While working on something else, I was checking the status of the negligent driving and failure to yield charges against <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/crime/wssc-driver-charged-in-crash-that-killed-bike-rider/2015/02/11/a6783954-b224-11e4-854b-a38d13486ba1_story.html">John Phillip Kline</a>. While I didn't find any record of it in the court system, I did find a 2007 conviction for "(DRIVING, ATTEMPTING TO DRIVE) VEH. WHILE IMPAIRED BY ALCOHOL" from a 2006 incident in Washington County. The crash reportedly led to an injury.
That is not to in anyway imply that he was drinking on November 24, 2014.
From their meetup, this will be at the National Bike Summit, which starts today.
Bike Hack Night is a show & tell of bicycle-related apps, data visualizations, and gadgets. Doors open at 6:30 for snacks and beer, with speakers starting at 7:00. We will be in Congressional Ballroom A. Our speakers so far include:
Virginia State Police have released the name of a Henrico woman who died after she was struck by a VDOT snowplow while riding her bicycle Wednesday morning. The accident happened around 5:40 a.m. near Virginia Center Commons in Glen Allen, according to Virginia State Police spokesman Sgt. Steve Vick.
Davis said that when Henderson worked the early morning shift at the Target near Virginia Center Commons, she always rode her bike because that was “the only way she could get to work.”
Investigators said a VDOT plow driver was clearing snow from the northbound lane of Route 1 and Henderson was travelling in the same direction when the two collided. The truck driver, 37-year-old Bradley W. Stenroos, of Chester, was not injured and was wearing a seatbelt.
The crash has been ruled weather-related but remains under investigation.
Vick said the results of the police investigation will be forwarded to the Henrico Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for their consideration.
Lindsey LeGrand, a VDOT spokeswoman, said the agency is working with state police to determine what factors contributed to the cause of the crash. "And we're also conducting our own, internal safety review," she said.
So the driver hit her from behind. Sure, I suppose it's weather related, but a snowplow operator - of all people - should know how to drive in the snow without running a cyclist down from behind. Was it even snowing in the Richmond area this morning?
She was wearing dark clothing, but that's not illegal. She was riding without a helmet, which is also not illegal. She had a rear reflector, which is the minimum required, (update: on roads where the speed limit is higher than 35mph, VA law mandates a tail light. The speed limit here appears to be 45mph) though a light is certainly better. She did not seem to have a headlight, which is required, but that wasn't really the issue here. If meeting the legal standard isn't deemed adequate to remove fault, then we should raise the standard. I'm concerned this is being brushed away as "just an unavoidable accident" which is unfortunate since the cyclist didn't break the law (unless you count the lack of a headlight) but the driver did, by not driving at an appropriate speed and by hitting another vehicle from behind.
If we give people only terrible options, like biking in the snow on an unlit street before sunrise, bad things are going to happen. But at least the driver was wearing a seat belt, he could've been hurt.
Police said Kline was traveling west on Darnestown Road around 9:45 a.m. on Nov. 24 when he made a left turn on a green light into the Shops at Potomac Valley shopping center and struck a bicyclist, who later died from his injuries. The cyclist was traveling east on Darnestown Road in the far right lane when he was struck, police said. Police spokesman Capt. Paul Starks said in November, shortly after the collision, that the green light was not a green arrow.
The penalties for driving negligently are much less serious than other traffic offenses, such as reckless driving or driving on a suspended/revoked license. In Maryland, negligent driving convictions can result in a fine of up to $140 and will lead to one point added onto your driving record. That may seem like a minor penalty, but multiple offenses of negligent driving, or negligent driving combined with other offenses can lead to more serious consequences.
Bishop Cook, accused of hitting cyclist Thomas Palermo with her while driving drunk and distracted has been indicted. She could be on track for a long sentence.
The charges include automobile manslaughter, driving under the influence of alcohol and leaving the scene of an accident. Other charges in the indictment include homicide by motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol; driving while impaired; texting while driving during an accident that results in death or serious bodily injury; reckless driving; and negligent driving.
Cook has been free on bail while awaiting trial; she is scheduled for arraignment March 5.
John William Bushman Sr. of Hagerstown was riding a bicycle west on West Washington Street at Insurance Way at 10:34 p.m. when he was struck and killed by a car that fled the scene, according to the sheriff's office.
