I Almost Eliminated a Man Last Night

 

Safety Tips - Parking and Transportation Services | CSUFI almost killed a man Saturday evening. I did not mean to, and he wasn’t looking for it. Our paths diverged just in time, for if we had met, he would be dead or maimed, and my life would be altered, marred, forever.

I was on my way to a friend’s house for the evening. Driving east, I made a decision to turn left, north, at an intersection, taking my preferred route. It was dark out, but the intersection was decently lit. As I approached, the turn lane signal changed from green arrow to blank, signaling I could make a left turn, if I cleared oncoming (westbound) traffic.

So, I eased into the intersection with my turn signal on and watched for a longer break in oncoming headlights. Sure enough, the light traffic provided a safe turning opportunity. Mindful of the chance that oncoming cars might accelerate, I was careful to turn into the correct, inside lane. That saved a man’s life, and saved me from a life of bad consequences.

Almost through the intersection, aiming for the inside lane, I caught a thin, dark silhouette out of the right edge of my windshield and passenger-side window. It was the shape of a man on a bicycle, wobbling as he adjusted speed and direction to avoid collision. He had not been in the opposing traffic bike lane.

Apparently, he entered off the sidewalk and was planning to cross on his bike, in the pedestrian cross-walk. That was likely legal in Mesa, AZ where I was driving. He apparently was trying to beat the crosswalk light, as it counted down. He was also all but invisible in the dark.

The street lighting does not help you if you wear dark clothing, with no reflective material or light. This bicycle gave off no reflection. There was no light on the front, nor, as we changed aspect, was there the edge of a red flash from the back. Mesa requires bicycles operated after dark to have lights.

10-1-16: LAMPS AND OTHER EQUIPMENT ON BICYCLES: Every bicycle, when in use at nighttime, shall be equipped with a lamp on the front which shall emit a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet (500′) to the front and with a red reflector on the rear of a type which shall be visible from all distances from fifty feet (50′) to three hundred feet (300′) to the rear when directly in front of lawful upper beams of head lamps on a motor vehicle. A lamp emitting a red light visible from a distance of five hundred feet (500′) to the rear may be used in addition to the red reflector. (227,1665)

Note that the red light is optional, the bicyclist need only have a red reflector on the back. The white light is not optional, and it is not there for the primary purpose of ensuring the bike rider does not run into debris. It is to make the rider visible, hence the 500-foot requirement.

Yet, we regularly encounter bicyclists pedaling in the bike lane, or on sidewalks, without any light or reflector at all. From time to time, I’ve considered stopping and handing out glow-sticks, civilian chemlights. They are four to eight in a pack for a dollar, at the Dollar Tree. I keep a few in the trunk, to mark the left rear corner when parking on a dark street. Cheapest car accident prevention insurance going. I’ve thought of stopping and offering a light, but then considered the risk function when approaching a stranger, and intending to get into hand contact range. Nope.

So, let this be a seasonal safety story for Ricochet. As most of the country “fell back” to Standard Time, the nights are still getting longer. We also are getting more bundled up, often in darker clothing. Please plan ahead.

Carry at least a penlight! Put reflective strips on book bags, backpacks, and such. Choose exercise clothing with reflective material incorporated, or get a cheap reflective belt or vest. If you are bicycling, the more light you emit, front and back, the safer you are.

Be safe! Watch out for the crazies! Let’s all get to Thanksgiving without any new regrets or safety losses.

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.

There are 53 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Your situational awareness and defensive reaction to a vehicle backing out is a great example of walking or biking to arrive alive.

    There is a joke about the difference between being involved and being committed. In a plate of ham and eggs, the chicken is involved and the pig is committed. Similarly in any interaction between a car and a pedestrian the car is involved and the pedestrian is committed.

    • #31
  2. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    Qoumidan (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    This is why you shouldn’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk

    No, this is why bicyclists should obey the same traffic laws the everyone else has to.

    Sorry Q, but they don’t, and they also know they’ll be “in the right” if a collision with one of them ends up in court.

