Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Riding The Wrong Way Can Be Fatal

It seems like every day lately there has been bad news at cyclingnews.com, but how often does this happen?

A cyclist lost his life in a head-on collision with another cyclist on Sunday, August 14 in Plano, Texas. Michael Mahoney, 52, was riding counter-clockwise on a circuit route near an industrial part of southeast Plano when the accident occurred. He collided with Jordan Muller, 37, who was training clockwise on the parcours used for races on Tuesday nights.

Although both cyclists were wearing helmets, Michael Mahoney's head trauma was too severe and he passed away in the Medical Center of Plano soon after the accident. Jordan Muller was treated in the emergency room and released.

With most races taking place clockwise, race organizer Randy Eller said that most people training on the course were riding in that same direction. Nevertheless, the streets being public, cyclists can ride any direction they choose. While the police did not know at what speed the two cyclists were going when they crashed, the accident apparently happened on a straight stretch of the road.
One critical detail is missing--where in the roadway did this happen? They were on public roads. It wasn't even race night, so the fact that races go clockwise is irrelevant (the article concedes this point). Obviously somebody was in the wrong place (i.e., riding on his left side of the road), or they both were (i.e., riding down the middle). Maybe one guy was riding on the wrong side the whole time. Maybe the other rider had been cutting a corner before the straight. It's sad regardless, and it probably never would have happened if both cyclists had kept right as the law prescribes.

This incident draws attention to my biggest problem with wrong-way cyclists. When you encounter one on the street (all too common in Chicago), on which side do you pass? I keep right, but a wrong-way rider is just as likely to keep to his left and hit me. The Chicago Police Department is planning to start fining cyclists who break traffic laws (finally!), so I hope they crack down hard on these people in particular.

UPDATE 08/18/2005 - According to VeloNews, which has a more detailed report, the riders were both in the middle of the road (hat tip to Team Mack racer Chris Strout, who reads more cycling web sites than I do). And of course, I did not mention the many ways a cyclist riding the wrong way can be killed by a motorist, but that goes beyond the scope of this blog entry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our roads in the little burg of Fox Point WI are infested with cyclists during the summer. It is crazy the number of near auto accidents I have been in because cyclists have failed to obey simple traffic laws.

After living and running in Chicago for over 20 years, I have a special, dark, place in my heart for cyclists. While we as motorists need to allow them to ride; we as motorists should hold them responsible for maintaining safe driving conditions by following the law of the road.