Cyclist killed in Oakland
It sounds like the bicyclist ended up between two cars in a crash.
Note that they’re using crash now, not accident.
This is one of the ways to get caught that is really unavoidable.
Wow, that is a shame. It doesn’t look like you can avoid something like that with our current infrastructure. Thanks for the links. Thoughts go out to the victim’s family and friends. So sad and so young.
PG: “Crash claims bicyclist in Oakland”. I guess that’s…one way to put it. http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2015/10/23/Crash-claims-bicyclist-in-Oakland/stories/201510230283
Candlelight vigil Saturday, 5pm at Carnegie Music Hall: https://www.facebook.com/events/417465728456421/
A few of us may also be out there for a time tonight.
FWIW, the title of that PG article has been changed to “Woman killed in bicycle-car accident in Oakland.”
“This is one of the ways to get caught that is really unavoidable.”
I’m going to lose my shit on the next asshole on the internet that says bicyclists should follow the law and rules of the road. (jonawebb not at all directed at you, just using that statement as a launch pad) Susan Hicks was stopped at a light, lawfully following the rules of the road. If she had been a lawbreaking cyclist, blown off the light, instead of sitting between cars, following infrastructure designed for ridiculous 5,000 lb. metal tanks and not her, she would probably be alive.
Fuck traffic law. Follow it, or break it if it’s not designed to keep you alive.
Whenever something like this happens, the natural human reaction is to say, that wouldn’t have happened to me because I do “x”. And there’s always something you can find between what is reported in the press (which is of course just an approximation of what really happened) and what you would do. But it’s not really true. We can ride as safely as possible, and still have something like this happen to us. Getting caught between two cars is pretty much the worst case scenario for riding in traffic.
> Getting caught between two cars is pretty much the worst case scenario for riding in traffic.
…but one of the reasons we should be making it possible for people to, y’know, not have to ride in traffic…
I suppose the older I get, the more fatalistic I become. I have adopted the world-view that there is an anvil hanging from a frayed rope swinging precariously above all of us. For some of us it is called “cancer” or “heart disease”. For others it’s “multi-car pileup on the turnpike”.
I guess I rationalize the dangers inherent not just in cycling but in life the same way. I’m going to die eventually.
But I have realized reading this terrible and saddening news, that not all “anvils” are the same. And that, in fact, some are avoidable.
This death was not by the hand of god, loosing an anvil from the sky to take her unawares. This was avoidable.
This is bigger than cycling and infrastructure and laws, etc. This is life on earth 2015. This is human kind in a hurry, self absorbed, face in a phone, outta my way-here I come narcissism. This is the result of the fundamental lack of empathy or even concern for our fellow humans.
Welcome to the new world. And good-bye Susan Hicks.
And to that anvil up there with my name on it: f*ck off.
…but one of the reasons we should be making it possible for people to, y’know, not have to ride in traffic…
I guess i don’t really understand this assertion. If this collision had involved a motorcycle or motor scooter, the outcome would have basically been the same. Should motorcycles and motor scooters “not have to ride in traffic”?
I’ve long been arguing for a bike lane on Forbes, BTW. Four lane roads with space for parking in a very dense urban area should have lanes as a matter of course. Let alone next to a university.
PG posted another article.
“Police said that a car headed eastbound on Forbes Avenue veered into one of two left-turn lanes at South Bellefield Avenue and hit the rear of a vehicle waiting for the red light to change. That vehicle was pushed forward, police said, pinning Ms. Hicks between its front bumper and the rear bumper of another SUV — identified by Mr. Bane as his.”
“An autopsy today by the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office determined that Ms. Hicks died from injuries to her trunk; her death was ruled accidental.”
There was another story about Susan Hicks’ death here: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/9315898-74/hicks-pittsburgh-toler
In response to the multiple victim-blaming comments there, I wrote:
Paul Bacharach: Strobe lights on bicycles wouldn’t have prevented this death – the bicycle wasn’t even the first vehicle hit.
Will Hoh: A helmet (she had one) obviously didn’t prevent this death.
