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Cyclists struck by vehicle on Penn 5/3/16

2016-05-04 06:51:51
2016-05-04 07:27:12
I hope I'm wrong, but the bike and helmet look like a friend of ours from group rides. I hope she's ok.
2016-05-04 08:01:35
You're probably not wrong. I slightly know this person and they're in the ICU. In the most tragic irony, this person is interested in civil engineering and the creation of green infrastructure like bike lanes
2016-05-04 10:58:51
Given the helmet photo, that narrows it down pretty quickly. Who is person #2, I wonder? I guess we'll find out soon enough. 20 and 22? That supports my hunch. I will not speculate on a post.
2016-05-04 12:07:49
Another friend has been in touch with the hospital to ask about visiting, but the hospital doesn't seem to have been in contact with the family(ies) yet. --- Related 1: "We're not traffic engineers, but we are neighbors, with Penn Ave as our shared space. We can't diagnose the problem, but we can gather data that documents [it]." Bloomfield Livable Streets to conduct a survey of traffic conditions Friday evening (during the Gallery Crawl), Related 2: The annual International Ride of Silence "in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways" is two weeks from tonight:
2016-05-04 12:09:41
From WPXI coverage: "Police said the bicyclists, both women, were riding on Penn Avenue shortly before midnight when the accident happened. They are believed to have been trying to pass a parked vehicle when the SUV hit them." So I sent them this via email ( Dear WPXI, I cannot be the first person in the world to advise you to stop using the word "accident" when a car collides with something, be it another car, a cyclist, a building, whatever. A boulder rolls off a hill onto a passing car, that's an accident; nothing could be done to prevent it. Cars colliding with other things or people, usually could have been avoided, by one party or the other, but regardless of whose fault it is, there is likely fault to establish. That makes it not an accident. So stop calling them accidents. Call them crashes or collisions or even incidents, but not accidents. Thank you. Sincerely, Stuart Strickland
2016-05-04 14:07:42
Stu, I'd include the AP style guide that goes along with that idea too, if you know what I'm talking about.
2016-05-04 14:18:15
From my resident physician friend who's in the FreeRide group of people that knows this person: Critical, stable condition. Other person hit is a family member, who is okay. He advised we lay back and give the person time to recover and the family time to process this. I also heard the guy who hit them was on his phone and didn't realize he had hit them until he slammed into the parked car.
2016-05-04 14:40:11
So if my hunch is correct and the 22yo family member is who I think it is: Continuing the irony, that would be her sister, who just graduated from Pitt Bradford last weekend with a BS in Nursing, and also a veteran of our Flock rides.
2016-05-04 14:47:50
I also heard the guy who hit them was on his phone and didn’t realize he had hit them until he slammed into the parked car. God
2016-05-04 14:48:29
Thank you Pierce for the info - much appreciated!!!!! I was so worried about both ladies who I know. I can breath again - and will continue sending good vibes their way!
2016-05-04 15:02:26
So here we are again in this area of uncertainty where some people are in the know about the identity of these victims, and others are not. Their identity has been pretty well deduced from photos from the scene, and Facebook posts have identified the injured woman, and presumed that the less injured victim would be her sister. That appears to be confirmed by Pierce's comment above. The question is, at what point can or should that information be shared here? And who should post that information? Do we wait until the media releases the names? Do we wait until a family member or close personal friend posts the information? I waffle between wanting news, and feeling voyeuristic in these matters. Are others equally conflicted?
2016-05-04 15:25:26
I am less concerned about it this time, because we haven't heard from a family member who would rather the victims not be identified. But, in general, I would suggest laying off posting any kind of identifying information here until the victims are publicly identified in a news story. Because this is a completely public forum, and who knows who is reading it. Sharing information via Facebook or email is different, because there you can control who sees it. There are lots of ways to express your support for people who are injured other than posting messages here.
2016-05-04 15:29:37
Outside of what I've said here, the only person I've told is a mutual friend in a PM.
2016-05-04 15:49:25
I tend to agree with Jonawebb on this one. No identification here until the family or the media makes the information public. But, that's just my level of comfort.
