Posts Tagged 'Cycling'

No ghost bike for me, thank you. But…

Ghost bikes.

Ghostcycle: this makeshift monument appeared b...
Image via Wikipedia

Someone suggested them again this weekend as a way to mark the spots where cyclists have died on the roads. The thinking seems to be that these eerie memorials will raise the awareness of those who pass by and maybe prompt them to drive more carefully.

For the record: I understand the impulse and the sentiment, but if I should fall victim to a careless motorist I do not want a ghost bike.

I don’t want people to be afraid to ride their bicycles. I don’t want anyone to waste their time putting a ghost bike by the side of the road when it almost certainly will be removed as junk before very long.

What I want instead, and what I suggest that you do for other victims rather than mark the spot with a bicycle painted white:

  • Call and write to your city council representatives, your law enforcement people, your state legislators and your federal elected officials.
  • Go to meetings where decisions are made and make your case.
  • Say out loud what you think and what you want done to make the roads safer.
  • Hold officials accountable until they make and laws that will make a difference. Those people work for you.
  • Demand action.
  • Don’t stop.

Put up ghost bikes for other people if you like, but do these other things, too.

They will be more effective.

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Copenhagenize.com – Building Better Bicycle Cultures: Free Hugs (Sorry, not for drivers)

Fun video, rewarding folks for not driving…

Copenhagenize.com – Building Better Bicycle Cultures: Free Hugs (Sorry, not for drivers).

Click it. Enjoy.

Deadly driver charged with “improper turn, no insurance”

From thegazette.com

Update 11/5/2010: The driver charged with traffic violations that resulted in the death of Susan DeSotel turned himself in to police last night.

Update 11/4/2010: It says here that the arrest warrant for Robert Fleming was issued today.

Based on comments from a number of Eastern Iowa cyclists in various forums, they are unimpressed with the performance of law enforcement authorities in this case. That is what you might call an understatement.

If the driver is still around somewhere nearby, “we’ll run into him again sooner or later.”

That’s the best you can do when someone is killed? Seriously?

Shame on you.

Update 10/25/2010: CRPD Lt. Cory McGarvey says the traffic charges against Robert H. Fleming are simple misdemeanors.

He added: “We cannot find the driver. We feel he left town.”

CRPD asked the county attorney to issue a warrant for Fleming’s arrest.

Posted earlier today:

The driver who turned in front of cyclist Susan DeSotel, resulting in the collision that took her life, has been charged with “improper turn and no insurance.”

That information came in an email from Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham to Monica Vernon, a council member who followed up on my request for information. No other details about the charges – when they were filed or what the penalties are, for example – were provided at the time. Look for more details this week.

Improper turn and no insurance.

It says a lot about the limitations of state law in Iowa and, of course, about the driver, Robert H. Fleming.



Let officials know you want action when cyclists are injured or killed

Some phone numbers you might consider calling to ask what is being done in the wake of Susan DeSotel’s death (see previous post):

  • Cedar Rapids Police Department: (319) 286-5491
  • Mayor Ron Corbett, City Hall: (319) 286-5051
  • Mayor Ron Corbett, Home: (319) 365-8187

Those numbers are all from the city’s website. You can find your council representatives there, too.

Let the police and the mayor and the others know you care about this.

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Want to be bike-friendly? Take cyclist deaths seriously

Cedar Rapids, Iowa – This town has made some progress in recent years toward becoming a more “friendly” place to move around by bicycle rather than car or truck.

There are a few bike lanes. There is a city Bicycle Advisory Committee. There are Bicycle Ambassadors, and now and then people make an effort to accommodate and encourage the bicycling public by providing special parking areas, generally staffed by a few volunteers and city employees.

Although most people didn’t know it, largely because of a lack of timely promotion by city officials and lack of interest from the local media, there was even a Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month back in September.

All well and good.

How “bike friendly” is it, though, when a local cyclist can be killed in a collision with a motor vehicle and it takes months (nearly three in this case so far) to decide about charging the driver?

