August 31, 2011

"you cannot ride bikes in NYC. too many fatalities every year even when you follow the rules"

Comment on a very sad story of the death of a 29-year-old woman.

126 comments:

AllenS said...

A very sad story, and an even worse last sentence in the article:

A neighbor said he often ran into Abbott walking her dog, Banjo.

Joe Schmoe said...

Kind of an unfortunate choice of words for the last sentence of the article:
"A neighbor said he often ran into Abbott walking her dog, Banjo."

Joe Schmoe said...

Ahh! You got it first, AllenS.

MadisonMan said...

I'm fascinated that people driving cars who kill others are never charged with anything.

How about inattentive driving, or driving too fast for conditions?

Are bike fatalities any more common in NYC on a per capita basis? I doubt it.

Paul said...

Try riding a motorcycle in Dallas in rush hour traffic.

The road is NOT MADE FOR Bicycles!! The traffic speed is just to high and the bicycle riders have no protection.

AllenS said...

Joe, I almost choked on my breakfast of raccoon and eggs when I read that.

traditionalguy said...

Walking in NYC is dangerous enough without falling off your bicycle.

Beating the red light is habitual for drivers that race from block to block.

Kit said...

How about inattentive driving, or driving too fast for conditions?

Exactly. If it had been another car she hit, those would have been the charges.

Though the biker had on a helmet, I wonder if she had lights. That might have helped, some.

Curious George said...

"MadisonMan said...
I'm fascinated that people driving cars who kill others are never charged with anything."

I'm fascinated by people who think that simply because a car hit a bike the driver of the car should be charged.

In this case the biker was at fault for her own death, as she fell off her bike first into the lane the the car was in.

Althouse can say this is "a very sad story" and it certainly is, but it really doesn't jive well with he "sarrow" post from yesterday. You put bikes and cars together you are going to have a lot of these.

gerry said...

How about inattentive driving, or driving too fast for conditions?

Well, throwing herself in front of a moving vehicle after cutting through a construction site might be extenuating, right? Was the bicyclist moving too fast for conditions? Was she sober? Was she inattentive?

Evil Mercedes owner. Used gasoline. She's not green, probably. Probably doesn't recycle. Probably guilty. Of something. Evil bitch.

Curious George said...

" Kit said...
How about inattentive driving, or driving too fast for conditions?

Exactly. If it had been another car she hit, those would have been the charges."

What in the story leads you to this conclusion? Let me answer for you..nothing. You didn't read it.

MadisonMan said...

Curious George, given that her actions killed someone, not just hit her, I think Driving too Fast for Conditions is warranted. I don't see how you can argue otherwise. If the biker is driving through debris, how can the car driver not see it? Pay attention people!

However, I'm not sure if such a charge exists in NY -- it was around in Pennsylvania when I took driver's ed. Sort of a catch-all when Police couldn't think of anything else.

Curious George said...

"MadisonMan said...
Curious George, given that her actions killed someone, not just hit her, I think Driving too Fast for Conditions is warranted. I don't see how you can argue otherwise. If the biker is driving through debris, how can the car driver not see it? Pay attention people!"

The person not paying attention to the debris was the biker. It even says so in the story. Bikes have no special rights when they share space on normal streets. They don't have an automatic "right of way".

You're position is idiotic.

AllenS said...

MadMan, please read the story. She had been run into often. This was nothing new, evidently.

ndspinelli said...

I investigate accidents in personal injury cases. The first thing you need to determine via cell phone records is if the person was talking or texting. The number of accidents involving inattentive driving has grown exponentially over the past decade. I'm a walker, not a biker. However, I ALWAYS walk toward traffic, so I can see what the driver is doing. My experience w/ bike/vehicle accidents is the biker is @ a distinct disadvantage since they are required to drive the same direction as traffic..they can't see the inattentive driver.

May this woman rest in peace and may the Good Lord comfort her family and friends.

Shanna said...

I'm fascinated that people driving cars who kill others are never charged with anything.

The story said she fell towards traffic. How is a car supposed to anticipate that?

Very sad and these types of stories crop up constantly.

TWM said...

Nothing in the story indicates that the driver of the car was doing anything wrong, including speeding or being inattentive. So why should the driver be charged with anything? This woman was riding stupid and fell into oncoming traffic. It was an accident. And from the report one caused by the biker - cyclist really since bikers ride motorcycles - biking where she probably should not have been. Sucks for her, sadly.

Kit said...

CG, I've been rightly charged with 'driving too fast for conditions', so I know the situation and know what I should have done differently (I also read the article). I'm not saying the driver is evil or any of that...just careless, and somewhat at fault. There's a responsibility to driving a care and it's often not taken seriously enough.

MadisonMan said...

MadMan, please read the story. She had been run into often. This was nothing new, evidently.

LOL!

Curious George said...

"ndspinelli said...
I investigate accidents in personal injury cases. The first thing you need to determine via cell phone records is if the person was talking or texting."

How do you do that? I would think that those records are private. That said, simply proving someone was talking or texting does not prove fault.

Shanna said...

I'm not saying the driver is evil or any of that...just careless, and somewhat at fault.

There is absolutely nothing in the story to indicate the driver was being careless. All we know is the bike rider fell into traffic and was hit. This story is like if a person suddenly runs in front of your car and you hit them. A tragic accident.

Curious George said...

" Kit said...
CG, I've been rightly charged with 'driving too fast for conditions', so I know the situation and know what I should have done differently (I also read the article). I'm not saying the driver is evil or any of that...just careless, and somewhat at fault. There's a responsibility to driving a care and it's often not taken seriously enough."

There is nothing in the article that suggests the driver was careless. Nothing. Your position is assumptive. Completely. And your bias shows from post to post...if it was car on car she would have been charged according to you. But not car on bike.

Idiotic.

Surfed said...

One argument says that bicycles and their riders use the streets and byways. They should be licensed and taxed just as automobiles are. They should also be subjected to (but in effect never are) all laws, regulations and penalties drivers and automobiles have to abide by. Insurance too. That's what it's coming to isn't it? Not that I agree with myself. Won't catch me wearing a helmet like President Urkel.

