Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stuff and another stuff



Crazy beautiful day today. Lots of trail riding on the S&S'd RB-T.

A big pile of us rode up Greenwood, then out the trails to Bowl and Pitcher. Nate has a lovely write-up and some nice pics on his private, invite-only blog.

After the proper ride, Justin, Tom, and I rode the highdrive trails home. It's a great bunch of climbing. Justin had his fully-fendered Expedition. The fenders turned out to be a perfect place to pack some mud, which made the climbing even more fun for him.

I try to avoid the highdrive trails on the weekends. Especially on sunny weekends. But I couldn't help myself.



Whenever I ride the trails I really try to be as courteous as possible, with lots of smiles, thank-yous as I slow to a stop or a near stop. But today we got icy "bikers don't belong here" vibe from two sets of people.

I guess that sort of inevitable as more people discover these trails. Who knows how the last set of cyclists treated them? For the record, it's trail law that cyclists always yield right of way. So maybe these icy starers expected a full dismount from us?

Just one thing though - let's remember, it's cyclists that built these trails. I suppose that will matter less as time goes on and more people feel a right to claim and control the trails.

Yesterday morning, I overheard our waitress talking about how the wife of David Squires ended up at the PTI the other night after the wake or something. Apparently, David was cruising down to the bar to have a beer when we was run over. Sounds like he was your basic working dude: heading down to the bar to have a beer after work. I've heard a lot of people wondering if he was wearing a helmet or if he had lights on his bike or what the deal was with the side walk riding, and it's hard for me not to read into those questions.



If I ever get run down on my bike, I guess the best I can hope for is that I'm wearing a helmet, I'm lit up, and I'm the model cyclists. And even then, for many in our society, as a dead cyclist, death is an obvious risk I should've assumed just throwing my leg over a bike.

15 comments:

Ken Paulman said...

The fact that he was on the sidewalk made me angry, and I was finally able to gel my thoughts a bit on the S-R thread after a ham-fisted start.

Here's the thing. We all know why David was on the sidewalk: because it takes a lot of fortitude to venture out onto a Spokane street (or a St. Paul street, for that matter) on a bike. All of us have had some idiot in a car shout at us to get on the sidewalk, even though we know it's generally a more dangerous place to ride.

People can't have it both ways - they can't chastise someone for riding on the sidewalk and simultaneously insist that bikes shouldn't be in the road.

In other words, there's a big education opportunity here. How to exploit it, I'm not sure, but essentially there's a chance to say "see, Spokane? You want us out of the road? This is what happens." Memorial ride, maybe?

Not to mention that this incident also spells out in big letters that talking about cyclists' rights doesn't (just) mean painting bike lanes for lycra-clad weekend road warriors. It means providing real transportation choices for everyone, for instance, electricians heading out for a beer after work (would they rather have him heading to the bar in a car? Wasn't people driving cars to the bar a significant factor in the accident?).

Might feel exploitative, I know. But better than letting the guy die in vain.

EvilElf said...

That a fellow died as a result of any kind of accident is very sad.

From horrific auto vs. cyclist to single motorcycle DOAs. The scene is always chaotic, especially with police working the hit and run aspect, while the fire department and AMR render medical care in some pretty diverse circumstances.

Had an elderly lady, a transient, get hit on Mission a few years ago. She was riding a BMX. Her skin was basically a tube of pulverized bones.

Which brings me to this. At what point do we say someone is not a cyclist? Are some of us more cyclists than others? Don't even get me started on whether we recognize this other person as a fellow traveler we are sharing our lives with - on the road and on the sidewalks.

That we talk about Mr. Squires having a job (like us), having a family (like us), going off to have a beer after work (like us) makes his death seem more of a personal tragedy to us than had it been someone not like us. Likewise, had it been a lycra-clad surgeon on his road bike, I think the media would have made a bigger deal about it. Had he been a transient, would there even be one blog posting about his death?

