I was talking to friends last night (OK I was sending e-mails back and forth) and mentioned I was beginning to get a tiny bit discouraged and burned out about the blog and thinking about shutting it down and finding some other place to write because most of what I was writing was “canned” because bike wrecks pretty much fall into a few main categories with well-defined ways to avoid the wrecks when the physics and geometry of the situation allow it. All pretty much in one sentence like I just wrote. The only time I really get to “write” anymore is the opening paragraph where I describe my day and feelings, or talk about how Dad is doing, or tell you about getting a cat toy that the cats totally ignored, or some other thing that shows I am not a ‘bot collecting links but an actual human being with the occasional feeling beyond the requirements for maintaining life. I think I also mentioned that may have mentioned that with my brain damage the only way I can express myself in a coherent fashion was writing.
So, it was suggested that I keep the blog up and running and do more writing in it, expressing the occasional feeling by making the opening bits a little longer than before when I needed to and maybe scaling back a bit on the dead people who I couldn’t do anything about. That’s when I realized that I was doing something about all those dead and injured people when I added the comments on how to avoid or prevent the wreck. Sure it’s almost “canned” by now, but when the truth gets repeated over and over it becomes like a catechism, and you can’t get more “canned” than a catechism. It’s still the truth, but it loses something by repetition. It’s the wrecks that would have happened in places that changing the physical infrastructure is not possible where I can stay fresh, because what is needed to prevent wrecks there is a change in the psychology of driving from “I’m big and dangerous and you need to stay out of my way” to “I’m big and dangerous and I need to be careful”, from bully to cooperation and blaming the person who can do the most damage instead of blaming the victim. And I hate to say it but there in the US we are very much a “bully, and blame the victim” society when it comes to motor vehicle deaths.
I have posted this bit before, and in many different places, that in a really, really bad year people on bicycles will kill as many as 10 people in the US, with half of those being cyclists also. The last year that has published records, 2009, had the fewest number of people killed by motor vehicles in 56 years, and we celebrated that “only” 34,000 people had been killed by motor vehicles. A more normal year for bicycles would be 4 or 5 deaths, again about 50/50 split between pedestrians and cyclists. From what I have been reading this is going to be another really, really bad year because of all the single-bike wrecks in SoCal this summer. But still the ratio between motor vehicle and bicycle caused death still far outweighs the ratio of use. Bicycles kill people at a far lesser rate than our mode share would suggest because of the lesser lethality of our vehicles and the operator knowledge that he or she is going to get hurt as bad or worse than anyone else in the wreck regardless of that other person’s mode of transportation. Interestingly enough where statistics are available for injuries in wrecks by mode, cyclists injure people slightly higher than their mode share would indicate, probably because in a wreck a cyclist is much more likely to get injured then a driver of a motor vehicle in the same wreck. I mean think about it, when was the last time you read that a driver or other motor vehicle occupant was injured just by hitting a cyclist or pedestrian? When a cyclist hits a pedestrian it’s a coin toss over who gets hurt worse, the injuries are more determined by the geometry and physics of the impact instead of who had the tons of armor around them. The trick now becomes how do we get that when a motor vehicle is involved. How do we make hitting a pedestrian or cyclist as dangerous for the driver as it is for the people not in the motor vehicle? We do that with laws, strictly enforced laws that make killing a pedestrian or cyclist an automatic one year loss of license with full testing to get it back (school, written and road test, and probationary period after the road test) when it wasn’t the driver’s fault, and a permanent ban on driving when it was the driver’s fault. You might think this is a little harsh, but it’s the legal equivalent of the physical and mental trauma of the cyclist or pedestrian who gets hit. It has been almost 11 years since I was hit, and I have not regained full use of my left leg yet. I have not regained full use of my brain yet. I have permanent disfiguring scars. Even if the driver that hit me had not been trying to kill me but had “just” misjudged haw far to move over when passing when I had to dodge road debris from the storm, making it not his fault, I would still be 11 years down the road with scars, a leg that stopped working and turned into a meat prosthesis, and a brain that no longer allowed me to work at a job that I dearly loved to do. Losing a driver’s license for a year compared to what I went and am going through is still not a fair trade, but for most motor vehicle and pedestrian/cyclist wrecks without brain injury the trade would be about even, one year of major inconvenience and some loss of income.
I’ll get back to that process of reinstating the license in a later blog post.
