Design Template by Bikingtoronto

« Future section of the Met Branch Trail takes shape | Main | Friday Morning Commute - ANC2B »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My condolences to Ms. Whitman's family.

I'm pretty familiar with Route 108, I used to live about a mile south of it near Georgia Ave. It was my one of my primary east-west travel routes (by car) for about a decade.

If the link in the post pinpoints the location where the accident occurred, I recall the speed limit for that stretch being 40mph with a narrow shoulder, so you're either cycling in the lane or straddling the white line most of the ride. It's actually one of the safer stretches of 108 for cycling because the road is relatively straight and there's at least some shoulder. Long stretches of 108 can't be cycled safely because the road is winding, narrow with almost no visibility and no shoulder. (east of New Hampshire Ave is very dangerous)

By the way, I can't recall ever hearing anyone call 108 "Olney-Latonsville Road" when I lived in the area. Most people i know call it "108", occasionally "route 108" I think it's because most of the signage says route 108 (plus, "Olney-Latonsville Road is a mouthful). Also, 108 has at least 4 different names depending on what stretch you're on.

Im with Rob, the ugliest part that I bike is the section to the North of Olney before you get to the soccer complex where its wooded and has no shoulder and the section between Olney and Sandy Spring with the same conditions. Everyone I know calls it 108...or Route 108

Very sad. My condolences to the family.

It is interesting to note that the Examiner article has the story under the local crime category. Hopefully more facts come out. The heartless comments on the ABC7 web page makes me sick.

I live in Bowie and have not heard a peep about the Danielle Marie Cooper case. Maybe the Bowie Blade being down to two people based in Annapolis has somethings to do with it. Just no media follow up these days.

Agreed with Rob - referring to it as 108 is necessary because nobody knows what Olney-Laytonsville Rd. is; it changes names every time it goes through a small town there. That said, in my experience (only as a driver, in that area) there isn't much alternative going east-west in that area; maybe if there was some sort of bike path alongside the ICC...

Growing up we ALWAYS referred to Rt 108 as 108. I've never even heard of it referred to as "Olney-Latonsville Road."

It should be noted that 108 is NOT winding where the collision occurred. That portion of the road has perfectly clear sight-lines.

At a closing speed of 25 MPH (assuming vehicle at the presumed 40 MPH speed limit and cyclist traveling 15 MPH) an attentive driver actively scanning the long straight road ahead should have easily been able to see the cyclist.

But studies have shown that motorists:
1) Are not very attentive and are often engaged with distracting devices.
2) Tend to focus on a spot about 30 feet in front rather than looking down the road.
3) On such roads normally travel in excess - maybe well in excess of the speed limit.

Police could try to pull the cell phone records and if the vehicle has a black box check to see what the speed was.

But none of that changes anything. In the end Diana was a victim of a car only infrastructure mentality and she died from having the audacity to dispute that.

I've often wondered if road builders/designers could be sued for malpractice, or at least face some sort of accountability or responsibility. If a doctor failed to follow the best evidence on how to do his or her job, there would be a suit/settlement (if the family pursued it) quite often. If a hospital had a bad process that led to frequent errors and deaths, it would often be found out (not always, but more so all the time).

Of course, it's also true that families pursue malpractice claims when the medical teams did follow best practices, and the bad outcome was no one's fault.

Very sorry for the family here. Also for the driver. I believe drivers should be responsible for what they hit, no matter the circumstances, and even if the police manage to blame this death on the cyclist, the driver's life is damaged as well. I just wish the road builders and planners and police who are supposed to enforce speed limits and anti-distraction laws would also face at least some sort of accountability. At least a report that named names, maybe. Who was responsible for a poorly made road? Who was supposed to enforce the speed limit?

I think it would be hard to prove malpractice here. They'd be able to point to the "current standard of care" and say "this is what everyone does, it is considered best practice." Plus I think you often have to be in a licensed career field and have it be a case where the victim wouldn't know any better. Here you could argue that the person using the road should have known that it was poorly designed. It's like a slip and fall case on ice "Did you see the ice? Do you know that ice is slick? I rest my case."