2016-05-04 16:14:26
Yes, Sarah, I'm conflicted also.
2016-05-04 18:25:00
Today's P-G has a short article on the incident, page B-2. (I subscribe to the digital edition of the paper.) Both the headline and text use the word "accident" and the text also uses that wording we had from the TV coverage that "the cyclists were attempting to pass a parked vehicle", which leads me to believe that that was what was written in the police report.
2016-05-05 06:54:06
The location was across the street from the Glass Center. Penn Ave narrows from two lanes inbound to one lane about one block prior.
2016-05-05 07:56:36
I checked the crash site out yesterday because the reporting in the media had me confused. I observed police pavement markings starting at the second parking spot. So the road narrows from two lanes to one, move forward one car length, impact. I won't try to decipher what all the markings mean, but that's where they start, about fifteen feet from where the road narrows. So it appears that the cyclists were not 'trying to pass a parked car' as reported, but they were merely staying in the travel lane just like everyone would/should regardless of what type of vehicle they happen to be using. -------------------- One other thing I'd like to add to this discussion: there is a Heathy-ride bike station about 25 yards up the street from the crash site. I know the ladies involved in this crash are experienced urban cyclists and were lit up with bright lights, blinkies, and the knowledge of how to ride safely. But the likelihood of having less experienced cyclists in this same F'ed-up street is very high. We need to have Penn Ave. (and ALL streets) made safe.
2016-05-05 08:25:11
Wishing the injured riders a quick and thorough recovery. I was wondering if they were running blinkies/lights. On his damn phone.
2016-05-05 11:52:03
They both were on an evening ride with us, I think either the September or October Flock ride, on I think these same two bikes. I rolled video, so could verify that they were well lit back then. The TV coverage on one of the earlier links shows a blinky running, at least it doesn't have the blink pattern of a nearby emergency vehicle. I would sure like to see a state law created, if one does not already exist, of automatic license suspension after conviction, for causing death or injury resulting from a crash while texting.
2016-05-05 12:23:09
@ stu I would sure like to see a state law created, if one does not already exist, of automatic license suspension after conviction, for causing death or injury resulting from a crash while texting. I've been doing a lot of thinking about this. People who are closer to car culture than I insist that driving is an "absolute necessity" for a lot of people. Hard to argue past that. BUT Every has a friend or relative that has died or been disabled in a car crash. Wouldn't it be better if everyone could have a connection to someone whose life had been profoundly changed by a long term or permanent license suspension? Maybe half a dozen life suspensions instead of a death? Driving habits would change. There are a lot of people who should not be allowed to drive. Most of them aren't criminal. But they are a hazard behind the wheel. There should be civil relief for this. Remove licenses without criminal charges. IMO, the person that did this should never drive again.
2016-05-05 12:31:21
My first thoughts are for the well being of the victims, I hope they are able to recover from the injuries sustained in the crash. Secondly, for everyone who cycles on the street, please be careful. You never know what is going on inside that 2 ton machine hurtling towards you.
2016-05-05 12:44:09
You can't "be careful". I posted on a different thread, postulating that this driver may just as easily have hit a stalled car at that spot with its four-ways on. If you're driving: * Put down the fucking phone and drive. * Drive the speed limit. * Be courteous to other users of the same street, regardless of means of motion or what direction they're going. * Know what traffic laws actually say and mean. If you're biking: * Do the right thing (which means: Lit at night, ride with traffic, stop at lights, be visible and predictable) * Take the lane; get out of the door zone. I am damn sick and tired of people getting hurt or killed *while doing everything right*. And I am almost as sick and tired of others saying cyclists who are doing everything right need to "be careful". AFAICT these two women were doing everything right. Recall that a motorcycle cop got clobbered on Penn by a stupid motorist after trying to enforce speed limits after James Price was killed. End rant, for now.
