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After Saturday crash, Baltimore bicyclists ask why motorist wasn’t charged

bicycle crash university parkway

Cyclist on University Pkwy. approaching the spot where a car turning right struck a cyclist on Saturday.

Photo by: Fern Shen

While a 20-year-old cyclist remains in a coma after being struck by a car on University Parkway Saturday, the city cycling community is in an uproar over the fact that the car’s 83-year-old driver has not been cited or criminally charged — and Baltimore police say she is not likely to be.

To cyclists, that outcome is unfathomable given the details of the incident police have released so far –Nathan Krasnopoler was riding west in one of the city’s premier marked bike lanes, when the car turned right at a garage entrance, crossing the bike lane and plowing into him.

“It’s absolutely startling to us that the police would say this,” said Carol Silldorf, executive director of Bike Maryland. “The person who did it, I’m sure, feels horrified, but if society goes along with no penalties in these situations it’s going to foster a continuing climate where drivers aren’t taking care to watch out for cyclists.”

“The law violation is clear-as-day, and as a cyclist — one who has been struck myself — police inaction is another slap to the face,” said Seth Lueck, one of the founders of Baltimore Velo, in an emailed comment.

Asked to discuss the case and their apparent decision not to charge, Maj. Tony Brown, of the Baltimore Police Department, declined yesterday to do so until the police report on the incident is released, which he said could happen as soon as this morning.

Earlier reports that the late Saturday morning crash occurred at the intersection with 39th St. are not correct. As eyewitnesses and Baltimore City Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke confirmed today, the driver of the car was turning into an entrance for the Broadview Apartments parking garage, just before the 39th Street intersection.

An eyewitness, who asked not to be named, told The Brew he watched as police and paramedics worked to lift the car off the cyclist who was pinned underneath.

 "Sharrow" in the bike lane about 10 car-lengths from the site of the collision. (Photo by Fern Shen.)

"Sharrow" in the bike lane about 10 car-lengths from the site of the collision. (Photo by Fern Shen.)

Krasnopoler, a second-year Johns Hopkins University engineering student, remained in surgical intensive care at Johns Hopkins Hospital late yesterday, officials there said. Krasnopoler’s father, Mitchell Krasnopoler, has told the Baltimore Sun that Nathan remains in a coma.

Nathan Krasnopoler’s Facebook page is flooded with messages of concern from family, friends and concerned strangers and includes the family’s updates on his condition.

For people like Silldorf, one of a band of advocates working to improve safety for bike riders in Baltimore and across the state, the tragedy hits home.

“I was in a horrific (bicycle) accident. That’s what made me want to reach out to him,” said Silldorf, who spent hours yesterday trying to understand what happened and why the driver went unpunished.

Rules of the road

Commenters on the Sun’s story hotly debated whether the cyclist or driver was at fault, but according to Nate Evans, the city’s bicycle coordinator, there’s a clear legal obligation for drivers to yield to a cyclist in this situation.

“It’s not all that different from if it was a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Whether it’s a pedestrian in a crosswalk or a cyclist in the bike lane – the driver needs to yield,” Evans said, noting that the latest crash “does sound similar to that of Jack Yates.”

Yates was killed in Aug 2009 when a truck turning right off Maryland Avenue ran him over as it turned right onto Lafayette Avenue.

Police in that case were quick to say that Yates was at fault, but the family, which sued Potts & Callahan, said a video captured by a nearby security camera showed one of the company’s trucks turning right onto Lafayette Avenue and failing to signal, just before the collision. Potts & Callahan settled the $5 million complaint for an undisclosed sum, but cyclists remain bitter about the way the police handled it.
In the wake of that incident and others, the bicycling community and Councilwoman Clarke have been pushing police to be more aware of bicycle laws, an irony Evans noted yesterday.

“Within the past month we’ve had a good supportive dialogue with the Baltimore Police Department,” he said.
One law they want police to enforce is one cyclists say was violated Saturday:

§ 21-1209.(d) Yielding right-of-way.- Unless otherwise specified in this title, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a person who is lawfully riding a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter in a designated bike lane or shoulder if the driver of the vehicle is about to enter or cross the designated bike lane or shoulder.

Silldorf said the driver also “clearly violated “ the so-called “three-foot law,” enacted by the Maryland legislature last year, which requires drivers to maintain a three-foot distance from bicyclists.

As clear as the law might seem to some, the incident prompts emotional debate, as it did yesterday on the sidewalk near the accident scene. Approached by a reporter, a delivery truck driver, Jermaine Washington, said bicyclists make his job harder by zipping around him as he makes deliveries.

