A Travesty for Cyclists

8 05 2009

Virginia Beach Police have decided not to press charges on the driver that struck and killed a bicyclist in April on Shore Drive. Even though the pilot reports:

Hersh, an avid cyclist on his Sunday morning ride, was apparently following traffic laws by pedaling east in the right travel lane – not the turn lane – on Shore Drive near Starfish Road in the early light shortly before 6 a.m., when a Ford Explorer struck him from behind. He was wearing a helmet and a bright yellow windbreaker with reflective strips, [Commonwealth’s Attorney] Bryant said.

In other words, this lady did not see a bike in her lane even though the rider was wearing a bright reflective jacket? If she cannot see that, she should not be driving. Period. Furthermore:

The woman was cooperative, and she realized she had hit a bicyclist only after she felt the impact, stopped and saw Hersh’s body

Really? This man was wearing a reflective jacket and she could not see him until she felt the impact and stopped to check what it was? She had to have known that she hit somebody. She can’t be that … inattentive. The police said that they could not find evidence that she hit him through negligent driving. How about section § 46.2-839 in the Virginia Code? This code says:

Any driver of any vehicle overtaking a bicycle … proceeding in the same direction shall pass at a reasonable speed at least two feet to the left of the overtaken bicycle … and shall not again proceed to the right side of the highway until safely clear of such overtaken bicycle…

If she had been observing this law, she would not have hit him. It would have been impossible. She would have slowed down and moved over. Wait. She said she didn’t see him. Was it foggy? No, she would have slowed for inclement conditions. Was it stormy? No, same situation. The weather was clear. She had to have seen him. If she didn’t she was distracted by something. The Police checked cell phone record etc. but look around you sometime on the highway. There are people reading the paper, eating, shaving, putting on makeup, changing the radio, writing, and any number of other things that should not be done while driving. If the lane was too narrow to pass the bike, she should have observed the definition of “substandard width lane” in § 46.2-905, which states that a substandard width lane is “a lane too narrow for a bicycle … and another vehicle to pass safely side by side within the lane.” This driver should lose her license. I keep hearing people say that he shouldn’t have been riding his bike down Shore Drive. Is there another, safer road that parallels Shore Drive? Anybody else remember 2006? You know, when Virginia Beach was called “Bicycle Friendly?” Apparently they are only friendly if you are on an exercise bike in a gym. Normally, I’m not much to sue people, but I hope that this cyclist’s family sues the driver for everything she’s worth. Sue the city too. “Bicycle Friendly” is false advertising.

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2 responses

20 05 2009
Tribuddy

I cannot agree more. This lady should be held accountable for her actions. If she had hit a car with the same results she would probably be charged with involuntary manslaughter. Whoever says you shouldn’t be biking on a road like shore drive is not familiar with the law. And don’t think the sidewalk is a better option, that is illegal for cyclists.

It’s funny how these things work. The truckers think the roads belong to them over people driving cars, cars drivers think cyclists should be off the roads, cyclists can’t ride on the sidewalk and the pedestrians would be pretty pissed if a cyclist buzzed them off the sidewalk. Pretty much people just need to realize that cyclist have a right to the road and a right to 2 feet (which I think is 3 in other truly “bicycle friendly” states, not that it would have mattered in this case).

3 09 2009
Markus

The driver and Mr Hersh were traveling east in the early morning on a clear day; she was likely blinded by the sun. This, of course, doesn’t clear her of wrong doing, it is the drivers responsibility to be able to see what’s ahead, and if the driver can’t they need to a) remedy that situation or b) pull over (as you often see people do in a heavy down pour). If I run a red light and tell the cop I didn’t see it I am still going to (or at least should) get a ticket, how can it possibly get you off the hook after killing somebody.

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