Wednesday, March 04, 2015


There was a horrible accident just off campus on Monday afternoon that left an AUS professor dead. The professor and his (72-year-old!) cycling companion were hit by a car, and both died instantly.

This news is horrifying to those of us in the AUS community for the obvious reasons, but also because of the spotlight it shines on the problem of bike/pedestrian safety in this country. Jeremy sometimes rides his bike in the area where this accident happened; I never have, but only because I'm skittish about biking off-campus. I don't trust cars around here when I'm IN a car, let alone when I'm relatively unprotected on a bike.

That said, I do ride my bike six days a week on campus. It's how I get to work, it's how I run errands, it's how the girls get to ballet class on Saturdays, sometimes on their own. And hardly one of those six days a week goes by without me witnessing some truly egregious behavior on the part of motorists toward cyclists or pedestrians. They don't know how to treat us (yes, this has become an us vs. them thing).

We are lucky to have marked crosswalks, most of which are incorporated into raised speed bumps. But cars still find ways to NOT stop for pedestrians/cyclists. It's appalling. In 2013, Miriam was hit by a golf-cart-ish maintenance car while riding her bike within 100m of our house. The front part of her bike was mangled, but she, aside from a few bruises, was fine. However, it took her more than a year to work up the courage to ride confidently again. I don't blame her.

It's shameful that people drive the way they do around pedestrians and cyclists. It is not that hard to SLOW DOWN, and keep an eye out for other people on the road. Seriously, not that hard. I know that even bike-friendly cities like Portland still struggle with motorist vs. cyclist safety issues. So we have a long way to go in this country, where in certain cities it is still illegal for women to ride bikes. I hope bicycle safety awareness on the part of motorists can change soon.


Crys said...

This is horrible and scary! Did I miss you writing about Miriam's crash? Wow I'm surprised she is riding again! What a brave girl! Be safe on the roads Bridget! Hopefully this tradgedy will start a dialogue that will lead to positive change.

Bridget said...

No, I didn't blog about it. It was kind of traumatic and it was right before Sterling was born, so I couldn't settle on writing about it.

I also keep thinking about the person who was driving the car. As awful as it is for the families of those who were killed, I have to believe it is pretty dang awful for the driver as well.

Jen and Joe. said...

I will never, EVER understand people's motivation to drive fast and recklessly. Boston is one of the worst cities for bike pedestrians....though given the reputation of our drivers, that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Merkley Jiating said...

My comment just deleted as I tried to log into my account. Dang. The gist of it was that Sam got hit by a car last night while running. He's fine. The driver didn't stop. And Houston drivers are terrible.

Suzanne Bubnash said...

I grew up in an era and a place where pedestrians and cyclists were respected. That regard was so extreme that if you were standing by a road and even appeared to be entertaining the idea of crossing, drivers would stop for you. You had to wave them on if you weren't wanting to cross.

Everyone's in such a hurry now, and compound that with drivers under the influence of substances and drivers fiddling with their devices, not to mention the frustrations that arise from heavy traffic. It's a recipe for trouble.

If you're a cyclist or ped, consider yourself fair game. Where my sister lives, it's open season on pedestrians. They get killed in her town regularly, and no one does anything about it. At least here in the PDX area, cities and counties are pro-active about protecting cyclists and peds. Still, accidents happen. After a teenage ped was killed on a country road over in Cedar Mill, the county found some $$ and had sidewalks put in all over the place, so it wouldn't happen again.

Kitty Crazy! said...

I'm so sorry about the professor and his friend. Now I have another thing to worry about with you guys! Please be safe, and tell Jeremy to reconsider riding in that same area. Janice

Jen and Joe. said...

(Also? On an unrelated note, I'm trying to remember if the Daily Universe always mentioned where the quoted students were from. I thought it was interesting that the article mentioned that about all of the students they quoted, but not the faculty or staff.)

Suzanne Bubnash said...

Even here in River City, a cyclist's sort of heaven, there are bad feelings from ignoramouses who in various forums lash out at cyclists for clogging the streets, appearing out of nowhere, and, if you can believe this, accusing cyclists of refusing to grow up and be adults. Because, as we all know, bicycles are only for children.

If every one of the thousands of daily bike commuters got back into their cars, well then we'd have clogged streets to complain about.

A while back one local cyclist wanted to prove he didn't need a car for any reason, even for a move. He built a trailer that could be towed by a bicycle, and moved his entire household by bike. Even the sofa and beds fit on this trailer. It took a lot of trips, but wow, what an accomplishment.

I've strayed from the intention of your post, sorry. Any more news about the accident? What kind of vehicle was involved, what about the perp, and what is being done?

Hannah said...

I'm so sorry to hear about this. It's such sad news.

This is the sort of issue that routinely makes me very angry. I've seen a lot of bad drivers everywhere, but in one town where we lived in Maryland, I felt particularly unsafe. I had a few very near misses being hit while one foot, and often, I saw cars actually speeding up when they saw me in the crosswalks. I think drivers' licenses need to be viewed as a privilege rather than a right, but of course that raises the question of how people can get to work in the absence of reliable mass transit. Grr.

Aimee said...

A tragic loss to the community. I'm sorry. I also think about the drivers, be it car, bus, train, or light rail. What a horrible thing to live with and think about. A college acquaintance committed suicide by stopping on train tracks, and I just felt so terrible for the train engineer.

We live in urban Denver, our streets are narrow and traffic goes both ways on most of them. People have to pull to the side if two cars are coming down the street. It makes me nervous to let my kids ride bikes around because people drive fast and distracted.

I'm so sorry Miriam got hit, but I'm glad she's ok. My sister had a bad bike accident when she was in 4th grade, and if it wasn't for the kindness of a stranger I don't know how my sister would have made it home.

Bridget said...

Aimee, my neighbor's 9-year-old was hit by a car on campus while riding his bike and - get this - the driver dropped him home with his mangled bike (OK, great) but then drove away without talking to his parents! I was flabbergasted!

Emily, I'm glad Sam is ok! I can't believe the driver didn't stop!

So, related to Jen and my mom's comments, it's a little awkward because usually the newspapers report the initials and the nationalities of people suspected of crimes. But there is no such information given in this case. It's strange.

Liz Johnson said...

This is just horrible. I've heard of far too many auto/cyclist accidents recently. And wasn't your dad hit by a car (am I mis-remembering that??). I'm so sorry for everybody involved in this. What a horrible thing.


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