“It’s their own damn fault if they don’t watch out,” Washington said. “I’m sorry about the boy but these bikes need to let people do their work. Traffic is bad enough in this city without them.” Two students who said they ride their bikes on University happened along and joined in the conversation and it pretty soon became unprintable.

The message for cyclists?

The crash — the first serious accident to take place on a city bike lane, according to Evans — was a sobering reminder for cycling enthusiasts of the dangers that remain on city streets. To some it underlines the limitations of bike lanes, like the one where Krasnopoler was riding, marked with white lines and sharrows.

“We all know we have a culture where cars come first and everyone else better look out,” he said, in emailed comments,” said Mark Counselman , of Oakenshawe, who rides his bike on University and all over the city.

“The cyclist was riding where he was supposed to, the car just didn’t look, a white line on the street isn’t going to protect you from that,” Counselman wrote, in emailed comments to The Brew.
“I’m not sure bike lanes are safe,” Silldorf said, noting that they are typically sandwiched between the flow of traffic and parked cars, which can pull out suddenly or fling open their doors, causing crashes with cyclists.

“There’s not much more we can do,” to ensure safety on bike lanes, Evans said, aside from promoting awareness, making sure drivers and cyclists observe the rules of the road and police enforce the laws.

Evans said the city may put in some more “bike boxes,” marked areas on the road surface where cyclists can wait at intersections, in a spot more visible to motorists. (“There’s a spot at Guilford and Madison where it might make a lot of sense,” he said.)

he car was turning into this entrance to the Broadview Apartment building's parking garage. (Photo by Fern Shen.)

The car was turning into this entrance to the Broadview Apartment building's parking garage. (Photo by Fern Shen.)

But the Saturday crash occurred not at an intersection but at a driveway entrance for an apartment building — one of half-a-dozen like it for apartments and a church along that stretch of University.

Would more signage or other changes to the configuration of the bike lane help? Counselman doesn’t think so.

“Some suggest bike lanes should be on the curb side of parked cars, separated from traffic, but that would just make matters far worse at the intersections, and driveways, where most crashes, like this one, happen,” Counselman said. “It’s the same (as the) problem of biking on the sidewalk — drivers just can’t see you when you shoot out into an intersection from behind parked cars. Yes it works in Amsterdam… but we’re not even close to their ethic of driver responsibility.”

Some cyclists conclude that the solution is simple : ride more defensively and don’t use the bike lanes, but instead  “take the road,” in other words, ride in the traffic lane where the cars are and count on them to give you space.

Others point out that there is a law that requires a cyclist to use lanes where they exist, leaving them no good options.

“Now personally, I no longer feel safe taking the designated bike lane after nearly being sideswiped on multiple occasions, however the law holds that a cyclist must occupy the bicycle lane when it is present,” Lueck said.

Attitude adjustment

As Silldorf sees it, greater awareness and acceptance of cyclists and their rights to be on the road is the most meaningful long-term way to make streets safer for bike riders.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is bike-safety information that the MVA is going to include in the material they give applicants for Maryland drivers’ licenses,” she said.

“There needs to be much more awareness “of the rules governing how we share the roads with each other,” she said, arguing that police have an inherent “statistically-proven” tendency to hold motorists blameless in car-bike crashes and “this needs to stop.”

Whatever the solution, it’s clearly a problem that many cities with traditionally-laid-out streets and still-evolving bike cultures have not solved, with tragic results.

This video from a D.C committee hearing on bicycle and pedestrian safety earlier this month includes heartbreaking testimony from the mother of bike crash fatality Alice Swanson who like, Krasnopoler, was riding legally in the bike lane.

http://dcist.com/2011/02/this_committee_hearing_will_break_y.php

—————–

Two relevant posts from Baltimore Spokes, which is calling on readers to complain to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake about the handling of the Krasnopoler case.

* Their guidance (based on Maryland law) submitted to MVA for inclusion in the next Drivers’ Handbook:

“Never make a right turn from a through lane immediately after passing a bike on a shoulder or bike lane. Doing so is as dangerous as turning right from the left lane after passing a car on your right, so stay behind the bicycle. Try to avoid any chance that a bicycle will be to your right or in your right blind spot when you turn right. Before starting a right turn, move as far to the right as practicable within the bike lane, shoulder, or right turn lane. ”

*  A provision of Baltimore City’s “Cyclists Bill of Rights,” passed by the City Council:

“3. Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.”

