Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bicyclist dies in Las Cruces

"...Trujillo said the best thing cyclists can do to avoid injury is do their best to avoid a crash all together...."

Can someone please ask Officer Trujillo how a bicyclist can avoid a crash if he/she is lawfully riding in broad daylight and is hit from behind? How can you "not see" a cyclist at four in the afternoon? The wording of this article concerns me.

A substantial number of cyclists in Los Alamos simply do not trust that the police can adequately enforce lawful vehicle operation nor do they trust motorists to pay attention to their driving. This is a bright, shining example of why.

Bicyclist dies after Telshor accident

By Jose L. Medina Sun-News reporter
Article Launched: 11/13/2008 12:11:42 AM MST

LAS CRUCES — A bicyclist on his way to work was struck by a vehicle Tuesday afternoon and later died at an El Paso hospital.

Anthony Lemieux, 45, was riding his bike about 4 p.m., traveling southbound near the 500 block of Telshor Boulevard, when he was hit from behind by a 2006 Chevy Aveo, police spokesman Dan Trujillo said.

The driver of the Aveo, 23-year-old Stephanie Parra-Perez, was on her way to work as well.

Trujillo was unsure where Lemieux worked or if he was wearing a helmet. The cyclist was transported to Thomason Hospital where he died, police said.

Parra-Perez said she did not see Lemieux prior to the crash, police said.

The crash remained under investigation Wednesday and there was no immediate word on whether charges would be filed or citations issued.

"It's pretty sad, it's scary," said Jesse Johnson, an avid cyclist and employee at Outdoor Adventures. "Everybody here commutes to work (on a bicycle) every day. It could have been anyone of us. It could happen."

Avid cyclists like Johnson said that news of the fatality was not surprising in a town that Johnson considers unfriendly to cyclists.

"They're kind of ignorant to cyclists on the road and kind of oblivious," cyclist Ryan Blickem said of Las Cruces drivers. "Not that they're malicious or anything, it's just they don't really notice you or take the time to see you."

Both Johnson and Blickem said Las Cruces is also unsafe for cyclists because there are very few shoulders or

bicycle lanes on city streets. The portion of road where Lemieux was struck lacks such features.
Trujillo said the best thing cyclists can do to avoid injury is do their best to avoid a crash all together.
"That means they should follow all applicable laws, and more importantly, the common sense rules of the road: ride defensively, do all they can to make themselves visible to other riders and motorists, and avoid heavily congested areas if at all possible," Trujillo said.
Trujillo also urged motorists to be considerate and share the road with bicyclists.
Trujillo said Lemieux's was the second traffic-related fatality of the year within the city's limits.

Jose Medina can be reached at; (575) 541-5447


Jimbo said...

The thing that concerns me most about these types of incidents is the cyclist never has a second chance. That's it. Game over. A life is lost. Most courts rule these incidents as "terrible tragedies" and rarely do you see vehicular homicide charges filed against motorist, particularly ones who shrug and simply say, "I didn't see him."

This is the basis for my hesitance to ride a bike on the roads. I value my life more than putting it up for a "chance" encounter with an angry or obtuse driver. I wish the "All Bikes Should Be on the Road" militants could understand this.

I will continue to commute to work on the trails, sidewalks and limit my road riding to the occasional side road when I have absolutely no other choice.

Cars and car drivers (yes, I'm including me in this) suck by and large, and cyclists will always be on the losing end of the equation long as we continue to set up transportation in favor of cars and single-person motorized travel.

Khal said...

Jim, as one of those militants, I have spent a lot of time lately trying to move one of my eyes to the back of my head. Its hard to miss the point of these stories such as this one or the equally senseless crash that killed James Quinn outside Albuquerque last year.

Its not that riding on the road is itself intrinsically risky, except for the fact that we have let the bar drop so low on vehicle operation that we accept these tragedies as "accidents" rather than as the examples of gross negligence that they are. Imagine running a nuke plant that way. Only in the cartoons....

So what we (Bill Wilkinson, Andy Clarke, Sue Knaupf, Bob Chauncey, Charlie Komanoff) tried to do at the 2006 Pro-Bike/Pro Walk conference was mobilize the bike ped movement behind the European Vision Zero movement. Unfortunately, that didn't get enough institutional traction to gain funding and get off the ground. But I still think that is the only rational goal--we have to hold the driving establishment accountable.

It ain't just bicyclists getting killed. Most of the 40k people who get killed are other motorists and peds--motorcyclists, mopedists, guys in Corollas. As long as people can pilot a vehicle with their head up their ass, we will see these tragedies. I wish gas goes back up to four bucks a chug not because I like pain, but to get everyone into small cars and get everyone feeling vulnerable.

I think all motorists should take Road I. You start to see things. Like a good hunter, you train yourself to watch your environment and don't miss things; for example, a guy on a bicycle right in front of you. I hunted for years and learned to scan for movement and the odd observation.

I'm glad Phase II is done, by the way. Nice bike lane. Waiting for the unintended consequences...

Khal said...

By the way, I left myself off the Pro-Bike reference in inadvertent shyness. I was on the Traffic Justice Panel as well for that all day session. My contribution was to ask what traffic management would look like if we used a high hazard industry model, which led in a straight line to the Vision Zero concepts.

