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Old 05-20-10, 01:40 PM   #1
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Another Auto-Cycling Crash-Is it Safe to Ride on the Roads???

Just weeks after Adam Little was tragically killed commuting to work in the area I live, many of his best cycling companions/teammates were involved in a senseless multi-bike collision with a SUV.

And of all things...... at the exact same time the Ride of Silence was being conducted around the world........

A SUV turned left directly into the path of 12 cyclists doing one of their weekly training rides. They were near the end of their ride and were pushing the pace at 32 mph. 10 of the cyclists went down with 4 needing attention at the hospital. To make it worse the 21 yr old driver backed up and almost ran over one of the riders on the ground.......and then sped away.

I heard that he turned himself in this morning.

I know most of the cyclists in the group. I've visited the two that remain in the hospital and they are very grateful there weren't any fatalities. Amazingly just one rider had a broken collarbone. The worst injury is a very serious gash and contusion to a rider's leg from hitting the front grill of the SUV. He is not out of the woods in terms of serious muscle damage to the leg.

Here's a link to photos of the aftermath.


http://www.wsoctv.com/slideshow/news...48/detail.html
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Old 05-20-10, 06:04 PM   #2
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Hell, it's not SAFE to ride ANYwhere -- just degrees of risk. I had a smaller SUV pull in front of me (at a distance of about ten feet) in a frickin' PARKING LOT this afternoon! Since it was where I work, and yanking the driver through the window would have been a bad thing, I didn't.
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Old 05-20-10, 07:41 PM   #3
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Finding out what motorcyclist have know for years. Automobile and Truck drivers think the road is only theirs and little though for others on the highway. The only lame excuse most of them provide is I didn't see them. probably on the phone with head up his butt or sending a text message while driving.
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Old 05-20-10, 08:08 PM   #4
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I assist (precious little) with my daughter's 14-16 y/o volleyball team. After the game I was almost nailed in the parking lot by someone driving WAY too fast.

It was one of volleyball players.

Instead of in the parking lot maybe next time it'll be on the road, me on my bike, her on her cell phone.

For some reason it made me want to sell my bike.
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Old 05-20-10, 10:23 PM   #5
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Statistically it is pretty safe. In reality it can happen to any of us on any ride at any time and almost anywhere.
Stay alert, ride defensively and make sure your bike is in good shape to deal with any emergency.
I don't do group rides so I have to wonder if those who do tend to get "in the zone" when they are in the pack and depend on others to watch for hazards?
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Old 05-20-10, 11:00 PM   #6
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warning: Geezer talk follows...
Posts like this seem to be becoming more frequent, and I always wonder if the concern about safety is warranted. In some ways it reminds me of the way people treat their kids in comparison to the way i grew up in the '50s and '60s. My parents were loving and concerned, but they wanted to raise independent, competent children. We had almost no restrictions on where we could go or what we could do as long as they knew our plans. today, my neighbors' kids, ages 10 to 16 or so, literally can't go out of the yard without permission, a plan and a cell phone. Can there really be THAT many kidnappers out there?
In any case, NOTHING is completely safe. I quit riding motorcycles almost 40 years ago after a couple of close calls that were absolutely caused by driver inattention and incompetence. I ride bicycles a few thousand miles a year now, but carefully. I haven't had a near-miss or even an intimidating moment in years, and i think it's because I pay attention and always, ALWAYS yield to cars. Some drivers are a-holes (as are a surprising number of cyclists), but I know who's going to win that crash, so I try not to have it.
Decide for yourself how dangerous riding is, then decide if you can reduce the risk, then figure out if you're willing to take the chance. In my experience, though (as a lifelong cyclist, former ambulance driver and career newspaper reporter), while most crashes may be the driver's fault, the cyclist could have anticipated the problem and prevented it.
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Old 05-21-10, 04:24 AM   #7
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It's not personal..................by that, I mean they're not targeting bicycles. Automobile drivers today are dangerous to everything around themselves. Deaths due to automobiles may be down, but there are about 10 million (yes million) automobile accidents every year.

Ride smart out there.
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Old 05-21-10, 05:10 AM   #8
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I assist (precious little) with my daughter's 14-16 y/o volleyball team. After the game I was almost nailed in the parking lot by someone driving WAY too fast.