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  • Nate

    I wonder what the viewing geometry of this area is. There are certain instances where the time window of visibility to the motorist to see a cyclist is very small. When autos are near a stop light or stop sign or parked, cyclists are often moving much more quickly than cars are. A motorists can be diligent in checking his mirrors to see they are free of bikes, but a bike can move so quickly as to come into the view of the rear view mirror and out of it and then in front of the car in such a short time that a motorist might collide with the cyclist. I’ve had some near misses as a motorist.

    Now, if a motorists mirrors are adjusted properly, he should NOT be able to see a cyclist, except when the cyclist around the rear wheels. Most people have their mirrors set incorrectly to see the side of their vehicle, thus giving them a view too similar to their rearview mirror. Having it set this way is good for seeing cycles in bike lanes extremely close to traffic lanes. However, this is dangerous in most other traffic scenarios because it doesn’t eliminate the car’s blind spot for other autos.

    I think people should not jump to conclusions before the police report is complete. It really serves no good purpose. It reminds me of the Shomrin incident where supporters and protesters seem to know everything that happened before it goes to trial.

    • Anonymous

      “Now, if a motorists mirrors are adjusted properly, he should NOT be able to see a cyclist, except when the cyclist around the rear wheels. Most people have their mirrors set incorrectly to see the side of their vehicle, thus giving them a view too similar to their rearview mirror. Having it set this way is good for seeing cycles in bike lanes extremely close to traffic lanes. However, this is dangerous in most other traffic scenarios because it doesn’t eliminate the car’s blind spot for other autos.”

      This is complete nonsense. If a driver leaves a blind spot in their mirror adjustment that a cyclist can fit into, then their mirrors are not properly adjusted. Also, it is the responsibility of a driver to make sure their blind spot is clear before moving into or crossing a lane to the right. Failure to do so, in all instances is a violation of “§ 21-1209.(d) Yielding right-of-way.- Unless otherwise specified in this title, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a person who is lawfully riding a bicycle, an EPAMD, or a motor scooter in a designated bike lane or shoulder if the driver of the vehicle is about to enter or cross the designated bike lane or shoulder.”

      • Nate

        No it’s not nonsense. I should have known better to post a comment without being berated by one of your condescending comments. The area toward the passenger side rear wheel is not in view of a mirror, it requires a inspect directly. The point was that a cyclist sometimes moves quickly in their lane and may approach between the time the blind spot is inspected visually and the time the motorist goes into a turn. I’m not contending the driver is necessarily not at fault, but that he/she could still have responded with diligence.

        • Anonymous

          “I’m not contending the driver is necessarily not at fault”

          Actually, you were. You said: “if a motorists mirrors are adjusted properly, he should NOT be able to see a cyclist, except when the cyclist around the rear wheels. ” That is untrue. If rear view and side mirrors are properly adjusted there is no blind spot between them. Therefore, a bicycle or a motorcycle cannot sneak in between them. Even given that a vehicle may have a blind spot, they are still responsible to make sure the area within the blind spot is clear before turning left.

          Very few people have been trying to demonize this driver. That isn’t the point. The point is that a law was broken and the police have opted to not charge her. It isn’t the police’s job to feel bad for the motorist and go soft on her. It’s their job to enforce the law as it is written to protect the rights of victims.

          • Anonymous

            “blind spot is clear before turning left.” … I meant “right.”

          • Nate

            Admittedly what I type might have sounded contradictory, but I’ll try to restate more accurately. The area close to the passenger side rear wheel or slightly in front will not be in view of the mirrors, unless you have a small car. Mirrors are adjusted for other vehicles in another auto lane, but not a bike lane which is usually closer to the vehicle in question than an auto lane. So even with a small car, a cyclist might be mostly in the blind spot if he is very close to the side of the car. This is why there is a required head turn. I’ve already stated how bikes can quickly enter and exit the respective fields of view. We should not have laws that are unreasonably burdensome to follow as I think this one might be under similar conditions.

  • Anonymous

    I get that everyone is trying to be PC about this elderly driver, but come on, she’s 83! I believe that when you reach a certain age, you should be required to take a drivers test every couple of years. Heck, I’ll be saying that when I’m a senior.

    Seriously, wtf is up with society and thinking that driving is a “right” rather than, what it really is, a “privilege.”

    This woman should be brought up on charges, especially if she didn’t do anything to help after she hit him.

    • Steve

      I agree with you about testing senior citizens driving. But, good luck getting that past AARP and all the other senior advocates. Ever try to take the keys from grandpa? Good luck. As far as charging grandma if she didn”t help, C’mon she’s 83. Outside off pushing her medic alert button what was she supposed to do?