    • #32
  3. cdor Member
    cdor
    @cdor

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    I know that there are a lot idiots out there on bicycles. There are also a lot of idiots driving cars. Sometimes they are the same people. Making blanket statement about cyclists, and ignoring the stupidity of many drivers doesn’t do anything to improve the situation. Suggesting that cyclists deserve to die is just plain ignorant and malicious.

    This statement is uncontestable. Thanks Mr. Kriegsmann.

    • #33
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Stad (View Comment):

    Qoumidan (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    This is why you shouldn’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk

    No, this is why bicyclists should obey the same traffic laws the everyone else has to.

    Sorry Q, but they don’t, and they also know they’ll be “in the right” if a collision with one of them ends up in court.

    My maternal grandfather would say, “you’ll be right, dead right.”

    • #34
  5. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    This is why you shouldn’t ride your bicycle on the sidewalk and should ride on the road instead.

    No, that’s why you ride on sidewalks and STOP at road intersections.

    That person who rode off a sidewalk and across a street would do the same stupid sort of crap if he had been riding on the road.

    On the other hand, when I ride on the sidewalk, I greatly reduce the chance of some moron drifting into my lane while checking his texts. If they hit me on the sidewalk, they’re probably not going to be able to drive the car away after hitting the curb first, so at least they’ll get caught.

    • #35
  6. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson
    @MarkWilson

    Bicyclists in aggregate seem to have abysmal rates of compliance with traffic laws, especially lane regulations, stop signs, and traffic lights at intersections.  Just this morning a cyclist slowly rolled into the intersection waiting for me in my car to clear the intersection on my green so he could run the red and make an illegal u-turn.

    • #36
  7. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Mark Wilson (View Comment):
    Bicyclists in aggregate seem to have abysmal rates of compliance with traffic laws, especially lane regulations, stop signs, and traffic lights at intersections.

    I feel pretty confident that the same can be said about drivers of automobiles. The number of traffic accidents and the fact that many municipalities fund themselves largely on traffic tickets speaks to the absence of compliance with laws. The problem isn’t bikes or cars. It’s people.

    • #37
  8. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    cirby (View Comment):
    No, that’s why you ride on sidewalks and STOP at road intersections.

    And at every hidden driveway, etc. Which is why I don’t ride on sidewalks. 

    • #38
  9. Mark Wilson Member
    Mark Wilson
    @MarkWilson

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):

    Mark Wilson (View Comment):
    Bicyclists in aggregate seem to have abysmal rates of compliance with traffic laws, especially lane regulations, stop signs, and traffic lights at intersections.

    I feel pretty confident that the same can be said about drivers of automobiles. The number of traffic accidents and the fact that many municipalities fund themselves largely on traffic tickets speaks to the absence of compliance with laws. The problem isn’t bikes or cars. It’s people.

    I admit to never taking data on this.  But my impression is that the percentage of bicyclists who I have witnessed blatantly violate traffic lights is far higher than the percentage of cars I’ve witnessed do that.  Here’s my reasoning.  I consider it unremarkable now when I see a bicyclist blow through a solid red light (that’s been red for over 10 sec, for example), because it happens all the time.  I’ve seen it at least twice this week.  When I see a motorist in a car do the same it’s so unusual as to be remarkable.  And in a given weekday I probably observe 100 to 1000 times more cars on the road than bicyclists.

    This is not to hate on all bicyclists.  It’s just an observation that people who break traffic laws make up a higher percentage of bicyclists than motorists.  Obviously it’s more dangerous to others when motorists do it.

    • #39
  10. E. Kent Golding Member
    E. Kent Golding
    @EKentGolding

    When I was teaching my daughter to ride a bike,  I taught her that if she was right and the car was wrong,  she would still be dead.  So be careful and paranoid.   Now that I am teaching her to drive a car,   I am teaching her that if she is right and the motorcyclist,   bicyclist or pedestrian is both wrong and dead, that she still has to live with herself, and that she doesn’t want to have to live with that on her conscience.  So be careful and paranoid.

