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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tired of Trucks and Tragedy


I was alerted to another tragic cyclist death by this post on Waterloo Bikes today. The author, Rob, is really angry about the angle taken by CBC's coverage. Sadly, one-sided and ill-founded assertions always seem to abound when stuff like this happens. I agree with Rob, but have become weary of commenting on the fear-mongering that always comes along with such events.

What I think is likely about how the accident went down is not any more relevant than anyone else's assertions. When somebody dies on a bicycle or in any other way, it isn't about who was right or who acted stupidly. It is about profound loss and what might be learned from it. When police officers, reporters and yes, Internet bloggers and commenters use such events to start pointing fingers or advance their own agendas it just leaves me feeling sad and tired.

I have no statistics, but since starting this blog it feels like fatalities involving right-turning trucks have become a terrible recurring theme. It has had a direct impact on how I ride. Whether painted lines indicate I have a right to be somewhere or not, here's my own personal rule:

Where there is any opportunity on the road ahead for a truck (or any large vehicle) to turn right, I will not willingly ride beside one. Should a big truck overtake me anywhere near a right-turn opportunity, the driver has very likely seen me. Just the same, I will slow dramatically in an effort to put myself behind that vehicle.

Will this guarantee that a truck will never ever take me out turning right? Nope. My strong suspicion is that my personal policy will cut the odds deeply enough that it will never happen. I remain completely convinced that bicycling is as safe as just about any other activity you can name, with almost innumerable benefits to both self and society. As such, I have just this moment decided to stop posting anything about cycling tragedies. That news gets around so quickly and is so readily available that I think I'll leave that to others from now on. I'm gonna promote safe and effective cycling whenever I feel like it, but stick with the joy-joys angle from here on out. Thanks, as always, for reading.

Man, do I ever love Riding My Bike!
R A N T W I C K

8 comments:

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Well said Sir.

johnnytrashbike said...

i've almost been taken out by the left turners as well. the ones that can't judge who fast you're going and decide to chance it instead of waiting just a few seconds. but, i've made stupid moves in my car too.

Kokorozashi said...

I hear you loud and clear, Rantador. Especially on the fearmongering part -- when I drop off the talking-with-non-bike-people radar and later resurface, I'm always surprised to hear how 'terrible' a city Louisville is for cycling (for the most part, I think it's great) and how 'dangerous' cycling is.

Johnny: well said. I think we all make mistakes now and then -- drivers *and* cyclists. Sometimes even when (heck, sometimes *because*) we've tried to parse out the best response to a given situation.

Steve A said...

Interestingly, your strategy truly will NOT prevent motorists from turning right immediately after they pass you - even if you are driving. But the remaining scofflaws are easy to avoid and usually require no evasive action at all. I can't think of any close calls I have had with this situation so I agree your odds are good.

RANTWICK said...

Steve - Maybe I should have worked in taking the lane sometimes, which I certainly do... I'm referring here to situations where I honestly think I belong to the right of traffic. Nobody's gonna right cross (or is it hook?) you when you've taken the lane...

RANTWICK said...

Wait, that crap happens too, I know. Very rarely, but I've seen it.

Steve A said...

Yes, right hooks DO happen when you fully control your lane, but the motorists appear more amusing (what WAS she thinking?) than scary when it happens, along with a WTF response. More common is seeing a motorist in a right turn only lane off to my right who decides to go straight - into the lane I was planning to occupy.

Trundlefoot said...

Good point. The belief that cycling is dangerous has gone from being accidental to one that appears to be an intentional "plot" to reduce the recent popularity of cycling. We, and the auto makers know that we're now several years past "peak-car-sales" and they of course are doing what they can to try to bring us all back to the old days when people had no other choices but to buy a car. It wouldn't be too surprising to find out that so-and-so who owns a newspaper has shares in GM, for example.

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