This entry was posted on Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 12:08 pm and is filed under Bad motoring, Bicycle advocacy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
What is it about the internet and the internal combustion engine that makes some folks so callous?
A 52-year old woman riding at the back of a group of ten road cyclists from the safety-conscious Spring City Cycling Club was hit and killed by a motorist on Saturday on a country road in Lincoln County, Tennessee. Friends and family have had to chastise forum-posting motorists for victim-blaming.
Sharon Bayler was thrown 166ft by the impact but apologist friends of the driver (who were not in the driver’s truck at the time) have insisted he was driving 37-40mph, a few miles below the posted speed limit of 45mph. This was a road “he was raised on”: but, as numerous studies have shown, ‘knowing a road’ makes many motorists blasé. The blacktop and curves may be familiar but not every journey is the same: there can be fallen trees in the road; slower or stopped vehicles; anything.
The police did not charge the driver with any motoring offences.
“Troopers said the collision was an accident and no charges will be filed against the truck’s driver, 42-year-old Edward Vincent Higgin of Fayetteville.”
Sharon Bayler was said to have been hit near a curve in the road (although incident-scene witnesses said the road was straight at the point of impact). The driver “couldn’t see Bayler riding because of the combination of a shaded area and the sun.”
As cyclists have pointed out on newspaper story postings, if the the driver couldn’t see what was in front of him, he should have slowed to a crawl. But how many drivers ever follow this bit of common sense?
Just a tiny minority of motorists knowingly use their cars as weapons but many of the rest speed around without due care and attention. Crashes are ‘accidents’; texting or calling when driving is not seen as a sin. It’s tough to get prosecutions of motorists because of ‘there but for the Grace of God go I’ from law-makers and law-enforcers.
It’s been like this from the very early days of motoring but back then there were less motorists to worry about. Now, cyclists and pedestrians are often put at unnecessary risk because way too many motorists think nothing of speeding: their ABS brakes and airbags fill them with a sense of invulnerability.
They think nothing full-stop. Motoring is not seen as a dangerous activity. In reality, it’s extremely dangerous, both for ‘unprotected’ vulnerable road users but for drivers, too. One slip of the steering wheel when travelling at speed and a motorist can be toast. One glance down at a text message at 60mph and many metres go by, unseen. 99 times out of a hundred there’s no cyclist in the way, no kerb for the motorist to bounce into and be deflected into the HGV in the opposite lane. Drivers get away with inattentive driving and assume they’ll always get away with it.
There are lots of dead cyclists, killed child pedestrians and, of course, squashed motorists, to prove that ‘accidents will happen’. For accidents read inattention or, sometimes, wanton negligence.
Apparently the Tennessee driver who killed Sharon Bayler is full of remorse but not so some of his fellow motorists. How thoughtless do you have to be to post anti-cyclist comments on a news story about a cyclist fatality? Sadly, it’s common. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed. Friends and families of killed cyclists often read online stories about an ‘accident’ as a form of grieving, leaving tributes to the deceased, but are confronted by commenters with a twisted, sickening windscreen-view of the world.
When reading their comments it makes you want to give up cycling on anything other than traffic-free trails because thoughtless drivers are everywhere. This might be one of the reasons for the dripping vitriol: get off our roads, go ride on a velodrome, take your Spandex ‘costumes’ someplace else. Naturally, there are always comments about ‘road tax’ and why cyclists shouldn’t be on roads paid for by motorists.
“I’m sorry that she was killed, but this should be expected. Bicycles don’t belong on the road. Once I was driving my truck and came around a curve and there was a cyclist, arrogantly (and stupidly) refusing to move over. There was no way I could’ve stopped. (And no, I wasn’t speeding). Luckily there was no oncoming traffic and I was able to swerve around him. If there had been a car coming I would have had 3 choices: 1-hit the cyclist, kill him. 2-hit the oncoming car, kill them. 3-run off the road (tall steep bank), kill myself. There is no reason for a bicycle to be on the road. You can go find a bike trail, or stay out of the way…I hope they do the right and sensible thing and ban bicycles from roads before someone else dies.”
Lake Worth, FL
“If you want to cycle on the road then you take your chances. Just like swimming in the ocean. You take your chances that you might get eaten or drown. You cannot police everyone or prevent every accident. Things are just going to happen. You agree to take that chance when you get on the road…This is a sad accident but shows that accidents will occur and you cannot stop them. If you don’t want to get hit then stay off the road.”
“Did you ever wonder why small planes and large planes don’t use the same airports? Figure it out.”
“I am sorry for any loss of life but slow moving bicycles do not belong on the same road as cars. They are accidents just waiting to happen. Another sore point for me is these bicycles pay no taxes for using the road like my car or motorcycle. I pay taxes by way of a tag and through gas for the upkeep of roads also I am required to carry insurance on my car and motorcycle that bicycles don’t. I say if they want to share the road then require them to buy a tag and insurance just as i have to do and restrict them to secondary roads where they are not causing traffic problems.”
“Please remember what your mother taught you years ago, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. This post is being viewed by Sharon’s family and friends too. Again, please post with repect.”
Belle Rive, IL
“Please, whether you’re a motorist or cyclist, show respect for each other and follow the rules of the road. Avoid distractions… don’t text EVER while driving, and put down the cell phone. The call is not that important, it can wait until you pull off and answer it. Your full attention should be ON THE ROAD. If you’re a cyclist, be aware of vehicular traffic, obey the rules and regulations, and cycle politely.”
Rocket City Cyclist