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Old 08-20-07, 08:45 AM   #1
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Two Cyclist Hit from Behind

ELMIRA, MI — William Aten and Brandon Inglehart love to bicycle great distances across northern Michigan, exactly what they were doing on a day that changed their lives.
"A short ride is 25 miles,” said Aten, 58, a retired school principal who lives in Boyne Falls.
On April 24, Aten and Inglehart, 33, a middle school science teacher, were cycling east, single-file along the paved shoulder of M-32 in Antrim County's Warner Township.
They were to the right of the fog line when a company truck driven by Darren Zimmerman, 39, of Gaylord struck them from behind, Antrim sheriff's reports said.
"It was in broad daylight with no visual obstructions,” said Blake Ringsmuth, a Traverse City attorney hired by the cyclists.

Full story: http://www.record-eagle.com/2007/aug/19hurtbikers.htm
I’ll let you guess if there were any criminal charges.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:02 AM   #2
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I think driving anything, let alone a massive truck, innatentivly shows willful intent to injure or kill someone. He should at least be changered with attempted vehicular manslaughter x2.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:38 AM   #3
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I think driving anything, let alone a massive truck, innatentivly shows willful intent to injure or kill someone. He should at least be changered with attempted vehicular manslaughter x2.
You can't be driving inattentively and driving with intent to assault. Impossible.
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Old 08-20-07, 10:42 AM   #4
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You can't be driving inattentively and driving with intent to assault. Impossible.
That would be negligence. And there is a crime called negligent homicide. It would never be used against a driver unless he was DUI though. Sober drivers can do no wrong even when they kill.

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Old 08-20-07, 11:27 AM   #5
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That would be negligence. And there is a crime called negligent homicide. It would never be used against a driver unless he was DUI though. Sober drivers can do no wrong even when they kill.

Az
That's the fundamental problem. Every judge and juror recalls times he or she has driven inattentively and feels immediate empathy with the perpetrator, rather than the victim, who is perceived as a risk-taker who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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Old 08-20-07, 01:47 PM   #6
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That's the fundamental problem. Every judge and juror recalls times he or she has driven inattentively and feels immediate empathy with the perpetrator, rather than the victim, who is perceived as a risk-taker who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And that's not the fault of the person charged with the crime, nor is it the fault of the ada or asa, nor the judge. The problem here resides with the legislature not giving the asa the tools necessary to make the person pay for the action.
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Old 08-20-07, 02:06 PM   #7
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Accidents happen, every biker knows the risk when they get on a road where they have a 40mph speed differential with the majority of traffic, right?

They have the right to sue.
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Old 08-20-07, 02:35 PM   #8
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Yet another case of "inadvertent drift" into unnoticed cyclists which is the main theme in this thread. I'm just saying...

The scenario is typical: long, straight and very light traffic. Drivers are naturally likely to "zone out" and not even notice cyclists riding up ahead who are outside of the driver's intended path.

Would YOU ride to the right of this fog line in that narrow paved shoulder?



I might consider moving there temporarily after I've confirmed traffic approaching from behind has noticed me, but I wouldn't just ride there. Would you?

As long as drivers remain human, they are going to continue inadvertently drifting into unnoticed cyclists like this. This is why I consider it to be so important to monitor rearward (one of the cyclists decided to start using a rearview mirror after he got hit like this) with a mirror, and ride in a way that grabs the attention of drivers approaching from behind. The mirror is used to verify that this has occured.

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Old 08-20-07, 03:57 PM   #9
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Depressing similarities with what often happens in UK.

Isn't it strange tho'. As the story says, if he had killed them he could have been charged with negligent homicide, but you can't be charged with negligent actual bodily harm, so there's nowt' between killing and, perhaps, just knocking them off their bikes with no injuries.

We now have an ofence of causing death by careless driving, our equivalent to the above, simply because there were too many cases of drivers not suffering the consequences of their actions, because they were only "careless" and the consequences of that carelessness were, therefore, not intended. Without intention there could be no mens rea, or guilty mind, so there was no crime committed beyond the careless driving.