Will Hoh: A pedestrian could have been killed by a speeding car just as easily as a cyclist. Avoiding bicycling wouldn’t have prevented such a death.
What could prevent deaths like this is: enforce motor vehicle speed limit on Forbes Ave, add a protected bike lane to narrow the road and discourage speeding by cars, make sure that deaths and injuries from reckless car driving result in lengthy suspension of license, at least, not just “no charges were filed”.
It is said that “If you want to kill someone, do it with a car.”
“This is bigger than cycling and infrastructure and laws, etc. This is life on earth 2015. This is human kind in a hurry, self absorbed, face in a phone, outta my way-here I come narcissism. This is the result of the fundamental lack of empathy or even concern for our fellow humans.”
I agree this is true with a percentage of people out there. Sadly, it is a dangerously high percentage and it seems to be getting worse. I am not sure why. Times are great in so many ways, yet people seem to always be upset and aggressive driving. Odd. I also ride to the beat of my own drummer and always will. I often go through a red light to get to a much safer place and will do what it takes to get away from cars. The older I get the further I want to be from motor vehicles.
I feel very sad about this death. Seems to happen much too often!
From the trib article – “no charges were filed.” Will charges be filed? The driver who caused the crash can be charged with something, right?
Probably not. In order to be charged, the driver would have had to be breaking the law in some way. Just making a mistake doesn’t count. No law punishes that.
But we do need a law that says that drivers who kill or seriously injure someone, or who cause major property damage, through failure to exercise due care, need to be retested–at least.
And Forbes needs a bike lane.
Jon – we may have discussed this before, I’m not sure – but I don’t think you’re correct when you say, In order to be charged, the driver would have had to be breaking the law in some way. Just making a mistake doesn’t count. No law punishes that.
To prove involuntary manslaughter, a prosecutor must show that the defendant caused the victim’s death by reckless or grossly negligent conduct while engaging a lawful or unlawful activity. A lawful act such as driving a car may be the basis for involuntary manslaughter if the defendant drove recklessly. The prosecutor must show a causal link between the defendant’s reckless or negligent conduct and the victim’s death. If the chain of events leading to the homicide does not trace back directly or substantially to the defendant, the state may have difficult time with proving involuntary manslaughter. – See more at: http://statelaws.findlaw.com/pennsylvania-law/pennsylvania-involuntary-manslaughter-laws.html#sthash.TNujQ2r2.dpuf
§ 3732. Homicide by vehicle.
(a) Offense.–Any person who recklessly or with gross
negligence causes the death of another person while engaged in
the violation of any law of this Commonwealth or municipal
ordinance applying to the operation or use of a vehicle or to
the regulation of traffic except section 3802 (relating to
driving under influence of alcohol or controlled substance) is
guilty of homicide by vehicle, a felony of the third degree,
when the violation is the cause of death.
(1) In addition to any other penalty provided by law, a
person convicted of a violation of subsection (a) may be
sentenced to an additional term not to exceed five years’
confinement if at trial the prosecution proves beyond a
reasonable doubt that the offense occurred in an active work
zone as defined in section 102 (relating to definitions).
(2) The prosecution must indicate intent to proceed
under this section in the indictment or information which
commences the prosecution.
(3) The Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing, pursuant
to 42 Pa.C.S. § 2154 (relating to adoption of guidelines for
sentencing), shall provide for a sentencing enhancement for
an offense under this section when the violation occurred in
an active work zone as defined in section 102.
Seems pretty straightforward to inspect damage to the moving car and the car struck, and from that estimate the velocity of the moving car. For sake of argument, let’s say 35 mph. Is traveling 35 in a 25 zone grounds for gross negligence?
I anxiously await hearing any facts regarding the driver, or greater details on the events of the incident. I strongly suspect that neither the Pittsburgh PD nor Stephen Zappala’s political ambitions have any place for prosecuting the killing of a cyclist. But let’s go make a huge deal out of the killing of a frigging police dog, K?
The news I was watching this morning said, this was ruled an accident and no charges are being filed. Not sure if that is the end of it or not?
