The Chainlink

Avondale: Driver of City-Owned Truck Hit 31-Year-Old Cyclist, Woman Critically Injured

This is a truck owned by the city of Chicago. 

"A bicyclist was run over and critically injured by a city vehicle Tuesday morning in Avondale on the Northwest Side. The crash happened about 8:30 a.m. as the 31-year-old woman was riding northwest in the 3100 block of North Milwaukee Avenue, Chicago police said. As she turned right on Belmont Avenue, a truck behind her also turning right struck her and dragged her under the vehicle, trapping her, police said."

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Good info from Phil...
FOR CYCLISTS AND MOTORISTS - The Top 5 Most Common Bike/Car Collisions and How to Avoid Them

TonyP is right.  I stay out of that truck (or car) blind spot at intersections in general, not just when I'm turning.  Whether it's to speed up (rarely) or to slow down (more common) putting the truck ahead of me where I can see it and the driver just as Tony says, and the driver can see me, is typically how I pass through an intersection.  Whether in my car or on my bike, the practice is the same.  SHOULD the truck driver try to find me in the blind spot, or remember I was around?  Yes, but there are multiple points of failure in a multi-modal system such as this, and so having multiple measures to safeguard things (like the driver checks the blind spot as best possible AND I stay out of it) are key principles to the design. 

In a world where cars can park themselves, there is NO EXCUSE for big trucks having blind spots. This has been covered on the Chainlink before. There are plenty of camera and alarm systems available. They should be original equipment on ALL vehicles that need them. A blind spot is NEVER AN EXCUSE for a driver or his or her employer. NO EXCUSES!  

By the same token there is no excuse to put oneself in that blind spot, whether or not it need be there.

Alarms and cameras can be demanded and argued for, but, we are all responsible for our own safety, and as ketoguy mentioned the system can fail, so why put oneself in a position of danger counting on someone or something else for ones safety.

Being right don't mean beans when one is under the wheels of a 10 or 20 ton truck waiting for the fire dept. to arrive. 

I agree.  One of my vehicles has camera and radar features, that latter scanning for presence or movement in my blind spots.  But these aren't force fields, nor are they certain.  They're just additional measures to help with a system of interdependent equipment, practices and expected behaviors on the part of all fellow travelers, motorists and cyclists alike.    

Yet people don't heed the counsel to avoid blind spots.  (What may or may not have happened in this particular collusion isn't known to me)  Nevertheless, some people are defiant of the advice to avoid the blind spot as if that revokes other drivers' duties, which it doesn't.  Since this is more of a bike forum than a car or truck forum, we would do well to encourage each other has Tony and others have done to stay out of blind spots as best we can instead expecting that others will get better at checking them.  (They're not reading what we're writing here) Again, drivers have obligations too, but the odds are bad if we play chicken with someone who doesn't know we're even there by contributing to the blind spot hazard, even if someone else is in the wrong as well.  

This is where mandatory rider education could be on the table, perhaps.  Drivers education materials urge CAR drivers to stay out of blind spots as well.  We should too. 

Yes, as cyclists, we have to ride carefully, defensively but I ask this - when will there be adequate and weighted responsibility on the people driving the multi-ton vehicles around? I don't think there's enough responsibility in the way it is reported, recorded by police, considered for a violation, prosecuted when negligent, drunk. There is a ridiculous amount of responsibility weighted on the cyclist. For Bobby, he was ultimately blamed for crossing an open intersection which would have been fine if the driver wasn't speeding, driving drunk down the street without warning. For Hector, he was assumed to be wearing dark clothing which he may or may not have been doing but the truth is, the driver was drunk and reckless but said he "didn't see" Hector so the judge gave a very light sentence. 

Do we say it was the 13 year old, Isaac Martinez's fault that was riding in the bike lane when he was just hit and killed? He legally wasn't supposed to be on the sidewalk which seems crazy for a 13 year old. Hit and run and just like that parents lost their son. 

There is a slippery slope to victim blaming. I agree, there is a cautionary tale that we all need to remember of truck drivers (don't trust them ever) and motorists in general (they don't see you because they don't bother to look for you) but when will there be responsibility for the motorist in a crash? I just got a car and was amazed that every time I put my turn signal on or backed up, I was given a camera view. I couldn't miss seeing a bike or car with it. I drive very carefully and give more than 3 feet passing because it's the right thing to do. Why don't we expect more of motorists rather than get angry at the cyclists`hit by a negligent driver?