Bushman was pronounced dead at the scene, a sheriff's office spokeswoman said.
The car involved in the hit-and-run was also westbound at the time of the accident, the sheriff's office said.
The release did not indicate where or when the car was found, or the name of the owner, or who might have been operating it at the time of the accident.
Over 100 Washington area cyclists have died in motor vehicle crashes since 1987. Previously, I mapped out their locations. What about the outcomes? Police fault cyclists and drivers equally, except in Prince George's County, where they overwhelmingly blame cyclists.
Cyclists are found at fault more than drivers I collected data on fatal crashes involving both a cyclist and a driver in the region since 1987. The data came from media reports and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). I was able to determine who was found at fault in 83% of the crashes. Cyclists got the blame 58.9% of the time. This could be because cyclists are just more reckless than drivers, but it could also be that there is a failure in the reporting itself. There's a big discrepancy between the two sources. Of all of the cases in which fault was assigned, 34.4% relied only on data from a FARS report. In these cases, cyclists got the blame 74.1% of the time. In contrast, where the details of the crash came from a media report or from both a media report and a FARS report, cyclists only got the blame in 30 out of 59 crashes, or 50.8% of the time.
Prince George's finds cyclists at fault far more often Prince George's County has has the most bike fatalities of any jurisdiction in the area. It's also the place cyclists are most often found at fault. Cyclists got the blame in 76.7% of Prince George's fatal crashes, compared to 52.9% in Northern Virginia, 50% in Montgomery County, and 48% in DC. In fact, outside Prince George's County, drivers and cyclists in the region share fault 50-50.
Could police bias explain these discrepancies? Responding police officers are responsible for filling out FARS reports, so police bias might be a factor. For example, in several cases the only contributing factor was "Walking/Riding With Or Against Traffic, Playing, Working, Sitting, Lying, Standing, Etc. In Roadway." This could mean a lot of things, including something as simple as the cyclist riding in the road. The inherently one-sided interview can also play a role. Often the only living witness, the driver, has a strong incentive to blame the cyclist, and perhaps the police do not do enough to challenge these claims. On the other side of things, it's possible that the media only reported on crashes where the driver was to blame. My data set has far more news stories on the investigation, subsequent trial, and verdict when the driver was criminally at fault. Perhaps stories where the driver is at fault, such as the recent fatal crash near Baltimore, are more appealing to the media. In addition to asking why the county is so deadly for cyclists, Prince George's County needs to ask the question of why cyclists who die there are so much more likely to be blamed. Are Prince George's cyclists worse? Do the roads there invite risky cycling? Is there a difference in the way police and journalists investigate and report crashes in Prince George's? If it's bias, someone needs to address it for the sake of both justice and safety. If it's cyclists riding dangerously, then the county needs more education and enforcement. If it's road design, the county needs to change the roads. Being such a negative outlier should be cause for alarm.
Bishop Heather Cook - who had previously pleaded guilty to a 2010 drunken driving charge in which she registered a .27 blood alcohol level - and more recently struck and killed cyclist Thomas Palermo with her car, reportedly registered a .22 blood alcohol level after the crash and is being charged with manslaughter and leaving the scene which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.
But, in addition to being drunk, she was also texting while driving, which places her off the irresponsible chart. It just doesn't go that high.
Sharon J. Tillman, a spokeswoman for the Episcopal Church, said officials were aware Cook had been drinking before the accident and had been texting while driving, but police requested they withhold certain information.
Mosby alleged that Cook was texting, and that Palermo was in the bike lane when Cook's vehicle veered into his lane and struck him.
I can't say I'm surprised, but I had really hoped that she had not been drinking. Perhaps this will lead to stronger oversight of DUI offenders, but I doubt it.
Update: Here's a full list of what Cook will be charged with
– Negligent manslaughter by vehicle (Max 10 years and/or $5,000 fine) – Criminal negligent manslaughter by vehicle (Max 3 years and/or $5,000 fine) – Negligently driving under the influence resulting in a homicide (Max 5 years and/or $5,000 fine) – Negligent homicide involving an auto or boat while impaired (Max 3 years and/or $5,000 fine) – Duty of driver to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in bodily injury – Duty of driver to remain at an accident resulting in death – Use of a text messaging device while driving causing an accident with death or serious bodily injury – Driving under the influence of alcohol
According to Mosby, Both Palermo and Cook were traveling southbound on Roland Avenue when Cook, who was texting while driving at the time of the collision, veered off to the right and into the bike lane, striking Palermo from the rear which caused him to hit the hood and windshield of Cook’s 2001 Subaru before being thrown to the right hand side and then coming to a final rest against the west side curb.
