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Posted by on Aug 25, 2008 in Bicycle Culture | 5 comments

I’m angry again

This time it’s about the cab in Miami plowing into a group of cyclists. It happened on a causeway that has four lanes in each direction. The speed limit is 50 MPH. The group was taking up the rightmost lane at 8 AM on a Sunday morning. No traffic to speak of at that hour.

So first the news that it happened comes out at 11 AM in the Miami Herald. The nastiness and the vitriol from tha anti-bike bunch must be read to be appreciated and at least half the posts were deleted by the paper, so your imagination will have to be your guide here:

The paper updates the story later because the driver admits he fell asleep at the wheel.

And then Spokes’N Folks posts something called: Road design contributed to causeway accident to which I just had to respond. You can read it there.

I don’t know how we can engineer our way out of people driving when they are sleepy, but the Spokes ‘N Folks people do, the answer in this case is to extend the breakdown lane so that decent folks, like cyclists can use it. That way, all will be well.

5 Comments

  1. A note about the newspaper comment section:
    It attracts insignificant, small-minded hate-mongers because it provides them an audience. Unless you’re looking to be needlessly pissed off, stop reading at the end of the newspaper article and move on. There’s nothing of value to see there.

    Regarding Spokes…
    I like your comment. People need to see this for what it is—an act of gross negligence. The victims happened to be cyclists. If there is a larger issue it is traffic justice—discouraging inattentive and irresponsible driving through REAL consequences. It ain’t an infrastructure problem.

    IMO, the cyclists shouldn’t have been riding in the breakdown lane to begin with. When motorists expect the cyclist(s) to be or stay in the shoulder, they remain inattentive and careless even after registering the cyclist(s) presence. Cyclists should assert themselves in the lane to begin with. That might not have prevented this crash, but it does make cyclists lives a lot easier. If more cyclists did that and it became the expectation that this is the proper thing to do, motorists might become more attentive to the roadway environment instead of just thinking they can put it on auto-pilot and sleep all the way home.

  2. What gets me is this gem from the post:
    “Meanwhile, everybody, put a mirror on your helmet or handlebars, learn to use it — and limber up your neck to look behind.”

    I don’t use a mirror, but I can imagine what I would have seen if I did and was in this situation. First, I would have had to be studying the rear which means that I wouldn’t be watching where I was going. Then, I would see a car coming up behind me. Hey! The car doesn’t look like it is going to stop or change lanes! What do I do?

    Do I try to jump or climb over the wall of the causeway, into the water where I dogpaddle for an hour waiting for the Coast Guard to fish me out?

    Or do I quickly shift into the faster lane, hoping that the driver doesn’t see the gang at the last moment and do the same?

    These are absurd choices. So I can only assume that the people that love mirrors do so because they bail off the road a lot and as they are standing in the ditch with their bent wheel, they say, “Whew! That was a close one. Good thing I had that mirror or I would be dead.” Which makes them bail even quicker next time. They sure must go through a lot of wheels that way.

    Then they go home and tell all their family and friends how close they came to getting hit and how dangerous it is out there and why doesn’t the government DO something to make it safer for them.

    This makes me wonder what they do when they can’t bail. Let’s say they are on a two lane street with oncoming traffic on one side and a row of parked cars on the other?

  3. Cyclists say the darndest things. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction, they’re clearly not thinking it through.

    We need to accept that gross negligence happens and there is little one can do when it comes from this direction. Shoulders, bike lanes and even sidewalks cannot save us from gross negligence—asleep, drunk or out-of-control drivers. Fortunately, this kind of thing is the rarest form of crash. Not rare enough for its victims, of course.

    I do use a mirror. I don’t use it to obsess about traffic behind me, but it does help as a quick reference when I’m preparing for a merge. It doesn’t substitute for a head-turn, though.

  4. This event has to be focused on as a motorist incompetence issue, not a cycling safety issue. The driver could have just as easily hit a cop writing a citation to someone, or a motorist fixing a flat tire. On an undivided roadway he could have just as easily drifted left and killed a family in a minivan.

  5. More from the Herald today:
    The driver, Hebert Morais, 52, remained at the scene after the accident and spoke to investigators.

    ”He has not been charged,” said Detective Juan Sanchez, a Miami Beach police spokesman. The investigation continues.

    On Monday, Morais’ wife, Mirian, said her husband felt terrible.

    “He’s bad, really bad. He’s feeling really bad about what happened.”

    Michael Kaufman, an attorney for Checker Cab who is represeting Morais, said the cyclists were in the wrong.

    ”He shouldn’t even get a traffic ticket,” Kaufman said. “Emergency lanes are not meant for travel. He wasn’t being reckless. He didn’t lose control. He was stunned, shocked, destroyed.”

    Cyclists are allowed to ride in the roadway, except on expressways, as long as they follow the rules that govern motorists.

    Kaufman denied Morais had fallen asleep; he had started his shift at Checker Cab at 3 a.m., nearing closing time for clubs.

    ”He could have been knocked out by the crash,” Kaufman said. “He wasn’t asleep.”

    `CRAZIEST THING’

    Valori, the 911 caller, is still baffled as to why the cabbie failed to see the cyclists.

    Wearing pointed helmets and Spandex gear, the group was riding east toward the beach on the causeway. To avoid an obstruction near Palm Island, they had entered the roadway on the causeway, riding two-by-two.

    Valori described to the dispatcher what he saw:

    ”We were in the center lane a little behind the cabbie. We saw the bikers about 1,000 feet ahead of us. . . We moved over to the left lane and were going a little faster than him; he stayed in the right lane,” said Valori, who was in the passenger seat.

    ”He never swerved, drifted or slowed down, he just plowed into them,” Valori said. “They were in the lane of traffic, but I think they have the right to do that.

    ”It was like he was asleep or unconscious,” Valori said of the cabbie. “It was the craziest thing ever.”