It was one of volleyball players.

Instead of in the parking lot maybe next time it'll be on the road, me on my bike, her on her cell phone.

For some reason it made me want to sell my bike.
What size is the bike?

You are such a tease. Always talking about selling and never listing...
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Old 05-21-10, 06:08 AM   #9
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Finding out what motorcyclist have know for years. Automobile and Truck drivers think the road is only theirs and little though for others on the highway. The only lame excuse most of them provide is I didn't see them. probably on the phone with head up his butt or sending a text message while driving.
+100.

This was pointed out to John Forester by a friend of mine a few years ago, and JF disregarded him because 'motorcycles can keep up with traffic'. I myself have seen motorcycle advocacy efforts (see ABATE), and the echoes are eerily similar....
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Old 05-21-10, 06:41 AM   #10
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Everybody knows bicycles, motorcycles, tractor trailers and trains are all invisible through a car window. At least you'd think so from the accident statistics.

By the way, ironically, it's Tractor Trailer jockeys that give me the most courtesy out on the road with my bike, followed by motorcyclists in a very, very close second place. The funny thing: The worst drivers I've encountered were people with bike racks on their SUV!

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+100.

This was pointed out to John Forester by a friend of mine a few years ago, and JF disregarded him because 'motorcycles can keep up with traffic'. I myself have seen motorcycle advocacy efforts (see ABATE), and the echoes are eerily similar....
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Old 05-21-10, 07:28 AM   #11
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warning: Geezer talk follows...
Well, they sure are raising some smart and articulate geezers these days.

The constant harping here about cycling dangers seems to be part of evil international conspiracy of drug companies bent on keeping people unhappy and unhealthy on their couches rather than out and about enjoying the world and gaining good health.
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Old 05-21-10, 08:38 AM   #12
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I teach motorcycle riding for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. One of the key points in the training is that it really doesn't matter who is at fault in a crash. If you are going to be safe as a motorcyclist, you have to constantly search, evaluate what could happen, and execute actions to avoid crashes, many of them due to the fault of someone else.

Riding a motorcycle means constant scanning. The same is true with a bicycle. What if that car turns left? Can I stop? If not, can I swerve around the car? If not, I better slow down now, adjust my lane position, and be ready just in case.

There are just too many stupid car drivers out there. I was rear ended on my motorcycle a couple of years ago. Woman in an SUV pulled up directly behind me in a left turn lane (the light was red). She stopped, no problem. 20 seconds later, she decided to pull forward (light was still red) and rear ended me. So what does she tell me? "I didn't see you." I told her she saw me just fine when she pulled in directly behind me 20 seconds earlier. Her answer: "Oh yeah, I saw you that time...." I was on my bright orange Goldwing, wearing my High Viz yellow suit. Car driver was on the phone (of course), with a four year old in the back seat.

I "thought" I was safe since the car had already stopped behind me....
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Old 05-21-10, 08:57 AM   #13
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I teach motorcycle riding for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. One of the key points in the training is that it really doesn't matter who is at fault in a crash. If you are going to be safe as a motorcyclist, you have to constantly search, evaluate what could happen, and execute actions to avoid crashes, many of them due to the fault of someone else.

Riding a motorcycle means constant scanning. The same is true with a bicycle. What if that car turns left? Can I stop? If not, can I swerve around the car? If not, I better slow down now, adjust my lane position, and be ready just in case.

There are just too many stupid car drivers out there. I was rear ended on my motorcycle a couple of years ago. Woman in an SUV pulled up directly behind me in a left turn lane (the light was red). She stopped, no problem. 20 seconds later, she decided to pull forward (light was still red) and rear ended me. So what does she tell me? "I didn't see you." I told her she saw me just fine when she pulled in directly behind me 20 seconds earlier. Her answer: "Oh yeah, I saw you that time...." I was on my bright orange Goldwing, wearing my High Viz yellow suit. Car driver was on the phone (of course), with a four year old in the back seat.

