Another Loss Hits Close to Home



Another Loss Hits Close to Home

Bruce, via the NBW list, pointed to a Projo article about another cyclist, with ties to RI, being killed.

A 21-year-old Brown University student riding across the country to raise money for affordable housing was killed Tuesday in South Dakota after she was struck by a semi-trailer truck’s wide load as she checked phone messages on the shoulder of U.S. Highway 18.

I’ve read a number of accounts of this accident now and they all seem to tell the same story, the cyclist was doing everything right.  She was on the side of the road and was struck by a passing truck.   I’m sure this was an accident, the driver said he saw the cyclists and even tried to swerve to avoid them.  However, the fact remains that he killed someone and I don’t believe it is right that he should be able to walk away from this accident without any sort of repercussion.  He destroyed a young persons life, just starting to sprout wings and fly free.  What do you believe is a reasonable punishment?

We’ve tried for two legislative sessions now, and plan to continue this work, to get a vulnerable roadway user bill passed in Rhode Island.  This past legislative session, we were successful in getting a more traditional 3-foot bill passed, but it still doesn’t go far enough.  While we understand that accidents do happen, it is not right to let this person just walk away.  Our legislation proposed requiring mandatory driver re-education, community service, and for cases where there was negligence, license suspension.

In this case, this person involved in the accident is a truck driver, traveling across the US.  Wouldn’t it be something to require him to perform his community service by stopping across the US and lecturing to driver’s education classes about what he did and why it’s crucial that all drivers take responsibility and remain alert when they are behind the wheel.  No, this wouldn’t bring Paige back and there is likely nothing this truck driver could do to repair the damage he inflicted upon her family and friends, but at least this would be something.  Everyone knowing that he must attend mandatory re-education and tell others about his story and the dangers of driving, would seem to provide some benefit for society.


  • MattyCiii
    Jul 22, 2010 at 6:16 am

    Hopefully not too far off topic. I've started "enforcing" my own 3' space using a bike flag sticking out about 30" to the left of my left hand grip. I've noticed a major increase in the amount of space motorists leave me now.

    The rig is very simple. I bought a $5 flag for kids bikes at Bennys. I cut the fiberglass pole down from its original 6' length to just under 3'. I use a single velcro strap to connect the flag to the left hand grip. This holds the flag loosely, keeping it from falling if I move my hand, but allowing it to pivot. I use my left hand to pivot the flag out into traffic while on say Elmwood or other main streets, and pivot it to be parallel to me when maneuvering in close quarters.

  • Jul 22, 2010 at 10:47 am

    this is so sad for both parties; i'm sure the driver is upset as well. very few people want to hurt other people. i can't imagine what the survivors are all going through right now.

    the flag is a pretty good idea. i try to only bike backroads or very wide roads, but it's no cure for the accident. accidents happen, no matter how much we prepare.

    this is truly sad news.

  • MattyCiii
    Jul 22, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    It is truly sad indeed. An innocent person killed by a mass of moving metal is a tragedy. My earlier comments diminish the gravity of said loss by going way off topic.

    The full Projo article is worth the read; the world has indeed lost a very special person.

  • Labann
    Jul 24, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    Sad and salacious news. Of course, our cycling community mourns every fatality, whether the few hundred among our own or the 40,000 motorists who die every year.

    Angry about it? Yes. And why do they sensationalize every rare bicycling death, when the daily carnage of motoring deaths goes practically unnoticed? The new media is bought and sold by Big Oil. They soft peddle details of the World's most horrific ecological catastrophe in the Gulf which costs dozens of lives and a million livelihoods, but never fail to sob over a lone cyclist struck down. Always a tragedy, they want you to believe it was inevitable because of a bad choice. What BS!

    Oddly, RI's 4,000 miles of roads are mostly empty most of the time. What? That's right. I spent many days on back roads and saw few cars. Clearly, motorists stick as much as possible to highways that already ban bicyclists. But this doesn't explain the 6:4 ratio of city versus country road bicycling fatalities. You'd think country would be lower than that, but, unencumbered, motorists, although fewer in number, go faster where traffic is light. And, admittedly, there are far more country roads than city. Zinging through gridlock is a safe pleasure.

    Crimes are of commission, omission, and prevarication that gets corporation/s off for the least costs. I don't like any of them, especially lies. The bad choice is motoring over 15 mph. At that speed on a bike, at least you're not flinging a one ton cage around with you.

  • Bob
    Sep 9, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    I feel sad for the bikers family and it is a terrible loss.

    HOWEVER accidents do happen, can many be avoided ? yes… But To crucify this driver is plain wrong. Never assume when riding and stopping along the side of a road to do anything would be considered safe.. Large trucks don't have the capabilities to just swerve like cars do…

    Sometimes the truck could have an option of swerving and hitting a car head on or trying not to swerve and the poor biker was killed, we don't know why the accident happened.

    If the driver was not impared in any way then how would we not let him"walk away"?

    The lesson learned here is that as a cyclist ALWAYS get off the road and onto the grassy area just to be safe..

    my prayers are with the family of her and the driver and his family.

  • Sep 9, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    But To crucify this driver is plain wrong.

    We aren't trying to crucify the driver, just have him own up to the fact that he killed someone. The trouble is, cyclists are hit all around the country and very few of them result in any sort of traffic citation. Without a citation, it's impossible for the police or department of motor vehicles to track repeat offenders. I simply don't believe it's right for a motorist to be able to strike or kill a cyclists, have it declared as an accident, and have the driver not have this reflected on their driving record. I believe the same should be true for motorists. If a collision between two cars happens and another motorist is seriously injured or killed and it's not clear that the motorist was without fault, then I think their driving record should reflect this. This doesn't mean it's attached to a huge fine, but it does mean that should a trend emerge, the police and DMV can actually do something about it. Right now, they are powerless.

