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  1. #1
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    This was one of two -- count 'em, two! -- cycling-related articles in the local paper this morning. (The other is here, and a much pleasanter article it is, too.) Here's the summary of this one (I have boldfaced facts of interest):


    Quote Originally Posted by Portland Press Herald
    A 14-year-old Wilton girl was in serious condition in a Lewiston hospital Thursday, a day after her bike was struck head-on on Main Street by a hit-and-run driver.
    ...
    Wilton police Officer Robert Cole said the driver of the car, Katy LaPlante, 21, of Jay, has been charged with operating under the influence of alcohol, driving to endanger, the felony charge of leaving the scene of a personal-injury accident, and failure to report an accident by the quickest means.
    ...
    The accident occurred around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday as Deveau, who was wearing a helmet, rode against traffic on Main Street in East Wilton. LaPlante was driving north in a 1990 Nissan sedan, Cole said.

    The impact threw Deveau across the hood of the car, into the windshield and then onto the road. The car did not stop, and dragged Deveau's mountain bike 172 feet from the accident scene, Cole said.
    Obviously, the driver was at fault and should have the book thrown at her. That being said, given that all of us here advocate riding with traffic instead of against it, I want to consider how things might have been different had the bicyclist been doing that. We hope they would have turned out better, but can we really say that for sure? Here are some of my thoughts.

    First, would the crash have even happened had the bicyclist been riding with traffic? Impossible to say for sure, especially where a drunk driver is concerned. If the driver couldn't even avoid hitting a cyclist in the opposite lane, would she maybe have been even more likely to hit one in her own lane. Note that the article says nothing about the vehicle turning at the time, so it's hard to see how visibility played a factor, especially in broad daylight (it wasn't dusk yet). So maybe riding position was immaterial in this case?

    Secondly, how would the circumstances of the crash have differed? Being thrown into the windshield and onto the road is bad, but at least then she was clear of the car. Being dragged under the car for 172 feet with the bike would probably have been worse. Had she been hit from behind, perhaps she would not have been thrown clear and continued to be tangled up with both the bike and the car. Even at the lower relative speed that she would have been hit from behind rather than head-on (the article gives no indication of the speed of either vehicle), would the risk of further entanglement have made her injuries even more severe? Or is being dragged primarily a head-on phenomenon?

    Lastly, at the risk of diverting the discussion from the topic of riding direction, I would venture to say the her injuries would also have been worse had she not been wearing a helmet.

    Other comments?
    Last edited by JohnBrooking; 08-05-05 at 06:59 AM. Reason: Fixed url to other article
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  2. #2
    Burnt Orange Blood Longhorn's Avatar
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    One difference in riding with traffic instead of against it is that the speed of impact in riding with traffic is the difference of the two speeds whereas the speed of impact going opposite directions is the sum of the two speeds. So if I'm going 15 and a car is going 35, it hits me at 20 mph going with traffic and 50 mph going against it.

  3. #3
    Been Around Awhile I-Like-To-Bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Longhorn
    One difference in riding with traffic instead of against it is that the speed of impact in riding with traffic is the difference of the two speeds whereas the speed of impact going opposite directions is the sum of the two speeds. So if I'm going 15 and a car is going 35, it hits me at 20 mph going with traffic and 50 mph going against it.
    Of course the total effects of accidents cannot be accounted for by parsing the event to only the first millisecond of impact.
    What do you think your speed will be when you hit the street after being accelerated by the car impact? Assuming of course that you are not run over by the car instead. Or maybe both events (acceleration and overrun) will happen.

  4. #4
    cab horn
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    They're both at fault.
    Cyclist for riding against traffic and motorist for being a dumbass.

  5. #5
    Burnt Orange Blood Longhorn's Avatar
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    I think my speed of hitting the curb will be greater if I was going against traffic than if I was going with it! Of course, in both situations, I could end up dead.

  6. #6
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by operator
    They're both at fault.
    Cyclist for riding against traffic and motorist for being a dumbass.
    That's DRUNK dumbass actually.

  7. #7
    Last one to the top... Little Darwin's Avatar
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    Along with the speed of impact, there is also the issue of speed of closure.

    Although impossible to say whether it would have made a difference in this situation, the drunk driver would have theoretically had a little extra time to react after seeing the cyclist than she did.

    If the cyclist was going 10 mph, and the car 30, it is a difference between avoiding something at 40 MPH or 20 MPH with the initial distance to impact after initial visual contact being the same. Not enough to be definitive, but enough that I like the odds better going with traffic.

    This of course means nothing if the driver is so drunk or distracted that they don't see the cyclist.
    Slow Ride Cyclists of NEPA

    People do not seem to realize that their opinion of the world is also a confession of character.
    - Ralph Waldo Emerson

  8. #8
    All Bikes All The Time Sawtooth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    This was one of two -- count 'em, two! -- cycling-related articles in the local paper this morning. (The other is here, and a much pleasanter article it is, too.) Here's the summary of this one (I have boldfaced facts of interest):



    Obviously, the driver was at fault and should have the book thrown at her. That being said, given that all of us here advocate riding with traffic instead of against it, I want to consider how things might have been different had the bicyclist been doing that. We hope they would have turned out better, but can we really say that for sure? Here are some of my thoughts.

    First, would the crash have even happened had the bicyclist been riding with traffic? Impossible to say for sure, especially where a drunk driver is concerned. If the driver couldn't even avoid hitting a cyclist in the opposite lane, would she maybe have been even more likely to hit one in her own lane. Note that the article says nothing about the vehicle turning at the time, so it's hard to see how visibility played a factor, especially in broad daylight (it wasn't dusk yet). So maybe riding position was immaterial in this case?