Rt. 108 is a long road and the name changes depending on which section and set of towns you are in between. It is just easier to call the road by one name rather than its section. I've lived in the area 10 years and only refer to it as 108 and I'm not part of any conspiracy.
Its more of a country highway. If I had another mode of transportation, I would never ride my bike on it during rush hours ... NEVER.

Very sorry to the Whitman Family, my sincere condolences. If memory serves me correct, the speed limit on that stretch of 108 is 50 MPH with no shoulder. Not the best place for a bike, sorry.

My condolences also to the family.

"who say she shouldn't have been riding on that road seem to ignore the fact that there really aren't any other choices if you're trying to get some place. The problem is one of road design, and road network design."

Well, the *exceedingly* crass answer is that if you want to ride your bike everywhere, you should probably live in an area with better bike infracture.

But the better debate is how much bike-useful infrastructure is appropriate for what still is a rural area.

It brings up a broader point that transportation infrastructure simply cannot be such that getting from point A to point B in a community is impossible save by car.

Well, the *exceedingly* crass answer is that if you want to ride your bike everywhere, you should probably live in an area with better bike infracture (sic).

And people who want less traffic should just move some place without traffic jams, and people who don't want to be stuck behind a slow moving cyclists should just move to a place where there are no cyclists. Of course no one wants JUST these things. They also want a good job that does compelling work. They want good schools. They want a place that fits the lifestyle they choose, etc... So just getting everyone to move to their own personal utopia will only work if all these utopias exist.

As to how much "bike-useful infrastructure is appropriate for what still is a rural area." I would say enough so that if there are people who want to bike to work, they can do so without being killed.

Look, this is just crappy all around. Like anyone who rides in this area, I confront a lot of dimwitted and hostile drivers all the time. But most of them are just fine - we're all just trying to get somewhere. Sometimes drivers screw up through inattentiveness or distraction, but God knows we're all victims of that from time to time, on bikes and in our own cars when we drive. None of us is perfect. So given what I know about *most* people on bikes and *most* people in cars, what I see here is a heartbreaking circumstance where - probably - two people were going about their own business, and in one brief regrettable instant one of them did something stupid. One life is lost and the other changed irrevocably. It's just sad.

I live only a mile from the scene of the accident. Virtually all my rides pass where Diane was hit on my way to calmer roads in “cow country”.

Diane Whitman's tragic death unfortunately gives a local face to the Ride of Silence in Olney. The ride will be at 7p on 16 May and the purpose is to honor those killed while cycling and to promote share the road. Visit www.rideofsilence.org the then click on United States on the left and then click on MD above the map to find out more info.

I checked the posted speed limit using Google Street View. It looks to me that the posted speed limit is 40 MPH. The first such sign I saw going SE from the Mt Zion Rd intersection reads that. Going NW the sign is too blurry to read.

@Kolohe, Olney has a population of ~31,000 and is an outer suburb. According to the US Dept of Transportation, areas that fit that description have approximately the same proportion of people biking (and walking) for total trips as urban centers. Its a myth that people in rural areas, as you described Olney, don't bike (and walk). They do, in approximately the same proportions as people in cities. For more information see this report:http://www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/ourWork/reports/BeyondUrbanCentersReport.pdf

As an aside, this crash has a lot of similarities with the death of cyclist Curtis Leimeister in 2009.

As I recall despite the driver admitting they were distracted and not looking at the road all that could be charged was a minor traffic violation fine of a few hundred dollars. Which the driver promptly disputed as being too severe!

Since then Maryland has passed a 3 foot law. But some have expressed concerns that is has enough exceptions in it to effectively neuter it.

I am an Olney resident. The speed limit where the accident happened is 50mph. The speed limit about 50 yards after the accident drops to 40 but people actually speed up at that point to 55 (go figure). Also, there is a tremendous number of cyclists around the Olney area, more than any other place I've ever lived.

As to how much "bike-useful infrastructure is appropriate for what still is a rural area." I would say enough so that if there are people who want to bike to work, they can do so without being killed.