      • Anonymous

        There’s no reason to believe she did anything wrong after the collision. Clearly, she did not flee.

        • Not

          Nor did she turn her engine off.

  • devils advocate

    Another tragic injury. No matter what legislation is passed or how bike lanes are designed as long as they share the road with motorized vehicles bikers will need to take the bulk of the responsibility for their own safety. This is not to let inattentive drivers off the hook but simply a matter of common sense. Criminal penalties may be appropriate but are after the fact and do nothing to reduce or eliminate the tragedy.

    • Anonymous

      Accidents do happen and will continue to happen, but a cyclist does not bear a greater responsibility for their own safety than any other motorist sharing the road with them. Everyone has an absolute responsibility towards road safety and legal road use. If you clearly break the law and there is a collision, then the police must charge you.

      As it is I am very familiar with the safety statistics of bicycle road use. Per hour I spend on the road I am twice as safe as a motorist on the road for an hour. Per mile on the road a motorist is twice as safe as me. I am comfortable with road use knowing this. What I am bothered by, is that when there may be a collision, regardless of my safe and legal road use, that police bias is very likely to bend over backwards to defend the motorist and try to massage the facts so as to hold me accountable.

      • Galen_52657

        Accidents happen but this was not an accident. It was a collision due to the motorist’s error. It’s a misnomer to call collisions ‘accidents’ because most are entirely preventable. I agree with your premise that riding a bike is statistically safer than driving a car. And, every effort should be made to reduce ALL road deaths – of which the vast, vast majority are motorists. But the auto-dependent culture is so ingrained in the US that I fear it will be a long time before there is much improvement.

        • Anonymous

          You are making a semantic argument. I hear where you are coming from, but preventable human error leads to accidents, therefore:

          Human errors happen and will continue to happen… and everything I already said.

          Where is becomes a misnomer is in case like in Brazil this week, where the Brazilian media continued to refer to the intentional mauling of 20 cyclists as an “accident.”

          As for there being years before we see much improvement, remember motorist fatalities have gone down by 25% in the past few years, and urban complete streets infrastructure improvements have directly led to significant reductions of all forms of collisions in virtually every place where they have been implemented.

  • Anonymous

    Ruth Royan: “I believe the police need a unit devoted to investigating these collisions in order to counter the bias of MPD against bicyclists and pedestrians.”

    She was speaking of D.C.’s police, but I wholeheartedly agree that Baltimore needs something similar. The Jack Yates case made this clear, and the Krasnopoler collision, it seems, is just making it clearer. The Baltimore Police need a collision investigator that is very aware of Maryland road laws in regard to pedestrian and bicycle road use. The Jack Yates investigator, when it became clear had come to biased conclusions against Yates, petulantly proudly defended her (I believe it was a her) familiarity with the law in regard to bicycles in a statement, insisting that the bicyclist is required follow all the laws of the road and was not allowed on the right hand side of the traffic, ignoring that at the time Maryland Law required bicyclists to remain to the right of traffic if at all possible.

    • http://twitter.com/markt322 Mark T

      Maybe not a dedicated unit just for bikes – unless that unit is going to focus on bike lane parking violations in between the rare bike-vs-car crashes – but the officers who handle collision investigations should (already) be fully trained in the rights and duties of all road users. If somehow it is more cost-effective to only train a couple of officers to focus on bikes, then start there, and make sure they’re the ones to investigate bike-involved collisions. Even better, have them get around the city by bike…

      • Anonymous

        The city does have specialist investigators for collisions. What I am proposing is that a member of that unit be specifically educated for pedestrian and bicyclist collisions, and THAT investigator be assigned to cases involving pedestrians and motorists. I’m not saying that this particular investigator should necessarily be exclusively assigned to deal with pedestrian and pedestrian matters. The Jack Yates case, based on the statements made by the investigator, make it clear that there is a severe deficiency on the part of the investigators and their training in regards to pedestrian and cyclist collisions.

  • City dad

    As I read Mark Counselman’s comment that ” a white line on the street isn’t going to protect you,” it made me think of pedestrians who enter a crosswalk against the light. There is no “magic paint” that will keep you safe from motor vehicles.

    • Anonymous

      Never mind pedestrians crossing against the light, lets stick to the issue at hand, a cyclist using the infrastructure legally in the manner in which it was designed and is intended.

      With that said, I believe there has been a recent study that has shown that painted bike lanes are 70% effective in minimizing motor vehicle/bicyclist collision.

