Monday, October 15, 2012

Lights, epilogue (Updated)

We got down to Albuquerque Friday night to visit our friend Ellen and take in the simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera on Saturday morning. Getting off I-40 and heading south towards Central, we saw a barely visible bicyclist who was about to cross Carlisle Ave from a side street. She was wearing dark clothing and had no lights and it was well past sundown with a lot of Friday night rush hour traffic going by.

Saturday morning, while having breakfast in Albuquerque before the opera, we heard from one of our opera friends about a cyclist who had crashed into the rear of a parked car a couple nights before, in front of her neighbor's house. Although our friend said he crashed through the car window, I just spoke to someone at The Kickstand who said he did not penetrate the window, so no one is yet sure what cut him so severely.

I don't know whether the cyclist, Javier Garcia, had lights and if so, how bright, but for whatever reason, he didn't avoid the hazard and sadly, we will never know why. Perhaps jumping to conclusions, lights do two important things. They make you visible to others, regardless of where their own headlights are pointed (reflectors have serious limits as far as safe nighttime riding is concerned). They also illuminate your path for your own safety. I've avoided chopped wood, potholes, abandoned roadway hazard warning signs (ironically), and wrong-way blacked out riders because I was equipped with some good illumination. The wrong-way rider, whom I narrowly avoided while riding home at high speed on Kalanianaole Highway in Honolulu, would have been a particularly nasty head on crash, avoided thanks to an old Nightsun dual beam headlight similar to this one that I luckily had running on high beam at the time of the near-miss back in the '90's. It paid for itself that night. Stuff nowdays is better,lighter, and cheaper.

 The Kickstand has put up this memorial to Javier Garcia. So long, Javi. Sorry to see you go. Meanwhile, the Albuquerque Journal covered this story and sadly, the police didn't do much of an investigation because, according to the reporter, Javi was on a bicycle rather than on a motor vehicle.  Go figure.

In the way of a postscript to this call for good lighting on your bike, a recent Science Daily posts an award winning publication on bicycling safety, to wit, bicycle facility designers are just now realizing that its important to design bicycling facilities that properly identify hazards. "...What the authors found was that in those crashes where a single cyclist collided with a bollard, narrowed road or other obstacle, or rode off the road altogether, poor visibility and especially poor visual contrast played a significant part...As a result of their study, the authors question the common assumption that cyclists 'can do without a minimal level of guidance and conspicuity of (design-related) obstacles'...."

Gee, no shit, Sherlock!

1 comment:

Ian Brett Cooper said...

Yeah. Bike facility designers seem to think they can just drop a ribbon of asphalt down anywhere in any configuration they like and call it a day. Most of the bike paths I've had the displeasure of riding on have featured dangerously sharp turns, unpainted bollards in the middle of the path with no warning signs, etc., etc.

Just imagine if they did the same with standard roads.

This is just one reason I avoid such death traps.