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Some first-hand (not 50th hand) observations on the death(34 posts)

Some first-hand (not 50th hand) observations on the deathOldEdScott
Oct 14, 2003 5:32 AM
of the Louisville cyclist. I got this off the local roadie BB, which as you can imagine is buzzing pretty good. This from an exchange between Tim Chilton and Ron Schneider of the Louisville Bicycle Club:

Ron, I went by that intersection today and looked it over at about 6:30PM. I
think you pretty much figured out what happened. Let me add a bit more detail.

The AOI is "area of impact". The lady was hit by the SUV in the crosswalk, which
makes sense (and is contrary to some initial media reports). It wouldn't make
sense to cross the street anywhere else since there is a rather large median
berm in the center of the road that continues for a long distance.

It's pretty clear that he motorist had a green light, since all of the witnesses
agree with that. For those of you who aren't familiar with the intersection,
cars rolling north on Lexington turning west on Grinstead are funneled into a
double turning lane. I believe that the turning motorists only get "green
arrows". It's a rather gentle curve so, if you catch a green light, you can
cruise through that intersection with decent speed. My observation of traffic
moving through there would indicate a speed of around 25-30 mph.

All of the debris field is marked in significant detail. The cyclist was hit
hard and ended up well down the road ahead of the stopped vehicle, but not as
far down as the marked bike. The debris from the bike and the grill of the SUV
indicated a pretty serious impact. There is a marking on the street, near the
middle of the road that indicates where the poor lady landed and how her body
was oriented.

All of the reports I've seen - as well as the markings on the road - indicate
that the automobile was traveling down Lexington and timed the turn just right
to catch a green light. Had the SUV been stopped at a red light, it's hard for
me to imagine that this collision would have occurred.

At any rate, if the motorist had the green light, the victim was nearly halfway
across the street going against a red light.

> I do not know where they were coming from, but they could well have been
> traveling on the sidewalk or coming from the path near Jim Porter's. I
> disagree with Tim that this route is somehow confusing or dangerous. One
> must simply wait for the signals and push the buttons to get the "Walk" sign
> to cross both streets, something which this cyclist apparently did not do.
> I think unfamiliarity with the intersection may have played a part here
> since I think I heard this person was from Germany.

I did infer that the bike path crossing was confusing. It is definitely awkward.
A failure to understand the design is definitely "dangerous".

Back in the day, I used to ride through that maze with my very young daughter.
That sidewalk system just doesn't work very well. You really just have a little
oasis of sidewalk to hide on as you wait for the light. And as I recall, the
special light for cyclists/pedestrians doesn't hold very long at all.

It's a bad design. Period. It may make sense to many of us who've grown used to
it, but what does it look like to people who've never seen it before?

Another thing to consider is that the victim, being German, may have thought it
was a protected crosswalk that gave right of way to cyclists/ pedestrians.
forgive me, but isn't it stayed in driver's bookcyclopathic
Oct 14, 2003 6:10 AM
that pedestrians have right of way?? maybe not in KY but it is so in VA, MD and DC. Esp in turns.

Anyways, from what you're saying, she was speeding (and driving faster then reasonable qualifies as speeding; like driving 30mph in zero visibility in 55mph zone). Being her regular route she wasn't attentive and she had sun in her eyes. Not really fault just negligence, and one human is dead.
that's not what it meansmohair_chair
Oct 14, 2003 6:43 AM
When it says pedestrians have the right of way, it doesn't mean they can jump out into the street at any time. It doesn't mean they can cross streets against lights. It doesn't mean they can cross when it says "don't walk." It doesn't mean anyone on foot has a magic shield that will protect them when they throw themselves in harm's way.

What it means is that in uncontrolled situations, such as a crosswalk without walk/don't walk signs, pedestrians have the right of way. It means that when a driveway crosses a sidewalk, drivers have to wait for anyone on the sidewalk before they cross it.

