Trucks vs. Cyclists vs. Pedestrians… Why do the cyclists always lose?

A very serious bicycle accident happened to fellow Westerville Bicycle Club member and ride leader Steve Barbour. He was hit by a truck on his way to lead a COP ride on Saturday morning, July 18th on Cemetery Rd. in Hilliard, OH at 6:00 a.m. They were both going westbound.

Hilliard police say the pick-up driver caused the accident that seriously injured the Columbus cyclist early Saturday morning. Edward S. Miller, 28, of Newark is charged with Aggravated Vehicular Assault, a third degree felony in the mishap. We have also heard that alcohol might have been involved but for now, that has not been confirmed. For now, Miller is in jail while the investigation continues.

Steve was transported to OSU University Hospital where he remains in critical condition. Steve suffered severe head injuries as well as spinal injuries. Right now the major concern are the head injuries. He underwent surgery yesterday to stop the bleeding and reduce the swelling in the brain. He is presently unconscious and in a coma. The doctors told Mrs. Barbour, Steve’s mom, that the next 72 hours are critical. They won’t know how extensive the damage is until the swelling is reduced. The family has asked that there be no visitors and no calls.

* * *

Obviously, this is horrible. Steve & I are both members of the WBC, so odds are, we have been in a ride together, meaning this has hit pretty close to home to me. Whenever I hear of a cyclist getting severely hurt or killed, it always slaps me across the face and sends shivers down my spine.

Yeah, sometimes it’s the cyclist fault, like when I heard about an experienced cyclist who died when, for whatever reason, he wasn’t paying attention and ran into a SUV parked on the side of the road. Yeah, it could’ve been avoided and the SUV was not at fault, but that doesn’t lessen his death being a horrible tragedy. I think of all the parked cars along Broad St. in downtown Columbus I pass all the time and constantly remind myself that it’s not just the moving cars I need to pay attention to…

But Steve, 51 years old, a die-hard cyclist and cycling commuter, one less car on the road, who, by all accounts, was doing everything right. He wore the helmet, the day-glow florescent vest, he had the mirrors, he was decked out in lights, i.e. he’s one of those guys, not just “cagers”, but hell, even “serious road cyclists” would probably make fun of, though deep down we knew he was right. I mean, look at me… I’ve got the lights, sure, and I wear a day-glow reflective anklet (on my commutes), and even a helmet, but beyond that I’m just some guy cruising along on a bike in your lane. Not Steve, he was visible, he was setting the example… Yet, he was the one who gets hit while legally riding in his little slice of the road.

It’s just not right.

Of course, along with bike/truck accidents comes the debate of where we belong. We’ve talked about this before, but over and over again, it just becomes apparent that cyclists are stuck in a no man’s land.

First off, cars & trucks don’t want or look for us on the road, feeling like we belong on the sidewalk. Even idiots like this guy, a law student (dear god help us all), felt compelled to hop on the NBC story reporting the serious accident to tell us we need to get on the sidewalk! Their reasoning seems simple enough, cars are not on the sidewalk, therefore sidewalks are safer for cyclists.

Anyone with a brain larger than a wasabi pea can think this through and realized this is simply ignorance. While true, your average car does not drive along the sidewalk running down cyclists and pedestrians, but at every curb and at every driveway there IS a potential car or truck. Only this time, you are not on the road so guess what, they don’t see you! HOORAY! AWESOME! Bushes, trees, privacy fences, all line sidewalks, hiding you from them. Plus, at cross streets, the cars are actually directly in your “path”! Sounds great.

Add on to this that, from what I’ve heard, pedestrians & runners tend to frequent these skinny little sidewalks, often with hyper pets on leashes or baby carriages with (I assume) actual babies in them, cruising along at maybe 3 to 5 mph. Do you REALLY think that having a 200 – 300lbs projectile going a meager 15 mph (slow by roadie standards, by the way) on this maybe-3 foot wide stretch of crappy concrete is a good idea?

Besides…. Pedestrians don’t want us there or even on the bike paths!!!

And this is, of course, assuming there are sidewalks available… On my commute today, the sidewalks in downtown were and always are covered in business folks or people lingering about waiting to catch buses. Once outside downtown, there was maybe only a stretch of about a mile or two of the 20 mile commute with an actual sidewalk. So, what do you suggest I do? Dodge businessmen & women and then ride on the grass?