2016-05-05 13:14:57
I hope these ladies make the fullest possible recovery. Phones are a bigger threat than drunks, because their use while operating a vehicle has become ostensibly acceptable. Automobile manufacturers are also guilty of tacitly encouraging a distracting environment inside the cabin. People don't want to drive, they want to be distracted, and it's dangerous. The culture may be sufficiently advanced that the only real cure is widespread automation, which is still some years away. I'm positive that everyone on two wheels recognises the concentration premium using the road requires, and the responsibility involved in controlling a lethal weapon.
2016-05-05 14:22:55
I just want to make sure of one thing: how sure are we that the driver was on the phone? I know it's been said here, but did someone see him using it? Or did he tell someone he was using it later? Or did someone assume he was on the phone and then at some point it became assumed fact?
2016-05-05 14:36:01
@Stu, My comment was not meant to implicate the victims in any way. The words, however hollow they might sound are more an expression of sympathy. Everyone deals with these horrible episodes and the emotions they create in different ways. Sometimes we are forced to fall back on social convention, and make silly comments like "be careful out there". Others handle their emotions by jumping up and down and yelling at people who are trying to be supportive. To me, this crash indicates that you can never be too careful. Your opinion of doing everything right might be different from someone else's, just as my definition of being careful may also be different. Being careful while cycling on the street, to me, means more than "If you’re biking: * Do the right thing (which means: Lit at night, ride with traffic, stop at lights, be visible and predictable) * Take the lane; get out of the door zone." There are cyclists who are not comfortable taking the lane. In that case being careful would entail pushing along the sidewalk, or taking a less travelled route where they can be comfortable taking the lane. Or if it is Saturday night and you just bounced out of OTB, put your bike on the rack and let the bus driver get you home. Following all of the best safety practices are still no defense against a distracted driver. Maybe I should change my comment to : When you are cycling on they street, be extra careful. Ride with your head on a swivel, and act like your life is in danger, because it is.
2016-05-05 15:18:04
I see two red blinkies still blinking, after the crash. They're pretty mangled, but it appears that we're looking at the rear end of both bikes in this still from the WTAE video. You can see both blinking in the video. I've indicated them with green arrows.
2016-05-05 17:39:32
there was a FB comment by a woman who saw them like a block or two before the crash, she said they both had bright lights running.
2016-05-05 19:08:08
there's a ghost bike in oakland that indicates what can happen if you are on a bike and following the law, in the lane, stopped at a red light.
2016-05-05 23:41:32
Rather than asking experienced cyclists to be careful, I'd be more interested in changing the infrastructure, driving culture and laws to ensure that it's harder for drivers to engage in reckless behavior. I have an 80 lumen tail light. I shouldn't have to. The safety stuff after people get hits seems too close to the "well what were you wearing?" comments after people get assaulted. People should be able to be in the street without getting mowed down. Jona, the cell phone comment was from a firsthand eyewitness, reported second-hand to me. I figured the "passing parked car" thing was stupid, because from where the crash happened, they're passing a row of parked cars, which is what the lane turns into there. If anybody wants to send well wishes, there's a piece of paper at FreeRide that Lucia is adding to a get-well scroll thing. We'll be open 1-5pm on Saturday.
2016-05-05 23:49:50
Focus on the driver and for now, leave the cell phone aspect out of it. What was he doing in a car? Further assume he was awake and sober, too. But why was he driving? Whatever he was doing, why was it necessary to employ the use of an automobile to accomplish that? Was there not a transit option? Was there, and he chose to drive anyway? Why couldn't he use a bicycle? And why a car? Does he not know how to drive a motorcycle? Again, folks: Why a car? Change out any one of the suggestions/questions above for the car, and this incident would not have happened. The single most fundamental problem we all face is using cars at all as "Plan A" for routine transportation.
2016-05-06 04:53:13
I was hit in front of Children hospital driveway on 44th stopped at the red light. Doing the right thing. I was also hit in the bike lane on penn ave at the 6th street parking garage exit. It was night, I had a strobe set on my 850 lumen front light, the driver stopped right before the green bike lane paint, I assumed he was yielding to me, and then proceeded forward as I was directly in front of him. Didn't even see me. Again, thought I was doing the right thing. Luckily, in neither case was I hurt or my bike damaged (Thanks surly for building the karate monkey like a tank), but It goes to show that doing the right thing isn't' always enough. I'm a bit more cautious after those incidents. I just have much less trust that others around me are going to hold up their end of doing the right thing.
