(Disclaimer: This is not a photo from the accident, nor is it from West Hartford)
The Courant reported this morning that a bicyclist was struck by a car along Boulevard in West Hartford and although in a "dazed" state was otherwise not seriously injured. These types of incidents are always disconcerting, however, the fact that the accident took place two blocks from my house and along my daily commuter route makes it all the more unsettling. I know we cannot take more from the incident until more details come out but as I travel this route daily and as it is a major thoroughfare for bike commuters I can personally attest as to the need for 'real' bike lanes on this central artery connecting West Hartford and the Beat. Cars move far too quickly along this road and while there is a nice wide shoulder and decent road quality throughout the route the fact that parked cars and bikers share the same portion of this infrastructure it leads to a dangerous tendency for bikers to move between the road and the shoulder according to whether parked cars are in their way. I know this is one of the biggest taboos of bike commuting and a very dangerous practice, however, the road is too busy with auto traffic in both directions to take the lane all the time. This increases the propensity for the rider to constantly move from the road to the shoulder to allow drivers to move past at their rapid pace in order to decrease the likelihood of pissing them off and inciting an altercation. I have found myself many times frantically looking over my shoulder to check the lane while coming up upon a car parked in the parking shoulder... oh I mean bike lane... in order that I might take the lane without getting run over or hitting the parked car. This makes for a dangerous situation and an unstable bicycling experience. I have been fortunate thus far not to have been hit, to run into a parked car, or to simply dump it as I was glancing over my shoulder, but it seems someone this morning was not. Lets just hope they are ok and that the driver was not on their cell phone.