Do cars have to share the road with bicyclists?
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Child Bicyclist Killed in Harrison County Pickup Truck Crash
It's been a busy week with finally obtaining an OSHA investigation file; I've been waiting for nearly two-years for it. The file is 10" high so there's a lot of paper to wade through. We'll have some help later today with our experts and hopefully there is an answer to this worker's death by electrocution. Today I want to run through several Iowa State Patrol reports involving the death of a pedestrian, a 4-wheeler and a bicyclist.
From the Iowa State Patrol and the KCCI story a pickup truck driver attempted to avoid striking a 12-year-old bicyclist attempting to cross the street but she was struck and later died at hospital in Missouri Valley. Missouri Valley is in western Iowa.
In another fatal accident in Winterset, Iowa a four-wheeler driver, 59-year-old Kenneth Sinnwell was killed in some sort of an accident in the 2200 block of Terrace Avenue in rural Winterset. No specific details were given by the Madison County Sheriff's Office.
Then last Sunday, July 19th, a cyclist was on Des Moines' East Side was struck by a car in the 1300 block of East Euclid Avenue. He suffered severe leg injuries. This was the Register's initial report. A second update on July 20, 2010 states the driver of the car was not to blame for the ‘accident'. The driver was cited for not having proof of insurance but otherwise the police didn't ticket him. What the article says is that the bicyclist, Michael Olson was warned by a friend to stay put, to not go into the street, but he did anyway; assuming to beat the car and was hit. Mr. Olson is no kid, he's 39-years-old. His friend is Daniel Stich, the witness who did stay put on the sidewalk or at least off the road and was not hit. For whatever reason this story appears again on July 21st under the title "Driver not blamed as cyclist hit, police say". With the witness' statements about fault this one is an uphill battle for any claim against the driver, but not impossible. You might wonder why I would say that; it has to do with what the guy on the bike that got hit would say. Remember there are no statements from Mr. Olson or the driver of the car; only the one witness. Are there other witnesses?
What else might we want to know?
What is the speed limit in that block?
How fast was the car going? Remember the guy on the bike has the right to assume the car driver is going the speed limit. If not the time he has to get across the street are shortened and that's the fault of the car driver.
Had the car driver been drinking alcohol or is there some distraction in the driver's seat?
Was the bicyclist clearly visible giving the car driver the last clear chance to stop?
What evasive action, if any, did the driver make, to avoid the collision?
And the Kim Clayton bike accident in Dallas County (Adel, Iowa) that took his life is back in the news. Remember he's the one whose bike struck the side of an SUV at an intersection of the Raccoon river Valley Trail and a road. The police officer blamed him for the crash. The news article says they are considering what if anything needs to be done. Probably nothing except remind cyclists they too have to obey road traffic signs. The reporter quotes Rich Voelker, a trail engineer with Snyder & Associates. I had no idea there was such a person; a trail engineer? See Should Trail Safety Be Improved After Fatal Crash? KCCI Video also titled Fatal Crash Raises Questions About.
There is a certain tension between car drivers and bike riders over who controls the road. Some drivers of cars don't like bike riders. Some cyclists have had problems with car and truck drivers forcing them off the roadway. It's a tension that is a waste of energy because in a crash the bike or motorcycle rider has little chance against 2,000+ pounds of metal. Give them room because when a car's driver runs one over the prosecutor will look at every angle to charge you. Remember they prosecutor is a politician, meaning they want to be viewed by the voters as tough on crime. And that can't be good for you.
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