2016-05-06 09:09:27
Unfortunately, the bikes-only lane on 6th st. misleads people into thinking that the right way to ride there is in the bike lane. The right way is to ride in the lane for all vehicles to the left of the bollards. It's too dangerous to ride that far to the right on 6th not to mention the conflict it creates at the intersection of 6th and Penn when you want to straight in the 6st st. bike lane and a car to your left is trying to turn right. Straight traffic should not be put to the right of right turning traffic that is horrible engineering and they would never do that with general traffic lanes. Same thing coming off the Clemente bridge and over Fort Duquesne Blvd. It's just too dangerous to enter that intersection from the bike lane.
2016-05-06 11:15:57
A few days ago a relative of mine had, apparently, an epileptic seizure while driving. No one was hurt, but he drove off the road, through a fence, down a hill, and into a pond. They had to pry his hands off the steering wheel. What is relevant about this is the legal response. He's banned from driving for 3 months (PA) or 6 months (in his home state). No court hearing; the police officer made the determination. He'll just have to figure out how to get to work without driving, until he's clear of seizures. It seems to me that this is exactly what should happen in a case like the crash on Penn. If a driver kills or seriously injures a pedestrian or cyclist, and the officer determines that the crash was due to inattentive driving, the motorist should lose their driving privileges for a legally mandated time. If we can do this for a medical condition we should be able to do it generally.
2016-05-06 11:44:18
Jon, if I may - why involve the officer's judgement? If a driver strikes a ped/cyclist, driving privileges are suspended until your doctor or the DMV decides you're good to resume driving. That could be a doctor's letter to the DMV in the case of a medical event, or a web-based retest or a practical exam from DMV as they see fit. It's a blanket, default suspension. (also, I hope your relative is doing ok, and doesn't watch The Andromeda Strain)
2016-05-06 12:07:39
@v, I'm good with that.
2016-05-06 12:14:31
It wouldn't be difficult to extend that to someone who drives into a building, and just as justifiable.
2016-05-06 12:29:41
Although, unfortunately, it only takes one crash to seriously injure or kill someone. Taking away driving privileges after the fact isn't going to be a solution (although it certainly wouldn't hurt). Would the threat of losing your license temporarily if you crashed your car be enough to change behaviors? I don't think so. It doesn't stop an awful lot of people from drunk driving. The problem is, people never think it will happen to them. The solution is infrastructure. Uber stops people from drunk driving. Bike infrastructure stops being from being killed by those 2 ton machines. Some sort of technology in cars to block cell use would help stop distracted driving.
2016-05-06 18:20:01
As a personal observation, most of the sketchy driver behavior I encounter involves a driver on a phone. I see it every day. Using a phone while driving is a secondary(?) offence in PA, meaning you won't be charged unless you're involved in something more serious (say, killing a cyclist) and the prosecutor remembers to have someone on staff retrieve the relevant phone record. How is Driving While Phoning (DWP) different from DUI? Beats me. But I read (on the interweb!) that it's equivalent to 1-2 drinks.
2016-05-06 19:56:23
In our culture, injuring or killing someone while operating a motor vehicle is not viewed as a serious offense worthy of any form of real punishment. Unless the operator is impaired (by drugs or alcohol) or distracted (by use of a phone, an offense that is rarely prosecuted), it is rare for a driver to receive so much as a citation for a moving violation for a crash. Even' serious' penalties for drivers who are impaired or distracted come only after a death or grave injury occurs. Think of how often a driver involved in a fatal crash while driving impaired has multiple incidents of prior DUI/DWIs. Our society needs to acknowledge that operating a 2 ton machine capable of killing is an activity requiring skill and attention. I am afraid that horse left the barn long ago. Sadly, 30,000+ deaths per year seem to be an acceptable price.