We now have the same position in both countries, where the logic of the "careless" charge has been ignored because of the obvious injustice caused by the perfectly foreseeable consequences of the nature of the legal definition.

Our situation is further exacerbated by the fact that the Crown Prosecution Service tends to go for the 50%+ odds of getting a conviction on careless driving as opposed to the more serious ones of dangerous or even reckless driving. What they don't seem to realise is that, by doing so, they continually raise the bar against the greater charge, simply because each borderline case which goes for the easier option, establishes further precedent as to what constitutes "careless" as against "dangerous" driving.

We then get further up a singularly unpleasant creek without means of locomotion.
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Old 08-20-07, 04:29 PM   #10
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Would YOU ride to the right of this fog line in that narrow paved shoulder?



I might consider moving there temporarily after I've confirmed traffic approaching from behind has noticed me, but I wouldn't just ride there. Would you?
I would never ride to the right of that fog line, except in a bail-out scenario, which I have never had to do. In fact, looking at that picture, the furthest to the right I would ride, and the furthest to the right I would suggest anyone else ride, is the right tire track, with the default road position being the center of the lane.
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Old 08-20-07, 07:25 PM   #11
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I might consider moving there temporarily after I've confirmed traffic approaching from behind has noticed me, but I wouldn't just ride there. Would you?
Again, how do we know there wasn't traffic (like another truck) immediately in front of the truck that struck these cyclists?
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Old 08-20-07, 07:34 PM   #12
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or traffic approaching in the opposite direction at the same time?

I will always recommend bright clothing, a mirror, a slo-mo triangle, and daytime visible blinky for safety from the rear, versus head's swervy-wervy, lane-grab-till-they-notice-you (hypothetically, of course) in front of every vehicle pod for riding highway speed roads.
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Old 08-20-07, 07:46 PM   #13
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Yet another case of "inadvertent drift" into unnoticed cyclists which is the main theme in this thread. I'm just saying...

The scenario is typical: long, straight and very light traffic. Drivers are naturally likely to "zone out" and not even notice cyclists riding up ahead who are outside of the driver's intended path.

Would YOU ride to the right of this fog line in that narrow paved shoulder?

I might consider moving there temporarily after I've confirmed traffic approaching from behind has noticed me, but I wouldn't just ride there. Would you?

As long as drivers remain human, they are going to continue inadvertently drifting into unnoticed cyclists like this. This is why I consider it to be so important to monitor rearward (one of the cyclists decided to start using a rearview mirror after he got hit like this) with a mirror, and ride in a way that grabs the attention of drivers approaching from behind. The mirror is used to verify that this has occured.
Just one little problem with your favorite theory, HH...
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Old 08-20-07, 07:59 PM   #14
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Just one little problem with your favorite theory, HH...
Not at all.

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For those who may not know, this question was raised in this thread,

Bicycle - Auto Accident

where a motorist swerved out of the lane to avoid a cyclist, and the motorist following him was unable to avoid hitting the cyclist. I ride in the same conditions for a short distance (a little less than a mile) every time I commute to work as there is no alternative. I have found it best to not allow the first motor vehicle to get close behind (without slowing down) if at all possible. This way no tailgater behind him can be surprised by my presence. Some of the things that work for me are...

Hi Vis safety vest or jersey
Blinking tail light(s)
Crank it up. (speed)
Get in the center of the lane. Not the edge, not the right tire track. It must be completely obvious that a car CAN NOT squeeze by.
Monitor with my mirror. Before a vehicle gets close, I move slightly farther left and signal slow / stop. (sometimes with a look back) If they are not responding by changing lanes or slowing down, I start pumping the slow / stop signal. This lets them know I'm NOT moving off the road.
Hold your ground and be prepared to bail, but don't bail needlessly.


Over 200 trips and I have never had to bail off the road yet. The worst I've had is a few buzzes, but these I can see ahead of time and have space to move towards the right as they pass. I would like to hear other peoples suggestions for making these conditions safer.