I haven't read a reply here where there was any anger aimed at the cyclist, just advice to exercise caution around vehicles and to stay out of their blind spots. That's good advice for cyclists, motorcyclists and automotive drivers, it's not victim blaming. 

It's good advice no matter if the driver will be charged with negligence or not charged at all. It's good advice no matter if the vehicle has all the safety bells and whistles, or none.

Yes, we should expect more of motorists, but even when everyone does everything right stuff can happen, and when it does happen the cyclist loses. 

Shux, a cyclist hitting a pothole or having a blow out while riding in the blind spot of a truck can put that cyclist under the truck, and that ain't the truck drivers fault. 

That's very well put TonyP.  Reading through the thread, much of this can be summarized as follows:

Both the laws of physics and blind spot laws matter, and;

All traffic laws matter for all drivers.

If we don't adhere to all these ideas, things don't work together very well.  Moreover, none of these concepts contradicts the other, and nobody should get angry at anyone for offering any of the insights whether specifically nor more broadly.  

Records indicate that the bicyclist who was struck by the driver of a CDOT truck is a CDOT bike safety ambassador.

I  understand  Yasmeen's reference to the slippery slope. We don't want to  victim blame, but we do  want  to solve  the riddle so we can  avoid future  crashes for  ourselves and for everybody on  this forum. We all likely approach these topics wearing a lot of hats, perhaps mother  or  father or sister or brother, or cyclist or driver etc. As a lawyer, I do not  want to see any  discussion as I don't want a  public forum to impact the rights of any of the parties.  As a human, my heart  goes out to both the  cyclist and the driver and  I wish them both a speedy recovery from physical and/or psychological injuries.  As a cyclist, I want  to be able to  break down what  happened so I can modify my own behavior and advocate for others to do so as well. That inquiry may reflect positively or  negatively on the cyclist, the driver  or  both depending  on what happened in  each case. What  we all know is there are  far too many cases and that cyclists are  much more  likely to have severe physical injuries or worse than drivers in  these cases. I  am  not  sure what to do with the information  of the cyclist's work as a  CDOT  bike safety ambassador.  I don't know  whether  I  should  think that she  must have been  paying  attention or  whether such a person  failed to do so or whether it  is a warning to the rest of  us that  even the  most  safety conscious  can  get injured or whether it could  impact legal issues because the cyclist and  motorist worked for  the same agency or whether...  I have no quarrel  with  John  reporting  this.  He is doing his job and reporting the facts. What  we do with  them is up to us. II  would  not react any differently if she was a cop or a school teacher or was  homeless or  was [insert racial, religious or ethnic group here]. What  matters to me is she was a human who riding her  bike and wound up under a truck.

I agree David and particularly with the human side of all of this, as well as the opportunity to learn so as to modify personal behavior to improve safety in traffic. 

Aside from the important point you mention, people should not avoid victim blaming because of the phrase or concept of victim blaming, nor being uncomfortable with any findings such as the victim may have done something incorrectly, or contributed to a situation.  Indeed, victim behaviors (or omissions) can be safety factors.  After all, that's what contributory negligence may involve.

To wit:  If a distracted driver hits another car and injures the driver of the other car, it's perfectly reasonable to learn and assess other factors involved with the injury, such as if the driver in the other car was wearing a seatbelt, was talking on a cell phone, running a stop sign, etc.  These things may be contributing factors to an injury, and are important. 

(Again, we're not speaking to this instance per se because we don't have the full details, but when victims introduce new risks to a situation, and do so by setting aside laws or set aside other known best safety practices, we can remind ourselves and others not to do that.)

Without more facts of the case, establishing blame (i.e. discovering all contributing factors) is challenging, and I think as you point out, but there's no slippery slope.  There are things that are true or false, and learning the facts and circumstances that contribute to an accident and aren't slippery, and shouldn't be avoided in a good-faith discussion about safety.

Therefor, I don't think we should hesitate to discover and identify what's what when solving the riddle involves identifying a victims behaviors - including faults - if what we're doing is for the purposes of good faith discovery, education, and safety.  This helps me and others avoid being victims, and as such is a good thing.  

Accidents (and quite often they are accidents, many with learnable and then avoidable contributing factors) happen to all sorts of people.  As I believe has been mentioned elsewhere, it is fair game to wonder about CDOT, policies, practices and even personnel when it comes to an understanding risks and safety measures.


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