12 Jan 2003 05:14:33 GMT, <[email protected]
>, [email protected]
>wrote in part:
>>cyclist died this week after being hit by a left turning car.
>I don't mean to pick on Art personally but since this accurately summarizes *all* that we know
>about the fatal crash, why bother to post it? There is simply not enough detailed information in
>the news article to make anything like an informed decision as to fault/blame/responsibility. In
>case the link becomes unavailable, here's that news article's entire description of the crash:
>"He died yesterday, about nine hours after a car hit him while he was riding his bike near West
>John Street and Jerusalem Avenue in Hicksville Tuesday afternoon, Nassau police said. About 5 p.m.,
>Christine Louros, 26, of East Meadow, was driving a 1994 Hyundai, turning left onto Jerusalem
>Avenue, when she hit Schmitt, said Second Squad Det. Len Sternesky."
>What we don't know: Which street was the decedent riding on? Were the decedent and the driver
>travelling in the same direction? Opposite but parallel directions? Are there were any traffic
>control devices at that intersection? Were any devices present functioning properly? Did either the
>driver or the decedent disobey those devices? Assigning blame without having answers to even these
>very basic questions serves no purpose beyond revealing our own individual bias. Since this is a
>cycling NG it's probably fair to say that most here tend to have a pro-bike bias.
>Regards, Bob Hunt
Good work detective. From that we know it was almost dark and she was turning left. Weather and
lights, or lack of them, aren't mentioned. I'd like to know whether she initiated the turn from a
stopped or from a moving condition and how fast she was travelling when she hit him.
The way the story constructs, in my head, he was travelling in an opposite but parallel direction on
roads with traffic signals. It sounds like he'd just been passed by the bus "in" the intersection.
She'd probably not been able to see him as he was screened by the bus before the intersection. I'm
guessing she'd timed her turn just behind the bus, perhaps narrowly in front of cars approaching the
intersection behind Shmidtt. It's a classic trap he might not have been able to see setting up
because of his proximity to the bus.
If the facts fit the scenario then I'd figure the driver was 100% at fault. Being a cynic, I'd
figure if Schmidtt had survived he'd be assigned some share of responsibility by the insurance
companies even if he were in full compliance with the law.
When I've found myself in situations as I've described, I'll usually do a shoulder check to see if
there are cars close enough behind to preclude the possible conflicting left turn. Stale yellow
lights are bad for increasing the likelihood of it happening.
I've used varying strategies in the situation, depending on mood and terrain:
a) Sometimes standing and sprinting to clear the intersection with the bus as my screen and
being prepared to brake/negotiate/avoid the bus heading for the curb and a possible stop
b) Slowing prepared to stop, just in case and to give a left turning driver more than a two second
to see me, mindful that stopping may be the likely option if the sun angles are causing glare.
c) Altering my pace to allow following traffic to catch up and be my physical screen from
conflicting left turns.
I know that when traffic is steady I'm more likely to encounter drivers not "seeing" me when I'm
approaching an intersection during a blank spot in the flow. They're focusing on cars. Left-turns,
right turns from cross streets and driveways or cars turning out from a parking spot are all more
likely to jump in front of a bike if they don't see a car close-by so figure it's their "break" in
traffic. It's predictable.
Be that as it may, I particularly liked this about Schmidtt.
"I would offer him a ride home from church," Plunkett said. "But it could be two degrees out and he
wouldn't get in the car."
I think it says something about Plunkett's driving he was too polite to ever voice.
RIP Robert Schmidtt, Wheelman.