The majority of bicycle accidents that I have seen have involved riders who, if not transients, have been very destitute. They ride because they can't afford any other form of transportation or can't drive for legal or medical reasons. I would wager that these riders are a very big block of the cyclists (and I will call them that) in Spokane.

The lady on Mission never garnered much publicity when she succombed to her injuries. More than likely, it was her fault. But because she was indigent, no one stood up for her riding into oncoming traffic, failure to yield or riding in crosswalks or sidewalks. That's our bias. She wasn't like us.

Or so we like to believe.

My deepest sympathy to Mr. Squires' family. You must be going through hell right now and that the driver was drunk is inexcusable. I hope that justice is served.

For the rest of us, I think we need to have an honest discussion about our responsibility to each other - cyclists who bicycle because they want to and those who do so because they have nothing else.

How do we all make it work where car is king?

EvilElf said...

That a fellow died as a result of any kind of accident is very sad.

From horrific auto vs. cyclist to single motorcycle DOAs. The scene is always chaotic, especially with police working the hit and run aspect, while the fire department and AMR render medical care in some pretty diverse circumstances.

Had an elderly lady, a transient, get hit on Mission a few years ago. She was riding a BMX. Her skin was basically a tube of pulverized bones.

Which brings me to this. At what point do we say someone is not a cyclist? Are some of us more cyclists than others? Don't even get me started on whether we recognize this other person as a fellow traveler we are sharing our lives with - on the road and on the sidewalks.

That we talk about Mr. Squires having a job (like us), having a family (like us), going off to have a beer after work (like us) makes his death seem more of a personal tragedy to us than had it been someone not like us. Likewise, had it been a lycra-clad surgeon on his road bike, I think the media would have made a bigger deal about it. Had he been a transient, would there even be one blog posting about his death?

The majority of bicycle accidents that I have seen have involved riders who, if not transients, have been very destitute. They ride because they can't afford any other form of transportation or can't drive for legal or medical reasons. I would wager that these riders are a very big block of the cyclists (and I will call them that) in Spokane.

The lady on Mission never garnered much publicity when she succombed to her injuries. More than likely, it was her fault. But because she was indigent, no one stood up for her riding into oncoming traffic, failure to yield or riding in crosswalks or sidewalks. That's our bias. She wasn't like us.

Or so we like to believe.

My deepest sympathy to Mr. Squires' family. You must be going through hell right now and that the driver was drunk is inexcusable. I hope that justice is served.

For the rest of us, I think we need to have an honest discussion about our responsibility to each other - cyclists who bicycle because they want to and those who do so because they have nothing else.

How do we all make it work where car is king?

John Speare said...

I hear you Ken. You are right: there's a ying and yang thing around the educational opportunity/exploitative potential that pulls at me here.

What is the educational opportunity though? Stay out of the way of drunk drivers? I just can't help thinking that if I died like David did, and the result was a "wear a helmet" or "don't ride on teh sidewalks" or "be sure you're lit up" campaign in my name -- in an accident like this -- regardless of intention, implicitly assigns blame to the guy who was legally in a sidewalk that got run down by a drunk driver.

It's hard to assign relative weight to all the elements that caused David's death, but at the top of the list I'd put: drunk guy in a huge truck and really shitty traffic/ped design. Way way down there, I"d put: the guy was riding on a sidewalk with no lights and no helmet.

In that context I don't see much of an educational opportunity here.

EvilElf said...

That a fellow died as a result of any kind of accident is very sad.

From horrific auto vs. cyclist to single motorcycle DOAs. The scene is always chaotic, especially with police working the hit and run aspect, while the fire department and AMR render medical care in some pretty diverse circumstances.

Had an elderly lady, a transient, get hit on Mission a few years ago. She was riding a BMX. Her skin was basically a tube of pulverized bones.

