Thursday, September 17, 2009

Intersection accident - what can we learn?

The local TV website reports, "Car hits cyclist in busy intersection."

The mishap took place at about 9:30am, on busy State Street. Cyclist was westbound. Driver was eastbound, and crossed into the cyclist's path. She said "the sun was in her eyes and she could not see the cyclist."

Another obvious piece of the puzzle is a big coffee mug, near the downed bicycle.

"The sun was in my eyes."

Is that a valid excuse for running into somebody else?

I would suggest if you're driving but can't see where you're going, it's a lot like a hunter who sees something moving in the bushes and blasts away, hoping it's a valid target he's shooting at. (And later lamenting, "I thought it was a deer," after he kills somebody.)

But there are definitely some things the cyclist could have done to improve his chances.

First... if you're riding your bike while drinking or even balancing a big ol' coffee mug, your attention is going to be considerably distracted.

Second... if the sun is directly at your back, realize that the people coming straight toward you are headed directly into the sun. Have an escape route! (Or, if you are riding directly into the sun, realize that people approaching from behind are likewise being impacted in some way by that big ol' ball of burning hydrogen.) They might be at fault if they smash into you - technically - but if you're dead, does it matter?

One other observation... at 9:30am, this time of year, the sun is fairly high in the sky. That "blinded by the sun" sounds pretty feeble to me. But I'm admittedly biased.

(Photo lifted from story.)


Scott said...

Two observations:

(1) Visibility - This would have been an excellent opportunity to pimp your new day-glow vest! "I haven't been run over by a motorist since I started wearing it."

(2) Visibility - My commute is 34 miles each way. I have to use a headlight and taillight in the early morning, but even on my way home in the afternoon, if I'm in traffic, especially rush-hour traffic, my lights are on. Even so, I've had plenty of distracted drivers cut me off, turn in my way, poke their noses into my path, and otherwise annoy me. They're looking for 4000 lbs of steel, not a bike. The more I can do to be seen, the better.

(3) Has it been established that the coffee was the cyclist's? I can't imagine drinking coffee on a hard tail and NOT having an accident.

The Boise Picayune said...

I am bemused by people's penchant for describing Depraved Indifference as an "Accident".

To paraphrase a local ambulance chaser:

There are few "accidents". Most are narcissistic decisions with tragic consequences.

Have all the "Blue Ribbon Committees" (ever see a statue erected to honor a committee?) you want.

Until the BPD begins real enforcement against NASCAR wannabes, DMV comes to grips with the fact that they haven't made substantial changes to their licensing procedures since the 30s, and other local judges grow a pair, NOTHING will change.

bob t said...

I keep my headlight in strobe mode during the day and recently started using a helmet light set to three flashes per second both day and night. The advantage of the helmet light is that it can be pointed directly at motorists to get their attention.

Some good advice can be found here.

Bikeboy said...

Thanks for the comments. Indeed, "the problem" seems to have been the classic "I didn't see him." (Motorcyclists have this same problem, all to frequently with serious or fatal results.)

VISIBILITY! Until I am proven wrong, I will confidently assume the motorist was lax in her duty to diligently operate her vehicle and be aware of what she's driving towards. But as cyclists, we are particularly vulnerable to negligent motorists. ANYTHING we can do to be more visible is a good thing! Lights! Dayglo! Being where we are most likely expected to be!

Picayune... you are spot-on! As long as errant motorists can shrug their shoulders, hose off the front of their car, and drive on... there is precious little incentive to pay more attention. Aggressive driving seems to be getting worse all the time as traffic increases. Now and then a bit of "lip service" is delivered, but I'm not aware of any measures beyond that. They threaten to come down hard on aggressive and negligent drivers; we should more often hear of cases where they actually follow through (if they exist). Far as I know, the three fatal bike-car accidents from 4+ months ago (!!!!) are still "under investigation." Huh?

Marrock said...

Why is it always the car that hits them, doesn't the nerk behind the wheel have anything at all to do with it?

Smith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael Carpenter said...

My grandfather used to say, "Right-of-way never brought anyone back from the dead."

Ian said...

I live near that intersection. This morning I rode over to it. Arrived at 9:50 AM. From the sidewalk, I looked east along State St. No glare. Took off my helmet w/visor. Immediate glare. It would have been worse through a windshield. The driver was probably telling the truth. That's no excuse. If you can't see, don't go until you can; i.e., lower your visor (it's right there at the top of your windshield), wear a billed or brimmed hat, or sunglasses (maybe-not sure how well those work). I personally would not drive without at least a cap.