Several comments:
1. Some drivers have no problem seeing a cyclist and of course the lights and Hi Vis vest help,; the problem remains that for whatever reason they don't begin to alter lateral to pass until the last moment. This leaves the cyclist in the traffic lane in the position of "suddenly appearing" to the following vehicle's motorist. None of your suggested courses of actions would seem to alter that fact.

2. Hand signals, especially "slow / stop signal" from a bicyclist are probably undecipherable to most motorists approaching at 55mph and are invisible in hours of darkness.

3. Unless the cyclist can "speed up" to maintain a speed of approx. 40 mph there still is a significant speed differential between the cyclist and the following automobiles with a relatively short time for reaction by the second motorist in the scenario under discussion.

4. I think your statement about monitoring with the mirror and "signaling" by moving left while keeping options open to bail out is very good advice. Maybe because that is what I do on the six mile stretch of my 12 mile commute that is under those conditions. And of course use my locally renowned light tower so that following cars can see me prior to the first car making a move to pass.
My commute includes a few miles along a 6 lane arterial with 45 mph limit, 50+ mph actual normal traffic speeds, and relatively narrow outside lanes, a freeway overpass, etc. I encounter traffic approaching from behind quite frequently.

I was going to reply to this thread with pretty much the same response that AlmostTrick provided, especially the parts I bolded above. What I would add to that list, which I've mentioned many times before, is zig-zagging and turning your head to look back.

With respect to ILTB's points...

1. The reason I monitor with a mirror is to avoid a situation where "they don't begin to alter lateral to pass until the last moment". In other words, I take action long before it gets to that point. What doing stuff like adjusting lane position to be further left, zig-zagging, using the slow/stop left arm signal, and looking back does is get their attention, causing them to slow down and/or alteral lateral to pass well before the last moment. If they don't, then you have to be prepared to bail, but I've never had any trouble preventing that scenario. Monitoring with a mirror also lets you know whether there even is, or may be, another vehicle behind the one approaching. In short, if someone approaches from behind quickly and doesn't "adjust lateral to pass until the last moment", I would consider it to be a failure on my part to allow that to happen.

2. I find the slow/stop hand signal to get driver's attention with a very high rate of success. Until about a year ago I used it much more often than I do now. This is because I've started using the lateral adjustment more often, and that seems to be just as effective and easier. If someone approaching from behind is coming too fast, I look back over my shoulder, and move over a foot or two to the left (like from the center of the lane towards the left tire track). At night with a bright flashing red rear light and large red reflectors, the lateral movement accententuated with some zig-zagging seems to do the trick. But I still find the slow/stop signal to be useful. I used it this morning on the way to work, as a matter of fact, on a downhill right-hand curve when I noticed traffic up ahead was backed up from a red light further than normal. As usual, the driver behind me immediatedly slowed in response.

3. The time to take action is long before the point where the 2nd motorist has a relatively short time for reaction. Again, if I ever allowed the situation to get to that point, I would consider it to be my fault. But, you're right, if you do allow it to get to that point, the amount of reaction time might not be enough.

4. Agreed with the bold part, but I see no need for the light poll. My focus is on avoiding the situation by dealing with it while the guy behind me is still far enough back. Thus there is no need to be seen yet by the one behind him, because I'm causing the first guy to move laterally and/or slow before it gets to that critical point.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:02 PM   #15
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Your response completely ignores the fact that a cyclist was killed doing exactly what you advocate.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:04 PM   #16
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or traffic approaching in the opposite direction at the same time?

I will always recommend bright clothing, a mirror, a slo-mo triangle, and daytime visible blinky for safety from the rear, versus head's swervy-wervy, lane-grab-till-they-notice-you (hypothetically, of course) in front of every vehicle pod for riding highway speed roads.
Traffic approaching from the opposite direction at the same time, on a 2-lane road, is even more reason to make it clear in no uncertain terms that you are not yielding any right of way within your lane. Once the oncoming traffic has passed and it's clear and safe to pass you, then you might indicate this is so by moving over. But only when it's safe and reasonable to encourage passing should you use a lane position that encourages passing.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:07 PM   #17
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Your response completely ignores the fact that a cyclist was killed doing exactly what you advocate.
Did you read my post?