Which brings me to this. At what point do we say someone is not a cyclist? Are some of us more cyclists than others? Don't even get me started on whether we recognize this other person as a fellow traveler we are sharing our lives with - on the road and on the sidewalks.

That we talk about Mr. Squires having a job (like us), having a family (like us), going off to have a beer after work (like us) makes his death seem more of a personal tragedy to us than had it been someone not like us. Likewise, had it been a lycra-clad surgeon on his road bike, I think the media would have made a bigger deal about it. Had he been a transient, would there even be one blog posting about his death?

The majority of bicycle accidents that I have seen have involved riders who, if not transients, have been very destitute. They ride because they can't afford any other form of transportation or can't drive for legal or medical reasons. I would wager that these riders are a very big block of the cyclists (and I will call them that) in Spokane.

The lady on Mission never garnered much publicity when she succombed to her injuries. More than likely, it was her fault. But because she was indigent, no one stood up for her riding into oncoming traffic, failure to yield or riding in crosswalks or sidewalks. That's our bias. She wasn't like us.

Or so we like to believe.

My deepest sympathy to Mr. Squires' family. You must be going through hell right now and that the driver was drunk is inexcusable. I hope that justice is served.

For the rest of us, I think we need to have an honest discussion about our responsibility to each other - cyclists who bicycle because they want to and those who do so because they have nothing else.

How do we all make it work where car is king?

EvilElf said...

That a fellow died as a result of any kind of accident is very sad.

From horrific auto vs. cyclist to single motorcycle DOAs. The scene is always chaotic, especially with police working the hit and run aspect, while the fire department and AMR render medical care in some pretty diverse circumstances.

Had an elderly lady, a transient, get hit on Mission a few years ago. She was riding a BMX. Her skin was basically a tube of pulverized bones.

Which brings me to this. At what point do we say someone is not a cyclist? Are some of us more cyclists than others? Don't even get me started on whether we recognize this other person as a fellow traveler we are sharing our lives with - on the road and on the sidewalks.

That we talk about Mr. Squires having a job (like us), having a family (like us), going off to have a beer after work (like us) makes his death seem more of a personal tragedy to us than had it been someone not like us. Likewise, had it been a lycra-clad surgeon on his road bike, I think the media would have made a bigger deal about it. Had he been a transient, would there even be one blog posting about his death?

The majority of bicycle accidents that I have seen have involved riders who, if not transients, have been very destitute. They ride because they can't afford any other form of transportation or can't drive for legal or medical reasons. I would wager that these riders are a very big block of the cyclists (and I will call them that) in Spokane.

The lady on Mission never garnered much publicity when she succombed to her injuries. More than likely, it was her fault. But because she was indigent, no one stood up for her riding into oncoming traffic, failure to yield or riding in crosswalks or sidewalks. That's our bias. She wasn't like us.

Or so we like to believe.

My deepest sympathy to Mr. Squires' family. You must be going through hell right now and that the driver was drunk is inexcusable. I hope that justice is served.

For the rest of us, I think we need to have an honest discussion about our responsibility to each other - cyclists who bicycle because they want to and those who do so because they have nothing else.

How do we all make it work where car is king?

EvilElf said...

That a fellow died as a result of any kind of accident is very sad.

From horrific auto vs. cyclist to single motorcycle DOAs. The scene is always chaotic, especially with police working the hit and run aspect, while the fire department and AMR render medical care in some pretty diverse circumstances.

Had an elderly lady, a transient, get hit on Mission a few years ago. She was riding a BMX. Her skin was basically a tube of pulverized bones.

Which brings me to this. At what point do we say someone is not a cyclist? Are some of us more cyclists than others? Don't even get me started on whether we recognize this other person as a fellow traveler we are sharing our lives with - on the road and on the sidewalks.

That we talk about Mr. Squires having a job (like us), having a family (like us), going off to have a beer after work (like us) makes his death seem more of a personal tragedy to us than had it been someone not like us. Likewise, had it been a lycra-clad surgeon on his road bike, I think the media would have made a bigger deal about it. Had he been a transient, would there even be one blog posting about his death?

