« Back to Archive

Another cyclist killed

Bicyclist killed in crash with tractor-trailer in Upper Burrell By Jodi Weigand Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015, 12:18 p.m. A bicyclist died Thursday when he was struck by a tractor-trailer on Route 780 in Upper Burrell. Township police Chief Ken Pate said the cyclist — a man believed to be in his 50s — was heading west toward New Kensington on Route 780 between Penn State New Kensington and the Upper Burrell township building just before noon. The man was riding on the shoulder but may have moved slightly into the road as the truck was passing and was struck by the truck's rear axle. The cyclist died at the scene. He is not believed to be a Penn State student. Route 780 is expected to be closed for at least four hours while police reconstruct the crash and the Westmoreland County Coroner's office responds. Traffic approaching the accident scene from New Kensington can access the PSNK campus. However, traffic approaching from the other direction will need to detour. One option is to turn left onto Menk Road, then right onto Myers Drive, which intersects Route 780 at Penn State. Read more: Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook
2015-11-05 14:19:53
Does anyone know if the Chewman is ok? I am nervous reading this description. Either way, this is horrible.
2015-11-05 15:58:04
A local man. More info: This fries my ass: "It looks like he did what he was required to do in yielding to a bicyclist. He could only go so far due to traffic in the eastbound lane," Pate said. "Right now, it looks like just an accident. With the way things happened, it was the perfect storm, unfortunately." Translation: the driver illegally passed without a four foot gap, and killed the cyclist. But will not be charged, because the police do not know the law, or do not care to enforce it.
2015-11-05 16:09:03
This is awful. I grew up very close to this road and was scared to drive on it as a teenager because of how fast many of the drivers were going, including the trucks. This area is close to the Alcoa tech center, where some of the employees would often be riding or running for their lunch breaks.
2015-11-05 16:11:03
> "The man was riding on the shoulder but may have moved slightly into the road as the truck was passing and was struck by the truck's rear axle." The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the pedalcycle within not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed. The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the pedalcycle within not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed. The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the pedalcycle within not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed. now can we have some f&*%$ing enforcement?
2015-11-05 16:15:18
Stef it says the cyclist's long-time girlfriend's name is Linda Landi. probably not Danny EDIT: Mark Stephen Popovich, 56, of New Kensington.
2015-11-05 16:18:06
Yes. The victim is a very good friend of my family and not Danny. I joined specifically due to this incident, though I ride in the city for commuting and pleasure often. The passing law is clear, 4 feet.
2015-11-05 16:25:07
Please keep the details to yourself if necessary for legal purposes but if there is anything we can do to help you see justice I am sure people here will be eager to help.
2015-11-05 16:26:33
Thank you. Obviously everyone is still somewhat shaken. The community lost a great guy today.
2015-11-05 16:30:58
very sorry for your/our loss, @Stanwix.
2015-11-05 16:35:20
Deeply troubled that the officers in this situation are not concerned about the 4 foot law. What's the use in having it if it is not enforced? Very sorry for your loss @stanwix
2015-11-05 16:37:13
I am so sorry, @stanwix -- and truly outraged too.
2015-11-05 18:39:35
My deepest sympathy to the cyclist's friends & family. I can't believe how poorly the police misunderstand the bicycle laws, especially the four foot rule. It's exactly because a cyclist might need to alter their line due to debris or gravel that motor vehicles should give a minimum of four feet. This crash was not a perfect storm, it was very preventable.
2015-11-05 19:03:23
So sad. Am I insane or aren't drivers supposed to not pass if they can't give four feet? Or if they can't see around a turn or the crest of a hill?
2015-11-05 19:09:45
"Am I insane or aren’t drivers supposed to not pass if they can’t give four feet? Or if they can’t see around a turn or the crest of a hill?" That would require using that logic stuff while driving.
2015-11-05 19:21:47
Does that WTAE story about Mark S. Popovich's death have comments? When I clicked the Comments link, nothing happened. I found the facebook page of the reporter, Ashlie Hardway, and left a comment about the four foot law there.
2015-11-05 19:30:44
My deepest condolences to the cyclist’s friends & family.
2015-11-05 20:45:55
I'm not reading the comments on those new sites. I don't feel like dealing with that crap especially when it is dealing with the loss of life way to early. I went to Penn Ken for my freshman year out of high school. I drove 780 like a little asshole at 75MPH to school. I was a little prick with my mom's cavalier and didn't think about consequences. That short year that I went there I knew two kids who wrecked on that road due to obsessive speed. One girl rolling her car several times and taking her out of classes for a while.
2015-11-05 20:47:25
So the police chief said that there was only so far he could go to pass because of traffic in the other lane and therefore this was an accident. This reasoning is maddening. With this kind of logic, drivers do not need to slow down or move over when passing a police officer, or any other vehicle for that matter, that is pulled over as long as there's traffic in the other lane. I bet he wouldn't have used this logic if the semi had run into a police officer making a traffic stop. The lack of any charges makes no sense.
