Calculated Risks & Cycling

streetsSad news. A local cyclist was killed in my community yesterday. Reportedly he ran a stop sign and was hit by a dump truck. Even before the fatality was confirmed, I knew that his chances were slim to survive that accident.

We have no way of knowing whether the cyclist intentionally ran the stop sign or whether it was an oversight. Given that it was at an intersection where a neighborhood street meets a street with more traffic, it seems safe to assume that the cyclist took the risk of running the stop sign and this ended in tragedy. Police report that alcohol was not involved in the accident.

My thoughts go out to his family and friends.  I hope they find healing over time.

I will readily admit that I take calculated risks when it comes to stop signs and red lights. I will also readily admit that I know that I’m consciously breaking the law when I do it.

This death is a stark reminder to me that when I take these calculated risks, they may not be as calculated as I think. Perhaps it would be better to stop at all posted signs and lights. Following the law won’t prevent me from being involved in an accident, but it sure will decrease the chances of it.

Recently, on my local bike club’s mailing list, there was a long thread with a couple of side threads (43 messages total) revolving around two of our members getting ticketed for running a red light. The circumstances of their ticketing were somewhat ambiguous. They’d come to a red light, stopped, looked both ways down a long stretch of highway (straight in both directions), noted no oncoming traffic, and proceeded to cross. A state trooper had passed them while they waited and turned around to ticket them. The members went to court and stated that they were primarily concerned with reducing the fine and reducing or eliminating the points on their license.

The judge upheld the fine but removed the points. The two involved were pleased with the outcome – not satisfied, but not egregiously upset.

But on the list, it seemed that everyone had an opinion – grounded in reality or not. There were many on the list who argued that it was unjust and unfair. There were arguments made that the court ruling should be appealed. There was even an insane recommendation not to carry ID with you on a ride, so that an officer can’t write you a ticket with your driver’s license number on it.

I was thankful for Gmail’s mute function while this banter played it out on the list. I wonder today if some of the people arguing that the fine was unfair or that it should be appealed will rethink their stance.

I hope they will – I’d like to have them around on our group rides.

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