I generally avoid posting tragic bike stories. They’re usually significant enough to warrant localized media coverage, including major media. They get so much attention it can obscure the fact that cycling, by and large, is safe if we apply due care and attention, and have a safe place to ride.
Riding a bike was clearly one of Elizabeth Solis’ great pleasures. She was an experienced cyclist who rode predictably and made sure she was highly visible to drivers, wearing a reflective vest whenever she road. She took safety seriously.
Most if not all regular riders have experienced being caught on “The Wrong Road” because there weren’t any other options. It’s unpleasant, and the kind of road Sovis consciously avoided. They made her nervous.
She and her husband Edmund Aunger were biking along a two-lane highway in Prince Edward Island this summer when she was struck from behind by habitual drunk driver Clarence Moase.
On Tuesday December 12, 2012, Moase was sentenced to six years in prison (and, I believe, a lifetime driving suspension). He had four prior impaired-driving convictions.
Aunger had mixed feelings about the sentence, saying he was afraid locking someone up wasn’t going to change the real problem, and referring to Clarence Moise as a scapegoat
“We need to create safer bike trails to ensure no one else dies the way my wife did.”
Elizabeth Clovis planned to spend her retirement helping develop safe cycling trails in Alberta – a cause Aunger is hoping to carry on.
Linda Hoang, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 11:03AM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 1:13PM MST
Nice blogpost from Bikeyface on taking the middle of the lane. Great illustrations. 🙂
“Whenever a person first discovers I bike, they reply with a story. And it’s always the same story.
“I was driving down [insert any road name] when all of the sudden I saw a cyclist in the MIDDLE OF THE ROAD!” Inevitably it always ends with them saying they “just tapped on their horn” or “squeezed by” or“yelled out to the cyclist.”
And many many times I’ve been the cyclist in one of these stories- the one sharing the road with a driver that isn’t aware of the basic road rules regarding bikes.
What’s worse is that sometimes reasonable people panic at the sight of a bicycle in the lane… and then all that reason flies out the window.”
Doesn’t always happen to me, but its happened for sure. The drivers who get upset that a cyclist takes the lane aren’t usually assholes. They’re most often regular folks like us who aren’t aware of the rules.
I believe its a natural consequence of driving (or cycling) that anything that slows us down or causes us to take an action irritates us. When I’m in a car (as a passenger) and there’s a cyclist in front of us, perhaps taking the lane, I too begin to feel irritated. I don’t know that there’s any getting around it. I do believe being aware its a natural consequence for all of us helps me temper any irritation I may feel, because I know its not really anyone else’s problem but mine.
Calgary is where I was born. I moved to Edmonton in my early teens, moved back to Calgary in my 30’s, and have been in Edmonton since about 1992.
I visit every once in awhile, but I’ve never cycled in Calgary. But I can’t help but notice they seem to be taking cycling seriously, with an excellent Calgary Herald section/blog called Pedal.
The last two posts have been most interesting; one about a group of kids that continue to ride to school through the winter like its no big deal, and another about the City of Calgary hiring a “cycling coordinator.”
“I know the law, but, …”
I cringe when I hear (or read) that phrase. We all seem to use it sometimes. I’m guilty too. Most often it’s the intro to “The Lecture”.
The leaning forward. The lowering of the chin. The eyes of “Inarguable Truth” staring directly into yours. The hunched shoulders and clasped hands. You go to speak, and up comes the hand, palm toward you, signalling you to wait. ….. The pursed lips, ready, prepared, and, settling in. A quick breath, and here we go,… with resignation, …
“Let’s get real here”.
A shaking head and the hand again, for once “The Lecture” begins it must be completed, or it’s profound truths may be lost. And so, following as he or she must, the lecturer moves into the first of two key “Inarguable Truths”:
points out how much a car weighs vis-a-vis a cyclist
explains basic physics
raises eyebrows, drops chin, and looks into eyes
The end is the truly beautiful part. The epiphany, as it were. Your epiphany.
The actual, ugly truth – a cyclist hit by a car moving at speed will most likely die a horrible death, is never mentioned. It’s subtly, but profoundly, implied. No words needed.
A magical moment, really, as it’s built on respect – the lecturer has granted that, given the evidence presented, and your epiphany, you can surely do your own math. All you needed was to be awakened to the truth.
Sometimes, mercifully, it moves to the second “Inarguable Truth”. And then it’s over. That fast. Just a few lines, and a few seconds of your time.
Subsequent lecture options include:
stating roads are made for motor vehicles
pointing out most people drive and will continue to do so
mentioning that cyclists are “exposed” vis- vis contained drivers
explaining car safety features vs “exposed” cyclists
noting the effect of road conditions on traffic
reminding us there are legions of bad drivers
accepting there are many distracted/drunk drivers
All moving inexorably, inevitably toward, finally, the ace in the hole, the biggie:
The second, and primary “Inarguable Truth”.
“it doesn’t matter whether you’re right or wrong when you’re dead”
Spoken with all the certainty of a teen on his eighth beer, sobering up to drive home.
We Get It
We all “get it”, right? All on our own, without coaching. Certainly everyone with the minimum wherewithal “gets it” that the cars sharing the roads with cyclists weigh a lot more than cyclists do.
And yet I’m regularly asked, even by friends and others I respect, even by other cyclists (often accompanied by an anecdote) whether I and other bike commuters understand and appreciate the difference between what a car weighs and what a cyclist weighs.
Clearly we do, or should. Only an idiot doesn’t. And I mean a real idiot, like the can’t tie their shoes kind. Does that mean the Lecturer thinks we’re idiots? What to do?
Why argue? Maybe it just needs to be explicitly said. So once again I slip on my Captain Obvious tights so that it can be written:
all grown up cyclists understand that motor vehicles weigh a lot more than a cyclist on a bike and that if they get hit by said motor vehicle moving at speed they will die.
Ahhhhhh. … Let’s all get beyond that. Wishful thinking?
It would appear so.
So with extreme artistic license, I give you Sisyphus.
Sisyphus was doomed by the Gods for all eternity to push a rock up a mountain; upon reaching the top, the rock would roll down again leaving Sisyphus to start over.
Cyclists are doomed for all eternity to listen to “The Lecture”.
It’s a stretch. I know.
Listening to “The Lecture” repeatedly, forever doesn’t seem too bad compared to pushing a rock up a mountain. The “Chinese Water Torture”, or the “Cross to Bear” analogies don’t work, because they don’t last for eternity.
“The Lecture” will. So it’s actually worse – a fate worse than death.
It can get to any of us, if we let it. Obviously it gets to me. There’s no getting around it, it must be accepted and endured. Just nod and wait for the lecture to end. Don’t disagree or take issue – it’s a trap. What’s to disagree with?
With acceptance comes peace. I shall let it go.
More people visit this post than all others put together. I think it’s a search engine thing. Since people actually do visit looking for advice, I though it best if I updated and re-arranged for clarity (and to make myself look better). Less rant – more info.
Thanks to “G, on September 10, 2012 at 11:04 am” for pointing out my mistakes.
Riding in crosswalks
I was riding home, here in Edmonton, Canada. It was warm, sunny, and clear. A beautiful fall day, and a beautiful ride, mostly through parkland. On a day like that there’s no place better to be than Edmonton.
I have a fair commute, each way. While the ride may be awesome, especially on a nice day, I’m in as much of a hurry to get home as any commuter.
I’d just crossed the river, turned left off of the LRT bridge, and was riding west…
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