Up first because of media coverage are two hit-and-runs in a short span against two cyclists in NYC. [UPDATE: Second Cyclist Killed] Cyclist Killed In Queens Hit & Run and Cyclist Killed By Hit-And-Run Driver In Queens more Cyclist Killed in Queens Hit-Run not done yet Bicyclists killed in two separate hit-and-run incidents in Brooklyn, Queens another one Cyclist Dies After Crash in Brooklyn OK there is just so much wrong in both of these wrecks I can hardly enumerate everything amiss. One wreck was caused by the driver of the motor vehicle running a red light while the cyclist was on the cross street, the other was a vehicle travelling too fast for conditions when the cyclist crashed in front of him and was run over by the motor vehicle. In both wrecks witnesses commented on the sound of the wrecks, like explosions in the street, so the driver “not knowing” about the wrecks is just so much hogwash. Ughh! Anyway to avoid the red light runner use intersection protocols even when you have the green someone will be stupid and try to get through and claim they “didn’t see” you. The second wreck is a bit trickier to avoid because we don’t know what caused the first part of the wreck that made the cyclist go down, nobody saw that except the cyclist and anyone else that might have been involved. After that part there is nothing anyone could do as a cyclist because of being on the street and unable to get out of the way because of the curbed median to the immediate left. Getting the infrastructure right might have prevented the second wreck but I’m afraid that nothing will prevent red light runners except draconian enforcement up to and including seizure and destruction of a vehicle when the operator runs a red light and kills or injures another party. And maybe public flogging.
Next Big Story is a cyclist hit by a bus in CA. Bicyclist collides with AC Transit bus in Emeryville, suffers severe head injuries more Emeryville: Bicyclist injured in collision with AC Transit bus OK at this point the only thing I can say about this wreck is intersection protocols might have helped avoid the wreck. I don’t know that getting the infrastructure right would have prevented it unless there would have been 100% separated travel in this intersection.
Another Big Story is the service member killed riding a bike on the Marine Corps base in NC. Service member killed riding bike and Camp Lejeune: Navy corpsman killed on bike also Navy Corpsman Killed On Bicycle At Camp Lejeune At this point all I know is the wreck was near an intersection maybe in it. MP are even tighter lipped than civilian LEO, because they have to maintain military secrets.
Update on a wreck in AZ. Injured cyclist speaks out after hit and run The description of the wreck from the witnesses make it definite that the weapon vehicle operator was at fault even before the running part of the wreck. Intersection protocols would not have helped as the weapon vehicle ran the stop sign, and it was already on the kind of infrastructure that is designed to keep bikes and motor vehicles away from each other. Maybe building a bridge to forces the motor vehicle traffic to go over the bike trail would do it, but that is a whole lot more expensive than just stopping at a stop sign.
Update on a bike wreck in IL. Fatality tracker: Young woman killed by person driving on suspended license Terrible, the driver should not have even been there. Driving under a suspended license makes this her fault regardless of any other circumstances in the wreck. She just should not have been there in that car.
Update on a wreck in WI. Man faces charges in crash that killed biker The driver failed to maintain their lane, was driving without license or insurance, and as a result killed another human being. The driver should never have been on the road, and definitely should not have been driving at speed in the bike lane. Warm up the car shredder, this is going to be messy.
Update on the West Canuckistan hit-and-run, the cyclist should recover. Search is on for hit-and-run driver who left cyclist in ditch The picture of the wrecked bike looks like it was an Xtracycle, which means the cyclist was A Serious Cyclist (capitalization intended), with at least a moderate amount of experience on the roads. Combining the witness statements with the physical evidence this was either deliberate on the part of the driver of the weapon vehicle, or the driver needs to be placed in a nice, soft room because they aren’t capable of handling so much responsibility for a long time.
Lifestyle in honor of a cycling leader killed in a traffic wreck in SC. RIDEdwin Bike Breakfast WoaB approves of this event.
Infrastructure! news from the UK. Calls for “Urgent Action” Over Alarming London Cyclist Death Toll The infrastructure is so bad that it’s literally killing cyclists as the try to use it. And to add insult to (literal) injury what little good infrastructure they have for cycling is being dismantled for the Olympic games.
And to wind things up an amusing picture of bicycle life from Cycle Twin Cities. June Twin Cities Bike Picture of the Month OK you know your tires are too big when you can float your bike across a stream without getting your chain wet in shoulder-deep water.
And those are all the links that gave me fits today. If you think I’m right about the opening words in today’s post let me know either with a comment or sending me a PM through the site (I’m not sure how you do that but people have done that before so I know it can be done).
Billed @$0.02, Opus