Curious George said...

The post points out that biker's want all the rights, but none of the responsibilities.

X said...

aren't bicycle riders largely unregulated? no licensing, etc.

we need national bicycle licensing with mandatory insurance, real insurance, not the fake stuff that tricks constitutional scholars into thinking they have coverage.

franglo said...

Surfed-- If I got a city-wide, fully linked set of bike paths, effectively my fair share of the roads, I'd be happy to get a license and pay taxes to use my bike. As it is, cars clearly rule the roads. you see from the attitudes on display when one of them crushes a cyclist to death. "Poor driver! What a tragic accident! Stupid biker for allowing a 2-ton hunk of metal to crush her to death!"

Bikes can beat cars in Brooklyn and Manhattan traffic. Not sure why having a passenger car for use in the city is considered acceptable given the congestion and all the free city real estate given over to parking spaces.

Henry said...

@MadisonMan -- The story does suggest a sequence of events beyond control of the driver. I've had bicyclist friends who've been broadsided by cars and lived. It sounds like this poor woman was literally run over.

The most dangerous common thing I encounter as a bicycle commuter is the driver's side car door being opened up into my path. I've never run into a car door, but I'm very wary of parked cars that still have people inside.

The two or three car-caused wrecks I've had have all come from a driver turning into a parking space as if I didn't exist, thus funneling me straight into the sidewalk. Luckily I've successfully vaulted my handlebars as my bike crashes beneath me.

The drivers have universally gotten out and looked over at me in disbelief as if I had just fallen out of a tree. Where did that bicyclist come from and why did he crash?

ndspinelli said...

Curious, Your moniker is appropriate. There were ways up until ~7-8 years ago to get records clandestinely. However, I seldom needed that because virtually all the cases I work are in litigation. The attorneys who hire me simply subpoena the records. When the case is in litigation, phone, medical records, etc. are no longer private.

You are correct the fact that a person was talking or texting does not PROVE they're @ fault, but any objective person[juror] would find it relevant. And, in a civil case, the burden of proof is much lower than in a criminal case.

Delayna said...

I am still trying to figure out why bicycles are not permitted on sidewalks--not on *crowded* sidewalks, of course, but in the suburbs you rarely see anyone on mile-long stretches of pristine concrete.

There are two kinds of cyclists on my daily route--the "by choice" ones, who have nice racing bikes and spandex suits and helmets. They ride quickly and skillfully along the road.

The other kind are "by necessity" and ride bikes that look like they are the best they could find at Goodwill. They have no helmets and are wearing ordinary street clothes. They ride slowly, generally at a jogging pace, along the sidewalk. They do not look as if they would be able to survive automobile traffic.

franglo said...

Pedestrians are also unlicensed and unregulated. But they get their own lights and zebra stripe crosswalks. Only cars deserve roads since only car drivers pay for roads.

F that. My city taxes pay for the damn roads too and I don't have a car.

Henry said...

In terms of regulating bicyclists, Althouse has already covered the territory, via Crack Skull Bob.

X said...

and I don't have a car


do you only use products and services delivered by bike?

Henry said...

For a more temperate version of the same thought, here's Pete Stidman of the Boston Cyclists Union:

While it is always a good idea for cyclists to take more care around pedestrians–give them a wide berth, ring a bell as a warning and so forth–data from Boston Emergency Medical Services show that bicycles rarely injure pedestrians. In fact, in a recent 10-month period cyclists injured only two pedestrians in the City of Boston in a grand total of eight bike vs. pedestrian crashes. (The cyclist was the one injured in the other six). Motor vehicles on the other hand were implicated in over 190 bike crashes and an estimated 600 pedestrian strikes.

Given those figures, is it so wrong for the BPD to be handing out helmets while smacking cyclists on the wrist for infractions? In the interest of “serve and protect” I think it fits in, as does ticketing cars that double park in the bike lane–which is really there to give cyclists a safe haven from them.

franglo said...

So X, you believe only cars should be able to use roads? You take the car to get the mail at the end of the driveway?

Shanna said...

"Poor driver! What a tragic accident! Stupid biker for allowing a 2-ton hunk of metal to crush her to death!"

If there were any reason at all to assume the driver was at fault, I might understand your being miffed, but the only evidence we have is that the bike rider fell TOWARDS traffic! With that piece of evidence, you are making all kinds of assumptions about the driver of the car that are not in any way based in fact.

Surfed said...

I live to break meaningless laws and regulations. I've devoted my whole life to it. Not quite civil disobediance.

franglo said...

Shanna-- I didn't say I wanted the driver to be prosecuted. I just think it's odd in these situations that some people's sympathies always fly to the driver, who had an unpleasant experience, rather than the biker, who is DEAD. Read the comments! Insane. "Stupid biker shouldn't have been using the streets." Actually, no, fuck you. Maybe the people controlling the massive metal machines should have the burden of responsibility for not killing people with them.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Say, how is it that "bikes can beat cars in Brooklyn and Manhattan traffic" when they're inherently slower and (ahem) following the same traffic laws as cars?

traditionalguy said...

When a car driver sees a pedestrian or a bicycle rider on the edge of the roadway ahead, a slow down and a move over a few feet until they are passed is natural.

In NYC it is race for daylight to the next red light.

Drivers there in NYC are like The Professor's armed homeowners. They give no quarter to a speed enemy who breaks into their lane.

LouisAntoine said...

Paul-- For example, while cars are jammed on the west side highway waiting to get into the holland tunnel, bikes are zipping up the hudson river bikepath which has about 3 lights for its 100 blocks of length.

Shanna said...

Maybe the people controlling the massive metal machines should have the burden of responsibility for not killing people with them.

Sometimes drivers make a mistake, sometimes the bike riders make a mistake and sometimes it is a tragic mix. Sometimes no one is at fault, as accidents happen, and there is nothing about this story that indicates that it wasn't a pure accident on the part of the driver.

