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Especially but not exclusively for those over 30 trying to get into or stay in shape. Discuss bicycle riding and cycling issues, golf, body-building, whatever

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Cycling Tragedy -- Cycling Safety

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1Cycling Tragedy -- Cycling Safety Empty Cycling Tragedy -- Cycling Safety on Sat Aug 14, 2010 11:32 am


Friday, the 13th of August, another cyclist was killed in the Lubbock area.

Based on the newspaper report, it could have been prevented by either the rider or the driver, and perhaps, since the rider was apparently warming up to ride in the Senior Olympics, by warning signage or volunteers staging the event.

A wholly preventable tragedy.

What could have been done?

According to the investigation, the cyclist swerved out of the lane on the shoulder of the road into the main traffic lane. That was suicidal, assuming the report was correct. [Could it have been incorrect? Quite possibly. Accident reconstructions by law enforcement tend to favor the motorist.]

We don't know how fast the truck that hit the bicyclist was traveling, but it certainly was not moving slowly. I have a feeling that it was going well over 60 mph.

Could I have avoided hitting a cyclist who swerved into my lane? Most likely, if I were traveling at a reasonable rate of speed, if I saw the cyclist ahead, and if I were prepared to slow or stop ahead of time. I would always give a cyclist room.

The real question is how far away was the oncoming truck when the cyclist entered the traffic lane? If it was more than 30-40 feet, I see driver error as the prime cause, either excessive speed, inattention, or slow braking response.

I can't prove driver negligence, but I definitely suspect it.

Was the time trial route on that road? If so, signs should already have been posted, and volunteers should have been setting up, even before the races started. And so there may have been error on the part of those holding the cycling event.

If a cycling event is being held, motorists should exert extra care, which means going more slowly, allowing for unexpected moves by cyclists and room for the cyclists to tip over without being run over.

Can cyclists be blown overby a gust of wind? Sure. Can a cyclist blow out a tire or have a wheel come off or a handlebar break? Sure. Can a cyclist tip over when stopping? Sure, especially when clipped into the pedals and not being used to it.

Might a cyclist riding on the edge of the road swerve to avoid broken glass or unsafe road conditions? Sure.


Finally, is Rick Perry responsible? The only answer to that is ... maybe. If the bill that Perry vetoed mandated a passing distance of five feet, and the oncoming truck was approaching the cyclist so as to pass within five feet, and then the cyclist swerved less than five feet and was struck by the truck, there would have been a clear violation by the motorist.

Did that happen yesterday? The newspaper says no. But cyclists know how much store to put in official accounts and police reports.

2Cycling Tragedy -- Cycling Safety Empty Re: Cycling Tragedy -- Cycling Safety on Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:37 pm


On the matter of swerving to avoid a collision: there is experimental data that turning the wheel of a vehicle to avoid danger occurs at the level of instinct, that it occurs very quickly. So if a driver sees danger, the driver can swerve well before beginning to brake.

Braking is slower, partly because in a vehicle with automatic transmission, the average driver has the right foot on the accelerator and uses that foor to brake. And so the act of braking means taking the right foot off the accelerator pedal, raising it to a height above the brake pedal and then pushing down on the brake pedal. Not a fast process.

When driving a vehicle with a clutch, when I see a possible danger situation ahead, I will raise my left foot -- the clutch foot -- and hover it over the brake pedal so that I can brake and bleed off speed without removing my right foot from the gas pedal. At least once that has saved me from a collision. In my opinion that cuts reaction time by 2/3. You can do the same with the brake pedal in an automatic transmission vehicle, but when I do that I tend to slam on the brake dangerously fast, which startles passengers and invites a rear end collision.

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