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Conflicts

Two disturbing things across the transom. The former attorney general of Ontario, charged in the death of a cyclist in Toronto (ironically in light of the recent press on Chris Cavacuiti), apparently in some kind of altercation.

And in Wisconsin, a current legislator (one account says his license was once suspended) blows a red light, striking a cyclist.

(thanks Rob)

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 1st, 2009 at 2:18 pm and is filed under Bicycles, Cars, Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

12 Responses to “Conflicts”

  1. Steven Levy Says:

    Tom, re the Ontario incident — it seems there is a second way to read the story. See Raajiv Rajadurai’s account further down The Globe’s story. The car bumped the cyclist, cause unknown. The cyclist grew angry and threatening, grabbing the mirror of the car and slamming his backpack onto the hood. Speculation now: the cyclist swore imprecations and quite possibly threats in his anger. The driver, feeling threatened, did anything he could to relieve the threat.

    I’m not defending the driver or suggesting that this alternate reading is true, nor do I think deadly force is usually the right response to a non-deadly threat no matter how real. I am offering the presumption of innocence and suggesting that it’s not time to jump to a conclusion.

  2. Victoria Gerken Says:

    And then there’s this
    http://www.denverpost.com/search/ci_13181925
    Children know the right thing to do but not the father (a lawyer who should know way better!) —

    “The children said they urged their father to go back to the bicyclist, which he did. They said he checked out Heg yi briefly, then drove away again. They asked him to go back but he refused and drove home.”

  3. danc Says:

    Regarding the Wisconsin crash are you “sure the SUV blows a red light”? Bob Shanteau California Association of Bicycling Organizations has keen dissection of the video from Silicon Valley Bike Listserv

    First, notice that the cyclist was not riding in an area where it’s lawful to ride – it’s a marked off area between the through lane and a right turn only lane. Such a marked off area has the same effect as a
    raised concrete median – stay off!

    Second, although we can see when the signal turned green for the bus and the bicyclist (at 0:38) and when the SUV appears in the video (at 0:40), we can’t see the limit line to the left, so we’re only presuming that the SUV driver entered the intersection on red. Based on what we can see in the video, such a presumption is almost certainly true, but be careful about presuming things that you cannot see. Of course, if the driver entered on yellow, then he/she did so lawfully and other traffic receiving a green must yield to vehicles and pedestrians (and bicyclists) lawfully within the intersection.

    Furthermore, what would you think if the SUV had instead been a slow moving bicyclist who entered on yellow but could not clear the intersection before the conflicting signal turned green and was struck by another cyclist who may have thought he/she had the right of way just because the signal was green? Or if a pedestrian were walking in front of the bus as the conflicting signal turned green and was struck by a cyclist who could not see the pedestrian because his/her line of sight was blocked by the bus?

    The main lesson here is to realize that a green light does not mean go; instead it means you may go only after allowing any vehicles or pedestrians lawfully within the intersection to clear. Incidentally, that rule applies whether you are a motorist, a bicyclist or a pedestrian – you may not enter the intersection until other lawful traffic has left.

  4. Eric Says:

    I noticed that blurb on the photo from the Toronto Globe and Mail uses the term “Fatal Accident”; even using Steven Levy’s…um, generous interpretation, this was no accident.

  5. Tom Vanderbilt Says:

    Dan,

    I’ve obviously not analyzed the crash scene and was simply relaying what the news account said: “Police records show a state lawmaker who ran a red light and hit a bicyclist had his driver’s license suspended in the past, although he insisted there was never a suspension.” This would be complicated of course by whatever the clearance phase was (around 1.7 seconds in New York); at the speed that SUV was going I’d guess there’s no way he entered on yellow. But you raise a good point about paying attention to signals — which are really traffic management devices first and safety devices secondarily — rather than traffic conditions, particularly at intersections, where the bulk of the worst crashes occur.

    I was on the flipside of this in a news van in L.A, ironically filming a segment on my book; we were actually struck by a driver racing to “beat” a yellow light, who didn’t look back down in time enough to realize traffic ahead was stopped. Of course, were the intersection a properly designed roundabout, without signals, the Wisconsin crash would probably not have happened, or at least happened at that speed.

    I also find it interesting that a bike crash in Wisconsin gets so dissected nationally, with such interest, by cyclists. Thousands of car crashes occur every day and rarely make the local news. I don’t know what that means, but I’m curious to hear any thoughts.