You can have sympathy for the bike rider and not blame the driver for her death. When you start riding on road with cars in a tiny little bike, comparatively unprotected, you are taking a risk. When you ride a motorcycle going 70mph with only a helmet to protect you, you are taking a risk.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Henry,
"The most dangerous common thing I encounter as a bicycle commuter is the driver's side car door being opened up into my path.

The two or three car-caused wrecks I've had have all come from a driver turning into a parking space as if I didn't exist"

My experience, as well. I hate tinted windows, because you can't see if anyone is sitting in the car. In my case, the one car-caused wreck I was in was a driver who had just passed me 50 feet prior turning into a driveway in front of me.

chickenlittle said...

Althouse thread posted at 7:43 AM on Aug 31, 2011.

Polarity Rating: Mild

Source of friction: I blame MadisonMan for assuming that automobiles are "never charged with anything" regarding bicyclic/car collisions.

Then franglo got very holier-than-thou, inveighing against those evil "2 ton hunks of metal."

This was an unfortunate accident, folks!

Curious George said...

"franglo said...
Shanna-- I didn't say I wanted the driver to be prosecuted. I just think it's odd in these situations that some people's sympathies always fly to the driver, who had an unpleasant experience, rather than the biker, who is DEAD. Read the comments! Insane. "Stupid biker shouldn't have been using the streets." Actually, no, fuck you. Maybe the people controlling the massive metal machines should have the burden of responsibility for not killing people with them."

Please point to any comment that conveys "Stupid biker shouldn't have been using the streets." Or even sympathy for the driver. You can't because there are none. You created this out of whole cloth to forward your retarded position. Actually, the only comments in this thread are exactly the opposite, the assumption that the driver is guilty of something, despite no facts presented that this is the case, and against facts presnted that it was the bikers own fault.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... I'm fascinated that people driving cars who kill others are never charged with anything...."

It should depend on the situation. If I'm driving the speed limit and someone darts into the street and is killed, should I be charged because of someone else's recklessness? Cars don't stop on a dime.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Ah, so bikes aren't beating cars in traffic-- they're beating it by avoiding traffic using the bike paths whose absence Franglo's been pissing and moaning about.

(I think we all know how they're really beating the traffic-- by claiming their full lane while the traffic's moving and then **magically** becoming narrow enough to squeeze between the stopped cars at the light, who then have to pass them all over again once they get the green and the bikes become a full lane wide again.)

madAsHell said...

I'm not sure why it is important to mention "2002 Mercedes Benz"?

Would the outcome be different for the 2003 model year?

It's nearly impossible to determine the model year of a Mercedes without looking at the VIN code.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I'm a pretty avid cyclist but I'm a bit picky about where I ride, which is mostly back roads where car traffic is sparse. I deliberately avoid regularly travelled roads and will be the first to say that riding in a city is not something I would care to do. I don't even like driving in the city.

I'd like to cycle to work as its not far but too many cars.

Joe Schmoe said...

Curious George, given that her actions killed someone, not just hit her, I think Driving too Fast for Conditions is warranted. I don't see how you can argue otherwise. If the biker is driving through debris, how can the car driver not see it? Pay attention people!

However, I'm not sure if such a charge exists in NY -- it was around in Pennsylvania when I took driver's ed. Sort of a catch-all when Police couldn't think of anything else.


Ugh; this disturbs me as it shows how the idea of 'fault' has so permeated our culture. If something bad happens, somebody must be at fault. Somebody's gotta pay! No wonder insurance is so expensive and there are so many damn lawyers.

How do we know the driver was going too fast, or texting, or whatever? Do we know if the cyclist was out of sight until suddenly swerving through debris and then falling into traffic? 'Sort of a catch-all when Police couldn't think of anything else' is a tactic for police states and dictatorships, not democracies that value the rule of law and the presumption of innocence. What an abuse of power.

News flash: accidents happen and sometimes no one is at fault. If there is no proof that a driver was negligent, then don't charge the driver with anything!

MisterBuddwing said...

I'm fascinated that people driving cars who kill others are never charged with anything.
How about inattentive driving, or driving too fast for conditions?


OK, here's my boring story. Many moons ago, I was driving along a street in Washington, D.C. when suddenly, at a minor intersection, a bicyclist came hurtling from the side street and ended up on the hood of my car, leaving a dinner plate-sized dent.

Fortunately, he wasn't hurt, and took off after I asked him if he was OK.

Had he shot into that intersection two seconds earlier, I would have hit him with the front of my car.

And Madison Man would maintain that it was obviously my fault because I was obviously going too fast, or obviously not paying attention, or both.

Obviously.

WV: challar.

ndspinelli said...

I find it fascinating how people are so passionate in this debate. Our culture and it's duopoly political system has created the "pick one" dynamic and villify the other. Whether it's Dem/Rep, Coke/Pepsi, or in this case bike/vehicle. Having worked numeous cases I have seen accidents caused by both drivers and bikers. And, in just the past few years, I've observed more young bikers on cell phones, which is troubling.

Please allow me to give one fact for which there are few, if any exceptions. In a vehicle/bike accident, the vehicle always wins.

Hoosier Daddy said...

"... Poor driver! What a tragic accident! Stupid biker for allowing a 2-ton hunk of metal to crush her to death!".."

I'm a cyclist and ill say that if she did something stupid to cause her death then i do pity the driver since that person has to live with that.

Life is difficult enough without having other's stupidity compound it.

AllenS said...

Wait a minute, didn't Bush ride a bike often?

jrberg3 said...

Madison: "Curious George, given that her actions killed someone, not just hit her, I think Driving too Fast for Conditions is warranted."

What conditions? And where is it stated that the driver was driving too fast? If someone falls in front of your car and you're only going 10MPH it would be tough to not hit that person.

jrberg3 said...

kit said: "I'm not saying the driver is evil or any of that...just careless, and somewhat at fault. "

There is nothing to suggest that this driver was careless. The article does clearly state that the cyclist lost her balance while riding over loose wood though. So it would appear that the cyclist was the careless one.