2015-11-05 21:32:58
This is more reason why I say we need for everyone to take a written test every four years, to quiz them on changes to traffic law. If they actually had to answer correctly some pertinent questions about how to pass a bicycle, for instance, and then sign their name to it -- or else not have a license to drive -- then after a few years we would have a lot more knowledgeable people driving cars. And also making public statements about interpreting traffic law. This whole thing -- the trucker, the police chief, the reporter -- all strikes me as a "perfect storm" of ignorance bordering on incompetence.
2015-11-05 23:18:46
@ stu "... bordering on incompetence." I disagree.
2015-11-06 02:52:49
I blame Chief Kenneth Pate more than anyone else. I'm not surprised that the truck driver broke the law; the traffic laws are routinely broken. But when a broken law leads to a death or injury, the police are supposed to charge the guilty party. Doing so leads to closure for the victims, establishes civil liability, and helps make people aware of what the law is. If the police ignore the law, or are ignorant of it, they are failing the public.
2015-11-06 09:29:56
The trib article has been updated stating the truck driver swerved toward the bicyclist in avoidance of oncoming traffic. This may have caused the bicyclist to lose control in avoidance of the vehicle. Is the law clear in this situation?
2015-11-06 15:49:50
@Stanwix, here's the complete text of PA Title 75, § 3303 (a) 3: The driver of a motor vehicle overtaking a pedalcycle proceeding in the same direction shall pass to the left of the pedalcycle within not less than four feet at a careful and prudent reduced speed. The law doesn't make any exception for why the motorist might be within the four foot limit. It simply says that motorists must leave a four foot gap when passing.
2015-11-06 15:55:51
Aside: The list of 'recent articles' on that AKV News page--10 out of 30 headlines, not including the other ones about this incident, refer to some car crash or another. A full third of them. .../sigh
2015-11-09 18:28:01
Look at that road in that picture. So a semi truck passed a cyclist with oncoming traffic on that road and he passed with 4' or more? How? Maybe a tiny sports car could get by at 4', but a semi truck? Really? Lets face it, what probably happened was the semi buzzed this cyclist and killed him. That is my thoughts on it. I have been buzzed by semis plenty and it just seems almost what they do. He killed him and will get away with it. Makes me sick!
2015-11-10 00:01:18
The funeral service for Mark was this morning, and the services over the past few days were very well attended by family and friends as well as by the group he rode with annually on the MS150 Escape to the Lake. This was a real tragedy and in the opinion of many was preventable. Still no word on the investigation, unfortunately. Anyone have ideas on a good way to make a tribute? I was thinking of a ghost bike as a temporary memorial, the family doesn't want anything very permenant. Does anyone have any thoughts on how to make this happen?
2015-11-11 13:52:39
@stanwix, Nick at Fiks Reflective/Banker Supply provided the bike for Susan Hicks's memorial, as well as several others around town. (Not sure where he gets them, tbh.) If there's a shop near you (I think Dirty Harry's is in Verona?), or a particular shop Mark used regularly, they'd probably be willing to arrange something, as well.
2015-11-11 14:35:06
My condolences and prayers for the victim and his family. I do have bicycle that I would be willing to donate for a memorial, if interested. If it is desired that I paint it white, I can do that also.
2015-11-15 17:54:49
@Stanwix, I've participated in just a few ghost bike operations. You've identified the key question: what does the family want? Maybe they don't want to see a daily reminder of the tragedy. Maybe UncleBill passes that spot every day and it would kill him to see it. OTOH, maybe they want to remind people that a cyclist was killed there and they should pay attention. If they only want it for a few months, that's great. Just my opinion but we should never do anything the family doesn't want. If you put up a GhostBike, you could just put it out. Or, have a cluster of family & friends and a few words. Or, have a GhostBike ride with family & friends at the bike. We've usually asked a local bike shop, either near the scene or one the cyclist shopped at, to provide the bike. It grounds the event in the local community. We usually coordinate with the local authorities, but not ask permission. Sort of ala-CriticalMass, we don't want any permits or process and we don't want them to think they can say No to the ride. I do communicate a bit in advance with the local police, each area that we ride through. The tone is: we're not asking for an escort, we're just informing and communicating because we sure don't want to offend anybody. There is a process to tell PennDot you're placing a roadside memorial. I've done it once and never repeated it. I think they'd rather not have to approve of it, and they'd rather not remove it. Their guidance was: a bike is fine, a monument isn't. If it's anything other than a bike, it's an obstruction in the roadway and that's a safety issue. So ixnay on signs, plantings, etc but a bike is good. You lock the bike to something sturdy. Often, people will remove components and slash the wheels to make them un-theft-worthy. You're welcome to give me a call at 724.494.9343 if you'd like to chat.
2015-11-15 19:14:21