If pedestrians always had the right of way, there would be no need for jaywalking tickets.

The driver's manual also says you can't run red lights, but if you see someone running a red light and still pull out into the intersection because you have the green, if you get hit, you can be cited for failing to avoid an accident. And it's at least half your fault. The reasonableness clause always applies.
i HATE it whenSteve_0
Oct 14, 2003 7:46 AM
Im passengering with someone who abruptly stops their car because someone's waiting at the crosswalk.

"but the laws says to yield to pedestrians"

Even worse, the pedestrians who just step into the crosswalk in front of oncoming traffic because they think they have the right of way.

aaaaarrrrrrRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHH

I feel better now. thanks for listening.
You'd really love most of Europe-filtersweep
Oct 14, 2003 8:58 AM
Traffic gracefully and consistantly stops for anyone in a crosswalk- and they do just step out in front of traffic.
actually...Steve_0
Oct 14, 2003 11:08 AM
as a pedestrian, I really would like that. I'm not adverse to the concept, I'm adverse to people who dont understand local laws.
If you're in CA, it's the lawlaffeaux
Oct 14, 2003 10:16 AM
If you live in CA, which I think you do, you are obligated to stop if there is someone waiting at the crosswalk. If you do not stop you can be ticketed. You may be annoyed as the passenger, but the driver is obeying the law.
silly lawSteve_0
Oct 14, 2003 11:05 AM
I do not live in CA. FWIW - I would never get annoyed at someone for obeying the law.
why?laffeaux
Oct 14, 2003 10:29 PM
Why should a car have the right-of-way over a pedestrian at an uncontrolled intersection? I think it's great that cars must stop for people at crosswalks. The law only applies when there are no traffic lights.
simple queing theory. nmSteve_0
Oct 15, 2003 5:49 AM
You wouldn't like New York City very much...peter1
Oct 14, 2003 6:28 PM
We peds rule here! 4 wheels bad, 2 legs good!
dude,Steve_0
Oct 15, 2003 5:48 AM
I spend a lot of time in manhatten; on foot. and I KNOW the drivers there dont yield to peds, even when the peds HAVE the right of way.

Been bumped in the crosswalk more than a fewtimes.
I hate Wal*MartKristin
Oct 14, 2003 6:48 PM
And their friggin 2 mile wide crosswalk. Hello? Will I ever get to park? Fewer people cross the border in a week than the Walmart parking lot on Saturday morning.
heh...yeahSteve_0
Oct 15, 2003 5:50 AM
actually, I hate parking lots. Nothing uglier in life than acres of slurry-coated blacktop filled with painted steel/rubber/plastic bubbles.
almost poetic. :) nmTNSquared
Oct 15, 2003 9:57 AM
Walk doesn't mean ride, and cyclists aren't pedestrians...Spunout
Oct 14, 2003 6:56 AM
When we all(cyclists and motorists) understand this, and ride in the middle of the road like the rest of the vehicles this wouldn't happen.
she was walking across, not riding nmcyclopathic
Oct 14, 2003 3:40 PM
riding defensivelytarwheel
Oct 14, 2003 6:13 AM
From all of the descriptions, it sounds like the cyclist was at least partially (if not totally) at fault. Regardless of the circumstances, I think of lot of cycling/car collisions could be avoided if cyclists rode more defensively. You just can't assume that drivers will see you or yield the right of way. Cyclists always need to remember that you WILL come out on the short end of the stick if you have a collision with a car. You need to do everything you can to increase your adds of avoiding collisions, even if it means yielding when you have the right of way. You also need to use common sense by doing things like wearing bright clothes, using flashing lights in poor light, etc. I can't believe how many cyclists I see out riding with grey or black jerseys that blend right in with the pavement and no blinkie lights in late afternoon.
..and I didn't cut her head, your honor,cyclopathic
Oct 14, 2003 1:55 PM
her thin neck is at fault. /end of quote/

Agree 100% riding defensively and using bright jerseys, reflective ankle bands/gear and blinkies will save you life one day. However, I had some close calls with all this jazz on.
good information, butDougSloan
Oct 14, 2003 6:24 AM
The more info the better, of course. But, Ms. Henry herself attributed the cause to sun in her eyes and being unable to see. Rounding a left turn at a busy intersection at 25-30 mph, I think, is dangerous, particularly if the sun is low and could blind.