    • #40
  11. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Mark Wilson (View Comment):

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):

    Mark Wilson (View Comment):
    Bicyclists in aggregate seem to have abysmal rates of compliance with traffic laws, especially lane regulations, stop signs, and traffic lights at intersections.

    I feel pretty confident that the same can be said about drivers of automobiles. The number of traffic accidents and the fact that many municipalities fund themselves largely on traffic tickets speaks to the absence of compliance with laws. The problem isn’t bikes or cars. It’s people.

    I admit to never taking data on this. But my impression is that the percentage of bicyclists who I have witnessed blatantly violate traffic lights is far higher than the percentage of cars I’ve witnessed do that. Here’s my reasoning. I consider it unremarkable now when I see a bicyclist blow through a solid red light (that’s been red for over 10 sec, for example), because it happens all the time. I’ve seen it at least twice this week. When I see a motorist in a car do the same it’s so unusual as to be remarkable. And in a given weekday I probably observe 100 to 1000 times more cars on the road than bicyclists.

    This is not to hate on all bicyclists. It’s just an observation that people who break traffic laws make up a higher percentage of bicyclists than motorists. Obviously it’s more dangerous to others when motorists do it.

    It may be that the stats, if real, are skewed by an intervening variable. Perhaps the scofflaw is generally a scofflaw and, lacking motor transportation for economic and legal reasons, continues true to form. That weaving and darting? Might just be part of the substance abuse problem that has the individual on a bike, without proper safety markings.

    • #41
  12. TRibbey Inactive
    TRibbey
    @TRibbey

    What grinds the gears (hehe) of many road venturing cyclists is that there isn’t a “winning” tactic.

    Sidewalk riding is legal in some places, not legal in others, and dangerous nearly everywhere. You occupy a small space with pedestrians while traveling at a speed that makes changes in direction dangerous for you both. Imagine a lady with her stroller, or someone walking their dog. 

    Riding on trails is okay (as long as they go where you want to) but trails and sidewalks have similar problems. That lady with the stroller is now out with a friend and they are jogging with kids in tow. That person walking their dog is now on a nature hike with Fido on a retractible leash, or maybe no leash at all. A person rollerblading is taking up all sorts of room but they have headphones on and can’t hear you yelling “on your left” as you attempt to pass.

    Riding on the road is dangerous in its own way of course, accidents happen. What I like about where I live is that cyclists are considered “traffic” and have all the same rights and privileges as cars, trucks, motorcycles, SUVs, and the Amish. What I wished more drivers would realize is that we are like you. Trying to get from point A to point B fast, the open road is calling.

    • #42
  13. Roderic Fabian Reagan
    Roderic Fabian
    @rhfabian

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    Drivers , like PHCHeese, need to understand that a cyclist has a much right to be on the road as they do. Drivers in my state are required, by law, to allow 4′ of clearance when passing a bicycle on the road. I ride as far to the right as I feel comfortable doing

    The “share the road” rhetoric is going to get people killed. 

    We all know that a lot of drivers are careless and inattentive.  That’s just the way it is.  Bicyclists who treat major roads like bike paths may be in the right.  They may have the law behind them.  If they get hit it will probably be the driver’s fault.  The driver might even be criminally liable.  The driver might go to jail.  But in all likelihood the bicyclist will be dead. 

    Prattle on all you like about what the law requires of drivers.  It will not change that dynamic.

    • #43
  14. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Eugene Kriegsmann (View Comment):
    Drivers , like PHCHeese, need to understand that a cyclist has a much right to be on the road as they do. Drivers in my state are required, by law, to allow 4′ of clearance when passing a bicycle on the road. I ride as far to the right as I feel comfortable doing

    The “share the road” rhetoric is going to get people killed.

    We all know that a lot of drivers are careless and inattentive. That’s just the way it is. Bicyclists who treat major roads like bike paths may be in the right. They may have the law behind them. If they get hit it will probably be the driver’s fault. The driver might even be criminally liable. The driver might go to jail. But in all likelihood the bicyclist will be dead.

    Prattle on all you like about what the law requires of drivers. It will not change that dynamic.

    In the end we’re all dead.  If you want to eliminate risk, become a progressive or communist.  