2016-05-07 08:10:07
People are making a get-well thing, and part of it will be at FreeRide tonight at their volunteer night. It starts at 6:30, not sure when the piece is being picked up.
2016-05-09 08:12:36
Hey all, I'm coordinating the get well Scroll/card and Buffalo will be over to pick it up later. I will likely still have it in Southside/Polish Hill for another day or so and will give it to Scott when done. PM me if you can't make it to FR tonight and I'll see if we can arrange a time for you to sign it.
2016-05-09 09:00:44
Has anyone heard about possible charges being filed against this driver? If the cyclists were following the rules (and it's quite clear from eyewitness accounts that they were), I can't imagine that this driver wouldn't be cited.
2016-05-13 08:32:20
"If the cyclists were following the rules (and it’s quite clear from eyewitness accounts that they were), I can’t imagine that this driver wouldn’t be cited." I can very easily imagine it. If he was not DUI and not obviously reckless -- and didn't tell the officer he was doing anything illegal -- he will get a traffic ticket at worst. The basic rule is, if you kill or seriously injure someone -- whether another driver, a pedestrian, or cyclist -- you won't be charged criminally so long as you are not DUI or obviously reckless, and don't flee. That's the way the law works in these here United States. There are civil liabilities, of course. But they might be null (as they were in the case of the kid dragged down the street under a SUV in Point Breeze) if the driver doesn't own anything.
2016-05-13 08:45:43
Additionally, if I recall Dan Y's case correctly, they may not file anything until the victim is out of the hospital.
2016-05-13 08:50:07
It's possible, also, that the police report is not accurate. The less injured sister denies the accuracy of the police report. Specifically, she said "except its bullshit how the police are 'speculating' that we were trying to pass a parked car when it happened. there was no logical way that could have happened, considering the driver hit the parked car in the back, right after he hit us". Can't get any more damning eyewitness evidence than that.
2016-05-13 11:01:25
The idea that you can crush two people with your car and not face so much as revocation of your driving privileges for negligence is enraging. Thank you for the responses, and I'll keep an eye on this thread for further news.
2016-05-13 11:27:52
the lack of urgency (which may only be my perception) seems to be a barrier to effectively working the case. In a case in an adjacent county where a cyclist was hit and killed, in the time between the event and the charges, an eye-witness fell into addiction and then went into recovery - significantly affecting their credibility. These time delays are driven by budget (which means, politics) and they're not neutral - things deteriorate during the latency.
2016-05-13 15:32:39
UGH. I know people who know this guy and the idea is fine and good but yeah, wholly inappropriate context, especially when my one friend who lives on the street said she noticed them riding past earlier...with their substantially bright/blinking rear lights. It's the first thing I noticed about the bikes before recognizing the helmet. I think it could be that the news station contacted this guy to do an interview, so I'd give them more of your ire. But I commented on it too.
2016-05-18 15:18:36
The additional posts: Mike: Increasing visibility never hurts, I am a avid cyclist and I know that increasing my visibility is the only thing I can do to help prevent other people from hitting me. You cannot control what other drivers do unfortunately. Should a vehicle ever hit a cyclist? Absolutely not, but as a cyclist being more safe is never a bad thing, also just using a "blinky" is a joke. If we want to be on the road (which I do) we should be thinking a little harder about how drivers see us and how we interact with them. Its always a two way street. Turn 2 Safety: Again I beg to differ. My intent is to help by innovating bicycle lighting as we know it. What I am offering them has never existed before therefore there's no insinuation of fault that can be gleaned. And if anyone is at fault it's me for not having gotten this project done earlier. Can I count on your help? My comment: "I think the issue here, is that the context of this news piece was in poor taste. Of course more visibility can help. And perhaps you don't know some of the details, but I note that since a friend saw these women riding past her house on that same stretch not 20 minutes earlier, noting in particular the brightness of their lights, and that it was stated that the driver was likely on their phone and didn't notice they had hit them until he ran INTO A PARKED CAR - that lack of being visible was likely not the issue in this particular case. I think it's important to be visible and predictable and I'm sure your product will be very helpful to that end and I'm glad you are making it. But using this particular incident to market a product (and perhaps the news team contacted you about doing the story so I'm sure you are just excited to talk about your product and not outwardly doing this) is really just in poor taste when the visibility was likely not the issue and we have a difficult time getting drivers to be held responsible for their negligent actions. The problem is that very often, these cyclists are doing everything right and STILL get nailed by cars. Mike, we can control what drivers do, it's called traffic law enforcement and traffic calming/bike infrastructure. Very little willpower to do the former, still a long way to go on the latter. I'm not here to minimize what you are doing and greatly appreciate the work you are doing...the juxtaposition of this felt really just not right." I also wanted to add: Perhaps we should start giving the parked cars lights too? :P But figured that was too snarky in the spirit of understanding and being on the same team and genuinely trying to help. I think they are just really excited about the product and it was unfortunately coming across as if these sisters had more that they could have done to prevent this from happening to them... The thing is, even if they had that light...I think THIS driver STILL would not have seen them because he wasn't LOOKING for them...or that parked car. As Mike said, it's a two way street, but what about the driver's culpability?