Mine isn't mob mentality; it's placing responsibility where it lies. Here, I think at least a significant portion of the responsibility lies with Ms. Henry. Not all, but significant.

Oh, and I formed this belief well before I had any idea of her or her husband's political affiliation. Irrelevant.

I'm particularly sensitive to these issues, as every time I get on the road now I wonder if I'll leave two children (one soon to be born) without a father. Being just take driving too casually, and do not even begin to comprehend the destruction a split second of inattention can cause. People can die. Families are left without fathers, mothers, their children. Rather than explaining away and knee jerk defending the killers, I think we need to foster an atmosphere of fear that the drivers will be held accountable; they can't shirk responsibility by blaming a death on a moment of blinding sun or not seeing someone. If you cannot see, yes, you should stop. I'd rather see someone rear-ended by another car with a few thousand dollars of bumper damage than to see a cyclist or pedestrian run completely over, causing unfathomable pain to her family and friends.

I certainly won't call this lady evil, but she, by her own words, was wrong. I think your zealous defense of her is out of character.

Doug
Of course, it's because she's a Democrat. nmOldEdScott
Oct 14, 2003 6:26 AM
NO, because she bought big SUV nmcyclopathic
Oct 14, 2003 8:56 AM
Exactly ... folks underestimate the destructive force ...Humma Hah
Oct 14, 2003 10:31 AM
... of motor vehicles. A 3200-pound car traveling 60 mph has the same kinetic energy as a cannon firing a 32-pound ball at 600 mph. That's a LOT of destructive power, and I think most people (drivers, passengers, cyclists, pedestrians, kids playing ball ...) don't take it seriously enough.

Driving is a big responsibility. Passengers who distract a driver are distracting the gunner of a big cannon. People who don't watch out for motor vehicles are dancing in front of a cannon, and the Laws of Physics trump all right-of-way laws.
and too often with minimal consequencesDougSloan
Oct 14, 2003 10:42 AM
Yes, you can easily kill or maim someone with vehicle with merely a moment of inattention.

Too often, though, I think these things happen because people are not as careful as they should be. Consequences are minimal. You won't do jail time unless you are some 3 time loser who shouts racial epithets out the window as you drive over the cyclist repeatedly, and then only if there are a dozen nuns as witnesses.

Instead, people are happily tucked away in their big metal cocoons. They have airbags, seat belts, and big bumpers. they have insurance to pay any claim and provide a defense if they get sued. Worst case, they have bankruptcy to protect their home and make any large judgment disappear in a poof of a judge's pen stroke. Or, they have no financial responsibility at all, going without insurance or minimum limits, and having no personal assets to worry about. Other than inconvenience and possibly conscience, there is not much deter people from being careless. Keep in mind, also, that the typical offender is not a likeable beauty queen.

With all the radio idiots now, it's almost been declared open season on cyclists. People just don't care, and jump to the conclusion that the cyclist was at fault from even being there in the first place (it is an unnecessary activity, after all, which should be reserved for children on their suburban neighborhood cul de sacs -- we are a menace to serious people using the roads for transportation -- isn't that the mentality you perceive?)

Rather than withdrawing from discussions about responsibility, I think we should address it head on more often. It might save someone's life, maybe one of ours.

Doug
Reflections..........Len J
Oct 14, 2003 6:45 AM
on this sad incident.

Based on what I've read, I think there is more than enough fault to go around.

1.) Cyclist. Riding thru a red light, no matter why puts her in the wrong. She should ride defensivly. Especially when she has better visibility than the driver.

