INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
The addition of special lanes for bicycles on many Indianapolis streets
hasn’t limited the number of accidents, which are rising along with the
increase in riders.
Experts say part of
the problem may be confusion over Indiana’s complicated bicycle laws. The
Indianapolis Star reports that bicycle accidents have increased nearly 50
percent in Marion County since 2011.
Advocates and legal
experts alike say neither drivers nor cyclists understand how they’re
supposed to interact. Motorists and bicycles are supposed to share the road,
but what does that mean? The debate can be over as things as simple as where
to ride - in the middle of the lane or close to the curb.
“According to the
letter of the law, a cyclist can be in the middle of the road in his lane
cycling, as long as he’s following the rules of the road,” said personal
injury attorney Lance Worland. “I think drivers a lot of times aren’t aware
of that, and don’t realize the cyclist has a right to be there.”
Superior Court Judge David Dreyer, whose court recently handled two crash
cases, said the laws are largely untested. The slow-moving vehicle law says
cyclists should be in the right-hand lane “or” as close to the curb as
executive director of Bicycle Indiana, said her group advises bicyclists to
use the right one-third of the lane. If they ride too close to the curb,
motorists may try to pass them in the same lane - which could be too close
And now another
complication has been added. As of July 1, Indiana law allows motorcycles,
bicycles and mopeds to run red lights when the signal has been stuck on red
for more than two minutes. It’s meant to help riders whose vehicles aren’t
heavy enough to trip sensors that make stoplights turn green.
And some bicyclists
make others look bad by defying the rules of the road.
“That means stop at
stop signs, stop at red lights ... there are a lot of cyclists that don’t do
that,” Worland said. “It gives cyclists who are serious about it a bad rap.”
Worland said his
firm has seen an increase in cycling-related injuries in recent years, with
most of them occurring at intersections. In one case, Dreyer upheld a $3.9
million ruling awarded to a then-17-year-old cyclist after he was hit by a
school bus in 2010.
collisions in Marion County jumped from 170 in 2011 to 250 in 2013,
according to state crash report data. Statewide, such collisions increased 8
wants to make rules that are in place in some communities, like a 3-foot
buffer zone when cars pass bicycles, state law.
“As much as I’d
like to say common sense should always prevail, we also know that it
doesn’t,” Tibbett said.