I "thought" I was safe since the car had already stopped behind me....
From the other end of the spectrum, I spent a couple of years back in the eighties teaching at a truck driving school. We tried to instill the same sort of attitude, with the difference being, you are not the vulnerable one, but bear a huge responsibility toward those around you who are vulnerable.
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Old 05-21-10, 09:05 AM   #14
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Woman in an SUV pulled up directly behind me in a left turn lane (the light was red). She stopped, no problem. 20 seconds later, she decided to pull forward (light was still red) and rear ended me. So what does she tell me? "I didn't see you." I told her she saw me just fine when she pulled in directly behind me 20 seconds earlier. Her answer: "Oh yeah, I saw you that time...." I was on my bright orange Goldwing, wearing my High Viz yellow suit. Car driver was on the phone (of course), with a four year old in the back seat.
Wow! That is so sad. Almost unbelievable.
I used t ride motorcycles on the road and race MX back it the mid to late 70's. I always said it was safer on the MX track. And this was before cell phone use exploded.
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Old 05-21-10, 09:22 AM   #15
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There are a few behavioral items not usually mentioned in discussions like this. Drivers (actually, everyone) become accustomed to activities they do frequently. Driving involves seeing other cars. Cars are large and noteworthy. Bikes are so much smaller that they do not always register in a driver's consciousness. This isn't because the driver is sloppy or hostile or irresponsible per se, but because the experience isn't part of the driver's typical interaction with other vehicles.

A similar out-of-the-norm experience happens with respect to speed. Drivers often do not expect bikes to be going as fast as they do, especially downhill. When a driver passes a bike and then turns right immediately in front of the bike, it is probably because the driver thought he had generated enough clearance. The speed differential during the pass led the driver to visualize the bike as stationary, as an object now in the background.

Of course this doesn't relieve the driver from the need to avoid such mistakes. It doesn't make accidents any better. Rather, it points to a way bikers should think. Defensive biking is a requirement of course, but specifically a biker must expect that the driver may not see the bike, and may misjudge the bike's speed. These are two very specific driver errors a thinking biker should anticipate.
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Old 05-21-10, 09:43 AM   #16
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Everybody knows bicycles, motorcycles, tractor trailers and trains are all invisible through a car window.
So are houses....

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Old 05-21-10, 10:59 AM   #17
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Generally, yes cycling on the roads is safe. Drivers running over cyclists, is generally a big news event, like a plane crash, or a train derailment. What tends to be the untold story, is that these events are actually quite rare, think about it this way, 10,000,000 people got on bicycles that same day, maybe 100 were involved in a car/bicycle collision, out of those collisions, 10 were serious enough to require emergency services intervention. We tend to forget about the 9,990,000 riders who got on their bicycles that day, had a perfect ride with no drivers playing stupid, and the 9,900 or so that had a near miss.

Having said that, collisions are really the instance of two vehicles ending up occupying the same physical space at the same time. This typically means that one vehicle operator failed to provide right of way and the other vehicle operator failed to take proper evasive action. The driver of the SUV failed to provide right of way, and the cyclists were going too fast to avoid him. It comes down to a variation on the theme of defensive driving, when riding you have to anticipate that a driver will do something stupid. The DD course for example taught that when approaching an intersection where the opposing street has a stop sign and you don't, if a vehicle is approaching that stop sign you should prepare to stop, in case they don't. Meaning yes, they do something stupid, but you avoid the collision.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:06 PM   #18
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I am sure that having a few incidents of friends or people you know being involved in crashes with cars makes the risk feel much greater than looking at the numbers would suggest. I think that riding at high speed in a group training situation on busy roads increases the risk beyond what is normally present.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:24 PM   #19
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I blame gadgets. Cell phones, ipods. Too many distractions in the car combined with an assumed need to be somewhere fast creates unattentive drivers. Driving is usually the last thing people are actually doing while behind the wheel.
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Old 05-21-10, 12:59 PM   #20
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I think that riding at high speed in a group training situation on busy roads increases the risk beyond what is normally present.
I was thinking the same thing when I read 12 riders going 32mph. Then saw the road they were on and thought that just looked like trouble. Not saying is was the cyclists fault because they have a right to be thee. Like jmmuller said.. she more than likely saw the cyclists and thought there was one bike and it was going slow and she had time.