If the driver had lost control and hit a cyclist that was over to the right of the road then obviously this would be a different discussion. But you just can't somewhat blame the driver because she happened to be the one next in line when the cyclist lost control.

MadisonMan said...

And Madison Man would maintain that it was obviously my fault because I was obviously going too fast, or obviously not paying attention, or both.

Mindreader.

But faulty mindreader.

MadisonMan said...

(I know, I'm walking right into it)

jrberg3 said...

Kit said...
How about inattentive driving, or driving too fast for conditions?

Exactly. If it had been another car she hit, those would have been the charges.

Wanted to address this point as well. Kit if you were obeying the speed limit in a construction zone (let's say 3 lanes go down to 2 on a highway) and a car in the lane next to you suddenly swerves into yours and you hit it, would you be partially at fault for hitting that car?

Curious George said...

"MisterBuddwing said...

OK, here's my boring story. Many moons ago, I was driving along a street in Washington, D.C. when suddenly, at a minor intersection, a bicyclist came hurtling from the side street and ended up on the hood of my car, leaving a dinner plate-sized dent.

Fortunately, he wasn't hurt, and took off after I asked him if he was OK."

I would have made them pay for the damages.

CatherineM said...

No one mentioned that the bicyclist got distracted by car horn honking. I know, it's NYC and I laid on the horn for a few seconds myself this morning while someone texted at a green light, but I hate that people honk at bicyclists. Yesterday walking home, someone honked at a man on a bike like, "letting you know I am passing you," and I thought that's the worst thing. What an impatient jerk. I just ride for fun and I usually go tot he park, but getting to the park I have been startled by cars coming right up (and I am always riding at the curb and honking to let me know they are there. DUH, I know you are there, it's NYC, and the honking is startling and distracting for a few seconds when it's right on top of you.

MisterBuddwing said...

Madison Man: Mindreader. But faulty mindreader.

GASP! You mean, you're allowing for the remote possibility that IT WAS NOT MY FAULT???

Quick, Jeeves! The smelling salts!

WV: hystoac

MisterBuddwing said...

I would have made them pay for the damages.

You're right, of course - at the very least, I should have gotten his name. But I was so rattled by what happened, I didn't notice the damage until after the bicyclist was long gone.

WV: experst

kcom said...

I'm a cyclist (coming up on 4600 miles this year) and there's no way to say who is at fault (if anyone) without actual facts. It could be the car driver, it could be the cyclist, it could be neither. (It could be whoever left construction materials in a public roadway.)

As an example, I was riding on Saturday and shifted my weight a bit as I went to apply the brakes, and had a little spaz moment of losing my balance and accidently veered left about three feet into the small street I was on. A car had just crossed the intersection behind me since the light had just turned green and fortunately wasn't going very fast. It had to brake for me in a way it never should have, but I survived because it had time to slow down. If it had been 10 or 20 feet farther forward and had hit me it would have been my fault. Normally, I wouldn't have expected a car there at all but that's the way things happen when things go wrong. I made a once-in-a-blue-moon riding mistake that could have hurt me but didn't. Things like that happen if you ride long enough, even if you're a good rider. Usually they don't hurt you but every now and then they do.

Shanna said...

I would have made them pay for the damages.

Now that I think about it, what do you do in that situation (when a biker causes damage to your car)? I’m assuming they didn’t have bike insurance. Could you take them to small claims court?

virgil xenophon said...

Paul Zirmsek@9:16 gets to the philosophical heart of the matter. Bicyclists (and motorcyclists for that matter) largely want to have it both ways--to be treated like rules for cars in terms of spacing, etc., when convenient and yet also like "special case" riders observing a different set of rules when
traffic is heavy.

edutcher said...

My reading of the story suggests the woman unexpectedly appeared in the path of the car. No negligence except on the part of the deceased.

Sad to say, I've seen bicyclists do a lot of dumb and unexpected things, including weaving in and out of traffic and up onto sidewalks, and wondered how they stay alive.

Richard Dolan said...

These comments are more interesting than the article, as they amount to a Rorschach test of the driver vs. biker divide in a factual situation where almost nothing about the underlying incident is known.

LilyBart said...

I work in a large city where there are a lot of bikers on the streets. I try to watch out for them and give them room, but they often make erratic moves which make it hard to anticipate what they're going to do. They often run red lights (illegal?) and ride between cars (legal?), and move quickly from sidewalk to street.

Madison Man, there does seem to be the assumption that if a car hits a bike, its the car's fault. No necessarily so, but how do you fight this in court while lawyers are telling sad stories about the biker's dreams and their dogs named Banjo? The drive here might not be criminally charged, but I'll bet her family files civil charges.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jrberg3 said...

CatherineM said...
"No one mentioned that the bicyclist got distracted by car horn honking. I know, it's NYC and I laid on the horn for a few seconds myself this morning while someone texted at a green light, but I hate that people honk at bicyclists."

So how do you know car honking was honking at the cyclist? There is nothing in the story to suggest it. Horns in NYC honk all the time, you yourself did so this morning, your horn could have startled a cyclist as well.

MadisonMan said...

I’m assuming they didn’t have bike insurance. Could you take them to small claims court?

If you can document that their negligence caused the damage, why not?

The tricky part is remembering, in the aftermath of what is a traumatic experience, to get contact information.

edutcher said...

Somebody, according to the story, honked their horn, apparently trying to alert one or both of what was about to happen. it sounds as if, rather than stopping, the cyclist kept moving.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

I ride a lot though L.A. streets. Bikers are careless and break the rules, and the same with drivers. I'm cool with it. I bitch, I throw a few fingers, I get to my destination. Everybody wants to get to where their going, and we all only care about ourselves. That's all cool with me, cause it ain't changing. We live we die , we get sued, everybody is at risk.

What we don't need is more regulations which will undoubtedly be a huge waste and pain in the ass for everyone. The government is not gonna solve our problems. The create them.