2.)Driver. We should all drive mre carefully when our visibility is impaired. She apparently wasn't. Ultimatly, she is responsible for what she does with her auto.

3.) Traffic Engineers. It sounds like this intersection was a disaster waiting to happen.

All that being said, let's make sure that we remember that neither party had any malice or intention for this to happen. Both made "Human" mistakes, both have suffered horrible consequences, the cyclist died, and the driver must live with the knowledge that she killed someone (It sounds like she knows this BTW).

Why has this reduced to a discussion about who is "More" wrong? Instead, what does it say to each of us about what we should do differently when we ride our bikes & when we drive our cars.

BTW, the fact that she was in an SUV is not important to this discussion IMO (Although it is obvious that this fact has incited a stronger reaction because an SUV was involved). It sounds like if she was in a Toyota Hybrid, the same result would have probably occured.

Tragic, Humbling and Sad.

Len
Reflections..........Len J
Oct 14, 2003 6:47 AM
on this sad incident.

Based on what I've read, I think there is more than enough fault to go around.

1.) Cyclist. Riding thru a red light, no matter why, puts her in the wrong. She should ride defensivly. Especially when she has better visibility than the driver.

2.)Driver. We should all drive more carefully when our visibility is impaired. She apparently wasn't. Ultimatly, she is responsible for what she does with her auto.

3.) Traffic Engineers. It sounds like this intersection was a disaster waiting to happen.

All that being said, let's make sure that we remember that neither party had any malice or intention for this to happen. Both made "Human" mistakes, both have suffered horrible consequences, the cyclist died, and the driver must live with the knowledge that she killed someone (It sounds like she knows this BTW).

Why has this reduced to a discussion about who is "More" wrong? Instead, what does it say to each of us about what we should do differently when we ride our bikes & when we drive our cars.

BTW, the fact that she was in an SUV is not important to this discussion IMO (Although it is obvious that this fact has incited a stronger reaction because an SUV was involved). It sounds like if she was in a Toyota Hybrid, the same result would have probably occured.

Tragic, Humbling and Sad.

Len
Reflections..........ss jimbo
Oct 14, 2003 7:36 AM
BTW, the fact that she was in an SUV is not important to this discussion IMO (Although it is obvious that this fact has incited a stronger reaction because an SUV was involved). It sounds like if she was in a Toyota Hybrid, the same result would have probably occured.

If you are hit broadside by an SUV you are much more likely to be push under the vehicle. Also you are going to be hit in a way that does not allow you to absorb the collision force (either consciously or unconsciouly) by rolling over the hood. Being hit and thrown directly is a much harder impact on the body.

If she had been hit by a Toyota hybrid going the same (25-30 mph) speed she would have had a much greater chance of survival. Would she have survived? Who knows, but her chances would have been greater.

I don't think SUV's should be outlawed (I'm pretty libertarian in that respect), but SUV's are much larger allowing for less space when passing other vehicles or cyclists. There are of course many other reasons why SUV's suck, and why the arguments for driving them (other than because I feel like it) aren't valid, but they aren't germane to this argument.

jimbo
Why so much concern about blame?dzrider
Oct 14, 2003 7:39 AM
One woman's dead and another will likely live the rest of her life with knowing she killed her. Fault or blame may determine who pays whom and how much, but doesn't change the terrible realities. It would be very reassuring to believe that if nobody does anything terribly wrong nothing terrible will happen, but life isn't that way. Sometimes two people each screw up and cause a disaster. It sounds to me like this is one of those times.
partial explanation?DougSloan
Oct 14, 2003 8:00 AM
No, no amount of blaming will bring someone back from the dead. However, could it prevent some future premature deaths? What if cyclists rode more defensively? What if drivers were more careful, maybe even "assuming" a cyclist might be in their blind spot, around a corner, in an intersection where they cannot see? I think a partial role for "blame" is deterrence, education, and awareness. Just chalking it up to chance or "sh** happens" might not impress people sufficiently to try to prevent these things in the future.