    Secondly, how would the circumstances of the crash have differed? Being thrown into the windshield and onto the road is bad, but at least then she was clear of the car. Being dragged under the car for 172 feet with the bike would probably have been worse. Had she been hit from behind, perhaps she would not have been thrown clear and continued to be tangled up with both the bike and the car. Even at the lower relative speed that she would have been hit from behind rather than head-on (the article gives no indication of the speed of either vehicle), would the risk of further entanglement have made her injuries even more severe? Or is being dragged primarily a head-on phenomenon?

    Lastly, at the risk of diverting the discussion from the topic of riding direction, I would venture to say the her injuries would also have been worse had she not been wearing a helmet.

    Other comments?
    I tend to agree with both points except that I do not think the driver hit a cyclist in the opposite lane. If the girl was going against traffic, that probably means she was exactly where she should have been if going with traffic; just headed the wrong way.

    I can't believe how many wrong-way cyclists I pass every day. I don't say anything. Non-cyclists who are cycling are not very receptive to free advice, in my experience. I once tried to tell someone he needed to raise his seat and all I got was "I know". I even offered to help him do it but he declined.

  9. #9
    Banned Bikepacker67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth
    I can't believe how many wrong-way cyclists I pass every day. I don't say anything.
    I used to say nothing too... until one day I came across a blind curve at about 17mph, and right into a BMX'er weaving along in the wrong direction.

    I managed to brake enough before impact to keep it to minor bumps/bruises thing, but I was hotter than a habenero at that moron punk.

    Now when I see them, I just give them the sing-song shoutout: "You're ON THE WRONG SIDE" <under breath>, azzhole.

  10. #10
    Commuter JohnBrooking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth
    I tend to agree with both points except that I do not think the driver hit a cyclist in the opposite lane. If the girl was going against traffic, that probably means she was exactly where she should have been if going with traffic; just headed the wrong way.
    That's right, of course. I must have been having a brain-cramp when I wrote that. All the more reason to ride with traffic, then.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth
    I can't believe how many wrong-way cyclists I pass every day. I don't say anything. Non-cyclists who are cycling are not very receptive to free advice, in my experience. I once tried to tell someone he needed to raise his seat and all I got was "I know". I even offered to help him do it but he declined.
    Well, no offense, but that does sound like a kind of an elitist offer, like you're assuming he doesn't know, even if he really doesn't. The "I know" and refusal was probably face-saving so that he didn't have to admit he didn't know. If I were him, I might have responded the same way. (But I probably still would have thought it over for a few days and then tried raising it myself. )

    I suspect that telling someone they're riding the wrong way is probably taken the same way by the majority of people, but in that case, I feel strongly enough about the danger to do it anyway. At least then I can feel I did what I could. For something like seat height, it's not worth the effort to be unappreciated.
    Quote Originally Posted by MadfiNch on Commuting forum
    What's the point of a bike if you can only ride it on weekends, and you can't even carry anything with you?!
    Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Meetup

  11. #11
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Wrong way cyclists drive me nuts, just like motorists that do unusual things to avoid waiting...

    I yell out to the cyclists. Especially those blazing down hills at me.

    RE the bike seat too low... That has happened to me when I have borrowed bikes... I too would have responded "I know," and not done anything... hey it happens.

  12. #12
    Banned. Helmet Head's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnBrooking
    First, would the crash have even happened had the bicyclist been riding with traffic? Impossible to say for sure...
    Perhaps equally impossible to say for sure: Would the crash have still happened had the driver been sober?

    I'm against drunk driving of course, but the fact is that the vast majority (>99%) of all drivers who are legally drunk get from A to B with colliding with anyone or anything.

    There is no way for us to know how much the driver being drunk was a factor in this particular collision, nor how much the wrong-way cycling was factor.

    But it does confirm something we already knew:
    • Drunk driving is a factor in all too many car-bike collisions.
    • Wrong-way cycling is a factor in all too many car-bike collisions.

  13. #13
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    It's hard to say, but I feel that the reduced impact from going the same direction "could" have been in the cyclist favor. Might as well stack the odds in your favor!
    It could have reduced the chance of another accident more common to wrong way cycling too. So even if it was not a big factor in this collision it would have been a little better.
    We probably will never know, there may be other factors in this accident.
    I feel the same way about the helmet, it "could" help you...so stack the odds in your own favor by wearing it.

    I hope she is going to be OK. Is this a road you ride on John? I have never heard of East Wilton.

  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sawtooth
    I tend to agree with both points except that I do not think the driver hit a cyclist in the opposite lane. If the girl was going against traffic, that probably means she was exactly where she should have been if going with traffic; just headed the wrong way.

    I can't believe how many wrong-way cyclists I pass every day. I don't say anything. Non-cyclists who are cycling are not very receptive to free advice, in my experience. I once tried to tell someone he needed to raise his seat and all I got was "I know". I even offered to help him do it but he declined.
    Riding with traffic and going the wrong way are two different things. Riding a (bicycle) with traffic is just like riding a (motor) vehicle with traffic. So driving a (motor) vehicle against traffic is OK as long as that's where they would be if they were going the other way? I don't think so. Riding south when you think your going north is riding the wrong way. That's why I do like Bikepacker67, I yell to people, "You are on the wrong side", but never yell "You are going the wrong way".

    The young cyclist violated a traffic law. The drunk driver violated a lot of laws and committed a felony.

    d.tipton

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