  • steve

    You can talk all you want about blind spots, statistics, legislation etc. etc.. But the bottom line is still that a biker will lose every time in a colision with a car. Riding a bike, along side a car, is inherently more dangerous than being in the car. The problem is that is is difficult to retrofit old cities not designed for bike traffic to then be bike friendly. There will be many situations where cars and bikes will intersect. You can say that drivers have as much resposibility as bikers. In theory that is true. But who has the most to lose by not being hyper vigilant of traffic around them. Again, charging the driver with a crime may be appropriate but does not change what happened. As long as bikers share the road with motorists tragedys like this will continue to happen.

    • http://twitter.com/markt322 Mark T

      Actually, old cities were not designed for car traffic, and were retrofitted for it with minimal regard for the safety of bikes and pedestrians…

      I would agree that cyclists have the most to lose, and as a cyclist awareness of your surroundings is your best defense against irresponsible drivers. But that doesn’t absolve the driver of the responsibility to pay full attention to his or her surroundings.

    • Chris

      Few cities are completely “designed for cars” or “not designed for bikes.” The older, gridded parts of Baltimore (e.g. Fells Point, tons of other examples) WERE designed before the car, but the more suburban parts were designed with the car in mind (e.g. Loch Raven Blvd.). University Pkwy. is probably of a roughly streetcar-era vintage, much like Roland Ave, and the same width that once allowed both streets to carry streetcars and cars now allows it to carry both cars and bikes.

    • Anonymous

      It should also be pointed out that urban streets in gridded cities are twice as safe as suburban and rural streets. Cyclist injury rates and fatality rates in gridded cities, including Baltimore, are only half of that in suburban and rural ares, even though modal use is MUCH higher in gridded cities.

  • Chris

    It hits home for me because until now, any car/cyclist collision could be viewed through the lens of “well, if we had more bike lanes, this wouldn’t have happened.” Now, well…yeah. It’s always been clear to me that we need major, fundamental change in terms of how we drive and how we hold drivers properly accountable for their actions, but this terrible incident is perhaps the best-yet evidence of that.

    And by “hold accountable,” I don’t mean conducting any kind of witch hunt, but simply ensuring that punishments both fit the crime AND act as a proper deterrent to future incidents. I don’t think a sober, otherwise-law-abiding driver who accidentally hits a cyclist should be treated like a first-degree murderer, but he also shouldn’t be treated like a kid who stuck his hand in the candy jar before dinner.

  • http://soundslikenow.com Brian Sacawa

    One thing I’d like to know that I haven’t seen an answer to is whether or not the cyclist who was struck was wearing a helmet.

    • Evan

      You’re right. If he wasn’t wearing a helmet, then he obviously doesn’t care about his life, and we shouldn’t either. In fact, he probably wasn’t wearing a helmet, or else he’d be perfectly fine now, right?

      • Anonymous

        I’m presuming Evan is being sarcastic, but I am unsure. Many people do believe that a helmet will save a cyclist most if the time when they are run over by a motor vehicle.

      • Elliot Krasnopoler

        Im hoping your being sarcastic as well, and for that matter, giving you the benefit of the doubt. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. The paramedics removed it on the way to the hospital. We are not sure what the helmet did, but I can assure you it didn’t save anything.

    • Anonymous

      There are several excellent reasons that it is no longer a media standard to mention helmet use. Major market media abandoned the practice several years ago:

      First, it implies that road safety for cyclist is 100% the responsibility of the cyclists alone.
      Second, it implies the victim is responsible for his or her own injuries.
      Third, it implies that helmets are almost always, or usually, effective at mitigating serious head traumas, similarly to how effective motorcycle helmets are, or as effective as seat belts. This is a highly debatable point, as all the studies and census figures suggest that bicycle helmets are about 20% effective at mitigating serious head traumas for adults.
      Fourth, as an adult cyclist has no legal responsibility to wear a helmet on Maryland streets, it is an irrelevant point then the matter at hand is whether the motorist did or didn’t break the law and why didn’t the police charge her. Would his theoretical helmet use have caused the motorist to obey the law or the police to rule causation any differently? No.