No it doesn't ignore the fact that the cyclist was killed, because the cyclist was not doing exactly what I advocate. He was apparently not monitoring to the rear with a mirror and making sure that approaching traffic from behind was slowing and or moving laterally well before doing so would be a last second move. Read the post. What part of this do you not understand?

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1. The reason I monitor with a mirror is to avoid a situation where "they don't begin to alter lateral to pass until the last moment". In other words, I take action long before it gets to that point. What doing stuff like adjusting lane position to be further left, zig-zagging, using the slow/stop left arm signal, and looking back does is get their attention, causing them to slow down and/or alteral lateral to pass well before the last moment. If they don't, then you have to be prepared to bail, but I've never had any trouble preventing that scenario. Monitoring with a mirror also lets you know whether there even is, or may be, another vehicle behind the one approaching. In short, if someone approaches from behind quickly and doesn't "adjust lateral to pass until the last moment", I would consider it to be a failure on my part to allow that to happen.
Even if he did monitor with a mirror and tried adjusting lane position, signalling, zig-zagging and looking back (which I seriously doubt), the first motorist obviously did not react by slowing down or moving laterally well before the last moment. Yet the cyclist clearly did not bail. That's not at all doing what I advocate.
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Old 08-20-07, 08:16 PM   #18
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I suspect you don't ride these road conditions very much, head.

Last edited by Bekologist; 08-20-07 at 08:22 PM.
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Old 08-22-07, 04:09 AM   #19
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Yeah? I guess they should be thankful more commercial pilots are not as inattentive as is generally accepted as "normal" for motorists. Or air traffic controllers... or cruise ship pilots... shall I continue? Neurosurgeons....

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That's the fundamental problem. Every judge and juror recalls times he or she has driven inattentively and feels immediate empathy with the perpetrator, rather than the victim, who is perceived as a risk-taker who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
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Old 08-22-07, 04:57 AM   #20
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This tragic incident would never have happened on a fully segregated cycleway, like on my commute.
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Old 08-22-07, 08:16 AM   #21
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Yeah? I guess they should be thankful more commercial pilots are not as inattentive as is generally accepted as "normal" for motorists. Or air traffic controllers... or cruise ship pilots... shall I continue? Neurosurgeons....
The big difference is that all those folks are considered "professionals," whereas most drivers are doing just enough to get along.
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Old 08-22-07, 10:50 AM   #22
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I'm glad I ride a trike, it's wide enough that I can't ride completely to the right of the line, my left tire always sticks out into the road. That said, I always make sure most of my trike is in the travel lane, forcing cars to notice me and pass safely. It's worked so far...
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Old 08-22-07, 04:59 PM   #23
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I have relied on my EARS to try to sense the traffic from behind; this is why I will never understand why anyone would listen to music while cycling on any roadway. Lately I have also sensed that cars will drift over into me if I am too far right ...in other words if you are sort of in the travel lane they have to make a conscious thought about you being there.
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Old 08-22-07, 05:06 PM   #24
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I have relied on my EARS to try to sense the traffic from behind; this is why I will never understand why anyone would listen to music while cycling on any roadway. Lately I have also sensed that cars will drift over into me if I am too far right ...in other words if you are sort of in the travel lane they have to make a conscious thought about you being there.


Yes, I rely on my hearing much more than I once realized. For example, one of the ways I detect motorists slowing down for me is the change in pitch of the noise their tires are making.
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Old 08-22-07, 08:13 PM   #25
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Yes, I rely on my hearing much more than I once realized. For example, one of the ways I detect motorists slowing down for me is the change in pitch of the noise their tires are making.
Yet another reason to hate strong headwinds. They can be deafening, especially in the winter with a headband over your ears.
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