Building bike lanes is nice and all but being “bike/ped friendly” starts with reigning in the obvious and persistent threat to our lives. Unfortunately, there is zero political will to hold drivers accountable for their actions, even when someone is murdered.
Is traveling 35 in a 25 zone grounds for gross negligence?
If the law says you can’t even get a traffic ticket for going 30 mph in a 25 mph zone, I doubt going 35 could be gross negligence.
I’m not sure a normal bike lane would have helped here, since she was in a left-turning lane. But perhaps it would have narrowed the lanes and maybe resulted in lower speeds.
That’s assuming speed was a factor in this crash. We don’t know that. It could be the original driver had some medical issue and lost control while going at a legal speed, or perhaps failed to check his blind spot when merging. Or his car might have developed some fault and pulled to the left, perhaps.
Until the police determine what caused the collision, it’s premature to charge anyone. And I assume they want to at least interview that first driver who went to the hospital with an “unspecified medical emergency” before they decide they know what happened. For all we know, he had a stroke or something, and may be unable to communicate for some time.
Better infrastructure can reduce some risks of being in a world with cars, but not all.
I think a protected bike lane could have helped. If it was on the left side of Forbes, she would have been in the bike lane waiting to turn left. If the bike lane was on the right side of forbes, a bike box could have been constructed on the south side of the forbes/belefield intersection allowing a kind of copenhagen left. She also would have been more protected from traffic in this case because the intersection is only a T there. Modifications to the stop light would need to be made for the latter case, but it still would have helped. If either of these cases were present, she could still be alive today.
I talked with my friend, the former city traffic engineer, today about Forbes. It is a state road there, but the city has control over traffic signals, striping, etc. So it could add a protected bike lane without PennDOT getting involved.
On the charging issue, negligence means something specific in the law. You have to intentionally fail to do something you’re supposed to do. That didn’t happen here. The driver made a mistake. We need a different law, which punishes failure to exercise due care, in some appropriate way, for example by suspension and retesting. We don’t have that law now.
§ 3714. Careless driving.
(a) General rule.–Any person who drives a vehicle in careless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of careless driving, a summary offense.
(b) Unintentional death.–If the person who violates this section unintentionally causes the death of another person as a result of the violation, the person shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $500.
Hard to see how ramming a significantly heavier vehicle hard enough to shove it into a person–with enough force for that person to be impaled on a blunt object–isn’t evidence of “careless disregard for the safety of persons or property”, but maybe that’s just me; I’m not a lawyer.
I couldn’t find “careless disregard” but here’s reckless disregard:
An act of proceeding to do something with a conscious awareness of danger, while ignoring any potential consequences of so doing. Reckless disregard, while not necessarily suggesting an intent to cause harm, is a harsher condition than ordinary negligence.
Can we agree this doesn’t apply to making a mistake and hitting someone?
And, BTW, that road is ridiculous. I was riding there today, and the right lane is outrageously wide. I was taking the lane, riding to the left of the center, and an asshole still had space to squeeze past me.
The right lane on that stretch is meant to accommodate parking for school buses that bring pupils for programs at the museum. It would make sense to have a white line delimit the parking lane (maybe with a bump-out to go with it). It would likely moderate through speeds.
I like the idea of a box at Bellefield, and a lane coming from Bigelow. No one should have to dodge across 3-4 lanes just to be able to left-turn.
Could the lanes be narrowed as well? A change in signal timing would help cyclists start on crossing Forbes. And there’s always speed tables and curb extensions. All of this is standard traffic engineering. Why do we need deaths to have to talk about it?
Speed limit enforcement would be nice as well. And, well… we can dream.
None of the above might have prevented the “accident” but anything that complicates speeding and forces drivers to pay closer attention to what they are doing can only help.
> Can we agree this doesn’t apply to making a mistake and hitting someone?
Hitting the curb or tapping the bumper of the next car while parking is a mistake. Attempting to move into a lane which is already occupied would seem to be a violation of § 3309:
>A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety.