    • Anonymous

      What difference does it make? You seem to imply that maybe he wasn’t wearing a helmet… aaaaand then what? A helmet would magically levitate a car over him? This wasn’t a collision followed by a cyclist flying through the air and landing headfirst on the pavement. The driver parked on him. All hail the magical powers of a bike helmet.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7ZLPP2OT5EDK6KOVLDTQCUHVNU Mitchell Krasnopoler

      Nathan was wearing a helmet.
      – Nathan’s father

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7ZLPP2OT5EDK6KOVLDTQCUHVNU Mitchell Krasnopoler

      Nathan was wearing a helmet.
      – Nathan’s father

    • Alex

      Was the driver wearing a seatbelt? Who cares…
      Helmet would not do anything to prevent a driver from side swiping you and pinning you under a car, and granted it would prevent some brain injury, helmets have nothing to do with this issue.

  • Post

    Mr. Krasnopoler or his reprenstative(s) can take civil legal action against the driver. You don’t have to rely solely on the city, state or the police to bring a suit.

    • http://twitter.com/markt322 Mark T

      Legal action may help the cyclist and his family recover some of their financial losses (and I hope those are the only losses they are left with!), but they won’t do much in the larger scheme of the relationship between drivers and cyclists. It will also tend to deepen the divide between drivers and cyclists (poor, innocent old lady, she was minding her own business and now she’s lost her life savings because this stupid, self-righteous cyclist wanted to play chicken with her! etc.).

      The long-term solution is an attitude change among drivers, which is a slow process at best. But it can only help for law enforcement to treat cyclists with the same respect they grant to any other legal user of a public facility, rather than always giving drivers the benefit of the doubt over cyclists.

  • Derp

    “It’s their own damn fault if they don’t watch out,” Washington said. “I’m sorry about the boy but these bikes need to let people do their work. Traffic is bad enough in this city without them.”

    “These bikes need to let people do their work”? WTF? I bike TO WORK. Why do these morons think that the only legit mode of transportation for work is a car or truck? The hostility some people exhibit toward cyclists for having the nerve to inconvenience them is pretty pathetic. I ride carefully and obey the traffic rules. There is no reason you are exempt from them because you are in a motor vehicle. When I drive my car I do the same. Telling someone to follow the law shouldn’t make them so defensive.

    • http://twitter.com/markt322 Mark T

      Delivery drivers don’t generally concern themselves with other people getting TO work, no matter what mode they choose – only with accomplishing their own work. Otherwise they’d only park in bike lanes, and never block a ‘regular’ traffic lane. (And then, FedEx and UPS pay something like millions of dollars annually in traffic tickets because it’s more cost-effective for them than paying the driver to find legal parking and walk back…)

  • Amanda

    Nate is correct, there is a blindspot, and there is a required head check.

    It’s possible that the cyclist moved into the blindspot.

    I disagree with Nate on the front that this is what “caused” the accident though. A car could move into a blindspot as well. That’s part of why you can’t NORMALLY turn right except from the RIGHT MOST lane. A bike lane is an “extra right lane” and it could be the bike lane that is at fault here, not the motorist. How can we construct bike lanes that don’t pose this problem? Not sure. That’s one reason that I think bike lanes are actually less safe than simply riding in traffic, especially at intersections. Actually, I think the more bike lanes we get, and the more people use bike lanes, the more of this particular type of accident we’ll see (bikers being hit on the left side by cars in the right lane turning right).

    The most ideal solution would be for there to be bike lanes on the sidewalk or a “bike sidewalk”. I assume this would cost more money though, since sidewalks are so narrow in many parts of the city, and not as well maintained as roads (a pedestrian could easily step over a crack or a tree root, but a cyclist could go flying).

    • Anonymous

      A motorist is required to merge into the bike lane before turning right, not to cross the bicycle lane as an “extra right lane.”

      According to ABC’s Baltimore affiliate, the police told them that the driver had given testimony that she had passed the cyclist and after passing him turned right, causing the cyclist to strike the car, throwing him in front of the car where she ran over him. This is a classic Right Hook, which is the fault of the vehicle turning right, which makes their interpretation as this being a “no fault” collision all the more galling.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7ZLPP2OT5EDK6KOVLDTQCUHVNU Mitchell Krasnopoler

    Thank you for your support. I’ve talked to the detecive and I believe that the driver will be charged, perhaps when the police report is issued.

    Mitchell Krasnopoler, Nathan’s father

    • Anonymous

      Nathan is in our thoughts and the community is hoping for a speedy recovery.

  • steve h.

    Such a tragedy! The driver must be charged. If I were the prosecutor, I would probably agree to a plea bargain if the driver agrees to give up driving. Civil liability is another matter.
    Driver, pedestrian, and bicyclist education is the answer. We all need to be more careful, and the bigger tragedy would be the failure to use this horrible incident to increase safety for all.

