I came across this article today from a friendly twitter post. When we left the North West I also knew that Oregon had passed (HB 3314) and this was shortly after a friend had been side-swiped by an RV while on a recreational ride in Washington.
I’ve been contemplating some of the losses I’ve experienced over my years of riding and its actually pretty startling. Most cycle-car interactions go incredibly well given the dis-tractability of our species, the speeds people drive at, and some of the riding habits people fall into over time. All it takes though is a moment of inattention though and you could end up a smear on the pavement.
Riding with perfect attention isn’t any guarantee of safety either. We all knows what happens when about 200 pounds collides with a couple of tons. Even in a glancing blow the rider will likely experience consequences, the driver of the automobile may not even recognize the impact.
This begs the question, how can we as a society, improve these cycle-car interactions? I found this article after some searching on the topic.
In the Netherlands, drivers who collide with cyclists are presumed by law to be at fault; in contrast, in the United States, injured cyclists must prove that the driver who hit them is at fault. Guess which country has the more careful drivers? In the United States, the most common excuse drivers offer after colliding with a cyclist is “I didn’t see him.” Dutch drivers don’t offer that excuse, because it usually won’t absolve them of liability. In that sense, the law is helping Dutch drivers to see cyclists. “Reasonable human beings in other countries see the cyclist,” Andy Thornley notes. “How can we help drivers here to look harder?” Through laws that send the right signals when drivers fail in their duties to others.
Here in the States the “I didn’t see ’em” excuse seems to work almost as well as the “He should have gotten out of my way!” response. Hell, as a cyclist you’ll be lucky if the officer who responds to your “accident” even asks the question. In 2004 when I was T-boned traveling north on 156th in Redmond, WA the officer who responded didn’t even bother. My fortunate in this situation was that a truck driver saw the collision and blocked the drivers escape by driving his delivery truck across two lanes.
Colorado is a bicycling paradise; mountain bikers, road riders, racers, tourists, commuters and all sorts of other cyclist live and travel here. People make pilgrimages to this state so they can ride. Its in Colorado’s best interest for reasonable human beings to see the cyclist.