Friday, October 22, 2010

Head down, hood up, buds in tuned out...

My commute everyday includes long sections of multi-use paths.  I encounter, everyday, some order of the following; pedestrians, rollerbladers and cyclists who wear headphones.  Of the many things that I scan for while cycling I have, for some time now, added to the list "wires coming from ears."  When detected I approach cautiously expecting dramatic changes in direction and speed.  That's not all that uncommon for your average conscientious cyclist.  What makes things worse is that my lovely bell doesn't raise an eyebrow.  Often my well exercised bark garners no response. That usually leaves me two options: slow down to a near stop and creep past so as not to frighten them or use my air-horn.  I have yet to try option two but I have been tempted.  Unfortunately, option one, no matter how well executed, seems to scare the bejesuz out of them.
I don't buy all of the "a cyclist nearly killed me" stories that seem to be rampant these days (especially on certain media's article response sections).  I have been a pedestrian for over 50 years now and have never been nearly killed by a cyclists.  It can't be just dumb luck.  It does worry me that this is a not uncommon attack from the anti-cycling crowd.  Fabricated, imagined or not, it sticks when it's flung.

That said, this from the Dallas Morning News:
A Dallas jogger who was severely injured in a collision with a bicyclist on the Katy Trail last week died Sunday, according to the Dallas County medical examiner’s office.

Lauren Huddleston, 28, died at 6:51 p.m. at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas. Huddleston was hit Thursday evening, apparently when she abruptly turned into a cyclist’s path in a section of the trail near Routh Street.

She was wearing headphones and may not have heard the bicycle approaching, police said.

She was taken to the hospital with critical head injuries.

The family bears no malice toward the cyclist.

I try to remind myself everyday that pedestrians --regardless of how unhelpfully they behave-- always have the right of way.


  1. It's tragic that the young woman died after being hit by a bike. However, it is certainly out there in the category of rare, freak accident. I know of people who fear everything under the sun, but I have never heard of anyone afraid to leave the house in case they get run down by a bicycle!

    However, fear of being run down by a car is another story altogether - I am amazed more people are not paralyzed by this fear. Yesterday I used transit and was almost run down just crossing the road to the skytrain station. I was crossing Lougheed, on a green pedestrian light, in broad daylight. I was almost hit by a van making a left turn ... he was so busy trying to zoom through a gap in the oncoming traffic that he forgot about the possibility of pedestrians existing! Of course he waved in apology, because I have noticed motorists do feel pangs of guilt when they almost run down law-abiding pedestrians ... but it was still scary as hell ... rambling away, but my point is, the media focus on death-by-bike is ludicrous. They might as well focus on death-by-falling-piano, or death-by-having-a-plane-toilet fall on your head - these can happen, but they are so rare as not to be worth writing about. Death by car, however, is almost as common as McDonalds, and is something that we SHOULD be concerned about.

  2. It is estimated that somewhere around 3,300 people will die world-wide, every day, by motor-vehicle. Funny, that didn't make the news. That's more than 9-11 every single day. Not news worthy. It's like 30 fully loaded passenger jets crashing and killing everyone on board... every day. The number is mind boggling but worse is that it really doesn't surprise or shock anyone because it sounds about right. The numbers for vehicle related injuries is even greater of course; over 100,000 world-wide every day. Death by motor vehicle is the number one way that North American children will die. It is the leading cause of death for people between 1-34 years of age. Yet our news media would rather talk about helmets or scofflaw cyclists or ranting uninformed business groups who claim bike lanes will wreck profits and destroy society at large. And heaven help us all if some bitter motorist (who's driving life has never managed to reflect the one they were sold by tv ads)is ever cut off by a bicycle or believes that they have seen one "almost kill" a pedestrian -- a group who they normal don't give a rat's about. Unfortunately this isn't going to change so we must plod on.


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