Doug
There are almost no "accidents"PdxMark
Oct 14, 2003 9:34 AM
At least according to our Department of Motor Vehicles these days. The rationale is that there is always a choice that could have been made that would have prevented a collision.

So I'm with you on this, Doug. A fast-turn intersection in poor visibility means the driver assumed the road was clear... she didn't KNOW that it was. Her error was akin to running a stop sign "accidently." I didn't see the sign. I didn't see the cyclist in front of me. The result is the same.

Our society as been far too accepting of the carnage that driving without due care can cause. I think our DMV makes a good point in shifting the language of car collisions from that of a random "act of God" accident. If cyclists rode with the carelessness with which so many drivers drive, there would be many times more than the 800 cyclists killed a year in the US.

The driver in this case sounds like a nice, good person. But killing someone on the road doesn't just happen. This driver used poor judgment at the exact wrong time.
Nope, there are no accidentsKristin
Oct 14, 2003 7:00 PM
Everything happens for a reason. Everything has a cause. There are unintentional consequences and mistakes, but no accidents. Consequentially, the statement, "should not have," doesn't make sense either. Everything that has happened, should have happened. It may not be good, and we may not like it; but it should have happened. A woman turned a corner quickly at sunset and didn't see a person illegally crossing the road. Sad. Tragegidy. Unfortunate. Bad. But it happened exactly as it "should" have given the circumstances. There are no what ifs, only new opportunities tomorrow. We can't take responsibility for what others do, only our own actions. The word "accident" really should be striken from the dictionary.
useful explanations focus on the situation not the individuals.dzrider
Oct 14, 2003 9:52 AM
Blame placing focuses on the individual. The driver and the cyclists were certainly part of the situation but I'm certain neither wanted this to happen. Questions of helmet, SUV, what the driver was doing beside driving, that the cyclist was German, etc shed more heat than light. Once the cause is placed with an individual all that gets done is to make the action illegal, which often makes the action no less likely.
Something I said seems to have touched off ...Humma Hah
Oct 14, 2003 10:18 AM
... quite a broo-ha-ha, that wound up with a bunch of attempts to blame-lay. I'm sorry ... that wasn't my intent. Rather, I noticed in the original piece, taken from the internet, that the REPORTER seemed to be attempting to select certain facts (which turned out to be wrong, apparently) that suggested the cyclist was to blame:
i.e. the cyclist had not been in the crosswalk and was not wearing a helmet.

Now I just had to take issue with that crosswalk thing ... while many folks do seem to think bikes are pedestrians and should be in the crosswalk, in fact, they're vehicles and should be where vehicles should be, although generally to the far right of that range. I likened it to this whole ClearChannel mess, with media falsely spreading the notion that cyclists should stay on the sidewalks, and have no right on the steet ... a notion that is entirely at odds with the traffic codes in every jurisdiction I'm aware of.

I don't know where the blame lies here, and the authorities are welcome to set it when the facts are known, or to determine if there is NO blame, other than bad traffic engineering or bad luck. I'd greatly appreciate it if the reporter would a) get the facts straight, b) get all the pertinent facts, and c) not try to bias the opinion of the reader by selecting certain facts that appear to make one party at fault.
I think you nailed itDougSloan
Oct 14, 2003 10:30 AM
I think the cyclists here got miffed when it appeared the reporter was implying the cyclist was at fault (or deserved it) from being outside the cross walk or not wearing a helmet, or that she must have erred because she was German and would not understand our traffic laws or patterns. This is consistent with many other media accounts of similar circumstances, and it seems there is almost always an implication that the cyclist was at fault in some way, if not totally.

I think it's natural to defer blame from a person who will suffer from knowing she killed someone, in a conciliatory way, particularly if she is a likeable, attractive person.

Doug