Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bike-car Tensions Increasing As More Cyclists Take To The Roads

The combination of high gas prices and beautiful spring weather are bringing more and more cyclists out of hibernation and onto the streets (and sidewalks, unfortunately). And apparently that's creating more tension on the streets, as today's Dispatch reports.

As usual, most of the article is pretty car-centric.

Lt. Edward Devennish, who is quoted in the article, does take the proper attitude in that cars need to treat cyclists with the knowledge that they can KILL or INJURE us with their behavior. Somehow I don't think that would have helped much in this case, as the miscreants jumped out of the car to injure Mr. Krohn.

I take enormous exception with the Dispatch's posting of the "Proper Pedaling" list without a similar list for automobiles. It implies that only cyclists have responsibilities on the road. Obviously, this isn't true.

But here's another problem: the list isn't complete. It mentions nothing about cycling on the sidewalk, which is illegal. The article mentions it below... in the details that most people just skim over after reading the first couple of paragraphs.

And the final detail I'm going to harp on: in the mention of the study that MORPC did about the fault in bike/car crashes, they failed to mention that they worked from police reports. And it's already been proven that the police, in many cases, wrongly assign blame in the case of such accidents. It's not MORPC's fault, obviously - unless they were to go out to every one of these reports and research them independently (which would take forever), they have nothing else to go on other than the biased reports of the police. But citing that report leads the public to believe that cyclists really ARE to blame more often than cars. And I really find that hard to believe.

Here's the article, see for yourself.
Injury accents bike-car tensions
Wednesday, April 23, 2008 3:21 AM
By Aaron Beck and Tim Doulin
The Columbus Dispatch

Proper pedaling

  • Bicyclists must follow the same traffic rules as those driving motorized vehicles, including stopping at stop signs and red lights and observing the speed limit.

  • Bicyclists must ride in the direction of traffic; they cannot ride against traffic.

  • Bicyclists must ride as near to the right curb as is practical and safe.

  • Bicycles must be equipped with a white headlight and a red rear reflector and red light when used at night.

  • No more than two cyclists can ride abreast in a lane, but they must move to the right if they are slowing traffic.

  • Bicyclists can move out of the curb lane to turn left after signaling.

  • Bicycles are not allowed on freeways.

  • It is illegal for someone to ride on the handlebars or anywhere other than a seat on a bicycle.

  • Bicyclists must signal a turn, unless they are in a turn-only lane. For a left turn, extend the left hand and arm horizontally. For a right turn, extend the left arm with the forearm and hand turned upward, or extend the right arm and hand horizontally.

  • Bicyclists can pass slower-moving vehicles such as horse-drawn buggies and farm vehicles.
Sources: Ohio Revised Code, Columbus City Code

David Krohn was stopped on his bicycle in traffic on N. High Street in the Ohio State University campus area Friday night when a car behind him started honking.

He pulled over to let the metallic-blue convertible pass. As it did, the four college-age men inside hurled obscenities at Krohn. Then he did something that apparently infuriated the men: He touched the car to steady himself on his bike.
One of the men bounced a plastic bottle off Krohn's chest and, now on foot, chased him as he pedaled down an alley off Frambes Avenue.

"The next thing I remember is waking up in the ambulance," said the 64-year-old Krohn, who had suffered a broken jaw and gash on his head.

The attack is an extreme example of the tension that exists between cyclists and motorists, and confrontations could escalate as the weather warms.

Some cyclists complain drivers are unwilling to share the road. Drivers say cyclists don't follow the law when riding in the street.

"They are both right," Columbus Police Lt. Edward Devennish said.

"I see motor-vehicle operators who treat bicyclists without any respect, and I have seen bicyclists do stupid things and violate the rules of the road."

Drivers must realize bicycles and motorcycles are "extremely vulnerable and they have as much right to the roadway as you do in your car," Devennish said.

Bicyclists have a right to an entire lane of travel on a road, he said.

"But be considerate of the other drivers who are going to be able to go faster than you. You don't gain anything from slowing them down."

Krohn was attacked as he was on his way home after performing with Columbus Dance Theatre at its Downtown location.

He said witnesses told him that he was hit from behind in the alley, probably with a beer bottle.

An avid cyclist, Krohn said he was assaulted about four years ago. He was riding down Cleveland Avenue in a recumbent bicycle, in which the rider pedals in a reclined position, when a pedestrian, a young boy, punched him.

"What seems to offend people in cars is that we're on the road," Krohn said. "They think we're supposed to be on the sidewalk. It seems that in the Midwest there's a car thing. A car is an extension of the personality, and any infringement on that is like a slap in the face."

Cyclists are not without blame. Two years ago the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission analyzed crashes between bicycles and vehicles in central Ohio over a five-year period. It found that in 29 percent, the most common contributors were bicyclists who improperly crossed or failed to yield to the vehicle. Motorists failed to yield in 14 percent of the crashes.

Bicyclists often don't follow the traffic rules, cutting through red lights and dodging in and out of traffic, said John DeFrank, a Whitehall resident who works Downtown.

"I just almost saw one right here," said DeFrank, 51, motioning to the intersection of Broad and High streets.

"The light turned red, but the guy on the bike went through the light and somebody almost hit him. In the last few weeks, with the way gas is going, the number of bikes you see on the road is just increasing every day."

Matt Young, 34, commutes by bicycle on W. 5th Avenue from his Upper Arlington home to work at Battelle. His biggest concern is traffic suddenly pulling out from a business or side street.

Young tries to make himself visible by wearing a reflective vest and blinking lights on his helmet. His bike is equipped with lights.

"I pretty much try to follow the law and hope that I gain some credibility for cycling in general," he said.

Columbus Dance Theatre has started a fundraiser to help Krohn pay his medical bills.

"We're getting responses from all over the country because people hear the story and go, 'Oh my God!' " Artistic Director Tim Veach said. "It's ridiculous. Who would beat up a 64-year-old mime? That's about as low as you can get."

abeck@dispatch.com

tdoulin@dispatch.com

Here's Rick Logue's take on this at My Two Mile Challenge!

People, not speed.

4 comments:

  1. Stories like the one experienced by David Krohn just make me mad. I'm just *pleased* to know that college kids think it okay to hurl bottles at innocent cyclists.

    Keep spreading the word!

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  2. What I find aggravating about the story is that the author used examples of irrational violence and try to rationalize it with a cause that the cyclist did something wrong. In both cases, I would say David Krohn ran into people just looking for a reason to start something because reasonable people do not act.

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  3. Great point, Doug. I didn't even think of it in those terms, looking more at the bigger picture of bikes getting shafted in the media. But you're absolutely right. It's as if they're saying all cyclists and their behavior are going to set off motorists in just such a way.

    Instead, what we had here was a bunch of should-be felons who were looking to start something, and picked a 64-year old man on a bike to do it to.

    In that case, it's really not even a matter of bikes vs. cars - it's just a random violence case. Wow...

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  4. To the 1st comment the article stated the perps are "college-age men". I think it's more likely that they were from Weinland Park or one of the other run-down neighborhoods east of campus than OSU students.

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