Original post made
on Jul 10, 2007
First off, if you believe that Mr. Smith made a U-Turn at the top of Sandhill Rd. you probably believe that mosquitos spread AIDS. It seems that the County Sherrif's Department made up the cause of Mr. Smith's death. It has been that department's M.O. for years to find any way it can to blame the cyclist and let the driver off the hook. Mr. Smith was hit while riding in the shoulder area that was marked by a solid white line. The bicycle skid marks showed that Mr. Smith was hit and shoved violently forward within the shoulder area.
Secondly, if you think bicycle riding on the left side of a road is wise, I suggest you try it on Westridge from Alpine over the hill to Portola Rd. and back. My guess is that if an auto was traveling down Westridge to Alpine, you wouldn't live past the first left curve.
D.O.A. for Ron Wilson. There's a reason that the DMV rule is that in the USA, we all (drivers and cyclists) stay to the right.
You may think you have a better idea but, I'd say it is counter intuitive, silly and dangerous. When the Almanac prints wacky thoughts like yours, a disclaimer stating the danger and illegality of your suggestion should be added by the editor. I hope No One takes you seriously.
Judging by Mr. Wilson's letter and his prior statements about the wisdom of cyclists' riding against traffic, I believe that he is sincerely concerned about this issue and believes in this position. I happen to strongly disagree with his position.
It also appears that Brielle is sincerely concerned about cyclist safety. But why anyone has to deride someone else for his ideas ("wacky thoughts like yours") is beyond me. Do you think, Brielle, that others can't analyze and come to reasonable conclusions about unconventional ideas? Do you really think the Almanac must assume the "Father Knows Best" role and protect those who read these posts from **dangerous** ideas? Do you think we are simpletons? Please, Brielle, show some respect for the intelligence of others. Don't insult us.
By the way, Brielle, did you go out and inspect the accident site? If you or anyone else has evidence that the sheriff's department is fabricating the story of what really happened on that tragic day, please state the evidence. These accusations with no supporting evidence don't do anyone any good. My mind's not made up. Tell us what you know.
The California Highway Patrol, not the Sheriff's Office, investigated the Rodney Smith fatality. Here is the link to the story on the CHP's conclusions: Web Link
Unfortunately a person who has the courage to post a real name runs the risk of becoming the focus of personal attacks or becoming a distraction from the immediate issue. Sad but true, "Ben".
In bicycle/automobile collisions, not only does the cyclist always suffer greater harm, but contract law enforcement in Woodside and Portola Valley does have a history of adding insult to injury by favoring motorists in determining fault. As San Carlos Councilmember Matt Grocutt recently noted, none of the tragic bicyclist fatalities of the past decade in San Mateo County have resulted in vehicular manslaughter charges against the motorist involved.
Based on my inspection of the Sand Hill Road fatal accident site, the cyclist was struck well to the right of the shoulder stripe and was traveling parallel to the line. Did the CHP investigators rely on a self-serving account of the driver more than the observation of skid marks and other evidence at the scene? What?
In regards to Mr. Wilson's suggestions for a change in the vehicle code, "wacky" is a charitable description of the idea. It's not unreasonable to suggest that readers be reminded that by anyone who prints this stuff, that the practice is illegal and dangerous. Who knows, someone might start thinking that it's a bad idea for bicyclists to ride with traffic, or that horn honking is an adequate substitute for steering or braking as a response to a hazardous situation.
Thanks for the info, Steve. I can understand why people who have seen the skid marks might be suspicious. Do you know if anyone is challenging the CHP's findings? I'm not even sure how that might be done. The DA's office, maybe?
Regarding the first sentence of your post, I'm not sure what to make of it. You seem to imply that I made a personal attack on Ms. Johnck, although I was merely challenging her for a rather severe and caustic (toxic?) response to someone else's expression of opinion. I believe that people can disagree, but still be respectful of the person who has expressed an idea in sincerity. And I also believe that cyclists don't need to be told that the law mandates that they ride with traffic. If they don't know that, they shouldn't be riding a bicycle. I give people more credit than you seem to think they should be given.
If it hasn't been done already, someone needs to go out to the accident site and document the evidence there, including measuring and photographing skid marks and any gouges or scrapes. I am an expert traffic engineer, and in the personal injury lawsuits in which I have been involved, a private investigator working for the attorney representing the victim's heirs will document the site, particularly if the attorney is retained right away. If the evidence is not documented soon, it will disappear and all that will be left is the CHP collision report.
The accident site is on eastbound Sand Hill at the top of the first hill west of the I-280/Sand Hill interchange. There is an improvised shrine near the point of impact. Maybe "Ben" and Bob Shanteau should check it out. They may find the investigator's paint marks and a skid mark made by Mr. Smith's rear tire as he was struck by the motorist's car. The CHP's version of this terrible event seems highly implausible.