A lack of charges in a timely fashion says the death is no big deal to the city. (The toxicology tests cited as a reason for delay certainly could have been completed by now if this were a priority.)

That there is no serious penalty for careless driving that causes serious injury or death says such injuries and deaths are not very important to the state.

A community that accepts this is not “bike friendly,” no matter how hard it tries to pretend that it is.

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Protecting brains is what counts, not statistics

New bicycle helmets
Image by prayingmother via Flickr

A Wall Street Journal article headlined The Bike Helmet Wars cited some interesting statistics but overlooked the most important point of the discussion.

It isn’t about numbers.

Say you’re a parent and you and your children don’t bother with helmets as you ride the trail. One of the kids slips on some wet leaves and crashes, hitting her head on the concrete.

Her brain could be injured pretty easily, maybe permanently and devastatingly.

Do statistics matter now?

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Jogger dies after collision with bicycle rider

On dallasnews.com this morning is a story reporting the death of the jogger who was injured in a collision with someone on a bicycle the other day.

It is a sad, sad reminder to all of us.

Be aware of your surroundings. Among other things, that means being able to hear other traffic on the trail or on the road, whether you’re running, walking, skating, bicycling or driving a car or truck.

Cyclists have as much responsibility to maintain control as anyone else. Pass as safely on a trail as you want motorists to pass you on the road. Slow down if that’s what it takes to avoid hurting somebody.

You can avoid collisions.

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Warning: Knuckleheads on bicycles, others on foot

You may recall reading here that it’s best to assume all drivers are drunk and stupid when you’re out on a bicycle.

trail cycling

After reading a story on dallasnews.com this morning (thanks for the link, @beautifulbicycl), it seems appropriate to add:

  • When you’re running, assume that someone fully capable of ruining your day (or worse) is closing in on you – a knucklehead on a bicycle, for example. Some will warn you, and you might hear them, and some won’t.
  • When you’re riding a bicycle and about to pass someone else, assume that person is not paying attention and is very likely to walk, run or pedal right in front of you at the worst possible moment.

Don’t assume that everyone else on the trail is courteous and alert.

In other words, be ready for anything.

Two months pass without charges for cyclist’s death

This white bike was chained to a post in Oxfor...
Image via Wikipedia

Still waiting.

It has been 61 days since the July collision that resulted in Susan Desotel’s death.

No charges have been filed, and police are still waiting for results of toxicology tests.

Charges won’t help Susan, of course, but they should be filed – and soon – to show that careless driving that takes a life will not be tolerated.

C.R.’s Bicycle Safety and Driver Alertness Month will end this week.

The public awareness it was intended to promote needs to continue.

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The hazards and joys of night bicycling

You’ve certainly noticed by now, if you’re a Northern Hemispherian, that we’ve had fewer and fewer daylight hours lately.

While in reality the Earth goes in an orbit ar...

Image via Wikipedia

In a couple of days, in fact – around about September 23 – we’ll experience our annual autumnal equinox, when the days no longer last longer than the nights, and the darkness begins to rule.

You know what that means, right?

If you’re not prepared to bicycle in the dark, you’re going to miss out on some fun.

Nearly anyone can ride a bicycle in broad daylight. Only those bright enough to adorn themselves with a little reflective material, and their bikes with headlights and tail lights, can pedal safely into the night and the wee hours of the morning.

A few tips for those who haven’t already tried this:

  • Slow down, particularly when you’re riding on an unlighted trail. Since you can’t see as far ahead as you do during the day, and not very far at all off to the side of the trail where scary things wait to jump out in front of you, slowing down gives you a little more time to react.
  • You won’t see many runners, skaters and walkers pushing strollers on a trail in the middle of the night, but don’t assume they aren’t there. Stay alert.
  • Also be ready to encounter and dodge any dim-bulb cyclists who are out riding without fresh batteries or even entirely light-free.
  • Assume that every driver on the road is drunk and/or stupid. (This might be a good rule for daytime cycling, too, by the way.)
  • Enjoy the cool, quiet feeling of privacy and freedom that makes night cycling a unique, exhilarating experience.

Pedal on.

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