I guess you mean regardless of where they live or where they work.

In a world with unlimited resources, yeah, great plan. Or, alternately, in a world with competing priorities where yours are the highest. We know you believe they should be the highest. That is normal.

This is a terrible loss and I feel very badly for all involved, especially for the Whitmans.

Yes, people should be able to safely ride to at least as many destinations as are provided for drivers of cars.

BTW, I was once riding in the middle of nowhere (about 5 miles outside of Breckenridge, CO) and rode past a bus stop. At the bus stop was a single U rack, with a bicycle locked to it. People in rural areas not only ride bikes, some of them do so because they make public transportation much more practical.

Of course no one wants JUST these things.

Beautiful answer, washcycle.

I guess you mean regardless of where they live or where they work.

I suppose one could come up with exceptions that I would think were reasonable, but I can't.

Or, alternately, in a world with competing priorities where yours are the highest. We know you believe they should be the highest. That is normal.

Or in a world where we don't prioritze the expediency and convenience of some over the safety of others. If we don't have the resources to make this road safe for both cyclists and drivers, or to create alternate bike routes that provide the needed connectivity then there is a simple solution that will cost $0. Just drop the speed limit on Route 108 to 25 mph.

Also, Christopher, there are ways to disagree with people that doesn't involve insulting them. Just in case you were unaware.

My condolences to the family and friends of Diane Whitman. This is a terrible tragedy.

The mentality that "the law allows use of a bicycle on the road, therefore we can and should ride anytime we choose" truly needs to change. I say this as an avid cyclist. There are good roads and bad roads, and there are good times and bad times to be on those roads. Unfortunately this means we may have to drive to get to a starting point for a ride -- you cannot assume you can simply ride straight from your front door.

My opinion is that the cycling community should focus on compromise, make the good roads better and acknowledge the danger of bad roads.

Kev, I disagree. If a road is so unsafe that one can't bike on it, then we need to either make it safe be redesigning it or dropping the speed limit; or the state needs to ban biking on that road and concede that they failed. But creating a world where everyone needs a car is not a solution.

I do not mean to disparage avid cyclists, but many who use that tag mean they are recreational cyclists. As such, you can choose to give up a route that causes you undue concern. Those who use bicycles in a more utilitarian fashion often cannot. This also plays into the earlier comment about limited resources. When cycling is only a recreational activity, funds devoted to it are a luxury. When it's part of the transportation mix, then we ask if allocating funds to it helps or hurts our overall transportation goals. To say that we have limited resources doesn't close the inquiry in favor of cars. Cycling has a claim for transportation dollars because it's another mode that adds transportation capacity at very little cost.

But the better debate is how much bike-useful infrastructure is appropriate for what still is a rural area.

As to how much "bike-useful infrastructure is appropriate for what still is a rural area." I would say enough so that if there are people who want to bike to work, they can do so without being killed.

I agree wholeheartedly with Washcycle. And it wouldn't really be that difficult to make this road a lot safer - how about just widening the shoulders? Compare state highway 108 near the accident scene with state highway 165 in Harford County. Why can't we get shoulders like that?

Probably because MD-108 will never be widened during the last three decades of the 20th century.

Virtually all upgrades of state highways in lightly developed highways had wide (8-14 ft) shoulders from the 1970s until the last few years. Now, to cut costs we are seeing narrower shoulders called "bike lanes." Eventually that will probably happen to MD-108.

A paved shoulder can be added to an existing paved surface, but only if someone really pushes it. But no one wanted it enough to push it, so far. Do you?

Most people willing to devote alot of spare time toward the basic capital program toward bike infrastructure improvements focus on new trailsn or relatively inexpensive things like signs and parking, and wait for a highway upgrade to push a shoulder or bike lane.

If "no one really thinks biking on Olney-Latonsville Road is a good idea", I'd like to know what roads they do think people should cycle on. This is a tiny two-lane road with a 40mph speed limit - a road on which cyclists can easily control the lane, preventing unsafe passes when necessary. It seems likely that this was a freak accident and hardly evidence that the road is dangerous. Let's not forget that motorist life expectancy is lower than that of cyclists and today, approximately 90 motorists will die in the US, compared with only 2 cyclists.

