There is a very fortunate, and foolish, cyclist in Austin Texas today.
Driver charged after hit and run of cyclist
By Andrea Lorenz | Thursday, July 23, 2009, 04:54 PM
An Austin man, Gregory Feazell, was charged with failure to stop and render aid, a third-degree felony, after police say he hit a cyclist Tuesday evening on Brodie Lane near William Cannon Drive.
A witness told police the driver of a PT Cruiser hit a cyclist near the H-E-B at 6900 Brodie Lane. The cyclist flew over the top of the car and rolled onto the street, according to the arrest warrant.
Police say Feazell, 26, left the scene for a nearby apartment complex, where police found him. According to arrest documents, Feazell told police he had returned home to tell his mother what happened and that he had had no phone service at the scene of the crash.
The cyclist, Ross Clurman, told police he was within a few inches to the curb - as close as he could get - when he was hit. Clurman said the driver got out of his car and asked him if he was alright, according to police. Clurman responded, “What do you think?”
Clurman was taken to University Medical Center Brackenridge with complaints of pain in his neck and back, according to the documents.
This is a typical "hit from the rear while being overtaken" collision, and was easily avoidable had the cyclist not been riding in the "fear zone", as close to the curb as possible. Had Mr. Clurman been riding five feet out from the curb (instead of five inches), Mr. Feazell would have changed lanes to pass him. Instead, Mr. Clurman signaled to Mr. Feazell that it was "OK" to pass him without changing lanes, by pulling over as far right as he possibly could.
The Texas Transportation Code defines the travel lanes on Brodie Lane as being of insufficient width for a bicycle and an automobile to share side-by-side, and that a cyclist has the legal right to control the entire lane. It's not just a "right", rather it's a defensive imperative for cyclist safety.
Notice that Mr. Feazell, according to this report, was not charged with the existing and applicable statute of failure to maintain proper distance while passing.
Of greater value to cyclists than a new, unenforced "safe passing" law, would be an insistence that the existing law be enforced (perhaps even adding a specified minimum distance during the next legislative session). But of even greater value, and one that would truly save lives, would be the removal of the "Far Right as Practicable" language in the Texas Transportation Code, so that cyclists like Mr. Clurman wouldn't be lured into the death trap they think they are supposed to ride in.
As much as Mr. Feazell is at fault in this collision, Mr. Clurman had the power to prevent it. Had Mr. Clurman controlled his lane as a slow moving vehicle, he almost certainly would not have been struck, whereas the lane position he chose increased the probability. Those who refuse to recognize this fact are simply more comfortable in the Fear Zone of victimization than they are in taking responsibility for their own safety.
Hat tip to velociped for bringing this to our attention.