Tragedy for a cyclist on TOSRV

I’m going to write an entry about my experience on TOSRV, but first I wanted to relate this bit of tragic news I learned mid-ride while leaving Waverly (the first stop) on Sunday morning in the rain. A car driven by what I assumed to be people from the town slowed as I was pedaling and told me that a cyclist had been killed on Route 23. This was probably at about 10:30am as Michael and I had stayed at the Waverly stop to wait out the light thunderstorm that was rumbling through the area. The accident occurred at approximately 7:45am, so the news was a bit delayed and it was weird to me, in retrospect, that the driver of the vehicle was so frantic about me getting ahold of someone from TOSRV to let them know what had happened.

Having no way to inform anyone and figuring out that someone on the tour had contacted the correct authorities, I just continued on my way. However, I was a bit shaken by this news. This kind of incident reminds me that cycling can be dangerous. Throughout my ride on TOSRV, I could not help but notice there are three kinds of drivers: those who give cyclist ample berth, those who give cyclists way more berth than necessary, and those who don’t give cyclists any berth. There seems to be an on-going war in all communities between cyclists and those people who feel we have no right to be on the road. What has this society come to when every one is in such a damn hurry to get places that they can’t take a few seconds to move around a person on a bicycle?

Anyway, this event is still under investigation. The driver of the car who hit the cyclist (who was, I should mention, not on the proper TOSRV route) did a hit-skip, leaving the scene of the accident and, according to the article in Columbus Dispatch, returned a half hour later, claiming that she thought she hit a sign (!!). Whether it turns out the cyclist was in the wrong (it was not illegal to be on Route 23) and not “properly” dressed in bright gear (I was wearing a black rain coat, so I was not in proper bright attire myself), I will always contend that hit-skipping is the worst crime ever. No matter how scared you are for something you’ve done wrong, you should never just leave the scene of an accident like that. I know I would never do such a thing, ever. I would be too overwhelmed with guilt to just leave someone like that. Admit your guilt–whether accident or fault–and accept your punishment like an adult.

I’m seriously thinking of doing the Ride of Silence in Cleveland. Not for this guy necessarily, but to remind myself that what happened on TOSRV could happen to anyone, no matter how properly equipped you are on a bike. We all go into moments of tired concentration while trying to keep ourselves pedaling; I know I’ve made my share of mistakes while riding (forgetting to look before crossing an intersection, which I admittedly did once on TOSRV while following another rider). I know there have been times while driving where I’ve zoned out, worrying about work or a fight I had with someone or talking on my cell phone. Sometimes one bad decision you make can cost your life or the life of others. I would hope this somber message serves as a reminder to everyone that we should be more aware of the world around us when we’re on the road in any of our vehicles–whether they are motorized or not. And especially if they are not motorized because there is a lot of motorist rage out there against cyclists. (I was enlightened just outside of Columbus while crossing an intersection on green by a stopped motorist’s unsolicited rage against cyclists, which he shouted out his window with lots of explatives.)

The roads are for all types of vehicles. When driving, remember to share the road. If cyclists were forced to stay on bike paths, cycling would be a very boring occupation for those of us who enjoy challenging routes, long rides, and the ability to venture to alternate locations. I can’t tell you how exhilerating it is to see the world by bicycle (see previous blog entries). We tend to try to create our routes on the least trafficky roads possible, as we prefer to not mingle amongst busy motorist traffic, but sometimes you just can’t avoid a nasty stretch of busy road. We have a right to be there, so please respect our space.

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8 thoughts on “Tragedy for a cyclist on TOSRV

  1. “Birth” != “Berth” :)I do not ride my bicycle as much as I should. But, I try to be mindful of cyclists when I drive. I will generally slow down and give them a bit of room. Of course, it all depends on how much space they have. I miss living in an area that has a physical division between a wide bike lane and the rest of the road.Of course, I get tired of cyclists who cannot decide if they are a vehicle or a pedestrian. Either follow the rules of the road or stay off the road. If you come to a four-way stop, then you have to stop. I have almost hit a few cyclists who do not come to a complete stop. Regardless of whose fault it was, it is inexcusable to leave the scene of an accident. I hope the driver get some sort of punishment. At any rate, I am glad you made it safely.

