Sunday, March 9, 2008

More Cyclists Die, More People Blame Cyclists

First and foremost, sympathies to the family and friends of the victims who died and to the victim who survived. There are differing reports, some saying one death others saying 2.

This time it happened in California, and from all accounts that I've read so far, the cop who struck the cyclists crossed the center line and hit the bikes while they were on (their) right hand shoulder, or at least on the right hand side of the road. In spite of that fact, the articles and some of the comments I've read so far question whether the bikes were riding 2 abreast or why they were riding on "such a dangerous road in the first place".
I've just watched the raw video of the scene from KTVU tv and this guy drove completely off the other side of the road. It wasn't a particularly twisty section of road either, and he came to rest off the road in the ditch with a bike under the car! And people have the balls to question the cyclists??
There needs to be more outrage about incidents like these. Cops ask me all the time why I ride with cameras on my bike. One reason is so if or when someone plows me over like this everyone will know the truth.
I'm praying for all involved

1 comment:

yuetao said...

Jeff, I love your blog, I check it every couple of days. I am in agreement with you on all of your issues.
In your comments, you said, "There needs to be more outrage about incidents like these."
My question is, in this case, how should we direct our outrage? Should we direct it to the police officer for negligent driving? I think so. Even though it sounds like he is sorry about this accident, sorrow cannot bring back two lives and the third person hanging on to their life. Seeking justice will make us feel better because it is just. I'm not sure it will change things for the better in this case. How can we use our outrage in this case in a positive way to improve conditions for all riders.
Now, I think back to a few months ago when I was nearly hit by an undercover cop on 10th Ave in NYC. It was a clear sunny day. There are 2 lanes of traffic either way. The roadway was totally clear in each direction except for myself going north and the driver going south. I was in the center of the rightmost, outside lane. The driver suddenly pulled a U-turn in front of me. It happened so fast. I had to come to an immediate stop. I yelled at the guy, "What are you doing? You nearly hit me?" He stopped his car, I pulled up along side him and he said he didn't see me. I was so angry. (The outrage and adrenaline kicked in.) I continued. He then identified himself as a plainclothes officer. He asked me to calm down. I was still yelling at him, asking him "How can you not see me?" He then threatened me by saying that if I don't stop yelling, he will arrest me and say that I was threatening him with my bike chain. (The chain was around my neck.) I got even more indignant at that and asked him what chain it was that he was referring to? He saw that tactic only caused me to become more angry so he changed his tactic to apologize and ask me if I was hurt. I started to calm down then and said no. He said "Ok, that is all that matters, as long as no one is hurt, lets just let this go." I said "No, that is not all that matters. You nearly hit me pulling a U- turn!" He said "Look, as long as no one is hurt, there is no harm done. That is all that matters." Then he drove off.
I may be only ranting as thousands of other cyclists experience similar experiences on a daily basis. I cannot understand why our society does not value the vulnerability of a cyclist. A bicycle rider has no protection around him similar to a car. A bicycle must be balanced in order to remain upright. It can easily veer one way or another to avoid road debris, or sometimes just to maintain balance. For these two reasons alone, a cyclist should be given a large buffer zone. A buffer of at least the width of a car. It seem reasonable to me that the bicycle should use the width of one motor vehicle lane and a car should pass without entering the lane space of a bicycle. There should be a buffer zone at least 100 ft behind and 100 ft ahead before reentering the lane in the same direction. I don't believe in lane sharing for cars and cyclists at all. It just doesn't make sense for a cyclist to share the lane with a 2 or 3 ton vehicle. I don't think that cars share the lane with motorcycles do they? Why would they expect to share a lane with a bicycle rider? Its because the motorist only thinks of himself. It doesn't bother him to pull up alongside a bicycle because a bicycle is not going to hurt him. Of course a cyclist is not comfortable next to a car, Because one slip and the bike could go down and get run over by 2 tons of motor vehicle. I think the bottom line is that most people only think about themselves.
I could go on and on. Just like all cyclists, I'm sure I could tell story upon story of motorists with no regard for the lives of others.
How can we change this condition? I want to ask again, how can we use the outrage in a positive way to make change?