According to MyDesert.com, a cyclist was killed while riding against traffic in Rancho Mirage last night.
The rider, who has not been publicly identified, was headed east in the westbound on Highway 111 near Atrium Way when he was struck by a car traveling west at around 10:50 pm. KPSP-2 reports that he was pronounced dead at the scene.
No other details are available at this time.
Some bike riders believe it is safer to ride against traffic, since it allows them to see oncoming vehicles. However, it’s actually significantly more dangerous because motorists aren’t looking anything approaching them on the same side of the road, and it shortens time both rider and driver have to react to a dangerous situation.
It also dramatically increases the severity of the impact by combining the speeds of both bike and car, rather than reducing the speed of impact as it would if both were traveling in the same direction.
For instance, if a car was traveling at 30 mph in the same direction as a bike at 15 mph, they would collide with a force equivalent to hitting a stationary object at 15 mph. However, traveling in opposite directions means the force of impact would be equivalent to 45 mph.
And that makes a big difference. It’s said that a pedestrian hit at 30 mph has an 80% chance of survival, while one hit at 40 mph has an 80% chance of dying.
This is the 6th bicycling fatality in Riverside County this year, and the 43rd confirmed cycling traffic death in Southern California since January 1st.
Update: The rider has been identified only as a 41-year old Hispanic male. While the cyclist appears to be clearly at fault for riding on the wrong side of the street, at least one local TV station seems to be going out of its way to blame the victim, as they quote a local resident questioning why anyone would ride a bike at night:
“I’m very sorry this man was killed but the average bicycle rider doesn’t ride at 11 O’clock at night,” Wells said.
Unless, of course, the average bike rider needs to get home from work or school, has someplace they want to go or just happens to enjoy riding after dark. You know, sort of like people in cars, but with fewer wheels.
And writer Jim Lyle questions my physics, saying that force of impact in a collision isn’t as simple as adding and subtracting relative speeds
It doesn’t work that way. Ignoring differences in mass, if two cars collide head on at 30 mph, the force of the collision is not doubled; it’s the same as driving into a wall at 30 mph for each car.
For a bicycle/car collision, the differences in the masses are so large that the force of the collision is only marginally different if you are hit from behind or head on.