The majority of bicycle accidents that I have seen have involved riders who, if not transients, have been very destitute. They ride because they can't afford any other form of transportation or can't drive for legal or medical reasons. I would wager that these riders are a very big block of the cyclists (and I will call them that) in Spokane.

The lady on Mission never garnered much publicity when she succombed to her injuries. More than likely, it was her fault. But because she was indigent, no one stood up for her riding into oncoming traffic, failure to yield or riding in crosswalks or sidewalks. That's our bias. She wasn't like us.

Or so we like to believe.

My deepest sympathy to Mr. Squires' family. You must be going through hell right now and that the driver was drunk is inexcusable. I hope that justice is served.

For the rest of us, I think we need to have an honest discussion about our responsibility to each other - cyclists who bicycle because they want to and those who do so because they have nothing else.

How do we all make it work where car is king?

Ken Paulman said...

I get that. But the flip side is you can wind up implicitly defending a riding practice that most of the community really doesn't have a clue is dangerous. If you were coaching a new bike commuter, would you advise them to ride down that sidewalk?

That's the nuance - he was on the sidewalk because the prevailing conventional wisdom in Spokane says that's where bikes belong. The problem is with the culture, not the rider.

So that makes the primary cause something like: Too many jerks on the roadway who force riders like David Squires into dangerous situations where they're more likely to be hit by drunks in big trucks (gasp for air). In a culture that respects bikes as transportation, guys like Squires might be more likely to ride confidently on the roadway, lit up, visible and arguably a lot safer.

And a culture that doesn't respect cycling as transportation isn't likely to do anything about that intersection anytime soon.

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI, he wasn't going for a beer after work. He was going to pick up burgers for him and his wife at Dick's. Careful with the mis-information please.

Nate said...

"It's hard to assign relative weight to all the elements that caused David's death, but at the top of the list I'd put: drunk guy in a huge truck and really shitty traffic/ped design. Way way down there, I"d put: the guy was riding on a sidewalk with no lights and no helmet."

I agree with John, from what we know so far.

I'd also point out that pedestrians are not required to wear helmets or have lights, but would have faced similar danger from a drunk motorist at this poorly designed intersection.

A problem with safety discussions is the assumption of a single cause, and the narrowing to either/or liability between the motorized and non-motorized road users. It's like everyone starts thinking like insurance companies or lawyers. Design usually is left out entirely, since it's easier to point fingers at those involved. But, as citizens, we don't have to be narrow-minded professionals. We just have to figure out what works.

There's resistance to critiquing design from a pedestrian or bicyclist standpoint of equitable access. That resistance particularly stands out in discussions of Sprague and Division, one of the worst designed intersections ever, even for the motorized vehicles it prioritizes. You don't have to leave Spokane to find better examples of design (and maintenance) than this particular intersection.

I think the concern about transients is particularly pertinent given the location of this intersection. Could it be that part of the reason for the crappy maintenance and poor bike/ped design is because transients often walk or bike around this area? I was up on the Hill today and the arterial intersections were well-kept, better marked, and better designed than Sprague and Division. Why?

The relocation of Pedals2People just a few blocks down from this intersection almost guarantees more bike traffic through the intersection. It can't be said that bicyclists have "no business" trying to cross, or that the answer is simply shutting off access--as has been done on other parts of Division. Even for experienced bicyclists following all protocol and riding with traffic, this intersection isn't well-designed.

Many drivers are impaired, for many reasons, not just alcohol. Many of the drivers turning left onto Sprague while I stood at the corner had cell phones held to one ear, and turned the corner sharply, driving with one hand.

We also always have impaired cyclists. And that may include younger, older, or disabled who I'm not as sure as Ken should be in this roadway as currently designed, but who may still have business in the area. Heck, any bicyclist who says they never ride on the sidewalk while trying to find a business on the arterials is probably fibbing just a bit, or perhaps doesn't conduct business from a bike.