Jimbo said...

Thanks, Khal.

I'm not disagreeing with you in principle. In fact, during those times when I ride on the road, I always try to "take the lane." It does feel safer.

I'm just saying that as long as we have drivers who text and read and eat cold cereal (not making that up) while behind the wheel, I'll feel safer riding my bike on alternative routes.


Khal said...

I agree, Jimbo. The Road I and Vehicular Cycling principles are based on sound traffic engineering principles. When we violate these principles, the rest of the model starts to fall apart.

No self respecting traffic safety engineer would say they designed roads to be driven on by idiots who are text-messaging, eating cold cereal, or fishing around on the floor for a lost clipboard while careening onto the oncoming shoulder (read Bob Mionske's latest article in VeloNews--a cyclist was just maimed in that last example).

So when an LCI says to use lights and reflectors to make one's self visible, and to ride in the lane to be visible, it assumes that the following traffic is actually paying attention. If a following idiot spends three seconds text messaging at 35 mph, that means the idiot will cover 154 feet, or roughly half a football field, having not the foggiest idea of what is in front of them.

If that gives readers pause, I suggest they get active in traffic safety politics. Its not just you on your bike at risk. Its your kids in a school crosswalk or your spouse crossing the street.

Khal said...

According to the latest story from Jose Medina in the Las Cruces paper, the driver was indeed cited. But not cited nearly severely enough.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about how riding a bike on the road is dangerous really discourages people from considering it. The danger pales in comparison to the mayhem drivers inflict on other car occupants. Every time I ride my motorcycle people tell me about an acquaintance that was killed on a bike. I ask them how many people they know that were killed in a car. The number is always greater. Let's focus on the joy of riding a bike and stop freakin' death watch.

Khal said...

The numbers of auto fatalities are greater because there are more people in cars.

When you are on foot, on a bicycle, or a motorcycle, you don't have I-beam barriers around you. Its important for motorcyclists and cyclists to be a little more militant about raising the standards on driver safety. We have the most to lose from other people's mistakes.

Having said that, I'm not planning on trading my Cannondale for a wide screen TV and a LazyBoy. Like any other activity, there are costs and benefits. The bennies outweigh the costs.

Anonymous said...

The point is that the media (blogs included) over hype certain types of fatalities. Of course the numbers are greater for cars because there are more cars. But, people just don't react the same way to a car related fatality. Look at Jim's first post here. One of his points is that he doesn't ride on the street. But, he sure as hell drives on it even though his chances of getting killed are greater in a car.

Khal said...

With a car, you have no choice but to ride on the road but even drivers of motor vehicles take actions to protect against danger. One reason people buy SUVs is safety. They armor themselves to protect against danger. Ironically, they are more likely to die in a rollover crash.

Kinda hard to armor yourself on a bicycle. One has to protect one's self by ensuring the roads are safe, or avoid them as Jimbo does.

As far as newspaper hype? Well, we should put it to good use.

Khal said...

Someone from Albuquerque posted this comment on the Lemieux thread:

I never knew Anthony Lemieux and am far from qualified to speak for the man. However, if it were me who were killed, and it could just as easily have been, I would at least want it to start a discussion like this one.

I believe a lot of accidents occur because drivers (and many cyclists) simply aren't aware of the laws regarding bicycles (right to the road and so on).

Together, we've practically paved the world. There's no way to get anywhere without using roads. Many motorists are just downright spoiled about seeing almost nothing but motor vehicles on the road, all their lives. That's the way it has always been, they say. Why should it change?

According to some motorists, if you don't have a car you don't deserve to get around period. This is especially true of those who would like to cut all funding for public transportation ("Why should I pay for it? I have a CAR!")

In other words, oh so many words, I have a lot to say on the subject, and so do many others. Let's keep these bicycle safety threads alive for as long as we can. Maybe a few of the readers will get some "Hmmm, I didn't know that" moments out of it. Maybe some motorists and cyclists will operate a little more safely.

Maybe not, but it costs nothing to type.

Jimbo said...

Riding home from work last night on the trails was more fun than hauling ass down the new Diamond Drive superhighway in my gas guzzler! Yeee haw! Of course you need a good bike light to do it, but what the heck.

As for the comment about it being more dangerous to drive in my car, I seriously wonder about that. I think if I logged as many hours on the road on my bike as I do in my car, I'd probably be worse off in terms of potential injury.

In 30 years of driving I've been in one accident. It wasn't my fault. But the injury I would have sustained on a bike from that accident certainly would have been lethal.

Don't get me wrong, I believe Cars R Coffins, too.

Nevertheless, I still get up each day and go about my business. I think The Fear is actually much worse than the consequences. Just look at what happened when we elected Bush to a second term....

Oopsie. I've gotten all political. Have a nice day!

Khal said...

By the way, while riding up Rt. 4 from Bandelier to Back Gate yesterday, I saw an oncoming Subaru suddenly wiggle, and then saw it careen off the road, with both passenger tires in the dirt. Driver was farting around with something on the passenger seat and had to do an emergency maneuver to get back on the road.

This all happened within a couple seconds. If there had been a cyclist in front of her, he/she would have been road kill, as the guy in Las Cruces was.