Cook allegedly failed to remain at the scene of the accident, and continued south on Roland Avenue before returning roughly 30 minutes later but continuing past the scene to her home.
Cook then left her apartment shortly after her arrival and returned to the scene. She was then was transported from the scene to a local police station where she was given a breathalyzer test.
In a typically rambling column, filled with context-free statistics that one finds in the top three of a google search, Courtland Milloy has somehow landed on the right answer - that it's not safe for cars to be on the roads where cyclists and pedestrians can be found.
I'm intentionally not linking to the column.
Here it is with my comments:
The drivers of [vehicles involved in crashes several counties away] may or may not have been at fault. Nevertheless, those two cyclists should never have been in harm’s way.
What cyclists need is a separate network of biking roads, not bike lanes. Give them trails through wooded areas, away from cars and trucks.
He's half right. More bike boulevards, "trails through wooded areas" and separated bike facilities would make things much better. [Where would we ever find enough wooded areas in the city for all the cyclists though?] Still, we're going to need bike lanes, unless the plan is for us to park our bikes and walk the last mile. And that's insane.
Once they enter high-traffic areas in the city, it’s off the bicycle and onto alternative transportation. Like two feet.
Actually, if we expand the idea, then it's not so bad. Maybe we could give drivers their car-only roads - a.k.a limited access highways - but then have them park their cars when they exit and switch to alternative transportation. Like two feet. After all, they're the ones doing all the killing.
Think of it, people could leave their home and walk - or even bike now that all local roads would be biking roads that cyclists need - to the nearest car-storage facility. Drive out of it onto a highway, where they won't be bothered by pedestrians and cyclists, then pull off into the car-storage facility closest to their destination, and walk or bike to that. Sure, it would take longer, but think of all the lives that would be saved. Think of the children. Think of Bono. Think of underwear models (not really relevant, that's just fun).
In other words, Milloy and I are in complete agreement, we just differ on which roads should be biking roads and which ones should be driving roads. But, if we can't totally segregate the transportation system because we value efficiency over safety, then perhaps sharing roads is the next best idea.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, bicycle fatalities increased from 682 in 2011 to 726 in 2012. Injuries from collisions with cars increased from 48,000 to 49,000. There were no reports of motorists being killed by a cyclists[sic]. Passenger vehicle deaths actually declined during the same period.
Recently, there has been an uptick in bike fatalities. But we make a dire mistake when we look at only two data-points and try to define a trend. After all, if we look at just the trend in Washington Football Team Super Bowl victories between 1986 (0) and 1987 (1) then they would be on track to win 28 super bowls this year alone.
And it gets even more pronounced if we consider the uptick in cycling.
And he conveniently ignored the most recent report from NHTSA which showed that bike injuries dropped from 2012 to 2013.
In the Washington area, seven bicyclists were killed in collisions with cars in 2013, compared with three in 2012, according to the Washington region’s Transportation Planning Board. There were 902 injuries in 2012, compared with 783 the previous year.
Same issue here. Bike fatalies have ranged from a high of 12 in 2005, to a low of 1 in 2003. The numbers he cites, while too high, are not outside the norm. It's true that bicycle injuries have been trending up, but that's because of increased biking. I don't see his point except to make cycling seem very dangerous, which it is not.
It may not look so bad to some, but the problem is likely to get worse.
There will probably be more bike crashes, injuries and fatalities if biking increases. But if it helps lower automobile VMT, there will probably be fewer injuries and fatalities overall. After all, it's driving that is deadly as he notes when he writes that " There were no reports of motorists being killed by a cyclists.[sic]"
Area jurisdictions are hurrying plans to funnel thousands of bicyclists into unsafe streets. The District has the audacity to fast-track plans for 200 miles of on-street bicycle facilities by 2040.
Right. The on-street bicycle facilities are what are needed to turn "unsafe" streets into safe ones. Other ways to make streets safer is to lower the speed limit or raise the bar for a driver's license (a bar Milloy famously managed to not get over once).
