Tuesday, October 8, 2013

More Boise bicycle fatalities

Sadly, we've had a couple of bike-car collisions that have resulted in fatal injuries.

In the wee hours of September 26, cyclist Victor Haskell, 58, was struck as he rode on State Street near 30th street. The driver who hit him, Gavin Bradford Haley, fled the scene, but turned himself in the next day.

Since it was dark at the time, my first assumption was that Mr. Haskell may not have had adequate/legal lighting and reflectors, but the police reported that he had working lights at both ends of his bicycle. And Mr. Haley was driving home from a bar, and has a significant criminal record including DUI offenses. So now the obvious assumption is that driver impairment was at least a contributing factor.

Friends of Mr. Haskell described him as a "delightful man," and as an experienced transportation cyclist.

And then on the afternoon of October 7, cyclist James Kelly, 56, was riding on Federal Way when he was struck by a motorist in an SUV, who was turning eastbound onto Federal Way from the Broadway ramp. He had a baby trailer behind him, but (thank goodness!) it was filled with groceries, and not babies.

That incident is still under investigation, but it's obvious that one of the parties failed to yield. The intersection has a traffic signal (light).

What can be done to prevent such incidents?

Well, first of all, there's a risk inherent in bicycling. (And taking a bath, and getting out of bed in the morning.) The only way to avoid getting injured or killed when riding a bicycle is to avoid a crash. Let's review how to minimize the likelihood of a crash:

BE LEGAL! Know the traffic laws that apply to you, and follow them.

BE VISIBLE! Bob T. has made a convert out of me - you cannot be too visible! Go overboard with bright and hi-viz attire, lights, reflective material, whatever. Day and night, but particularly when visibility is compromised by poor ambient light.

BE PREDICTABLE! Be in a position on the road where people expect you to be (legal), don't make sudden direction changes, signal your intentions.

BE DEFENSIVE! Do everything right... and expect everybody else to do everything wrong. If there's an occupied vehicle, another cyclist, or even a pedestrian, nearby... expect 'em to do something crazy/stupid, and be ready to react.

NOTE! Even if you do everything right, you cannot totally eliminate the possibility of a mishap. They happen. But you can greatly reduce the chances, by adhering to safe cycling practices. (And riding more often probably improves your chances rather than reducing them, because of the experience you gain along the way.)

Condolences to the families and friends of the deceased cyclists. May we honor their memories by making our roads safer.

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