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Why Cyclists Scare Me

Mike Cash

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This is video from the drive recorder on one of the 10 ton trucks from the company I work for.

Can you count how many seconds it was from the time he was "safely" riding along the left edge of the road until he was thrown into the middle of the intersection and under the bumper of a truck? Can you guess what tiny fraction of a second made the difference between being under the bumper and being crushed into human jelly?

You might think that when it comes to bicycle riders, children and old people would be the ones that scare truck drivers the most. In my experience it has always been the adult serious cycling enthusiast who is the greatest cause for concern.

We don't want to run over you just as much as you don't want to be run over by us. Please ride safely.


(By the way, the truck is not going as fast as it may appear in the video. The wide angle of the lens gives a false impression of speed. My company is notorious among local trucking companies for being slowpokes).
 

thomas

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That was a seriously close call! Where exactly was that? (I'm @work now and cannot check for details)

Any sane cyclist will avoid such roads at all cost. I've had my close encounters of the third kind and developed a healthy respect for trucks. And taxis. And kei cars driven by senior citizens.

Thanks for posting this. Will share it on our sister site later.
 

Mike Cash

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I'm not sure exactly where that was. It isn't any place that I recognized and I didn't think to ask.
 

Mike Cash

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Weird. Wonder what happened. Gravel?
I wonder about that myself.

Gravel? Oil? Caught the edge of a rut? Something broke on the bicycle?

Whatever it was, that was all it took to instantly launch him in precisely the wrong direction.

When I was a small child I had something similar happen to me. I was about four or five years old and was riding around the block, following after my mother. We were riding on the right hand side of the road and I was leaning the bicycle onto the left hand training wheel when suddenly the training wheel fell off the bicycle. Naturally, I instantly fell splat! right onto the street, on my left side. I heard my mother scream one of those screams that can only come from a woman watching her child die in a horrible accident.

There I was, lying on my left side, angry and embarrassed at having fallen off the bicycle. I turned my head to the right, and found that there was a car tire just a couple of inches from my head.....which explained my mother's scream.
 

thomas

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Weird. Wonder what happened. Gravel?
It could be anything from a punk, a blow-out, gravel to a broken spoke. It looked as if he was riding a set of expensive carbon wheels, they are flimsy as hell. Clearly, his rear wheel started to swerve, I suspect stress-induced fatigue.

However, it takes surprisingly little to bring down a cyclist. Two years ago, I slipped on an iron grid on a pavement near Tsukiji Market, lost control of my bike and swerved into the oncoming traffic, hitting a car head-on. Luckily, the shocked but helpful ojisan at the wheel had just prepared to stop his car at the red signal. I had two broken ribs, countless stitches, a permanently injured finger and a bruised ego. Fortunately, my bicycle insurance took care of everything (the damage to his headlights and front fender amounted to 160,000 JPY). Needless to say, I'm much more careful these days.
 
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The camera's resolution is too low to see what might be the cause.

Gravel would not seem to be a factor on that type of road. For going straight on a flat road, it seems too wild for a simple blowout or gravel--and grates don't seem to be involved (again, very low quality video).

I'll guess at a broken cleat or pedal--in the aftermath it seems he'd hurt his testicles, and so came down hard on the saddle.

The second/following cyclist seems to stop pedaling and swerves left at the same time the lead guy loses it, so there must have been something he saw or heard. There's no lag, he knows at the same time as the lead guy that something has happened.

The lead guy goes over his bars, so he may have had time to hit the brakes, initially hoping to save it. Or not. The bike was slowing, and the rider's body was not, so maybe just naturally over the bars.

**

Mike--if the truck had killed the guy and I was a lay jurist, a video like this would be extremely valuable. Tho there could be some over-riding Japanese formula for figuring out liability, from my POV this would not have been the fault of the following driver.

Finally, seeing this, if I were the truck driver, I'd be advocating for better quality drive recorder cameras asap.
 
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Mike Cash

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I agree that the camera quality is crap. It took us forever to get the company to install even the junk we have now. They got these as part of a group buy through the prefectural trucking association or we wouldn't have them.

They gave us 4GB memory cards for them, which don't store a whole hell of a lot of video. The memory problem is made worse by the fact the cameras are so overly sensitive to shock that bumps in the road activate the 30 second permanent recording function, steadily eroding available rolling memory space. For a long time I thought they had an automatic sensor that created a permanent recording when traffic lights turned green. Then I figured out the stupid thing confused the shock of a truck starting moving at a green light with the shock of a collision. (If nothing else that should give you an idea what a good job trucks do beating the brains out of the drivers).