Since I do both forms of transport, I do try to help cyclers get by. In a car, all you have to do is push a single toe on pedal or the other, while sipping your coffee. Every slow down or speed up for the cycler is a work out, so I try to give them the right of way.

If common courtesy is uncommon in your town, then move or learn to run with it, but stop whining. Show some courtesy, if you want it to spread. It doesn't come from the air, nor government, and you don't have a god given right to it, but giving some now and then will put more of it in the environment where you swim. I think it's contagious, as is rudeness.

bagoh20 said...

Please people, honking the horn is stupid. It's like screaming "Hey" in a theater. Nobody knows who it's for, so everybody has to look, it's more likely to cause an accident than prevent one, and it's irritating as hell - making everyone pissed off around you.

If you feel like honking your horn, just stop and ask yourself, would I be willing to scream at the top of my lungs right now over this?

Steve Koch said...

It is very dangerous to ride your bike on a busy street, especially if there is no bike lane. It is your life, don't take that risk lightly. If you absolutely have to ride on roads, try to get a route that minimizes the amount of traffic. Maybe take a hybrid approach where you use your car to get to a serviceable hike and bike trail and then bike from there.

It seems absurd to me to stake your life on drivers driving properly when there is so much evidence that many drivers are not paying attention, or are distracted, or are driving too fast, or don't see you on your bike, or just aren't good drivers.

You have to deal with reality rather than depend on the world behaving properly.

jrberg3 said...

bagoh20 said..
"Please people, honking the horn is stupid. It's like screaming "Hey" in a theater."

What an ignorant comment. My horn has alerted other drivers and pedestrians who were unaware that my car was directly in their path and they were about to hit me. Other horns have alerted me. Their use avoided what would surely be costly and possibly deadly accidents.

Now I'm not saying that they aren't misused by some, but it is certainly not analogous to shouting in a theater.

Bruce Hayden said...

In my case, the one car-caused wreck I was in was a driver who had just passed me 50 feet prior turning into a driveway in front of me.

Hm. Passing on the right. Failing to yield the right of way. And, somehow the car is at fault.

Somehow cars more often avoid this sort of accident. And, ditto with parking.

If you pass on the right, sneaking between lanes, expect to be taken out. The rules of the road are to pass on the left, stay in your lane, and to yield the right of way.

Ann Althouse said...

Honking the horn probably diverted her attention. As Meade said to me, when you are bicycling, you tend to steer in the direction you are looking. It's instinctive unless you've trained yourself well not to do it. So you want to look toward the point you should be steering toward. If you suddenly are made to look somewhere else, you can very easily make a steering mistake. She was apparently biking over a bad surface, so if the horn made her look and then steer in the wrong way and she then needed to correct the steering, that, on the bad surface, could have caused the fall. If you're looking for someone to blame, pick the bastard who honked.

Never honk to express yourself. Only honk if it is an effective way to improve what someone else is doing.

edutcher said...

bagoh20 said...

Please people, honking the horn is stupid. It's like screaming "Hey" in a theater. Nobody knows who it's for, so everybody has to look, it's more likely to cause an accident than prevent one, and it's irritating as hell - making everyone pissed off around you.

Sometimes it's all you've got. The horn has been all that's kept somebody from changing lanes right into me because they didn't bother to look before they started moving over.

PatCA said...

It's very sad. She followed all the rules and still is dead. So maybe the rules are at fault? Remember the NYC judge who was killed a few months ago?

Bikeriders are subject to all kinds of laws, all in the name of safety, like no riding on sidewalks in NYC or CA (what is that about?) and are really not equal to cars on the open road.

James Wolf said...

When I lived in Manhattan for three years, I brought my bike, but almost never used it NYC traffic was so dangerous. And I have cycled in Boston, Seattle, San Fransisco and Washington DC.

One time, walking in New York, I saw police around a large pool of blood from a biker who was killed in an accident.

Kit said...

Exactly. If it had been another car she hit, those would have been the charges.

I've been told, "locally", that bikes are considered vehicles, the same as cars and carried that through on the reference.

Wanted to address this point as well. Kit if you were obeying the speed limit in a construction zone (let's say 3 lanes go down to 2 on a highway) and a car in the lane next to you suddenly swerves into yours and you hit it, would you be partially at fault for hitting that car?

Well, first, let's say, I knew that was coming up and it appeared that the guy next to me, did not. I'd move out of his way. If I don't notice any part of that, and he swerves and hits me - if he's in front of me, then yes, I'm partially at fault. If he's even or slightly behind, then no.

I Callahan said...

(I know, I'm walking right into it)

It's not a matter of walking into it. You've assumed facts in his case that are not in evidence whatsoever.

As a long time reader / sometime poster, I've noticed hat you're usually pretty reasonable about things; it's as if some knee-jerk button was pushed when this subject was brought up.

Shanna said...

The horn has been all that's kept somebody from changing lanes right into me because they didn't bother to look before they started moving over.

Exactly. Sure, some people honk because they are annoyed, but it is also used to say ‘OMG you’re about to barrel right into me’. I don’t find horns terribly distracting as a driver and I don’t know how bikers feel, but if you are going to bike around NYC maybe you should learn to deal with because it’s going to happen.

Henry said...

@Bruce -- It is common for bicyclists to ride on the side of the road with traffic. It is common for cars to pass a bicyclist and immediately turn to the right as if the bicyclist didn't exist. This has happened to me half a dozen times when a driver is trying to dart into a parking place. I've crashed twice.

See See Collision Type #6: The Right Hook.

What you're talking about is Collision Type #7: The Right Hook Part 2, in which the bicyclist is partly at fault, but that is far less common in my direct experience. And frankly, if a driver isn't looking for bicyclists to their right at an intersection, how can they claim to notice pedestrians?

For those complaining about arrogant bicyclists moving up the line of traffic at lights I ask you this: Most bicyclists ride along the side of the road and only move into the traffic lane to avoid roadside obstacles or to turn left. Bicyclists along the side of the road are always going to move up at red lights, damn them. But would you rather that bicyclists act exactly like cars and always take up a full traffic lane?

