Posts Tagged ‘share the road’

Bike Safety Video featuring KHQA This Morning.

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This blog is normally a very positive place, but after another local cyclist was struck and killed by a car last weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment to speak to all the drivers out there about the slower-moving traffic that shares the road with you.

A 57-year- old cyclist named Michael Alexander of Fort Madison,  Iowa, was struck by a pickup truck from behind on a stretch of road near Montrose, Iowa, last Friday.   Michael was an avid cyclist, a veteran of the U.S. Navy and a conductor for BNSF Railroad.

I didn’t know Mr. Alexander personally, but just two weeks ago, I was cycling with my husband and a friend on the same road on which he was tragically struck.  It’s a pretty road that runs alongside the Mississippi from Montrose all the way to Keokuk, Iowa.  The shoulders aren’t enormous, but they’re plenty to ride on if cars are paying attention and bikers are staying off to the sides. On this occasion though, a driver was distracted just long enough to not see Mr. Alexander.

This is one of at least four cyclists killed in the Tri-State area this year in motor vehicle collisions. Even though I didn’t know this cyclist, and maybe because I was just on the same stretch of road, the tragedy has hit very close to home for me.  I know that I’ve driven distracted lots of times. I’ve texted. I’ve answered a phone call. I’ve looked down to change a song on my iPod.  It could have easily been me hit on my bicycle, but could also have just as easily been me who was distracted long enough to hit a cyclist, walker or runner.

The truth of the matter is that cyclists aren’t always in the right.  As a group, we’re generally pretty conscientious of laws and we stay off to the sides of the road and use blinking lights and wear the brightest jerseys we can find, but there are times when we make the wrong move.  On the articles about Mr. Alexander’s death on some news of the local outlets though, there were a couple of highly inappropriate comments posted by people regarding riders. You see those types of comments any time a cyclist is hit by a car.  One that really upset me was a comment by a viewer using the name “Lawnboy” on KTVO’s website: “Very unfortunate event, however until bicyclists put their common sense before their ‘right’ to the roads, there will undoubtedly be more of these stories.”

I wasn’t there, and I don’t know if this cyclist was in the right place or not.  The point is this: It doesn’t matter who was right or wrong.  When a car strikes a biker, runner or walker, it’s always the car that wins.  Therefore, it’s the driver’s responsibility to be as conscientious as possible.  As drivers we have to keep our eyes on the road, pay attention to our lanes, and look out for other people using the roadways. The road that Mr. Alexander was killed on is designated a scenic drive and has cycling route signs along its entire length.  It’s a place that a motorist might reasonably expect to see a cyclist. And it was definitely his right to be using the road to cycle.

My heart truly goes out to the family of Mr. Alexander and to the family of the driver of the pickup truck that struck him.  I don’t doubt that the driver wishes that he hadn’t had his eyes off the road to do whatever little thing had him distracted.  Life is going to be hard for both families going forward from this incredibly sad event.

I hope you take a moment right now to think about the way you drive.  Are you careful to look out for cyclists, runners, walkers, kids playing, farm vehicles, construction workers, horses and motorcycle riders?  The text you were going to send, the song you were going to listen to, or whatever else you might find yourself distracted with are not worth the consequences that can happen when you drive distracted.  Please be safe on the roads, and be aware of all of the people who share them with you.

To read Mr. Alexander’s obituary or to express condolences, please click here.

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