Scoot Commute

Bike accident on my daily commute route

Posted in Buddy St. Tropez (Franz Biberkopf), Daily Commute by sbahn on 2010/06/14

I heard on the news over the weekend that there was a bad accident between a bike and a car on Smith Street near Elmhurst Avenue. I didn’t even have to see any pictures to know exactly what happened.Smith Street Accident

Today I got to read the article in the ProJo. It was exactly how I pictured it. And it’s infuriating.

A car travelling west on Smith Street stopped dead on a roadway at a spot where westbound traffic often make a left onto a shortcut street (Whitford Avenue) to wave an oncoming car (eastbound car) on to make a left across his lane to turn onto Elmhurst Avenue. The car would not have had its blinker on indicating it wanted to make a left onto Whitford, but this is Rhode Island and the usage of blinkers is random and very low.

The bike, also travelling west, made the (false) assumption that the westbound car was making the left onto Whitford and pulled over to the right to pass. As the bike was making its pass, the eastbound car made its left and the two vehicles collided. The driver of the bike was hospitalized with critical injuries; his passenger with serious injuries.

While the article states that the bike was going 60-70 miles per hour (I really find that hard to believe as I ride that stretch of street every day and there’s so much traffic, it’d be hard to get that speed), even if the bike was speeding, the westbound car SHOULD NOT HAVE STOPPED.

There are right-of-way rules. If one wants to make a left turn, then one waits until the turn across oncoming traffic is safe. The Rhode Island habit of stopping dead without checking the rearview mirror to allow a car to impede the right-of-way is dangerous. It has to stop. The rules of road have been written over the last 100+ years of automotive transportation and they’re pretty damn good. If people just knew what said rules are, everyone would be safer.

When I turned onto Smith Street this morning at Whitford Ave, I looked over into the westbound lane and there was a huge splotch where the liquids drained from the bike. I just shook my head and then the car in front of me stopped short to let someone make a left even though there was no one behind me. The car making the left would have had to wait less than two seconds for both the car in front of me and me to clear the way for him to turn. But the idiot driving the car in front of me thought it was better to stop short and cause me to grab some brake so that she could determine when the guy made his left. It’s INFURIATING.

I know it won’t happen, but the guy who stopped to let the other guy make the left should be cited. If he had to pay a fine for driving like an idiot, he’d bitch and moan to 10 of his friends and that’d be a few more people who would stop the practice. RIGL 31-21-1 states that: “no person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle, whether attended or unattended, upon the paved or main traveled part of the highway”. So there you go. Cite the idiot that stopped so that he could get his wave of thanks.

Sadly, because the bike was probably going over the posted limit of 25 mph, everyone’s take on the event will be that it’s all the bike operator’s fault. Heal quickly Reynaldo and Mildred.


2 Responses

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  1. cheesebot said, on 2010/06/14 at 9:04 pm

    Rhode Island, where one wave is worth a thousand fingers.

  2. Michiel said, on 2010/06/23 at 2:37 am


    I came across your blog in a google-search for more info on DRZ400SM for commuting purposes. And since you commute with a scooter AND with a DRZ, I think your insights will help me a great deal in my choice. I couldn’t find any contact info, so I thought I would post a comment.

    My commute to work is about 15km/10miles across town. By car, in current european traffic, I spend half the commute time waiting in line at traffic lights or other busy crossroads.

    I have been commuting regulary with my dad’s scooter (Honda SH125i) and it cuts my commute time in half! Plus I get to work/home with a big smile instead of pissed off. I’m able to get up front on traffic lights and in other static or semi-static (up to 15mph) traffic. Worth to mention, lane splitting and weaving is legal over here and a common practice with motocycle commuters.

    So I have been thinking seriously about getting my own bike. Mainly for commuting but I would prefer a bike that could be used for just about anything, hence my interest in ‘Elsa’ ;-).

    The only thing holding me back is my doubts about the DRZ400SM being as easy to maneuvre in dense traffic as the scooter is. I’m sure the shifting will becoming second nature, I’m not too worried about that, but is it as easy to get through traffic/town with as a scooter?

    Keep in mind I’m lane splitting to get up front in traffic and european roads can be very narrow.

    Thanks for your insights!
    Kind regards, Michiel.

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