Bike Law Charlie investigates the scene of a fatal bicycle accident in New Orleans
Many of us are now familiar with the bicycle accident that resulted in the death of bicyclist, Philip Geeck, on July 17, 2014. As a bicycle accident attorney, I wanted to understand how a bicyclist who apparently was following all traffic laws and pedaling in a protected bicycle lane could have been caught up and killed underneath the wheels of an 18 wheeler near an intersection.
The morning after this tragedy, I visited the scene of the accident at St. Claude and Esplanade in the Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans. The weather was rainy and appropriately grim. I noticed that the bike lane in which Mr. Geeck was riding at the time of his death went straight through the intersection. There were no significant bends or line of sight issues either before, within, or after the intersection. Overall, I did not notice any visual obstructions that would have concealed a bicyclist in the bike lane from the view of a truck driver. I studied the intersection but continued to have trouble understanding how this accident could have happened.
Within minutes of further observation, my question was answered. I watched an 18 wheeler pull up to the intersection and pass the right-hand turn-off chute designated for vehicular right turns. Rather than drive through this chute, the 18 wheeler turned late and sharp to make a right turn. Seconds after the truck started this turn, it encroached upon and erased tens of feet of the bicycle lane. I managed to snap a picture of this truck while it was mid-turn.
I was immediately hit with the realization that this accident could happen to any of us while properly riding in the bicycle lane next to a neighboring 18 wheeler whose driver does not check his mirrors prior to turning. My thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Geeck and his family as they grieve this loss that occurred as he was simply sharing the road by riding his bicycle in the bicycle lane.