Requests for larger capacity cards were refused due to the cost of the cards. I replaced mine with a 16GB WiFi card so it has plenty of storage and so I can pull video from it with my iPhone.

If the driver had hit the guy at all, he would have been arrested and investigated for professional negligence resulting in injury. What would have come after that is a matter of conjecture.
 

Mike Cash

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They would automatically arrest the driver, no matter what the circumstances?
I would be surprised if they didn't arrest the driver, no matter the circumstances.

A few weeks ago I happened by the scene of a truck/bicycle accident at about half past midnight. It was a four-lane national highway, with a narrow concrete divider down the middle. A 69 year old man was riding his bicycle in the middle of the road and for some reason got off and stood there, whereupon he was hit by a truck and knocked into the opposite side of the road, where he was hit by another truck going in the opposite direction.

When I passed by, the first police car was just pulling up to the scene. The bicycle was smashed up, lying on the northbound side. The old man was smashed up, lying on the southbound side. I would say they were at least 50 meters apart. I saw the man lying there, in front of the truck which had hit him second. He had been hit and tossed, not run over, which suggests to me that there probably was little or nothing the second driver could have done to avoid hitting the man as he came flying sideways right in front of him.

Both drivers were arrested.

突然道に男性…トラックにはねられ死亡 対向トラックもはねる/鴻巣 (埼玉新聞) - Yahoo!ニュース
 
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Wow. I think they should have arrested the bike rider's corpse, for obstructing traffic.

Seriously, what was the guy doing riding his bike in such a dangerous location? Wasn't that against the law? Bicyclists are forbidden on most divided highways here.
 

Mike Cash

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Wow. I think they should have arrested the bike rider's corpse, for obstructing traffic.

Seriously, what was the guy doing riding his bike in such a dangerous location? Wasn't that against the law? Bicyclists are forbidden on most divided highways here.
Certainly, it was against the law. He should have been hugging the curb, legally speaking. As a matter of self-preservation, he should have been on the ample sidewalk and not in the roadway at all.

It doesn't really make any difference, though, when it comes to deciding to arrest the drivers.
 
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Bikers are entitled to use the non-divided roads here, but it always gripes me to have to pass one narrowly because they can't be bothered to use the bicycle lane or path the taxpayers have provided for them.
 

Petaris

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Certainly, it was against the law. He should have been hugging the curb, legally speaking. As a matter of self-preservation, he should have been on the ample sidewalk and not in the roadway at all.

It doesn't really make any difference, though, when it comes to deciding to arrest the drivers.
Are the drivers just arrested as part of SOP? Would they really be held responsible even if it is determined that they were not the cause of the accident?
 

Mike Cash

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Are the drivers just arrested as part of SOP? Would they really be held responsible even if it is determined that they were not the cause of the accident?
Arrests don't always lead to prosecutions. It also sometimes happens that the arrest will come some time subsequent to the accident.
 
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Are at-fault drivers routinely arrested there in Japan? Here, unless the driver is drunk or there are other aggravating circumstances, the driver usually just gets a ticket. Or maybe the officer can't decide who's likely at fault, so no one gets a ticket.
 

Mike Cash

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Are at-fault drivers routinely arrested there in Japan? Here, unless the driver is drunk or there are other aggravating circumstances, the driver usually just gets a ticket. Or maybe the officer can't decide who's likely at fault, so no one gets a ticket.
Arrest is only a possibility if there was an infraction that carries with it potential sanctions under criminal law (imprisonment). That would include not only fatal accidents but also accidents resulting in injury.

It should be noted that the law regarding "professional negligence resulting in injury/death" is not limited to professional drivers; it applies to all motorists.
 

Mike Cash

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How can a lay-person be professionally negligent? "Lay" and "professional" are contradictory terms.

Thanks for the answers, Mike.
I think it is a strange situation where there is no real good translation for the Japanese term and everybody settled on "professional".

It is negligence while carrying out activities which require special skills and licensure. And as bizarre as that may sound if one is used to licensing in America, where they hand them out like Halloween candy, Japanese officialdom is famously uptight about and takes it very seriously.

That a license is required is itself the rationale that the activity isn't being done by a layperson. In Japan, if you are operating a motor vehicle it doesn't matter if you are being paid to do so or not. It may help to illustrate the point if you consider that unlike in the U.S., in Japan there is no such thing as a CDL (Commercial Drivers License).
 
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You're right, they do hand out licenses too easily here in the US. So we see a lot of incompetent drivers on the road. Public transportation is so poor here that almost everyone seems to have a God-given right to drive. Public transportation is poor because everyone drives; everyone drives because public trans is poor.

Commercial drivers (CDL holders) are held to a higher, professional standard of care.
 
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