It is a shame though what happened and I hope all recover well.
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Old 05-22-10, 08:35 AM   #21
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Well, if you don't cycle at all and drive to work every day, doesn't the resulting sedentary lifestyle and stress also pose a threat to your life? It would be interesting to do an analysis to see whether cycling or not cycling poses the greater danger in terms of reduced life expectancy. In any case, it's worth mentioning that we tend to overestimate the risks posed by violent, spectacular possibilities and underestimate those posed by invisible, subtler ones.

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Old 05-22-10, 03:16 PM   #22
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There are a few behavioral items not usually mentioned in discussions like this. Drivers (actually, everyone) become accustomed to activities they do frequently. Driving involves seeing other cars. Cars are large and noteworthy. Bikes are so much smaller that they do not always register in a driver's consciousness. This isn't because the driver is sloppy or hostile or irresponsible per se, but because the experience isn't part of the driver's typical interaction with other vehicles.

A similar out-of-the-norm experience happens with respect to speed. Drivers often do not expect bikes to be going as fast as they do, especially downhill. When a driver passes a bike and then turns right immediately in front of the bike, it is probably because the driver thought he had generated enough clearance. The speed differential during the pass led the driver to visualize the bike as stationary, as an object now in the background.

Of course this doesn't relieve the driver from the need to avoid such mistakes. It doesn't make accidents any better. Rather, it points to a way bikers should think. Defensive biking is a requirement of course, but specifically a biker must expect that the driver may not see the bike, and may misjudge the bike's speed. These are two very specific driver errors a thinking biker should anticipate.
This all very true. In fact my latest near miss involved an elderly lady turning left right in front of me and I know she miscalculated my speed because after she commited she watched me coming with ever widening eyes.

My point here though is to recommend listening to the "Amsterdamize" episode of the Fredcast podcast. A point that is made during the discussion is the low, low bike/auto accident rate in Holland and in other places where people ride bikes a lot and they are accepted on the road as other vehicles - drivers are used to seeing them and make allowances for them. Plus there are road infrastructure cycling specific features that encourage riding to the detriment to motor vehicles. Imagine making cars secondary to bikes in the USA!
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Old 05-22-10, 07:17 PM   #23
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... Plus there are road infrastructure cycling specific features that encourage riding to the detriment to motor vehicles. ...
To folks who want more cycle tracks and other European roadway structures, I say, "In Solana Beach, try riding on Lomas Santa Fe under the Interstate 5 bridge, where you are blissfully separated from cars by big reinforced concrete pillars until you emerge from under the bridge and get right-hooked at the freeway onramp." Riding on a dedicated cycle track is like jumping off a tall building -- "so far ... so good" most of the way down, until the end. A better solution is reducing speed limits, traffic calming, squaring of intersections, and integrating cyclists into the traffic flow. People in this country drive too fast, obtain and retain their licenses too easily, and, as others mentioned, pay more attention to their electronic toys than to their fellow road users.
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Old 05-22-10, 10:01 PM   #24
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I was thinking the same thing when I read 12 riders going 32mph. Then saw the road they were on and thought that just looked like trouble. Not saying is was the cyclists fault because they have a right to be thee. Like jmmuller said.. she more than likely saw the cyclists and thought there was one bike and it was going slow and she had time.

It is a shame though what happened and I hope all recover well.
The road they were on is very, very rural. There was plenty of sight lines for the driver, too. There should not have been any issue with the cyclists speed or number of riders on the route they used.

This incident was eerily similar to my cycling buddies incident both in how they were hit and also in a very rural area. I'm beginning to think that in each case the driver saw the riders, but underestimated their speed-or even thought the riders would yield them the right of way.
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Old 05-23-10, 05:28 AM   #25
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The road they were on is very, very rural. There was plenty of sight lines for the driver, too. There should not have been any issue with the cyclists speed or number of riders on the route they used.

This incident was eerily similar to my cycling buddies incident both in how they were hit and also in a very rural area. I'm beginning to think that in each case the driver saw the riders, but underestimated their speed-or even thought the riders would yield them the right of way.
I would also like to point out something I missed in the original post...
{To make it worse the 21 yr old driver backed up and almost ran over one of the riders on the ground.......and then sped away.**

I am with you again in that it was more than likely a case of seeing but not understanding what they were seeing. A cyclist to many uninformed driver, @21yo driver{wondering if a cellphone was involved here as well**, is small and going slow.(If that makes any sense)
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