East Burnside at SE 108th Ave
This incident occurred at the Traffic light at E Burnside and SE 108th Ave on September 8, 2009, at approximately 9:40 AM. Both the truck and I were headed east-bound on Burnside. He turned southbound and I was continuing eastbound.
A trash collection truck was blocking the single lane of car traffic and I was able to travel in the designated bike lane just as the trash collectors were re-loading in their vehicle. I made eye contact with the driver just as he was loading up in the truck, he was driving from the right hand side of the truck, I think. The light was red so I stopped at the intersection, in the bike lane. The truck had hazards on so I didn't know where it was planning to travel next; any turn indication wouldn't work with the hazards on. The truck approached the intersection while the light was red and instead of stopping, rolled through the intersection and began to turn right, squeezing me toward the curb. I screamed at the driver and he abruptly stopped. I yelled at him that he needed to pay attention. He said "go ahead, then!" I looked through his windshield, as he was bulk-heading the bike lane and I could not get through, and saw that the light was still red. I told him "I can't go, the light's red!" At that point, he just continued on, rolling through the intersection with the red light, making a right turn. The tires got closer and closer as he went and I had to squeeze to the curb so as not to be run over. Then the light turned green and I was able to proceed as he continued southbound on SE 108th Ave.
I believe I tracked down the company that services this area and I pointed out that with the bike commute challenge there will be additional bikers on the road, and that I believed additional training is in order for their drivers. A little matter of awareness and accountability would avoid a very big disaster.
Burnside & SE 108th
Very scary situation; it's good you kept your wits about you. If you haven't already done it, you can enter that address on the Close Calls map and database. I'm not sure if I would have thought to yell at the driver but it sounds like that's what saved you; good reaction! Thanks for sharing it.
I looked at the Burnside & SE 108th intersection on Google Maps. It's crowded, eccentric and complicated, no doubt leading to some of the problem. Maybe the truck driver was worried about swinging wide into the left-turn lane which is squeezed in there.
Not criticizing you at all, Shetha (you should have had the right-of-way; if he couldn't safely make the turn he should have waited for you, and he should know how much his truck tracks inside on corners), but just looking at options, I see three alternate ways which I might use to navigate that route by bike:
One is to "take the lane" for the stop light, moving back into the bike lane as or after you cross the intersection. A cyclist could move to the through lane's left edge and both left- and right-turning traffic could get by. Downside: right-turning traffic gets routed even further into the bike lane with possible bad consequences for other cyclists who didn't take the lane.
Another is for the cyclist to move onto the sidewalk. That could mean awkward jockeying to get to the pedestrian crossing button, crossing in the sidewalk (appropriately) and then merging back into the bike lane. Complicated and could interfere with peds. But as a quick refuge to duck out of that danger zone and then back into the bike lane when the light turns green, maybe ignoring the ped button and crosswalk, I can see it working for a limited number of bikes per day. Just be extra careful to check over your left shoulder for right-turning traffic before you proceed on the green light.
Finally, stopping farther back (west) in the bike lane would avoid the rear end "inside tracking" of big rigs like the garbage truck. Downsides to that include not triggering the light (unless the trigger loop were located back far enough), need of prior knowledge to plan ahead (bike lane could have stop line marked), frustration in not being able to get up to the normal stop line, and being less noticed by cars lining up at the light leading to right-hook collisions when the light turns green.
I don't know how common that right-squeeze problem is, but maybe painting warnings in the bike lane at such intersections could help, or maybe painting bike lane stop lines further back.
Anyway, glad you made it through OK. And welcome!
I appreciate your feedback. I've played it over lots of times in my head. There was car traffic stacked up in the lane (I couldn't merge they were too close together), and the garbage bins were taking up the sidewalk. I guess I assumed that making eye contact with the truck driver right before he hopped in the truck meant that he knew I would be there. I also assumed that he would stop at the red light. I also assumed that he would signal a lane change. Obviously, we all know how assumptions work :). I learned a lot today and hopefully, so did that driver.
Stay safe out there! Keep your wits about you because no one else is guaranteed to...
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