Archive for category car on bike violence

don’t be that guy

There’s this guy. You might know one too. He’s a lot like you or I. He rides his bike on the same streets. He gets overtaken by impatient F-150s. He’s a cyclist. There’s one major difference, though. Unlike you or I, he tends to get hit by cars; frequently. Most of the time, he comes away without any serious injuries (which is more than I can say for his bikes – carbon fiber, it turns out is the real victim here).

When I first started riding I thought maybe this guy spent more time on busy roads than I did. But slowly, I began to think there might be something else, something that didn’t have anything to do with where he was riding or what he was wearing (more garish colors than I). It was when he told me about his 4th crash involving a car that I began to wonder if, perhaps, it was the way he rode.

It turns out, I might have been on the right track. Last month the City of Minneapolis published a study that examined 2,973 bicycle-motorist crashes that took place over a 10 year period and one of the many interesting bits of data they uncovered was that the cyclist involved is, at least partially, at fault in 59% of all crashes (motorists were, at least partially, at fault in 63.9%*).

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If you’d asked me a few weeks ago I’d probably have guessed that cyclists were at fault in about 30% of all accidents. I’ve seen a lot of motorists do a lot of dumb things (I’ll even admit to being a motorist doing a dumb thing once or twice) and it’s easy to assume, because they’re the more vulnerable of the two groups, cyclists are always the victims. But, you have to admit, it sort of makes sense.

I consider myself a careful cyclist 95% percent of the time. During my commute, I’m alert and cautious and often yield even when I have the right of way. I check driveways and think about how to react when the unexpected happens. These things don’t make me invincible, I know that. It is nice to know, perhaps, they do make me a little safer.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not blaming that guy who gets hit by a car once a year for everything. Some of it is bad luck and some if it is bad driving and, maybe, some of it is bad cycling. It is nice to know, as I’m riding my 25 pound bike next to a 2 ton truck, what I do makes a difference.

* Adds up to more than 100% as in some crashes both motorist and cyclist share fault.

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posted from the safety of my car

Last night I had a dream that I was vilified on local news for jaywalking with my daughter. In the dream, my daughter and I appeared on the local news, first waiting to cross a street at a stoplight. On the news, the image was of my daughter and I and apparently came from one of those traffic cameras they use to spy on citizens. The voice over on the TV was about negligent parents. I knew that my family was with us as the news cut to another spy traffic camera of my daughter and I walking, diagonally across an empty street and the legs of my wife, mom and brother just at the edge of the frame. There was a sound of a horn and a squeal of over inflated tires which, I knew, had been added to the video by the news station. The voice over told viewers about the dangers of walking and crossing streets in particular.

This morning I woke up and found this in my Google Reader Feed:

Also, I read this (from an article about a high school student who was killed last Thursday when she was struck by a car walking to a bus stop):

“You really have to wave the flag at the bull, so to speak,” he said, “because drivers are really self-consumed, and it is hard to get them to stop.”

A superstitious person would lock himself in his house for a few weeks and wait for the bad omens to be forgotten. Perhaps, give up walking and cycling all together. Sleep in his car. Because, as we know from all evidence that is available, your car is the safest place you could ever be. I mean that with absolute sincerity.

Really. Using my advanced graphing skills, I’ve drawn a bar graph* of my own to demonstrate:

As you can see, cars are not dangerous at all which is why it makes sense to compare walking on a public street to the safest and most sane of all sports: bull fighting.

*Information based entirely on the data above making many assumptions about the data that are probably inaccurate and shortsighted.

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Worth a read

Okay I’m going to link straight to another dude’s blog here because everyone who drives a motor vehicle ought to read this post, and please pass it on especially to non cyclist friends & acquaintances…

Click below then read the entry for December 30, I can’t link directly to it for some reason.

Institutional Cyclist’s Christmas Lecture

- Sera

Update: Below is the bit I’ve found most moving, I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on it because of the inability to direct link to the post  (but really, go read the entire thing). -Michael

The point is this: behind the statistics, lie people. Each of the hundreds of cyclists killed every year, each of the thousands of other deaths and injuries on the roads each year are real people that have families and friends. Each death is a family devastated. Each death affects a hundred friends. For a hundred deaths, read ten thousand people grieving. A small town’s worth of grief.

The point is this: This is not a war. This is not genocide. This is not a disease. These people are no one’s enemies. Their deaths are not meant as a warning to others. Their deaths are pointless and banal. They are not killed out of spite but out of ignorance, out of foolishness, out of incompetence. They die because others send text messages. They die because others misjudge speed and distance.

The point is this: The people that kill these people do not want to kill them. We must never forget to spare a little pity for them. They are only there because the gamble that paid off on all the other times failed to do so on this occasion and the video game reality through the windscreen suddenly became horrifyingly real. They are, after all, only acting in that way because the society that we live in allows them to and only suffers to penalize their actions when people die.

