Category Archives: Advocacy & Local Issues

Bicycle advocacy both local and national, as well as discussion of local bicycle incidents with the community and/or police

Why do we think it’s OK to be oblivious when we ride?

Plain simple truth is this. When we drive a car, we’re constantly having to change speed or direction, sometimes quickly, to avoid a collision with another driver who’s doing something idiotic. Changing lanes into us, screaming through a left-hand-turn light that’s red before they get to it, or just plain running through a light that just turned red. Admit it. It happens all the time. And the only reason we’re around to talk about it is because, when we were driving, we noticed it and took action.

I’ll bet this has happened to most of us several times this week, and we don’t pay it any attention because it’s just kind of normal. We know that we have to watch out for others when we’re driving. People do stupid things all the time.

So why, when we’re out on a ride and this happens once in a while, are we so shocked? Why do we act like we have (or should have) some sort of zone of benevolence, as if we’re surrounded by a force field that protects us from all evil while we enjoy our ride?

I’m not saying that it’s not the car’s fault when they do something stupid and take out a cyclist. No question there. But much of it is preventable. That’s my politically-incorrect statement. That we have more control over our own safety than we are sometimes willing to accept. That it’s kind of silly that we whine so much about how stupid and dangerous cars are when we’re on a bike, and yet we accept that same behavior, and drive accordingly, when we’re in a car.

Roads are shared. Shared by bikes, shared by cars, shared by pedestrians. We all have to be looking out for one another. We can all likely do better. We have to expand our responsibilities beyond the confines of the steel walls of our car or some magical 3 foot safe zone that the law has created around us. We have to realize that it’s wrong when you’re riding down the road and a pedestrian who’s started to cross the street sees us as steps back and apologizes to us when we should be apologizing to them.

Shared roads means shared responsibility. And as we know, some are more responsible than others. Sometimes we have to shoulder more of the responsibility for something than we wish, at work, at home, and we think it’s unfair and you can win or lose that argument and it’s not going to kill you. But when you’re out on the road, in a car, or on your bike, you have to assume that you’re more-responsible for the safety of others on that roadway than anybody else. And that’s going to help keep you alive.  –Mike–

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Unbelievable video taken today at site of Joy Covey’s fatal accident

Unbelievable that just a few days after Joy Covey lost her life, we see someone turning right in front of a cyclist at the same intersection. I rode up there again today, wanting to get an idea of how the sun might have affected visibility at the time of day the accident occurred, and hung around for quite a while, maybe 30 minutes, letting the video run and observing how cars and cyclists interacted. In this case, not well!

The cyclist was wearing a light-colored jersey and had a flashing front light. No fog (sorry about the fuzzy video; apparently I hadn’t wiped the lens clean). Did the motorist not see the cyclist? Or mis-judge the speed? You would think there would be a heightened sensitivity with greater care taken in making that turn. There is clear visibility for over a quarter mile on the downhill (north) side, so there’s no rocket science involved in making that turn. You make sure there’s nobody in sight coming up the road, then make the turn only when there’s nobody on the uphill (south) side.

I agree that it’s a dangerous intersection, requiring extra care for those turning into or out of it. But with that extra care, I think virtually all accidents are avoidable. Of course that’s expecting too much, so this intersection might be in need of serious redesign, perhaps adding roadway on the west side (right side when heading uphill/south) so that you could realign the entire roadway further west, giving a better view of traffic to someone on Elk Tree Road, and possibly even a left-hand turn lane incorporated on southbound-Skyline. It’s a whole lot of trouble for a lightly-used intersection, but this may have been the third serious (and second fatal) accident there.

More video, shot a couple minutes before what’s shown above, giving the motorist’s point of view. Many had questioned whether a motorist can actually see much up the hill. Yes, they can. If they’re looking. Make sure to run it full-screen so it’s a bit more realistic, since a car window is just a bit bigger than 3 inches across. And especially note the car at the end of the video, which never stops at all as it enters onto Skyline from Elk Tree Road. Is it really possible the driver gave anything more than a cursory glance before heading onto Skyline?

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