I refer again to Crack Skull Bob:

And then there’s the screaming berserk SUV drivers who are bent on converting all bikers into little impromptu shrines by the side of the road. That isn’t about biking, of course. It’s a class war. Sure, bikers can be arrogant assholes, but come on, they’re a bunch of skinny little guys wobbling around on bikes, and you’re grinding around in a big-ass smoke-belching SUV.

ricpic said...

Pity the poor pedestrian, under assault by both drivers and bikers. This is just a guess on my part but in NYC pedestrians are more threatened by takeout Chinese (Chinese food, that is) bikers racing like mad than they are by motorists.

Curious George said...

" Ann Althouse said...
Honking the horn probably diverted her attention. As Meade said to me, when you are bicycling, you tend to steer in the direction you are looking. It's instinctive unless you've trained yourself well not to do it. So you want to look toward the point you should be steering toward. If you suddenly are made to look somewhere else, you can very easily make a steering mistake. She was apparently biking over a bad surface, so if the horn made her look and then steer in the wrong way and she then needed to correct the steering, that, on the bad surface, could have caused the fall. If you're looking for someone to blame, pick the bastard who honked. "

More idiocy. We have no information as to why the car who honked did so, yet you put blame on the "honker" instead of the biker.

Kirk Parker said...

MadisonMan,

"Sort of a catch-all when Police couldn't think of anything else. "

Please back up and think about this for a moment. Do you really want this kind of law to be in effect?

Michael said...

Curious George: I believe if you read the article you will note that the rider turned her head to determine the source of a horn honking. It was turning her head that caused her to lose control on a bad surface and fall into traffic. You could read this yourself if you looked at the article.

Meade is quite right about head turning while riding as an amateur cyclist.

jrberg3 said...

althouse said:
"If you're looking for someone to blame, pick the bastard who honked."

More ignorance. Can't believe you would say this when you have no idea why the car horn was honked in the first place.

And what makes you think it was a guy who honked? Could have easily been a bitch (especially in New York)!

jrberg3 said...

"She followed all the rules and still is dead."

How are we sure of this?

And I'm certainly not putting the blame on the cyclist but seriously, how do we know she was following all the rules? And why it the comment on the article just taken as fact?

exhelodrvr1 said...

Bruce Hayden,
"Passing on the right. Failing to yield the right of way. And, somehow the car is at fault.

Somehow cars more often avoid this sort of accident. And, ditto with parking.

If you pass on the right, sneaking between lanes, expect to be taken out."
I don't see how you could get that interpretation from my post, but I'll clarify it for you. The street had two traffic lanes and a bike lane each direction. I was riding in the bike lane, the car passed me on my left (car was in the rightmost traffic lane). About fifty feet further down the road, the car turned in front of me, going across the bike lane, into a driveway. I had the right-of-way.

exhelodrvr1 said...

The natural tendency is to move your arms in the direction you turn your head, whether you are driving or riding or flying. If you weren't already aware of that, you very quickly catch on when you are teaching a teenager to drive.

Curious George said...

" Michael said...
Curious George: I believe if you read the article you will note that the rider turned her head to determine the source of a horn honking. It was turning her head that caused her to lose control on a bad surface and fall into traffic. You could read this yourself if you looked at the article.

Meade is quite right about head turning while riding as an amateur cyclist."

I did read it, and I did note it. I did not try to refute that. My point...again...is that without knowing why the driver honked you can hardly blame the "honker" as Althouse did. For example, he could have been honking because a inattentive young mother was about to enter the street with an infant in a stroller in front of him.

I also did not refute Meade's point of head turning.

Now, more to the point, do you actually have one?

bagoh20 said...

"More idiocy. We have no information as to why the car who honked did so,"

Which is my point exactly about honking. Using it for anything other than avoiding an accident is dangerous, and illegal most places, although never enforced.

When you honk, it distracts everyone around you. They have to look around to make sure it's not for them. It better be worth it.

Cities are different about honking. Here in L.A. people use them for everything - to say: hey I'm in a hurry, I'm irritated, I want that spot, the light just turned green, Hi, anything.

In LAX airport it is a constant hum of horns, and nobody is going more than 5 MPH. A lot just lay on the horn for like 10 seconds until they force someone to do what they want. When I go to Las Vegas airport, I hear virtually no horns, I know it's not necessary.

I wouldn't want cars to not have horns, but I could live better and safer without the honkers, who also don't seem to realize how loud a horn is to everyone outside their cars.

kcom said...

"I was riding in the bike lane, the car passed me on my left (car was in the rightmost traffic lane). About fifty feet further down the road, the car turned in front of me, going across the bike lane, into a driveway. I had the right-of-way."

That's exactly how Nathan Krasnopoler was killed.

Bruce Hayden:
"Hm. Passing on the right. Failing to yield the right of way. And, somehow the car is at fault."

Bruce, you obviously don't understand the situation. None of what you said above is true. If you are legally riding your bike on the right side of the road, as required by law in many places, you get passed by cars frequently. Any one of those cars might be intending to make a right turn. The complaint is that some drivers seem to be clueless that if they pass a cyclist on the right they shouldn't hang a sharp right turn (into a driveway, say) three seconds later. That's not enough distance to clear the cyclist and his path of travel. Since you just passed him you ought to know he's there and you ought to know he's moving into the space you're turning into (he has no where else to go). Yes, in that case the car is at fault, even if the cyclist pays the dues.

It's happened to me, too. Not to the point of an accident because I try to stay alert for that sort of thing, but it's a surprise when a car makes a stupid move like that right in front of you just moments after passing you.

J Allen said...

Two other sports here in NY are; let me polish your rear bumper with my front bumper (pick any speed you like) and the 'I think I have enough room to pass.' If someone gets forced off the road then I guess there was not enough space.

kcom said...

