Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blame The Cyclist?

There's a disturbing trend that goes on with regards to the way that car/cyclist accidents are reported. I don't know if this is a nationwide thing, but it's certainly par for the course in Columbus.

Here's a report on a cycling accident south of Columbus:

Wilmington Bicyclist struck, killed by Columbus woman

A Clinton County man died early yesterday after a Columbus woman struck his bicycle on the highway.

State troopers said Brian Newland, 36, of Sabina in southwestern Ohio, was riding a bicycle with no lights or reflectors about 6 a.m. along Rt. 72 near the northern tip of Highland County. Newland also wasn't wearing any reflective clothing, troopers said.

Amber Carpenter, 28, of Columbus, was driving south in a Pontiac Grand Am when she hit Newland's bike. He died at the scene.

No one from the state patrol's Wilmington post was available yesterday to say whether they knew why Newland was riding his bike on the road in the dark. The post also could not provide a more specific address for Carpenter.

Carpenter was not injured in the crash, which occurred about 50 miles southwest of Columbus.

Note that every attempt is made to put the blame on the cyclist. And yes, he should have been wearing reflective clothing and sporting some lights. No doubt about that. That's just common sense.

But there's no mention of how fast the driver was going, whether she was on a cell phone, etc. Obviously that can't be proven since there seem to have been no witnesses. But shouldn't a driver at night be driving slowly enough to be safe?

Again, we see the need for a motorist responsibility law: no driver should EVER be driving so fast that they can't be safe.

People, not speed.

8 comments:

  1. It's not just reports that slant this direction. Yesterday morning at 7:45 while riding eastbound on Lane Avenue I got bumped by a driver's passenger side mirror. He was driving a Ford F-250 so the mirror struck me on the back of the arm, above my elbow. We were approaching the intersection at Northstar and a red light forced him to stop. When I pulled up next to him and knocked on the window to alert him that he could have seriously injured me, he replied "There's a damn sidewalk right there."

    His immediate reaction wasn't to ensure that I was ok and apologize, but to assign blame to me for riding in the street (with lights and relective clothing, by the way). As much as I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt that his unfortunate response was due to being shaken by the potential gravity of the situation, I can't do it. As the traffic light turned green and I began to ride on, he revved his engine and buzzed me again (although he didn't hit me that time).

    Kurt

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  2. It's things like this that make me think that all the infrastructure changes that the city wants to make to accommodate cyclists won't mean jack, if there isn't some sort of legal change as well.

    I've mentioned the Fifth Motorist Directive of the EU on occasion... the sooner we enact some sort of similar law, one that puts the impetus and responsibility on motorists for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists, the sooner our society will be forced to be nicer.

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  3. I suggest that in a situation like Kurt's, just get the plate and call the cops. If you catch up and advise him you've been hit and he drives away, it's hit and run, right?

    If you strike someone or something, you can't just drive away. I hope you are okay, but what if your arm somehow got damaged in a way not immediately known? Now you're out of luck and paying for it instead of the guy in the truck or his insurance company.

    I should really tuck away a pencil and bit of paper for my commute. Seems like a cop should be able to run a portion of a plate with a make, model and general idea of model year to determine who it was.

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  4. This is a great time to bring up one of the cyclist's best friends in a situation like this: camera phones. Snap a shot of the license plate and you're good to go.

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  5. I did get his license plate, vehicle make and model and could give a pretty good physical description of him from the shoulders up if necessary. I just didn't think it would do much good w/o witnesses, etc. I'm sorry to say I don't really know what action is appropriate at this point - if any?

    Kurt

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  6. Call the cops, Kurt. Ask them about it, and tell the entire situation truthfully. Either nothing will come of it (and you'll learn what might have), or something will.
    At the very least a phone call from an officer to this guy to remind/advise him of his duty to NOT run into people with a truck might be beneficial. He'll no doubt deny everything as most anyone would, but at least he'll think twice about passing so closely next time (assuming he saw you in the first place.) I'd also ask when calling for an officer familiar (sympathetic?) with cyclist's or motorcyclist's rights. You don't want the guy who doesn't care about your rights and is too busy to work a complaint. It's not an emergency situation, so you'll probably get a call back a little later.

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  7. I agree... call the cops, and let them handle it. They might not do anything, but they might just surprise you. Of course, how you present the story is important. Be honest, truthful, and let them see how frightening the incident was, and how concerned you are that this person poses a significant threat to other cyclists.

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  8. Sometimes, like in Kurt's case, it's better to handle things yourself. As to the sidewalk comment, next time remind a truck driver that they belong on the farm, not on the road.

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