2016-05-18 15:31:43
I'm sure increased visibility is important (especially in poorer lighting), but if someone isn't watching the road, all the lighting in the world isn't going to prevent them from hitting you.
2016-05-18 17:45:31
I have a 360 lumen headlight and a 80 lumen taillight for $92. Hard to imagine this guy is going to create something brighter for less cost. In this video, he's also fiddling with his phone while riding and cuts off a pedestrian at a crosswalk. "This person was hit by somebody playing with their phone. Let me make a safety device that involves fiddling with my phone." A bit ironic.
2016-05-18 21:09:50
You know, I didn't hear that bit at the end where they said they'd donate the lights to "those two girls"... Ugh yeah Red, that is very insulting. Fine to run a piece like this, but using THIS particular incident (NOT accident) to market this initiative is fighting the wrong problem at the wrong time. (I think it could be a fine product, but it's bull-headed to think this is the end-all-be-all of cyclist safety for all situations, particularly the ones that have happened of late.) If the driver was looking at his phone at the time, he wouldn't have seen them anyway, as Sully mentioned. If the driver was driving faster for conditions or the speed limit, then even if he had been paying attention to the road and didn't see them, he could have stopped in time or possibly not done as much damage. If the sisters were not there at that point in time, then I believe he would have STILL run into that parked car. I just see not a bit of thought in this news report to the idea that the driver might not have been using his car responsibly and that is why this is so irritating. It's not and should not be completely up to the cyclist to watch for their own safety...two way street right? Come back to me and say that when the car driver or police claim any responsibility on the side of the driver (aside from a DUI situation, which is the only case they seem to merit any blame).
2016-05-19 10:11:30
@buffbuff: replace "security" with "safety" in this:
2016-05-20 12:49:52
Regarding Steven Fisher's report on vimeo about Turn2Safety, I wrote this comment: This video suggests that the two women on bicycles that were struck by a car needed better lights and had done something wrong that contributed to the crash. This is victim-blaming, it is not supported by the evidence, and it’s irresponsible reporting by WPXI. The evidence suggests that the driver was breaking the law by using his smartphone and “didn’t realize he had hit them until he slammed into the parked car”. For a driver that inattentive, the solution isn’t more flashing lights on the cyclists (these women already had bright flashing lights - see the WTAE video) but better enforcement, such as loss of license for inattentive driving. Pedestrians also get struck and killed by cars frequently. The fix for that is not pedestrian helmets with flashing lights. The solution to cyclists and pedestrians being crushed by cars is better enforcement of speed laws using speeding cameras and red light cameras, and better enforcement of inattentive driving laws and drunk driving laws. Turn2safety could be a good product that’s helpful for some cyclists, but don’t use this incident to demonstrate it, or you’re engaging in victim-blaming.
2016-05-21 04:34:52
Good news! Ang is out of the hospital! (via Facebook)
2016-06-18 08:51:15