane queue can occasionally be inconvenient if one is stopped behind several vehicles and the LT green arrow indication is so short that by the time one reaches the intersection, it has changed to a red arrow. Even so, it’s less inconvenient than being hit by a trailer.
s. 316.515 Maximum Width, Height, Length
(1) Width Limitation—The total outside width of any vehicle or the load thereon may not exceed 102 inches, exclusive of safety devices determined by the department to be necessary for the safe and efficient operation of motor vehicles.
here is a discussion of people talking about pulling trailers that are too wide. Seems to be quite common since the law is apparently rarely enforced in Florida.
From what I saw in the article, she was orginally on the INSIDE left turn lane (there’s two left turn lanes) and realized that she was in the incorrect lane to make a left turn.. (the outside lane would be the correct one so that cars wouldn’t be to her right after she made the turn)
So she then moved to the outside left turn lane so that she could make the turn correctly and stayed too far right.. (I think she ultimately was to the right edge of the outside left turn lane) and there was the issue).
More than likely she was all the way on the left side, cars came up on her right and she went ahead of them (probably partially in the crosswalk “area”) so that she could be on their right and was probably a bit too far over and was probably the reason she got hit…
If she had pulled into the correct left hand turn lane from the start and had “taken the lane” (Fully allowable by statute) then she probably wouldn’t have been involved in an accident in the first place…
I know, when I’m wanting to make a left hand turn from a left hand turn lane that if there are cars there already, it’s probably safer to just stay in the bike lane and go straight and wait on the other side for the light to turn “to make a left”…
If there are cars there already and I really want to use that lane, I make sure to be in the most righthand left turn lane AND in the MIDDLE of that lane, whether I’m the first vehicle there or not.
Here is another report from a different nespaper and a video where you can’t see her.
I forgot to mention that you can see how much wider the trailer is than the truck that is pulling it. The other day I was following a trailer in a 10′ wide lane. One tire was on the yellow line and the other was on the white line as it proceeded in a straight direction.