Close call with bike at 305 and Koura

The in basket: Billie Schaefer of Port Ludlow said he was recently preparing to turn right off of Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island onto Koura Road, with his signal on, when a bicyclist shot past him on the shoulder. Had he been in his turn, Billie said, it could have been another bicyclist fatality.

“He’s lucky I didn’t kill him,” he said, and asked whether he would be guilty of a crime for his part in the theoretical collision. “Isn’t he supposed to stop for me?  If I stop, I’ll get hit by traffic coming from behind.”

He then asked about the striping at the next intersection ahead, at Sportsmen’s Club Road, which is repeated at numerous intersections around urban Bainbridge. It has a designated bicycle lane separating the outside through lane from a right turn lane onto Sportsmen’s Club Road.

The out basket: State Trooper Russ Winger of the local State Patrol detachment says, “Bicyclists must obey all traffic laws that apply to any motorist. In the situation you describe at Koura Road, the bike must yield to a legally turning vehicle (signaling properly so the bike rider can see your intent) ahead. The bicyclist would be violating both failing to yield and overtaking and passing on the right laws.

“The situation at Sportsmen’s Club Road is not really any different,” he said. “The bike lanes there are intended to give a lane for bicyclists to both wait at the signal light and also form sort of a shoulder for bikes to travel in while crossing the intersection. They allow vehicles using the right turn lanes on either side of the intersection to avoid the very situation described at Koura Road. Vehicles must yield to the bikes, if appropriate, as they would for any other vehicle.

“Vehicles should not cross over bike lanes unless required for turning movement or travel. They must yield to any bicyclist occupying the lane when doing so.

“There is no good reason for a driver to cross over the short bike lanes on either side of the intersection at Sportsmen’s Club, other than a driver making a way-too-late decision to turn right. It would not be illegal to do so as long as the driver yielded appropriately and did the maneuver safely,” Russ said.


3 thoughts on “Close call with bike at 305 and Koura

  1. Bicyclists must obey traffic laws? Ha, that’s rich. Trooper Winger should watch the intersections in Bremerton. It is rare a bicyclist will stop, let alone signal. I’m surprised there haven’t been car/bike or pedestrian/bike collisions, the way the cyclists weave in and out of cars and walkers .

  2. I agree Gary about how cyclists just weave in and out of cars. I used to see it a lot times driving onto Bangor, a cyclist would just jump right across traffic to either get in line to enter or I would see them just make at the light from the right lane and what they would do is just put there finger up and point at you as you hit your brakes. That was just one incident. But what really gets me is when you have a couple of bikes trying to make the hills around the fairgrounds and they are right in the middle of the lane holding up traffic. Now if the are supposed to follow traffic laws, it is against the law for a vehicle to hinder traffic and in most places pull over when blocking 5 or more vehicles.

    I dont mind the bike riders and I give them plenty of room when I see them, but the are not the king of the road and I have said this about pedestrians who just cross a road right in front of cars and it can apply to bikes. You cant win against a vehicle whether on foot or on a bike. You will lose almost every time. So being right dont fix dead….

  3. No argument with Billie’s in- or your out basket; if a cyclist is already following a car making a right turn, he has to yield. However, here is what usually generates the situation Billie described: A cyclist is approaching an intersection (at a much slower speed than a car) and the driver wanting to make the right turn is following behind. The driver tries to pass the cyclist and then make the turn before the bicycle gets to the intersection (impatience). All of a sudden the driver might realize that the bike isn’t going that slow after all. The cyclist has two choices when this “right hook” occurs: 1) slam on his brakes and “yield” to the car to avoid hitting it, or 2) hope the driver realizes his error in space-time judgment and allows the cyclist to pass on his right before he turns. The car was in the wrong here – he should have slowed and waited for the bicycle to clear the intersection.

    And a little soap box speech. The REAL way to make the roads safer for cyclists – and motorists – is to require a minimum of 50 miles bicycle riding in and around Silverdale as part of driver’s education courses (or to renew a driver’s license). Then those drivers might understand just how dangerous it is to be on a bicycle on the unfriendly roads, and maybe everyone would be just a little more courteous, patient, and legal, both cyclists and motorists.

    Mark Underwood
    Serious cyclist: 15 years
    Licensed driver: 47 years

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