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Counterpoint

We got a small amount of grief last night regarding Heather’s post I’m talking about you @SchwankyTown. So, I thought I’d expand on the comment I made in response to the post and pull it out here for all to read.

I’ve rolled through stop signs. Both on my bike and in a car. Intentionally and because I wasn’t paying appropriate attention while driving or riding. Same with stop lights. Also, I’ve been pulled over, both in a car and on a bike.

Of course, there are a few laws I think could be improved. I’m a big fan of the Idaho Stop Law and wish we could implement something similar here in California, and, with a few exceptions, red turn arrows have always seemed pointless to me (I won’t go into detail, let’s just say they only add value if there at an intersection with a blind approach). None of that gives me license to break the laws I disagree with and not expect consequences.

What I mean here is that I’m not trying to defend cyclists who break the law. They shouldn’t do it.

But, even if a driver sees ME blow through a red light, he doesn’t earn the right to knock me down with his car door (which, I’m sure, isn’t what Heather was saying) and he certainly doesn’t earn the right to knock some other cyclist down with his car door. That driver also doesn’t have the right pass closely, honk, drive in the bike lane, or yell at every cyclist he passes (again, not what Heather was saying).

Cyclists, too, need to get over it. Some Lycra clad roadies will run red lights and some skinny jean wearing hipsters will ride the wrong way down one-way streets. We should be encouraging not criticizing. So, scofflaw or not, get out and RIDE.

-Michael

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Since we’re being honest here

Sooooo I got pulled over the other day. Yes by a real cop. I was also *hangs head in shame* on my bicycle.  Now why would I rather be pulled over in my car than on my bicycle you ask? Well honestly I’d rather not be pulled over at all but my reasons for my detesting it more on my bike than in a car are should probably be left to another post entirely.  So back to my story…

The scene played out as follows: I was riding in a residential neighborhood, in the bike lane, down a slightly down-sloped road and I quit pedaling, coasted, took one hand off the handlebars & held my finger to one nostril, turned my head & blew my nose.  I noticed, at the very moment of ‘snot ejecting’ that I was flying right through a stop sign.  Oops!  Good thing there wasn’t anyone around (or so I thought).  I came to the next stop sign, slowed up, stood up on the pedals, came to a near track stand (the cyclist’s ‘stop’ at a stop sign) and seeing that there wasn’t anyone around, I let go of the breaks to continue on.  However, the second I let go of the breaks to roll through, I heard the oh-so familiar ‘woop woop’ of a police officer’s car siren.  Ah MAAAAAN.

The conversation went about as much as expected.  I did admit that I blew through the previous stop sign because I was blowing my nose (not an excuse, just a reason) but that I did come to a ‘stop’ at the next one! I was honest and I smiled but alas in the end, I did receive a ticket (which apparently doesn’t affect your car insurance or go on your record because you are in fact, not driving a car) but I will have to pay some kind of fine.  Fine.

Not long after that, I was at a restaurant bar for a quick dinner & to try their house-beer.  There was a couple there who were ‘bikers’. I feel I should now explain the that there is in fact a definitive difference between a ‘cyclist’ and a ‘biker’.  A cyclist is someone who rides a pedal bike wearing lycra.  A biker is someone who rides a motorized bike wearing leather.  At this point in the conversation they asked me what it is that I ‘do’.  I paused and then said ‘Well, I race a bike and I coach cyclists’.  ‘Really?!’ They proclaimed that they would never ride a bicycle but rather a motorcycle.  In order to keep myself on good terms, I exclaimed that I do in fact have my motorcycle license but that I don’t own a motorcycle.  Whew!  I was saved.  Oh but wait……

The couple and the bar tender proceeded to complain about cyclists.  Their general disgust for us ‘taking up’ the road, making them wait, causing them to have to drive around us etc was quite apparent.  Okay fine. But then….

They talked about how they heard someone drove up next to a whole group of cyclists (peloton) who were taking up the whole lane, opened their car door and took one of the cyclists out.  They then started laughing.

What?!?!

Okay this is where I couldn’t just sit there and listen anymore.  I looked quite seriously as them as said ‘You realize that’s assault with a deadly weapon don’t you?!’

The laughing and conversation quickly stopped.  However, it wasn’t 15 seconds later when one of them waved their hand dismissing the gravity of my accusation and practically yelled ‘Well cyclists don’t obey any of the laws! They don’t stop at stop signs and they don’t signal!’