    • #44
  15. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    TRibbey (View Comment):
    Riding on trails is okay (as long as they go where you want to) but trails and sidewalks have similar problems. That lady with the stroller is now out with a friend and they are jogging with kids in tow. That person walking their dog is now on a nature hike with Fido on a retractible leash, or maybe no leash at all. A person rollerblading is taking up all sorts of room but they have headphones on and can’t hear you yelling “on your left” as you attempt to pass.

    A huge portion of the US doesn’t have this sort of problem.

    I live in Orlando, and there’s almost no foot traffic outside of the downtown core of the city. Effectively, there aren’t any pedestrians to worry about.

    You have to be living in a dense urban or very busy suburban area to have the sort of problems you talk about.

    Trails can be a problem, but even on a busy day, it’s easily manageable.

    At worst, when I take some of my less-traveled exercise routes, I just have to slow down and speed up a lot more. Which helps the workout.

     

    • #45
  16. TRibbey Inactive
    TRibbey
    @TRibbey

    cirby (View Comment):

    TRibbey (View Comment):
    Riding on trails is okay (as long as they go where you want to) but trails and sidewalks have similar problems. That lady with the stroller is now out with a friend and they are jogging with kids in tow. That person walking their dog is now on a nature hike with Fido on a retractible leash, or maybe no leash at all. A person rollerblading is taking up all sorts of room but they have headphones on and can’t hear you yelling “on your left” as you attempt to pass.

    A huge portion of the US doesn’t have this sort of problem.

    I live in Orlando, and there’s almost no foot traffic outside of the downtown core of the city. Effectively, there aren’t any pedestrians to worry about.

    You have to be living in a dense urban or very busy suburban area to have the sort of problems you talk about.

    Trails can be a problem, but even on a busy day, it’s easily manageable.

    At worst, when I take some of my less-traveled exercise routes, I just have to slow down and speed up a lot more. Which helps the workout.

    What are the trails like in Orlando? Here many (most?) are part of the rails to trails program which, while creating long and flat routes, tend to be fairly narrow. Some newer sections in more urban areas are built for multi-use and are wider but overall they tend to be double lane (one each direction).

    • #46
  17. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    cirby (View Comment):

    TRibbey (View Comment):
    Riding on trails is okay (as long as they go where you want to) but trails and sidewalks have similar problems. That lady with the stroller is now out with a friend and they are jogging with kids in tow. That person walking their dog is now on a nature hike with Fido on a retractible leash, or maybe no leash at all. A person rollerblading is taking up all sorts of room but they have headphones on and can’t hear you yelling “on your left” as you attempt to pass.

    A huge portion of the US doesn’t have this sort of problem.

    I live in Orlando, and there’s almost no foot traffic outside of the downtown core of the city. Effectively, there aren’t any pedestrians to worry about.

    You have to be living in a dense urban or very busy suburban area to have the sort of problems you talk about.

    Trails can be a problem, but even on a busy day, it’s easily manageable.

    At worst, when I take some of my less-traveled exercise routes, I just have to slow down and speed up a lot more. Which helps the workout.

     

    In August Mrs R and I checked into our hotel in Frankfurt and made our way on foot to this bridge across the Oder River to change some dollars to zlotys. It was the first time we set foot in Poland. That was an interesting experience in itself. In this part of Poland, whenever it was determined that I didn’t speak Polish the other party would usually switch to German, which didn’t do me a whole lot of good, either. That happened here. But when we were done we went out and stood on the sidewalk along the river, wondering if we should walk around some more or go back. An older gentleman sitting under a tree said something to me, and I replied (in Polish) that I didn’t understand him. I knew how to say that much.  So he thought a second, and then blurted out in understandable English, “Bicycles!”  He was warning us to watch out for the bicycle traffic.  It was a good idea, as there was a lot of bicycle traffic. Throughout our trip Mrs R often found she was warning me that I was walking in the bicycle path on German and Polish streets. Cars, bicycles, and pedestrians were thick almost everywhere we went.  It was best to be aware at all times.  It took a little getting used to, but this country boy kind of liked it.  We’re planning to go back this coming year for a longer visit, and I plan to take my folding bicycle this time.