  • Eaton

    Just my two cents. I’ve been carless in Baltimore for four years. When possible (not riding uphill) I’ve found it best to take a lane and ride as fast as possible. If you can keep up with the flow of traffic (not hard in most conjested places) it feels pretty safe. This is why I prefer Saint Paul over Guilford from Charles Village to the station. As far as crashes, the most common problems (not the most dangerous of course) have been other bicyclists (often riding against traffic!) and open doors into the bike lane. Yes, I know it’s illegal to ride outside of the bike lane, but I’d rather be safe.

    • Anonymous

      As intuitive as that may be, it is actually contradictory to safety statistics. The faster a cyclist travels, the more likely that cyclist will be involved in a collision or crash. The faster a cyclist is traveling, the more severe that cyclist’s injuries will be.

      Another excruciatingly important point, if you are doing anything even remotely unlawful when you are involved in a collision the police are guaranteed to hold you fully accountable, regardless of the actions of the other involved road users.

  • Pourquoisuisje

    “3. Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement.”

    hmm, what about UNEDUCATED law enforcement

  • commuter

    As someone who drives down 33rd St every weekday to get home, I have witnessed cyclists completing disobeying the law. They ignore red lights and scoot across the road, they weave in and out of cars stopped at intersections, at times they ride between stopped cars.

    I don’t see any acknowledgment, by cyclists, in this chain of comments about some of the cycling behavior which is illegal and dangerous.

    I agree that the driver should be charged. I agree that 83 year old people shouldn’t drive and should have their keys taken from them (with or without their permission). I agree that drivers can be absolutely heartless and deliberately agressive when driving with cyclists. I also would like to see cyclists own up to their own renegade and dangerous behavior when riding on the street.

    • Anonymous

      “I don’t see any acknowledgment, by cyclists, in this chain of comments about some of the cycling behavior which is illegal and dangerous.”

      Why would that be here? The cyclist was NOT, I repeat, NOT, breaking any laws at the time of the collision. That is not the issue at hand. This post is about the police not charging a negligent motorist causing a collision and not being charged.

      To go completely off subject, as a matter of fact I am a 100% legally compliant road user. I stop at all red lights and stop signs, I never filter, I never dodge and weave. I always ride as far to the right as is safe and practicable. But I can almost guarantee that if I am struck by a motorist in Baltimore they will try to find a way to blame the accident on me.

      Since we’re going off subject. Earlier this week while I was riding down Guilford at 25th, a police officer driving on 25th casually and in no hurry ran the red light right in front of me. When he looked last minute and we locked eyes, him looking terrified, before he floored it and turned on his lights to pretend he was emergency responding.
      This morning at Guilford and Mt. Royal, a police prisoner transport vehicle ran the red light in front of me, on MY RIGHT OF WAY, and was followed by 2 more cars who followed his lead. I see drivers run that light nearly every single morning. I DON’T SEE ANY ACKNOWLEDGMENT, BY DRIVERS, IN THIS CHAIN OF COMMENTS THAT DRIVERS CONTINUALLY AND SYSTEMATICALLY BREAK ROAD LAWS AS FREQUENTLY AS CYCLISTS. But do you know what will happen if one of those drivers breaks a law and strikes a cyclist in Baltimore? The police will do everything in their power to blame the cyclist. We know this because it is obviously a systematic and institutional problem in the Baltimore City Police Department.

    • KEJ

      I agree that some cyclists do not follow the law. But the same is true for drivers. Red light cameras are making a lot of money for the city precicly because some drivers do not follow the rules. I would like to see drivers own up to their complete disregard for the safety and welfare of cyclists, pedestrians and other drivers.

    • Anon

      Do something about it

    • Jimi

      Maybe if more people paid attention instead of dicking around on cellphones while operating a 2500lb deathmachine…we as cyclists…wouldnt have to be renegades…. And most of the time when a cyclist is “Weaving” is because a car is blocking us with any ample room to get around…most cyclist like to keep moving…as to not disrupt traffic…hell 90% of the time were moving faster than the people on the road…when there is NO TRAFFIC…

  • guest

    Dear Colleagues,
    Thank you for your inquiry and concern about this tragic accident. In response, Bicycle Coordinator Nate Evans, representatives of the Mayor’s Bicycle Task Force and I met on Thursday, March 3, with Traffic Division Police to determine the status of the investigation. The police investigation is ongoing. Any witnesses should immediately contact the Baltimore Police Public Relations Office at 410-396-2012 so that their testimony can be incorporated into the report. Once complete, the police report is forwarded to the States Attorney’s Office where decisions will be made and made known to all parties. Below is the Police Department status summary coming out of the March 3 meeting.