… which is labeled a “Serious traffic violation” in section 1603 (mostly definitions of commercial-driver terms) and is sufficiently serious the fine us doubled in work zones.
We talk a lot here about things which aren’t taught in driver’s ed or tested on the licence exam. I took driver’s ed in a different state, but I’m pretty sure looking all around to make sure a lane was clear before trying to get over was covered on my PA licence exam….
I don’t get it – when does the police report come out? Why did the coroner rule it an accident before the police investigation was completed?
I suspect that the driver must have been speeding. I couldn’t imagine someone going 25mph could push a car with enough force to move it forward like what was necessary here. In addition, almost everyone speeds here so it is a reasonably good assumption. If you are going over the speed limit, you are disregarding the law in a manner that you know could cause someone grave bodily harm. Then there’s the part above about not changing lanes into another car. It’s possible that there is absolutely no political will to do so, however. Looking at google maps, I also notice that the two lanes closer to the light are solid lines. Was this were the accident took place? If so, that is also breaking the law.
I am glad to read this thread and see that other people are questioning the driver and his/her actions. I swear, driving makes people idiots.
Realizing at the last second that you missed your turn? Well, why not continue safely, then harness the power of geometry and make two left turns to return to Bellefield….? Or, just poke your front end into the left land, and really, really hope that everyone else will become invisible so your most important schedule and convenience are not compromised.
I’m not arguing that the driver didn’t break the law. I’m saying that I can’t see any justification for a careless driving charge. I hope the driver got a ticket for trying to merge where another car already was. But that isn’t enough. I want to see a driver who injures or kills someone, or who causes serious property damage, through failure to exercise due care, to face, at least, license suspension and retesting.
I find it hard to believe that the driver was not charged with careless/reckless driving, especially since a death happened. As far as riding bikes on Forbes, driving a CAR is dangerous enough. Especially on the area where the Museum is. I see many times cars cut over 3 lanes at the last minute, because they do not know where they are going, or what ever. I had a few close ones driving. Speed is another factor. I have never, and will never take my bike out on that street. Too many idiots out there. Please be careful out there!
Once again, the law doesn’t say: “if someone dies, then someone was careless.” It says: “In order to prove someone was careless, you have to show that they consciously knew they were doing something dangerous, and went ahead and did it anyway.” How could you possibly prove that in this case? That’s why I think we need a different law, which is focused more on outcomes (someone dies or is seriously injured, or there is major property damage) and on behavior that is easier to prove (the driver didn’t exercise due care) — not intent.
I’m still trying to process this. Susan Hicks, from everything I can gather, was riding in the exact same manner I would have been riding at that location. I’d agree with the assessment that the driver who caused this multiple vehicle collision must have been going over 25mph.
Normally, when riding in heavy traffic I stop really closely behind the vehicle I’m trailing, right off the bumper, usually. I think I’m going to re-evaluate that, now, maybe leave a half to full car space between me and the vehicle I’m stopped behind.
I’m also wondering what makes the most sense, advocating really hard (harder maybe) w/ the City and PennDOT, like what was done when James Price and Anthony Green were killed on Penn; advocating for the driver who killed Susan Hicks to be held accountable for their actions? Some of both?
It boils down to what occurred to Susan Hicks could have happened to me, or any one of us, out there. That scares the shit out of me, and I’m infuriated.
Well said JZ, but
“maybe leave a half to full car space between me and the vehicle I’m stopped behind”
be careful attempting this because if you leave too much room cars will try to cut in front of you even if the space isn’t big enough for them to fit.
I was knocked off my bike by a driver attempting to do this a few years ago while in stop-n-go traffic.
Jona, how to prove? umm, they wrecked into a another car, that is proof. had they been aware or more cautious, they would have NOT wrecked. Not aware of their surroundings, maybe they were texting, who knows…there are many ways to prove they had violated. It’s like the one posting , saying A vehicle shall be driven as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane and shall not be moved from the lane until the driver has first ascertained that the movement can be made with safety. Did they? NO! case closed. Bill in mail.
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