I would strongly recommend that everyone who cycles should study the web page linked by Henry, How Not to Get Hit by Cars. Conscious awareness of the dangers and the situations most likely to hurt you is a definite benefit and is the ounce of prevention to the pound of cure. Staying out of danger is better than dealing with danger. For instance, I'm much more aware of the "door zone" now than I used to be before I thought about it consciously.

If you want to go one step further, and get a little morbid, you can search Google News for the term "cyclist dies". It will tell you how people are dying in bike accidents and, again, keep you concious of situations you should try your best to avoid. I do that periodically to stay on my toes. I want to make it to December because I'm having a really good year on the bike. ;)

Pragmatist said...

In Portland, it seems like someone every week goes down. Sometime because of them, sometimes because of the car and sometimes just because. Local big time grocer killed just yesterday.

Joe said...

I had the right-of-way.

There is legal right-of-way and practical right-of-way (or, if you prefer, not-dying-right-of-way.)

I drive a Honda Civic. Most other cars have practical right-of-way no matte what I think, though really nice, new cars tend to still lose in that bargain.

When I drove my 1973 Olds Custom Cruiser, I had practical right-of-way.

MarkW said...

One argument says that bicycles and their riders use the streets and byways. They should be licensed and taxed just as automobiles are.

First of all, most bicyclists are also motorists at other times, so they do pay gas taxes. And second, the local roads and streets (as opposed to highways) are generally not paid for by fuel taxes -- they're paid for by ordinary state and local taxes (which cyclists obviously pay).

exhelodrvr1 said...

Joe,
I agree about the "practical" right-of-way. I was responding to Bruce's inaccurate post. Had I realized he was going to turn, I would have willingly surrendered the right-of-way - that's SOP for me!

MarkW said...

Most bicyclists ride along the side of the road and only move into the traffic lane to avoid roadside obstacles or to turn left. Bicyclists along the side of the road are always going to move up at red lights, damn them. But would you rather that bicyclists act exactly like cars and always take up a full traffic lane?

Why do drivers think they can pass cyclists on the left (assuming the cyclists have their own 'lane' along the curb) but then get all bent when cyclists also assume they have a 'lane' along the curb and move up to intersections at red lights?

Our town wasted some stimulus money painting bike lanes on some wide, low-speed streets that really didn't need them, but one nice side effect is drivers can't get irate about cyclists moving up to the intersection in the bike lane anymore.

MadisonMan said...

BTW -- if I were to bike, or to drive, in NYC, I'd totally ignore all honking, on the assumption that there is always honking and I'm not gonna divert my attention from in front of me to see what it is.

Joe Schmoe said...

When you honk, it distracts everyone around you. They have to look around to make sure it's not for them. It better be worth it.

Er, not refuting your point bagoh, but what about the short excuse-me beep when you're behind someone at a light, the light turns green, and they sit there doing God knows what but not moving? I employ that one quite a bit. I give them about 5 seconds before giving the excuse-me beep. I keep it as short as possible, but it works. And not just for me. I'm assuming the person ahead doesn't want to miss the light. Horns aren't the devil. (nyuk nyuk)

Michael said...

Most of the honking in NY is in frustration of the traffic blocked at an intersection. It does not help in any way. I often employ a driver when in NY and I will not tolerate his use of the horn. No horn blowing, no violent lurching of the car from lane to lane, no muttering. In short, no cabbie-like behavior.

Joe Schmoe said...

AllenS Wait a minute, didn't Bush ride a bike often?

So did Kerry, and you were much more likely to see a photo of Kerry looking stupid in his fluorescent bike clothes and unwieldy helmet on his giant noggin. I'm sure he stopped for eau breaks.

Peter said...

"Bikes can beat cars in Brooklyn and Manhattan traffic. Not sure why having a passenger car for use in the city is considered acceptable given the congestion and all the free city real estate given over to parking spaces."

My memory is that the fastest means of travel in NYC is usually a car, followed by subway, with "bicycle in a distant third place.

Although the subway may reach higher speeds than a car in NYC, the car's ability to provide door-to-door transportation with no waiting and no vehicle changes tends to make it the winner in most environments.

Traffic in much of Manhattan (not midtown) tends to be light; the primary barrier to driving within Manhattan is the availability and cost of parking.

NYC already does much to discourage car ownership by enforcing alternate side of the street parking (but the rich can afford private, off-street parking). Even if private cars were banned, there'd still be taxis and car service and limos on the streets. Not to mention city buses.

Peter said...

"When you honk, it distracts everyone around you. They have to look around to make sure it's not for them. It better be worth it."

When I was in India, practically every vehicle (but especially slow ones) had a "Honk to Pass" bumper sticker. And just about everyone did.

The streets and roads were full of all sorts of vehicles, all moving at different speeds. There were bicycles, 100cc motorcycles, autho-rickshaws, trucks, cars, all moving at their own speed. Yet somehow accidents seemed to be reasonably rare- presumably because everyone knew the unwritten as well as the written laws of the road.

But, the honking on busy streets was nearly continuous. And it certainly wasn't restricted to immanent collisions.

What can I say? It seemed to work in very challenging situations.

Joe Schmoe said...

Without honking, hot girls everywhere might feel underappreciated.

Joe Schmoe said...

Most of the honking in NY is in frustration of the traffic blocked at an intersection. It does not help in any way. I often employ a driver when in NY and I will not tolerate his use of the horn. No horn blowing, no violent lurching of the car from lane to lane, no muttering. In short, no cabbie-like behavior.

Do you also require him to have a jar of Grey Poupon on hand?

franglo said...

Peter-- my daily experience beats your "memory". For 10 miles or less, biking is faster than driving or the subway. Though it's not the law here I observe the "Idaho stop" and go through red lights after stopping and seeing the way is clear. It's much safer than waiting with cars that will plow you off the road when the light goes green for them. When you're in front of them they can see you.

I'll stop doing the Idaho stop when pedestrians stop jaywalking and cars stop double-parking.

Wally Kalbacken said...

Only three candles she rates?