  • Labann
    Sep 11, 2010 at 10:09 am

    Nobody has a right to pilot ballistic missiles irresponsibly. Basic motility, however, is a right. Self propulsion cannot be denied, but motoring is a privilege you earn by obeying laws and paying fines. If you kill someone, as a minimum you should forfeit this privilege. This is in NO WAY crucifixion; it's an act of love to perp, survivors, and victim all at the same time. There are plenty of alternatives to personally driving yourself: bikes, busses, cabs, planes, subways, trains. Places with real city planning, like NYC, provide for all of these 24/7.

    Worldwide, 1.3 million motorcyclists and pedicyclists are killed annually, about 50% of all traffic fatalities [WHO, 2010]. Stateside, there are 4.4 million accidents; the NTSB has been crowing about a 20% reduction in fatal accidents in 2009 from high mark in 2005 of 44,000. What they don't tell you is that driving miles are way down during this economic depression, so the death rate of 1.4 per 100 million miles driven hasn't changed. Traffic accidents is still the leading killer in the age group of 18 – 26 years. Another factor is the quality of health care; more are maimed or paralyzed than used to die from such injuries. Nevertheless, deaths and injuries among privileged Americans are well under 1 Sigma, an insignificant statistic (unless it happens to you) given miles traveled. But poor people in Africa, Asia and Pacific Rim are dying like flies.

    The NTSB identifies its "most wanted" actions, mainly improving responsible bus driving and minimizing distractions.
    The easiest way to make streets safer is to revoke licenses of those who shouldn't be driving. Better cars and infrastructure will only aid selfish morons who can afford to motor around recklessly.

  • MattyCiii
    Mar 17, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    But To crucify this driver is plain wrong.

    Really Bob, really?

    Open up Google Earth, and look at Highway 18 in Vetal, South Dakota. Go ahead, it's a free download. Look at how straight, flat, and desolate that stretch of road is. Now consider – this killing was not perpetrated by some old lady in a Chevy – it was a professional driver performing his day job.

    If a doctor loses a patient through negligence, he loses his license. The driver of a large truck has options – steer clear, or slow down. A professional driver must do just that. A professional driver must also plan ahead in the face of uncertainty – fog, blind curves, etc. In the face of uncertainty, they must slow to the point of being able to control their charge come what may. End of story.

    Crucifixion? Nah, save that for a martyr. I just want that negligent operator's license, that's all. It won't be the end of HIS life, he can get his GED and find a new job. The victim here is Paige.

  • Mar 18, 2011 at 5:48 am

    A professional driver must do just that. A professional driver must also plan ahead in the face of uncertainty – fog, blind curves, etc. In the face of uncertainty, they must slow to the point of being able to control their charge come what may. End of story.

    ALL drivers must do this! Yes, the expectation is that professional drivers will be even better, but anyone who gets behind the wheel of a car MUST maintain control of that vehicle at all times. This includes slowing down when conditions require it: cyclist in the road, pedestrian in the road, person changing a flat tire, fog, rain… the list goes on.

    Drivers must be held responsible for their actions. Yes, accidents to happen, but that doesn't change the fact that a driver killed someone. It's not crucifying a driver to have them loose their license, attend mandatory driver re-education, etc. Yes, their life will be forever altered, but so is the person who they killed and all their friends and family members.

    When will our society wake up and realize that driving is a privilege, not a god given right. If someone isn't responsible, then they should loose that privilege. Period.

  • MattyCiii
    Mar 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Agreed Mark. I was aiming low.

    In a perfect world, the common citizen driver that injures or kills someone with their car, through act, omission, or negligence, should lose their license for some reasonable period (a year) for empathy, have a minimum requirement for driver/eye/reflex testing, re-training, and investigation to see if criminal negligence was a causal factor.

    Professional drivers should, at a minimum, have their license (for both commercial AND private vehicles) revoked, permanently. Negligent operation of a vehicle should be assumed, and any investigation would be to disprove, not prove, criminal neglect.

    Still, let me not divert attention from Alan's post that brought this article back to life. The Ride of Silence is a positive thing. I hope to participate, thanks for the info Alan.

  • Labann
    May 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Despite heavy sprinkle throughout, last night's ROS was the biggest ever held in RI, about 50 riders. More arrived on Brown's Green to hear an a capella group sing a special song and support group in Paige's memory. Mallory had also arranged for some bikes and helmets to borrow. Brown's police did a fine job holding traffic until we passed through every intersection. Basically, an unchallenging ride except for that little hill up from River Rd to Blackstone Blvd, all sorts of bikes made it. Ironically for a supposedly silent ride, the 2nd to last bike in front of me could have used some chain lube. Way too much food was sumptuously spread in Multipurpose room below Faunce Hall. By then, we were all dripping wet.

    Nice personal epilogue was being passed on Broad St by some criminals in a white van, who hurled epithets. My bike was well lit, and I was courteously right, but that didn't assuage their unwarranted hatred. After I caught them at next light, they buzzed closely by me with more vulgarities, violating Frank's Law. At the light at Norwood Ave, they closed off breakdown lane to keep me from catching up, but I passed them on the left anyway, then walked bike in crosswalk to continue onto Warwick Ave. Was 3 blocks before Park Ave before they caught up behind slow moving traffic (not caused by me), and I had to duck from things and words flung. Pinched off again at Park, walked bike on sidewalk slowly watching as they headed straight, so turned right. Typical Rhode Islanders? Here are our ambassadors.