The Chainlink

So I ran into the back of a truck this morning, which will cost me about $90-$100 and maybe a sore shoulder for the rest of the day. (This is a minuscule fraction of the total amount of damage I've dealt behind the wheel of a car, incidentally. :-D)  The incident was entirely my fault (technically, see ahead) but it highlights one of the main problems of sidepaths - people don't know you're coming.

Our village sidepath runs about 10' off the side of the road. Having done this commute at least one hundred (and maybe two hundred) times, I approach my one busy intersection differently -- if the light is green and will stay green, I'll ride on through. If the light is red, I'll stop and trigger the ped signal. If the light is green and someone on the opposite side of the road is turning left, I make eye contact with the driver to make sure they see me, and either let them pass or see if they wave me through.

There's one movement that's not accounted for -- 5-6 cars turning right in front of you on a green light. This morning, I thought I would wait for a gap between two turning vehicles, since that's not situation where high speeds are involved... but as it turns out, it's actually really difficult to judge the position of a turning vehicle at a future time.

But I know if I stop, someone's probably going to wave me through, which can cause other unexpected movements through the intersection (right-turn on red ahead of me, left-turn on green from the other direction).

What would you do?

Tags: intersection, ouch, sidepath

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I get real annoyed with the "wave ahead after you stop" situation. I have found that if I do not make eye contact the drivers will behave normally. I do this for stop signs tho, and do not have much experience with the path to road problem.

In this situation i would rely on timing as you have in the past, maybe i should re think that, glad you are alright
I would ride on the road. Yeah, yeah out in the burbs it might be a high speed road, narrow lane, no shoulder, no other way to get to work etc. but I really hate glorified-sidewalk "bike paths". Intersections are a mess and unless you cross them as a pedestrian, then you're always taking a risk.

Btw, what village is this?
This is in Carol Stream. For a really specific location, click here.

I'm fine with the path, because 99.5% of the time I don't have any problems and feel safer, which is important to me, and to anyone who wants to consider taking a bike to go from point A to B. This type of turning situation happens very, very rarely. I might just have to yield to right turners but not to left-turners, which is an odd rule.


envane x said:
I would ride on the road. Yeah, yeah out in the burbs it might be a high speed road, narrow lane, no shoulder, no other way to get to work etc. but I really hate glorified-sidewalk "bike paths". Intersections are a mess and unless you cross them as a pedestrian, then you're always taking a risk.

Btw, what village is this?
That path looks absolutely terrible; I can’t imagine ridding on a side path with that many cross streets and driveways. That’s exactly the kind of path a motorist would give to a cyclist and then wonder why no one uses it. A few years ago I was in crash on a similar path where a driver making a right on red hit me as I proceeded straight through the intersection on a green. Ever since then I’ve been sort of gun shy about such paths even though riding in city traffic or on rural highways doesn’t phase me. I’m with evane x, and would probably ride in the road.


Robert Guico said:
This is in Carol Stream. For a really specific location, click here.

I'm fine with the path, because 99.5% of the time I don't have any problems and feel safer, which is important to me, and to anyone who wants to consider taking a bike to go from point A to B. This type of turning situation happens very, very rarely. I might just have to yield to right turners but not to left-turners, which is an odd rule.


envane x said:
I would ride on the road. Yeah, yeah out in the burbs it might be a high speed road, narrow lane, no shoulder, no other way to get to work etc. but I really hate glorified-sidewalk "bike paths". Intersections are a mess and unless you cross them as a pedestrian, then you're always taking a risk.

Btw, what village is this?
I wouldn't say it's terrible; for that description, I reserve this piece of work in my old hometown. (I just counted--16 bike-vehicle conflict points in 1,500 feet!)

By contrast, this sidepath actually follows the recommended guidelines for spacing, with 17 in 2.7 miles. (the recommended maximum for conflicts on a sidepath is something like 4-8 per mile).

I think it hasn't helped that path use (peds and bikes) out here really dries up by the end of September. I had a near-miss in Bartlett a couple weeks ago, and I think in general drivers look for other users even less now than they did in midsummer.


Cameron Puetz said:
That path looks absolutely terrible; I can’t imagine ridding on a side path with that many cross streets and driveways. That’s exactly the kind of path a motorist would give to a cyclist and then wonder why no one uses it. A few years ago I was in crash on a similar path where a driver making a right on red hit me as I proceeded straight through the intersection on a green. Ever since then I’ve been sort of gun shy about such paths even though riding in city traffic or on rural highways doesn’t phase me. I’m with evane x, and would probably ride in the road.


Robert Guico said:
This is in Carol Stream. For a really specific location, click here.

I'm fine with the path, because 99.5% of the time I don't have any problems and feel safer, which is important to me, and to anyone who wants to consider taking a bike to go from point A to B. This type of turning situation happens very, very rarely. I might just have to yield to right turners but not to left-turners, which is an odd rule.


envane x said:
I would ride on the road. Yeah, yeah out in the burbs it might be a high speed road, narrow lane, no shoulder, no other way to get to work etc. but I really hate glorified-sidewalk "bike paths". Intersections are a mess and unless you cross them as a pedestrian, then you're always taking a risk.

Btw, what village is this?

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