  6. HB - Amsterdam Says:

    @danc First, I am not sure why you would doubt the State Lawmaker running a red light when he even admits running the red light.
    Secondly, if it was a another bicycle running a red light or yellow light the speed would have been much less and he/she could have stopped in time.
    Third, did it occur to you that the bus (hint: BIG vehicle) was blocking the sight of the cyclist who only saw a green light?

    So, we can now only blame the cyclist for foolishly expecting other people (expecially a state lawmaker) to not run a red light.

    You should try it once, riding your bicycle in the city, it will open a whole new world!

  7. njkayaker Says:

    Can somebody explain the pedestrian (is that word OK to use?) crossing the street behind the action?

  8. RJ Says:

    Dear Steven,

    I happen to have read your comment:

    “See Raajiv Rajadurai’s account further down The Globe’s story. The car bumped the cyclist, cause unknown. The cyclist grew angry and threatening, grabbing the mirror of the car and slamming his backpack onto the hood. Speculation now: the cyclist swore imprecations and quite possibly threats in his anger. The driver, feeling threatened, did anything he could to relieve the threat.”

    I would suggest you read the article again as this is not what Raajiv Rajadurai said. I know this as I am the one that said it.

    Dear “Blogger Tom” please remove this comment that Steven wrote as this is considered slander.

    – RJ

  9. Electric Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEseWDK87RI

    Doubters can watch the security camera footage of the ex Ontario Attorney General murdering a cyclist. Being a powerful man he has hired an expensive and well connected PR firm, Navigator LTD. to help sway public opinion against the cyclist. The dead cyclist is currently pigeon-holed as a reckless, drunk, rule flaunting, and possibly homicidal bicycle courier.

    It’s tough for cyclists around here lately, after another man ran down 5 cyclists in Ottawa while they were in a bike-lane now this, one of the most powerful lawmakers running down a cyclist and possibly getting away with it. All this within a month.

  10. DoctorJay Says:

    njkayaker: I’m going to guess that the camera isn’t held by a pedestrian, but has a zoom mechanism triggered by someone running a red light.

  11. George Says:

    As a cyclist and motorist I would have used the left turning bus as a shield. Let the bus block the lanes from the left.

    As a cyclist there is no good reason to carry speed through an intersection as you are invisible and it limits the actions you can take. Sprint between intersections rest at them.

    Look at traffic [all modes] not traffic lights.

  12. danc Says:

    @Tom V:
    > simply relaying what the news account said …
    OK, Another Accidental Journalist?

    >that a bike crash in Wisconsin gets so dissected nationally
    It’s a striking video getting the “news echo effect” like Michael Jackson clips filling 24 hour cable coverage with showing the same clip
    15 times between mixed with 15 minutes of ads.”

    @HB – Amsterdam,

    >First, I am not sure why you would doubt the State Lawmaker running a red light when he even admits running the red light.

    Hmm, well if the driver said he was running a red light. I’ll still give some benefit of the doubt, the intersection is on slight diagonal. Here is Google Map view of the intersection the cyclist approached, I understand from another listserv both parties know each other and families, OUCH!

    > Secondly, if it was a another bicycle running a red light or yellow light the speed would have been much less and he/she could have stopped in time.

    Possibly a cyclist can thru intersection like the SUV and looking around versus concentrating on blasting through the intersection, but we’ll never know.

    > Third, did it occur to you that the bus (hint: BIG vehicle) was blocking the sight of the cyclist who only saw a green light?

    Yes, but cyclist was passing on the right side of the bus in a median (gore zone) between the straight thru and left turn lane. The cyclist also timed his entrance to the intersection at speed, at least the bus driver was cautious, started slowly then slowed, slopped when he saw the danger.

    > So, we can now only blame the cyclist for foolishly expecting other people (expecially a state lawmaker) to not run a red light.

    I see plenty of contributory negligence, almost equal for both parties

    > You should try it once, riding your bicycle in the city, it will open a whole new world!

    Most of my riding to work is on a narrow country road, you learn being visible, predictable and control the lane quickly. City riding, big city (?) does not seem any greater challenge mostly crappier roads. Is that Old Amsterdam or New Amsterdam?

    - Peace Out (in other works, stay OUT of the door zone bike lanes!)

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