It was bound to happen sooner or later.
Last week, a jogger on a popular shared use trail in Dallas suddenly turned to reverse direction and collided with a cyclist who was attempting to pass her. She struck her head as she fell, resulting in a fatal brain injury.
The reports I’ve seen don’t say how fast the rider was going or how close he was passing, or if he tried to warn her first. It didn’t help that her headphones may have kept her from hearing the rider as he approached.
Unfortunately, you don’t have to spend much time riding along the beach in Santa Monica and Venice to realized that a similar tragedy could happen here anytime.
Collisions between cyclists and pedestrians occur on the beachfront bike path on almost a daily basis.
Like the elderly rider I saw go over his handlebars when a small child on a tricycle suddenly strayed onto the wrong side of the path. Or the cyclist who was knocked of her bike as she tried to pass a group of pedestrians who stopped to talk without moving off of the path they shouldn’t have been on to begin with.
I’ve had several close calls exactly like this one myself, where someone has turned directly into my path without checking to see if anyone is behind them. Sometimes it’s a pedestrian or jogger, sometimes another rider making a left turn without bothering to look back first, evidently operating under the assumption that they’re the only ones there.
I’ve also had a number of close calls when a pedestrian has stepped onto the bike path without looking in either direction for oncoming traffic.
Call me crazy, but I’d think the mere existence of a bike path is a pretty good indication that there could, maybe, just possibly be bikes on it. And simple prudence would suggest that looking for them before attempting to cross would be a good idea.
But hey, that’s just me.
The Texas tragedy has reverberated around country, as the Bike Portland says it shows the need for more, and therefore, less crowded trails, as well as more courtesy on them, and Witch on a Bicycle offers advice on how to ride a multi-use path. Meanwhile, some people have responded by saying a 10 mph speed limit may be necessary on multi-use trails.
But it’s not a question of how fast you ride. It’s a matter of riding safely, and being prepared for other people on the path to do the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time.
I’m usually one of the fastest riders on the bike path. But I make a point of riding with my hands on my brake levers whenever there’s someone else around, which is most of the time. And passing other riders and pedestrians with the same three-foot or more passing distance I expect from drivers.
If I can’t, or if the other person’s actions make me suspect that they may somehow pose a hazard, I’ll announce my presence and tell them I’m about to pass — even though it’s often wasted breath, too many people can’t hear me or anything else over their headphones.
Sooner or later, though, something like this is bound to happen here. And when it does, the question isn’t whether the fault will lay with an overly aggressive cyclist or careless pedestrian.
It’s whether the city agencies who have repeatedly failed to enforce the path’s bike-only restrictions will be held accountable for it.
The Santa Monica Public library will host a free discussion with David Herlihy, author of The Lost Cyclist tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. in the Main Library’s MLK Jr. Auditorium, 601 Santa Monica Boulevard; thanks to Dr. Michael Cahn for the heads-up.
David V. Herlihy, author of the acclaimed Bicycle: the History, will discuss and sign his new book, The Lost Cyclist: The Epic Tale of an American Adventurer and His Mysterious Disappearance. The book tells the true story of Frank Lenz, a young photographer who disappeared in Turkey in the spring of 1894 while trying to complete a round-the-world bicycle ride. Herlihy will show photographs by Frank Lenz, taken before the world tour, when he rode an old-fashioned high-wheeler bike, and during the tour, when he rode a modern-style “safety” bicycle across North America and Asia. A book sale and signing, courtesy of Diesel Bookstore, will follow the program.
And speaking of L.A.’s city by the bay, the Santa Monica Spoke invites you to attend a social mixer to talk bikes with the candidates for Santa Monica City Council tomorrow evening from 6:30 pm to 8:45 pm at 502 Colorado Blvd.
Plan carefully, and you could even make an evening of it.
Rumors that Alberto Contador’ blood contained traces from a plastic IV bag have evidently been confirmed, as the New York Times reports that a new test first used in this year’s Tour de France showed plasticizer levels eight times over the allowed limit; a spokesman for Contador calls the story unfounded.
The Times quotes Bernhard Kohl, who finished 3rd in the 2008 Tour de France before being disqualified as saying:
“It’s impossible to win the Tour de France without doping…. Riders think they can get away with doping because most of the time they do.”
Lance Armstrong’s test samples from his riding days could be subjected to the same tests in a seemingly relentless effort to prove the new-retired rider cheated. Fortunately, not every cyclist is dirty.
Word came yesterday that the Massachusetts LAB-certified cycling instructor who was stopped repeatedly and arrested for the crime of riding in the roadway on a state highway had his charges dismissed last month, though authorities still have a few days to appeal.
The video may be three years old, but it’s relevant today since it shows the current front-runner for mayor of Toronto. On it, he says his “heart bleeds” for cyclists killed on the streets, but at the end of the day it’s their own fault, comparing bicyclists riding with traffic to swimming with the sharks.
Evidently, the anti-bike backlash has extended to wildlife, as riders are taken out by squirrels and wallabies in separate attacks; this comes on the heels of an elite New Zealand rider whose season was ended by a magpie.
A warm welcome to L.A.’s newest cycle chic. KPCC’s Larry Mantle had a good program on distracted driving on Tuesday; maybe the solution is hands-free texting. KABC-TV offers a mostly balanced, if somewhat lightweight, look at the conflict between bikes and cars; Damien Newton artfully deconstructs it. A new 3,000 square foot bike shop opens Downtown; link courtesy of @LosAngelesCM. USC’s Neon Tommy says the draft bike plan could make L.A. bike friendly, and reminds us there’s still time to submit your comments. Lisa Simpson, bike shop owner. Census data shows my hometown in the nation’s #3 cycling city behind Boulder CO and Eugene OR; L.A. checks in at a surprisingly high #26. In Oregon, anyone can write a traffic citation, even if the police and courts don’t always know it. And remember to wear orange if you ride there during hunting season. The Wisconsin bike shop owner who was hit by a car five yeas after barely surviving a racing accident died on Tuesday; the driver says he couldn’t see the riders in front of him because the sun was in his eyes. Don’t even try to figure out who’s at fault in this wreck as a salmon cyclist is hit by two drunk drivers in rapid succession; link courtesy of the previously mentioned WoaB. Advice on how to ride with another cyclist. After an Augusta driver hits five riders, critically injuring one, debate rages over how to keep cyclists safe — or whether we even belong on the roads. If you see someone riding your son’s stolen bike, don’t hit him with your SUV. Get out that ugly bridesmaid dress you thought you’d never wear again, as bike Pittsburgh hosts their first Bridesmaid Dress Ride. Rhode Island authorities look for the young motorists who intentionally forced a rider off the road during a triathlon. A London cyclist who was charged with assault after being strangled with his own scarf during an argument with a cab driver has his case dismissed; the court rules the driver’s version of events wasn’t credible. A driver in Singapore hits a cyclist with enough force that the rider smashes her windshield — then drives home with his bike jammed under her car, convinced that she was hit a falling branch; amazingly, the judge believed her. A bicyclist is killed when a school bus overturns in India’s Uttar Pradesh province, injuring 12 students; the driver ran away following the incident.
Finally, drivers evidently don’t stop for stops signs, either; then again, there are worse things than getting a ticket. And it looks like the LAPD won’t be pulling anyone over using jet packs, after all.