    Thanks,
    Mary Pat

    Thank you for your concern for the welfare of bicyclists within the city of Baltimore. As the largest law enforcement agency in Maryland, and one that is truly committed to serving professionally, we too share your desire for increased awareness on bicycle safety.

    As it pertains to the accident investigation of Nathan Krasnopoler, a second-year Johns Hopkins student who was involved in a tragic vehicular collision this past Saturday, Baltimore Police crash team investigators are still conducting an extensive investigation into the incident.

    At this point in time, no charges have been filed and it is premature to speculate on potential next steps as the case is still very much open.

    Once the police investigation and incident reconstruction is completed, crash team investigators will confer with city prosecutors to determine if any criminal charges are to be filed. Charging decisions are based completely on the facts of the incident, physical evidence from the scene and whether any laws were violated during the collision. Depending on the results of the investigation, additional steps may be taken with the state Motor Vehicle Administration.

    We will be sure to communicate the results of this investigation once investigators and prosecutors have completed their review. Should you have any questions or require any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Police Public Affairs Office at 410-396-2012.

    Again, thank you for your concern and enthusiasm.

    Anthony J. Guglielmi
    Director, Public Affairs Section
    Office of the Police Commissioner
    Baltimore Police Department
    242 W. 29th Street
    Baltimore, MD 21211

    Telephone: 410-396-2012
    http://www.baltimorepolice.org

  • Jeffrey H. Marks

    Maryland Law permits bicyclists the discretion to leave a bikelane to avoid hazardous conditions. Where there are intersections, private driveways, and parked cars up to the driveway or intersection; the bicyclist needs to leave the bikelane to avoid the possibility of getting right hooked – especially when the bicyclist is moving fast. Both Nathan’s and John Yate’s horrific crashes occured when the bicyclists were going downhill. Bicyclists should only use the bikelane when it’s safe to do so. And it’s better to risk getting a ticket that can be contested in traffic Court (the ticket would only be a fine, no points) then to risk getting critically injured or worse.
    Jeffrey H. Marks
    Jeffrey H. Marks

  • karen-in-st-louis

    It is tragic that cities continue to stripe bike lanes as the one pictured at the top of this article. This bike lane is in the door zone of parked cars, which is known to be a deadly hazard. And it looks like everyone is heading downhill here, which means that cyclists are likely to be moving as fast as motorists. Cyclists are by far the safest when they are part of the flow of traffic, not segregated from it. Excellent article about this last month from Commute Orlando: http://commuteorlando.com/wordpress/2011/02/22/its-hard-to-imagine/

    Wishing a full and speedy recovery for Nathan.

    • Anonymous

      Statistically, apparently, cyclists are 70% safer in striped bicycle lanes. Cyclist statistically are in the most danger when forced to share the lane with motorists. They are safest in separated infrastructure.

      • Paul Schimek

        80% of statistics are made up on the spot

  • Joe – St. Louis

    It’s time to start re-testing drivers of that ‘Golden Age’ – not just renewing a license. The driver was CLEARLY at fault. The dreaded ‘right hook’ takes down another cyclists.

  • Bob Shanteau

    @guestymcspanky: I am familiar with most of the literature regarding bike lane safety, and I haven’t see any such study. What is the citation for that 70% figure?

  • Attorney Andy Slutkin

    I am an attorney who represents Nathan Krasnopoler and his family. It is extremely important that I speak with any witnesses to the incident, or who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident, as a police spokesperson has suggested in an interview with the media that the collision is Nathan’s fault. If you witnessed the incident or arrived on the scene right after the incident, or know of someone who did, please call me for a very brief conversation. Thank you.

    Andrew G. Slutkin
    Silverman Thompson Slutkin & White
    201 North Charles Street, Suite 2600
    Baltimore, Maryland 21201
    410-385-2786 = direct dial
    410-916-5334 = cell
    410-547-2432 = fax
    ASlutkin@MdAttorney.com
    http://www.MdAttorney.com

  • Pamela Simmons

    I realize this happened a year ago, but it still keeps entering my mind.  I hope that the legalities of this case have all been resolved at this time.

More of the Daily Drip »

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  • March 24, 2014

    • Last Thursday, I sent an email to the Mayor’s Office of Communications asking for some basic responsiveness: Please return our emailed queries and phone calls about stories. Please send us the same routine emails you send to other members of the media. Lately, more so than usual, they haven’t been. It’s a shame because, even [...]

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