They were right. There are way too many of us who do that. It only takes one of us to completely blow through a stop sign or change lanes in traffic without politely signalling to turn the general public against us and further our difficulty in gaining a voice in legislature or sponsorship dollars for the sport in general.  That doesn’t excuse their complete lack of humanity regarding an obviously life-threatening act. I still think I win. While I’ve always signaled my intent to turn or change lanes while riding my bike, I’ve also started ‘bike stopping’ at every stop sign.

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Attention Children: Bikes are Dangerous

Hey, look, LEGO included a cyclist in the LEGO City Town Ambulance set:

Hey, look, the cyclist is being loaded into the ambulance because cycling is dangerous and always results in a trip to the emergency room:

Hat tip to @thekvr.

Also:

We added a key element to the Lego bike crash. Speeding car r... on Twitpic

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What about the brake pedal?

I’ve not been following the story very closesly, but on Sunday a cyclist was killed in Dixon when he was rear-ended by an Hyundai Tiburon. According to the Solano Times-Harold:

Hekker said Boe told investigating officers that a southbound vehicle prohibited him from moving to the left to pass White, who authorities said was riding on the fog line at the right of the lane. However, authorities initially said witnesses saw nothing preventing Boe from driving around the bicyclist or anything that would have caused White to swerve in front of Boe.

Now, I’m not a professional driver or anything, but usually when I’m driving and there’s an obstruction in the road in front of me and something preventing me from moving left to move around it safely, I use the brake pedal. Let’s say, instead of a cyclist, a slow moving Prius was in the road in front of Taylor Boe, whould he have rear-ended that too?

No word on if the driver will face criminal charges but this is one circumstance where I think they should be seriously considered.

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Attention Pedestrians, cyclists motorists are trying to kill you

I’ve seen a few posts this morning about this study that found about 1,000 pedestrians a year are injured by NY cyclists. Richard Masoner offers a little perspective:

Moreover, the number of “serious” injuries — defined as “skull fractures, internal injuries, broken or distorted limbs, unconsciousness, and severe lacerations” — caused by motor vehicles is double the total injuries to pedestrians in bicycle collisions.

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motorist tip of the week, 1

If I had to guess I’d say that I see at least one article a week that attempts to answer the question, “what rules or laws should cyclists follow or obey?” The sub-text send two messages: 1) cyclists are annoying and would be less annoying if only they followed the laws; and, 2) cyclists are responsible for themselves and everybody else on the road.

So, in the spirit of shared responsibility I offer you my motorist tip of the week:

Always look carefully for bicyclists before opening doors next to moving traffic or before turning. (Page 36, CA Driver Handbook)

and

Not try to pass a bicyclist just before making a turn. Merge safely where it is allowed, then turn. (Page 36, CA Driver Handbook)

Yeah, so there’s this car, a white something or other, that regularly accelerates to pass me before it turns right, wheels squealing, in front of me. It’s not nice. It’s not safe. Please don’t do that anymore.

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County blames cyclists for most crashes

Officials speaking for Sacramento County claim that most incidents of car-on-bike violence in the area are the fault of cyclists, writes Cody Kitaura in a recent article. According to the Bicycle Master Plan, an extensive document published online by the Sacramento Municipal Transportation Agency, 74% of crashes involving cyclists in the area were caused by bicycles. The overwhelming majority of those crashes were caused by cyclists riding the wrong way.

Riding the wrong way on a public road is illegal, but many cyclists choose to ride in designated bike lanes facing oncoming traffic for one simple reason: they feel more safe when they can see the cars heading towards them.

The roads in Sacramento are poorly equipped for bicycle commuters, with inadequate bike lanes and lacklustre enforcement of in-lane car-parking violations. Many important arteries have no designated cycling paths at all, or else they abruptly discontinue bike lanes in stretches of road where they become inconvenient for drivers.

In an region where drivers routinely assault cyclists, and law-enforcement officers favor cars over bikes, many riders feel vulnerable on the roads. Pedestrians are traditionally advised, when walking on the roadside, to face oncoming traffic so that in the event of a driver swerving into the verge, they might be able to avoid being struck. The same wisdom has been embraced by cyclists, who take up very little of the roadway and who assume that drivers will be better able to see them coming on the road.

But riding on the wrong side of the road remains illegal, and should not be encouraged. The problem is, in the absence of overdue, underfunded, long-promised cycling lane expansion in Sacramento, in order to obey the law cyclists must wrestle with a population of heavy car and truck users who care little about their safety, and who don’t think twice about yelling, swearing and honking at cyclists as they approach, and forcing them off the roads when they pass.

Without a serious examination of the attitude of drivers in Sacramento towards cyclists on the roads, there is little chance of an end to the practice of riding on the wrong side of the road. When drivers agree to obey the law regarding passing cyclists safely, perhaps cyclists will reciprocate by staying on the correct side of the road.

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