I am an Olney resident. The speed limit where the accident happened is 50mph.

Thanks Vince, I suppose I was pushing it trying to rely on Street View :).

@Ian Brett Cooper
This is a tiny two-lane road with a 40mph speed limit

Except that it appears this section is posted as 50 MPH. Which means motorists may be going much, much faster.

Now I may be on the more radical end of the spectrum when it comes to automobiles but I believe that outside of limited access highways (which almost universally ban cyclists) speed should be held to a very low limit and vigorously enforced by any means necessary.

Doing so wouldn't just benefit non-motorists but everybody. On a per mile basis rural roadways are our most dangerous.

@NeilB and JimT:

Those more rural areas were able to get paved shoulders because A) right-of-way costs where needed were much lower and B) agriculture and farm machinery. 108 both goes through a lot of wooded area (tree removal) but now is high-buck land.

I'm not in a position to assign blame, but note that the new Manslaughter By Vehicle or Vessel law (http://www.thewashcycle.com/2011/04/vehicular-homicide-will-be-illegal-in-maryland-starting-october-1.html) is now in effect, although I do not know whether it has yet to (or will ever) be applied to a collision involving a cyclist. I had heard on the radio that Diane had lights on her bike, so the "I did not see the cyclist" argument would hold less weight here. Infrastructure issues aside, drivers must morally and legally bear more responsibility on the road than more vulnerable users simply because their destructive potential is so much greater. Cars are designed to help you forget this and instead emphasize ease of use and comfort, but cars will always remain deadly weapons, so their users must be held accountable for their actions.

Unfortunately it's difficult to get jurisdictions to add shoulders to existing roads because it's expensive, especially if the work has environmental impacts (doesn't everything?). Adding width for bikes can trigger stormwater management requirements for the whole roadway. Bike advocates face very difficult choices, given limited govt. budgets, over whether to prioritize bike facilities used by more people, or fixing dangerous roads used by fewer cyclists but with fewer alternatives. Lately there's been a push by both Montgomery County and WABA to focus more bike spending on places like Bethesda and Silver Spring with high density, short distances, more transit, and higher potential to increase bicycling (hence downcounty Bikeshare). In practice improvements are still being made beyond the denser areas, but it's becoming more of an issue. I'm not recommending this, just saying that it's going on. Triage is never easy.

Reading a LOT of complaints here and it never ceases to amaze me how bicyclists don't want to pay for annual licensing and/or road use fees, don't want to obey the rules of the road (running red lights, not signaling lane changes, etc), don't wear high-visibility clothes or use flashing (or any) lights, but insist on having everyone else pay for special lanes for them to use. Just astounding. On the other hand, if you give gov't more funds for roads they'll just put in the general fund to buy votes elsewhere.

NormB, driver users fees only cover about half the cost of roads [and clearly, your last statement makes it clear that you don't want to change that]. The rest is paid for by all taxpayers which include cyclists. So cyclists do pay for the facilities they use. And certainly cyclists don't have a monopoly on breaking the law. For example, running cyclists down from behind is pretty illegal, and it's what happened in this case.

What cyclists really want is to be able to use the roads without being killed. The bike lanes are only necessary because drivers have difficulty not killing us. If you can get drivers to stop killing cyclists, we'll stop asking for bike lanes.

The driver was found guilty of:

Negligent driving: $280 fine
Not Keeping 3 Feet: $120 fine

Found this info by search the drivers name and Montgomery County at: http://casesearch.courts.state.md.us/inquiry/inquiry-index.jsp

Would have been nice to see the driver at least also be charged with a suspended sentence of involuntary manslaughter. At least then they would be making a point that the driver killed someone and it was wrong to do so.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Banner design by creativecouchdesigns.com

City Paper's Best Local Bike Blog 2009

Categories

 Subscribe in a reader