Which means that an already outdated 20th-century bike lane system should be finished by the dawn of the 22nd century.
The new bike facilities DDOT is building and designing are not 20th century. But yes, building things takes time. Is Milloy for an escalated schedule? Again I can't tell what he's complaining about. Is he upset that it's moving too fast, or too slow?
There are children on bicycles with training wheels trying to keep up adults [sic] as they bicycle through downtown. It’s one thing to put yourself at risk, but endangering your child is another matter.
That is not something I've ever seen. Not a child on training wheels downtown. Not a parent riding in front of such kid as they "try to keep up".
I cringe at the sight of infants riding on seats strapped to handle bars, and cyclists towing toddlers in those two-wheel “baby buggies” that are barely taller than the bumper of a car.
In a review of 5 years of nationwide FARS data that I did last year (to be posted later, I promise), I couldn't find a single example of a child who was killed riding in a seat attached to a bike or a bike trailer. Not one. So, cringe all you want, but it's probably safer than taking a shower. More roller coaster paradox issues.
But here’s where we are now:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the groups with the highest rates of bicycle deaths are those between the ages of 15 and 24 and adults 45 years and older. People from ages 5 to 24 account for nearly 60 percent of all bicycle-related injuries.
69 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred in urban areas.
30 percent of bicyclist fatalities occurred between 4 and 8 p.m., according to the NHTSA.
Of the 49,000 injuries to cyclists in 2012, the NTSA said “6,000 were incapacitating, meaning the bicyclist could not leave the crash scene without assistance (skull, chest, or abdominal injuries, broken limbs, severe lacerations, or unconsciousness.”
That's a lot of statistics (here's my take on the GHSA report). It must've taken him 5 minutes to google, cut and paste them. But I don't know what point he's trying to make. Biking has some risk? Groups that are highly represented in biking are also highly represented in fatality data? The places where the most people bike, are also the places where the most cyclists are killed by cars? Men shouldn't bike? I think it's another, "see how very dangerous biking is" data dump meant to rally people behind the idea that the roads just aren't suitable places for bikes. Though, when we look at the total number of automobile related fatality data, we can use the same logic to draw the conclusion that roads just aren't suitable places for cars. So, that must be Milloy's point.
The District’s transportation safety plan, called “Vision Zero,” aims to create an accident-free road system with no fatalities and no injuries. Nice thought.
It is, isn't it.
But D.C. is not Denmark, San Francisco is not Sweden, New York is not the Netherlands.
I don't know why D.C. has to be Denmark to be a place where we can bikes and cars can safely share the road. In fact, despite Milloy's non-relevant data dump (DC is also not Florida) biking in DC is relatively safe. There have been 4 fatal bike-car crashes in DC in the last 5 years. The fact that Milloy had to go to Hartford County for one of his recent examples should make it clear that for most people, biking is about as safe as driving. And when one considers the long term health benefits, it's on average much better for you, even with the slightly elevated risk.
Here, bicycles and cars were not designed to “share the road,” and the roads weren’t built to accommodate the wishful thinking of well- intentioned urban planners.
We pretty much use the same bicycles and cars here as they do in Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands, and so I don't know how ours were not designed to share the road.
And that roads were built with cars primarily in mind is something that DC wishes to repair and its the reason why they want to add all those bike lanes that he scoffed at earlier. But let's be clear, even when the roads were designed for the total accommodation of cars (instead of wishful thinking) they've never been 100% safe for motorists. Anytime you go out on the road (or even the sidewalk) you are one drunk or irresponsible driver away from being killed. That can't be fixed until self-driving cars hit the road.
Better to provide a special bus for cyclists once they get off the wooded bike trail. It would sure beat riding in an ambulance.
This is pretty much the dumbest idea I've ever heard. Why has he (and The Post) wasted his time on a column that advocates something no one wants, no one would support and he knows won't work? This isn't even an "eat the rich" essay. It's just a long-winded attempt to say that it's not safe for bikes to be on the road, which is false. And no one is going to force them off anyway.
Why he doesn't come to the conclusion that we need safer roads - and talk about the ways that Vision Zero seeks to achieve that - is beyond me. That's the natural direction that any concern for cyclists should take you. But, I suspect Milloy isn't concerned for cyclists. Except to drive up his click count, I suppose. Don't go to the Post website to read this. Don't comment on it. Don't link to his post.