My favourite part was when I go through the lower-income parts of town where there are no sidewalks AND the city doesn’t seem to want to take care of the roads (if only poor people could donate more to politicians campaigns, eh? Only then, they’d be even poorer), so “my 3 feet” are covered in potholes, giant cracks, and glass. Fantastic. Guess what I do, I take the whole damn lane and go about 25 or so mph. But that’s me, what of the folks who can’t go that fast? Are they S.O.L. and need to pray they don’t get a fall into a pothole and get a flat or worse, crash?

Good times…

So, we are given, legally, about 3 feet of space on the side of the road, a little patch between the cars & trucks and the folks on the sidewalk. We then throw on a big dorky helmet, often with a silly little mirror sticking out from it, load our bikes with mirrors and lights, slide into a butt-padded short or bib that displays all your “junk” for the world to see, and then slide on the sexiest of all accessories, the day-glow yellow florescent vest or jacket, and then some jackass either shoots out from a cross street at you as you are about to pass by or better, comes straight at you from the opposite lane yet somehow doesn’t see you at all, gets in the left turn lane and turns directly into you (a classic one for me)… Fortunately, for the vigilant, you hopefully have a chance to grab a handful of brakes. But in Steve’s case, the worse possible situation, when someone just piles right into you from behind giving you absolutely NO CHANCE to do anything at all, oh man…. what can you do?

I’ve had cars buzz me, drivers flip me off, idiots swerved hard left, gun it, then hard-hard right in front of me to “show me” that I have annoyed them, people yell at me, or throw stuff at me, and people not see me and almost hit me (thanks again, brakes), and this is all when I’m being all legal-beagal on my bike! And people think riding through the “rough part” of town is my concern….. HA!

Look, I know a cyclist in your way is annoying, when I’m in a hurry in the car and a cyclist is moseying along, maybe even well beyond the 3 feet, I get just as irritated as you do, but c’mon we are talking about someone’s life here. Stay alert! Be respectful of their space & safety, pass them, and then just move along… Your day, your life continues, their’s continues as well, everybody wins.

And cyclists…. STAY ALERT! Don’t taunt, don’t “retaliate” when an ignorant driver shouts at you, stay in your 3 feet, and if you have to take the lane, be quick and polite about it. And if a car sees you and doesn’t shoot out and kill you, maybe a little smile & a nod or wave wouldn’t hurt…. A little “thank you” to the cager for remembering we exist on the road too…

Sorry for the long-winded discussion/rant, I know it’s not the usual “silly Tsuru” you are used to, it was just that on the commute in this morning, it was hard to even think about some new album or whatever. So, no new music today… Instead, I’d like to re-present our bicycle mixtape, in honour of Steve, in hopes that he recovers fully and soon, and that maybe one or two of you out there may listen, think fondly of bicycle and cyclist in general, and maybe just be a little more aware of us silly-looking folks on two wheels pedaling our asses off…

TSURURADIO Re-Presents In Honour Of Steve Barbour…
Bicycle, Bicycle, Bicycle, I Want To Ride My Bicycle Mixtape!!!
(Full Zip)

01 Queen – Bicycle Race
02 The Bicycles – B-B-Bicycles
03 Helvetia – Old New Bicycle
04 Saloon – Bicycle Theves
05 They Might Be Giants – Dirt Bike
06 Peter And The Wolf – The Bike of Jonas
07 Hauschka – Blue Bicycle
08 The Love Of Kevin aka the LK – Tandem Bikes
09 Luis Bacalov – Bicycle
10 Pink Floyd – Bike
11 Dukes of Stratosphear – Bike Ride to the Moon
12 Ether Frolics – Bike Ride
13 Grandaddy – Rode My Bike to My Stepsister’s Wedding
14 Paulette – The Bike
15 Lebanon – Bicycle
16 Clare Moore – Town Bikes Song
17 Butterglory – Bike
18 Red Hot Chili Peppers – Bicycle Song
19 Tonepoem – The Bicycle Thief
20 World Atlas – Girl on a Boys Bike
21 Blur – Daisy Bell (A Bicycle Made For Two)
22 Lisa Germano – Riding My Bike

My best hopes and wishes to Steve & his family for a quick & full recovery…. Our thoughts are with you,
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1 comment for “Trucks vs. Cyclists vs. Pedestrians… Why do the cyclists always lose?

  1. JCampbell54
    July 20, 2009 at 4:55 PM

    Very cool post, thanks.

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