Bicycle safety has to have several fronts: rider education, driver education, enforcement, and design. But often other deficits are mitigated or prevented by design. On the other hand, educating all the people who enter the Spokane roadways will never be fully achieved. And, we already know that some of what drivers are taught about bicycles is simply wrong.

Ken writes, "And a culture that doesn't respect cycling as transportation isn't likely to do anything about that intersection anytime soon."

I think the interaction is more chicken and egg. Design issues can be rallying points that educate the culture, both during the push for better design, and by design elements themselves indicating appropriate road behavior.

Ken Paulman said...

Nate - I don't think we're all that far apart. Culture and infrastructure go hand-in-hand. The culture that says the most important function of infrastructure is moving cars quickly ends up designing intersections like Division and Sprague.

I'd make a distinction between using sidewalks and being ostracized to them. Many of the businesses where I live now are on a busy arterial that I wouldn't bike on if you paid me (picture North Division with one less lane each way). To get to these places, I ride up side streets, cut over, and use the sidewalk for the last half block if necessary. There's a big difference between that and riding down the sidewalk the length of the busy street, taking my life in my hands at every driveway and intersection.

So let's suppose the city planners are sitting down to discuss what to do about this intersection. Someone may ask: Why should we plan for cyclists? Can't they just use the sidewalk? It's legal, isn't it?

The answer is, no, they can't just use the sidewalk. Look what happened to David Squires. Cyclists can't immediately stop and back up, or move sideways, or turn around and see behind them, the way pedestrians can. Sidewalks are a bad place for bikes. I'm constantly amazed at how many people don't realize this.

Driver behavior, of course, is always the wild card - no amount of urban planning can protect us from drunks and idiots. But the built environment can impact the way honest people behave and how they perceive the rights of others, thus changing the culture. So - yeah - chicken and egg is probably the best way to look at it...

mechBgon said...

The Bluff certainly has become more congested in recent years. I don't blame people for wanting to come down there and enjoy it (other than those who let their dogs run wild), but I usually can't wait to get further down the slope to the more lightly-used areas. If I want to ride *fast* on the Bluff anymore, it's after dark with high-powered light systems.

Lucas said...

It really bugs me that people get away with killing pedestrians and cyclists this town all the time. I lost a friend last year when she was run over by a truck walking through an intersection downtown(in broad daylight!) where she had the right of way and as far as I know the driver was not even cited.

Is it time for us to push the city into a "zero-tolerance" policy for bike/ped/auto accidents where the driver is at fault? If the driver in this latest incident hadn't been drunk would they even have cited him? It seems like someone always gets cited in a two-vehicle accident, but not always in accidents with cars and bikes/pedestrians.

Anonymous said...

Spokane should do what the city/county of Honolulu did the past couple of years. Honolulu went through a stretch of almost daily ped/bike/vehicle accidents. Most ended up as fatalities. So HPD began a new enforcement strategy. Officers on foot or bike patrol and in cars began citing drivers that didn't yield to pedestrians/bikes in cross walks or on the road. They actually required that drivers wait until the pedestrian/cyclist had passed the center line (or on the opposing sidewalk) of the street before the vehicle was allowed to turn. They also cited pedestrians/cyclists that jaywalk or cross against the light or not in a properly marked crosswalk. Accidents went down quickly. I saw many vehicles AND peds/cyclists cited while riding around Honolulu.

Then the city studied the placement and marking of their crosswalks, including using reflectors or LEDS in the street to mark the cross walk.

As for riding on the sidewalk, its hit or miss. Many frown on it, but there are places that I'd rather ride the sidewalk and stop/slow/yield for pedestrians and take the comments from disgruntled people than risk riding with cars/trucks in the street.

Defensive riding is the only way to ride!

Anonymous said...

We have police bike patrols but I never see them doing anything.