Kirk Parker said...

kcom,

That "How Not to get Hit by Cars" site was pretty good, but in some places a bit too understated. I'm thinking in particular of "Re-think music players and mobile phones". Really that should be titled, "Jeez No Don't Cover Up Your Ears: What Part of Situational Awareness Don't You Understand, You Suicidal Idiot???" Of course there needs to be a version of this page for runners and walkers, too.

Mark said...

I feel sorry for the lady's family (and her dog).

I feel just as sorry (or more) for the woman driving the car. Killing another human being is hard on the non-psychopathic personality.

Bicyclists in Park Slope have made driving there a pure white-knuckle experience.

MadisonMan, a bicyclist has a legal obligation follow the rules of road. They must maintain their course when sharing the road. They must appropriately signal course changes, and only change course when it is safe to do so.

Reading the story, it's apparent the cyclist in this case fell into the path of the car on her "seven". Just like a case involving two cars, the vehicle in the "two" has no right to swerve into the path of the closely following vehicle behind her in an adjacent lane.

The point of bike lanes is to make it explicitly clear who has the right to be where.

The Mercedes could have been doing 10 MPH in a 30 MPH zone, and if the cyclist fell into her lane five feet ahead of her, the cyclist would be just as dead as if the Mercedes had been doing 50.

Your assumption that the driver of the Mercedes somehow must have been negligent is interesting in an of itself.

I've joked with other drivers about hipsters riding black bikes, wearing their black hipster outfits, steering with one hand, while they drink their double-lattes with the other. And I have actually had a cyclist do a U-turn (on a one-way street) in front of me, and have seen a woman text while cycling.

I've worked in Amsterdam, and it is possible to mix pedestrians, bikes, cars, buses, and trains on a single street. But not if the people involved are New Yorkers, I think.

Trooper York said...

You should not ride a bike in NYC unless you are in the park.

Take the subway.

Henry said...

@franglo -- The "idaho stop" is a good reference.

I'll stop doing the idaho stop when city planners stop controlling traffic lights with inductive loops.

Actually, long experience has made very wary about jumping a red light unless I need to get ahead of traffic for my own safety.

bagoh20 said...

I think everything is fine. Cars are heavy, hard and fast. Being on a bike among them is making yourself pretty helpless and kind of at their mercy. I'm fine with that. If while biking I do something stupid and get hurt, so be it. If a car does something stupid and hurts me, I sue. If it kills me, I don't care anymore.

I'm not going to stop riding because it's more dangerous than driving or sitting in my living room. I (a white guy) ride through South Central Los Angeles on my bike. Bad drivers are my least worry. I'm hoping for bad shots.

The site below has a pretty thorough analysis of the risks of bicycling with all kinds of study results. Depending on how you look at it, it's anywhere from a medium risk to very safe compared to other parts of our life. Most of us have been doing it nearly our whole lives, and now we're scared? We got the freakin' helmets, and lights, and all kinds of crap. You spent the money, now enjoy it.

http://www.kenkifer.com/bikepages/health/risks.htm

HT said...

A quarter way through the comments.

YOU GO FRANGLO!

HT said...

Aw Franglo, to equate the Idaho stop with eegads, jaywalking and double parking?

WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Idaho stop is legitimate and don't you ever forget it!

HT said...

KCom,

That's exactly how Nathan Krasnopoler was killed.

____

There is more to that story. The driver who killed Nathan Krasnopoler was 83 years old. Nathan's family started lobbying for re-testing of older drivers, something I also am very much in favor of. I have a friend here who was hit by an 86 year old, severely injured totaled. The driver sued the cyclist. This was clearly a pre-emptive measure on the part of the driver's children or grandchildren. The cyclist, my friend, was forced to counter sue.

It's just an outrage how little ticketing is done of drivers when they hit and kill cyclists and pedestrians. There's so much bias for drivers by police it's not even worth mentioning.

Riding a bike is far and away quicker for me than taking the bus or metro. And at 8.50 a.m. on a busy morning, even quicker than a taxi.

bagoh20 said...

Idaho Stop? We call that a California Stop out here, and we do it in our cars too, because ... we're Californians.

HT said...

Cities are different about honking. Here in L.A. people use them for everything - to say: hey I'm in a hurry, I'm irritated, I want that spot, the light just turned green, Hi, anything.


I'm not sure if this is a DC thing or not. But if you are driving, and you hear a honk, but most especially if you think it's directed at you (but doesn't have to be!), the automatic reaction is to honk right back.

So someone is behind you. The light turns green, but you're still looking at that Verizon bill in your front seat trying to figure it out. You don't see the light change. The driver gives you a quick beep. Well darnit, you beep right back, then he honks again, and you do it too. Now someone else hears all this, so they start chiming in. It's a rejection of the honk with the honk. It's really taken off in the last 5-10 years. A friend of mine from Ct embraced it and helped it along.

Here's the thing about cars and bikes - there's no either or. Many of us who cycle also drive cars! And vice versa. So I have learned to really slow down as a driver. I used to drive pretty fast around the city (those times when I had a car), but no longer. I've slowed it way down. You have to. You have to if you don't want to hit anyone.

kcom said...

"Many of us who cycle also drive cars!"

That's such a great point. People tend to argue as if you're one or the other, when I'll bet most people are both. I drive more than I bike and find bikes annoying at times but I bike plenty, too. What really amazes me is that when I'm riding I see so many people riding (who are also car drivers) who seem to act like they've never been in a car in their life. There are ways for bikes to accomodate cars and vice versa, but you wouldn't know it by watching some people, even when they are participants in both activities.

Kit said...

There is nothing in the article that suggests the driver was careless. Nothing.

Except that the driver ran over a biker.

Your position is assumptive.

True. I had a picture in my head of all the poor drivers I've seen and applied that here. I will say, that since, I can see a very different scenario.

Completely.

No, my comment wondering if the biker had lights (b/c it was dusk), points to the possibility that the biker was partially at fault.

And your bias shows from post to post...if it was car on car she would have been charged according to you. But not car on bike.

What?

Idiotic.

lol. No more than you.