    • #47
  18. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    E. Kent Golding (View Comment):
    When I was teaching my daughter to ride a bike, I taught her that if she was right and the car was wrong, she would still be dead.

    Put another way, the laws of physics trump the laws of man . . .

    • #48
  19. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    TRibbey (View Comment):
    What are the trails like in Orlando? Here many (most?) are part of the rails to trails program which, while creating long and flat routes, tend to be fairly narrow. Some newer sections in more urban areas are built for multi-use and are wider but overall they tend to be double lane (one each direction).

    Most of the Orlando trails are pretty wide – eight to ten feet, for the most part. Some sections are even wider, or have multiple lanes. Google “Cady Way Trail” for examples.

     

    • #49
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    We have a fairly good system of trails on the banks of the canals criss-crossing the valley. Much preferable to even the widest bike lane on the roads.

    • #50
  21. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):
    Prattle on all you like about what the law requires of drivers. It will not change that dynamic.

    Prattle? I don’t expect to change any dynamics. I just resent reading comments by people who think that anecdotal data constitutes facts. I also believe that making statements about the irresponsible behavior of some cyclists, as theough they are representative of the entire community of people who ride bikes is irresponsible and often serves as a justification to harass and otherwise endanger riders no matter how well they are complying with the laws.

    I have driven cars since my late teens, more than 50 years. I have seen unbelievable stupdity and down right illegal behaviors just about on a daily basis performed by drivers of cars. Ignoring stop signs, running red lights, speeding, passing in no passing zones, not stopping for school buses with their lights flashing. It goes on and on. Once again, there are idiots who drive cars and idiots who ride bicycles, some idiots who drive cars also ride bicycles and vice versa. There are also a lot of drivers and cyclists who obey the laws. Categorizing cyclists as though their behavior is exceptional is absurd. The major difference is that when a driver of a car endangers a person on a bicycle through some act of negligence or stupidity the consequences for the cyclist could be serious injury of death. When a cyclist does something stupid on his bike, the driver of a car might suffer a scratch to his paint job, but he is not in any physical danger to his person. That differential needs to be remembered. I have as much right to ride the roads as you have to drive your car. Telling me that because it is inherently dangerous to do so, and using that as an excuse to  ignore my rights suggests a Hobbesian view of the world, something I thought people on this site were above.

    • #51
  22. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    “Can’t we all just get along?”

    • #52
  23. Grendel Member
    Grendel
    @Grendel

    [Four] decades ago a writer in a cycling magazine described cyclists as “urban deer”, slipping silently through the noisy city, flitting along their own invisible trails, unhindered by One-Way signs or traffic signals, fleet, agile, alert, and aware. Some people might conclude from this description that cyclists scoff at the rules for cars and pedestrians, but that is wrong. We just interpret them differently, in the light of the Two Wheeler’s Three Laws of Motion: Don’t get hit. Don’t hit anything. Don’t stop.

    But make no mistake. Bicyclists’ ability to flout the letter of the law—OK, flagrantly disdain every scintilla of order and restraint—depends on automobiles’ adherence to the law. We can run red lights and ride between the lanes because we know that drivers wait for the green and keep in their lanes. In turn, we mustn’t do anything that inconveniences or startles a driver. We don’t interrupt their traffic flow; they let us ride to our own rhythms. Viva USA!
    Anyway, whenever a driver gives me an opening, I wave my thanks.  http://logomachon.blogspot.com/2004/12/two-wheelers-three-laws-of-motion.html

    But to repeat what has been said above:  I drive several nights a week in suburban and down-town, student-infested Philadelphia.  I am always amazed and dismayed that cyclists and pedestrians are completely unaware that they are well-nigh invisible, even to cyclist drivers like me who are on the alert.

    One of the best markers is a reflector or light attached to the pedal or cuff-clip.  That reciprocating up-and-down motion really stands out amongst all the glints and flashes of the urban street.

    • #53
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.