This last weekend was the annual Reach The Beach ride. For myself and my friend's it was a great trip. Full of awesome things. Coffee, smooth twisty roads, great conversation and afterward, pizza and beer. It was truly a fantastic trip. I'll talk about that wonderful stuff tomorrow. Promise...
But what I want to talk about today is something sad. Something that seems to happen with alarming regularity.
A cyclist died.
Steven Dayley was struck and killed on a bridge on Highway 18 in Grande Ronde. For those of you that know the road its the bridge about a half mile east of the casino (Really the only bridge in town that I'm aware of.)
From the news report it sounds like the typical scenario of a driver going the same direction as the cyclist. Attempting to pass while on the bridge and there is an on coming car. Miss calculating the distance and space and striking the rider in an attempt to avoid the on coming car. Given the choice between a head on collision from another vehicle or hitting the cyclist. The cyclist losses.
The cyclist always loses....
It's a truly unfortunate event. Something that I've touched on before in this blog is how the mentality of people change when they get behind the wheel of a car (Myself included sometimes). Within their vehicle they are insular. In their own little world. It allows them to be aggressive and angry. Most of the time if they get caught the worst thing that can happen is a ticket or a minor fender bender. But not this time. This time it took a deadly serious turn.
Now I'm not saying that the driver of the vehicle in this particular accident was either angry or aggressive. But he certainly could have been one or both for those things. He could have thought the coast was clear. Maybe he thought he had more room or more time. It's hard to say. But a person died because of his lack of observation, patients and caution.
It just takes a few seconds people... I know you've got places to go and things to do. So do I. But is risking your own life (Potentially) or the life of the cyclist worth those seconds!? In a rational moment I would be hard pressed to find someone that would say yes. But it's so easy to think of another road user as an object and not a person. It's so easy not to think. And stuff like this happens...
I'm not going to go into a big soliloquy about this accident because frankly the facts aren't out there (Yet).
But I would like to talk about what I do in a situation like this (I actually did do this in this very situation.).
Now this isn't a "Do what I tell you." thing. I don't want to get sued. You are all big boy's and girl's and can make your own decisions. But hear me out. Think about it and do what you think is best and legal... (There hopefully that will stand up in a court of law.)
So my piece of advise is this....
TAKE THE LANE.
Of course make sure you're not going to pull right out in front of someone. You need to be safe about it. But if there is no shoulder (Just like there isn't a shoulder on that bridge in Grande Ronde.) and no safe place for you to be. TAKE THE LANE. Sure the drivers behind you are going to be irritated. And you might even get a person who is going to tell (Yell at) you in no uncertain terms what they think of you and your bicycle. But that's okay. If it keeps them from thinking that they can "squeeze" by you on the bridge (Or other place on the road where you have no where to escape to.). Let them be mad behind you. Until you can get across the unsafe area and back over to as far right on the road as you feel safe. I'd much rather have someone irate at me and make it through safely. Than try and be "nice" by being over far enough for them to pass and pay the consequence.
When we heard about the accident later it was very shocking. Driving back we saw the large line of drivers backed up by that bridge but had just assumed it was because of a concert at the casino or something. God how I wish that were the case.
Enjoy cycling. It's truly a wonderful sport and an awesome way to see the world.
But please, be safe out there.
The story of our happy trip tomorrow....
Rubber side down,