I have been keeping up with the tragic death of Jenna Morrison,a 38 year old pregnant mom squished under the wheels of a truck turning right in Toronto a few weeks ago. Her death has led many to question why there are not separated bike lanes; the usual response from the politicians and the engineers is that there isn't enough room, that you cannot give bikes their own lanes without taking something away from cars, and they don't do that in Toronto.
Two bike activists, James Schwartz of the Urban Country and Dave Meslin of the Toronto Bike Union, set out to demonstrate that this wasn't true. They went to the intersection where Jenna was crushed and built their own bike lane with recycled twigs, cups and general trash (the painted bikes were installed by other guerrilla activists earlier).
Here is a truck turning before the bike lane was installed; note that the painted bikes are pretty meaningless in their supposed message of sharing the road. The truck is going right over them.
And when there is a lane, just a little bit of garbage on the road in this case? The trucks all go around it, no trouble at all. Dave Meslin writes:
Would cars and trucks respect the lines? Is there enough room for a large truck to make a wide turn without impeding on the bike lane? Can all vehicles – bikes, cars and trucks – share this intersection safely with proper markings? Sadly, the answer is yes – on all counts. Too late for Jenna. But not too late for this to be a wake-up call. Bike lanes save lives. They create a safe space, they keep motor vehicles away from bikes, and most importantly, they raise awareness of all road users – that they are sharing space with others.
Even UPS drivers, who believe that bike lanes exist for their convenience, (at least for parking) drove the few extra feet to avoid the bike lane. All evidence that it is time that the traffic engineers got on a bike and started thinking about what they can do to reduce the carnage on the roads.
More at The Urban Country and the Mez Dispenser