  2. I hear you… that’s what angers me the most about this story–that the chick left. I mean, for christsakes, she KNEW she didnt hit a sign! How can you not notice you’ve hit a person on a bike?!? She’s just back pedaling (excuse the pun), trying to sound like she didnt realize what she did. If she thought she hit a sign, she wouldnt have returned to the scene of the crime. She got a guilty conscience. Good for her.The TOSRV foreign is buzzing with all sorts of news about this. One guy pointed out that her home in Scioto County would have brought her south when she was heading north, meaning she had to have made a U-turn of some kind to head back home… This just all sounds like the nervous behavior of someone feeling guilty…Some people on the forum have used this incident as a way to lay blame on bad cyclists. We dont know what this guy was doing, so we can only assume that he was obeying the rules of road. (The majority of hard core cyclists DO obey the rules of the road, it’s the less informed and occasional riders who dont.) Though he was officially off route for TOSRV, two facts remain:1) It was not illegal to cycle on the road he was on. 2) A lot of other cyclists have used that road to short cut the second day’s route when they were staying at a hotel north of town. My boyfriend said he was tempted to do it once; a guy in my bike club said that he <>has<> done it a few times. Not that group mentality means it’s the right thing to do, but if the road was not closed to cyclists, then it was not necessarily wrong for him to have done this. The only thing that was perhaps hazardous about it was that he was alone and, since he was off route, the chances of the next cyclist finding you were considerably less since the majority of riders were going on the official route. Still, that’s not enough to lay blame on him; at home, I ride on the roads by myself ALL THE TIME. And I ride on probably busier streets (none of the streets we road on were as busy as the ones I ride on around my house, except for a few times when we were going through towns and Columbus).So, the point of this is that it could happen to anyone. I think that’s what’s the most scary thing about this to me–the realization that something I love can cost my life like this. It’s not going to stop me from riding–there are so many ways in which I could die just driving to work in the morning–but it causes me to pause and reflect on this situation… This guy was probably very much like me in his love of this sport.Also, as brought up on the TOSRV forum, these people who hit cyclists are rarely prosecuted or punished for what they’ve done. They basically have committed vehicular homicide–even if it is on accident–and some sort of penance should be done. Not necessarily going to jail (although, this lady should get jail time for hit skipping–that’s just WRONG), but perhaps community service or being put into a driving awareness program or suspension of your license for a year or two. The problem is, the law seems to blame the accident on the cyclist…So, I dont know. I agree with you that there are some cyclists who don’t obey the law. I admittedly will cross intersections on red IF it is one of those intersections that are sensor activated and only set up for cars. But, that means the intersection is not that busy, and I do look out for traffic when I do that. I would never do that at a busy intersection. I’m pretty cautious on the bike, always anticipating the moves of the cars waiting to turn onto the street I’m on. I assume they dont see me and I start to slow down until I make eye contact and am certain they see me there. I love my life too much to do otherwise.I seriously think there are more cyclists who obey the traffic laws than not. The few who dont give everyone else a bad name. Which I think is because the overwhelming majority of non-cyclists want to notice the bad behavior more so that they can continue providing proof of why they think bicycles shouldnt be on the road. I think a lot of it boils down to impatient drivers…

  3. PS – I have a problem where when I mean to type one word, I type another that sounds like it… I just realized I wrote “foreign” instaed of “forum.” And “road” instead of “rode.” I really should read these things before I post them… It’s embarrassing when an English major and writer by profession messes these sort of things up!! (And “birth” instead of “berth” — EGADS, I know the difference. I was just thinking faster than my hands could type.)

  4. I would agree that most cyclists do behave appropriately. But, you don’t always get noticed for doing something good.But, even if the cyclist was completely in the wrong (like driving in the middle of the road towards the car), the driver of the vehicle is still partially responsible. Even if the accident was unavoidable, she should have stayed. In some jurisdictions, you can be charged with a hit and run or fleeing even if it was not your fault. However, I would be surprised if the driver gets more than a slap on the wrist.

  5. Yeah, you’re right about that… people only remember when you screw up, not when you’ve done something good… this is the case with all these cyclist haters out there.Well, I guess that even if the driver does get off with just a slap on the wrist, her punishment is the guilt of knowing she killed someone with her vehicle. I would think that that kind of thing would bother someone for the rest of his/her life. I know it would certainly haunt me the rest of my life, even if it was an unavoidable accident. So, in a way, I feel bad for the driver as well. I mean, it says something that even though she hit-skipped, her guilty conscience brought her back. Once she left the scene, she could have left permanently…

  6. I’m glad that you, Michael and the rest of you whom I know personally made it successfully and seem to have even enjoyed it. I hope to go on that ride myself someday, but for now I really feel that I have to look after my mother and mothers shouldn’t have to spend mother’s day alone, for crying out loud. A tragedy like this really does bring home how risky what we enjoy doing really is. You’re right . . . there is a war going on between cyclists and motorists and despite some suggestions for a peace treaty(http://bikesnobnyc.blogspot.com/2008/03/separate-peace-brokering-end-of.html) things seem to be getting worse instead of better. We can only do so much to change the attitudes of motorists and we really can’t do much at all until we clean up our own act. The ABC directors just got an e-mail a couple of weeks ago from a motorist who politely pointed out that our Thursday 6 p.m. fast riders really do need to stop at stop signs, not run lights and avoid going up one-way ramps the wrong way.

  7. What one-way ramps are they going up the wrong way? Usually when you have a one-way ramp, you’re going on to a closed-access highway… *wondering where in the valley this has occured*.Michael and I accidentally ended up on a one-way street in Portsmouth… oops. The car didnt give way and I realized why. We quickly got off that street. I just didnt expect one way streets in a town that small!But, then, you cant blame cyclists always for that one… I’ve gone in my car the wrong way down a one way street. It’s embarrassing!!I see your point, though, Bob. I cant believe that fast group is ignoring rules like that… This is not a race!! (I guess to them it is…)

  8. I’m glad everyone I know, made it home safely.I’m glad that I’ve safely completed TOSRV twice myself.Michelle

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