Bikes vs. Cars: A Local Hit-and-Run Brings Out the Uglies on Facebook

Posted on August 3, 2015


Bottom line: the primary responsibility in driving is to not hit anything, especially not human beings.


This month, a man was riding his bicycle down a rural road in my area when he was hit from behind by a pickup truck. The driver had the good sense to stop and ask if the cyclist was okay, but then committed the teensy CRIME of getting back in his truck and fleeing the scene.

Lila learned of this from a local police feed on Facebook, but then… social media being what it is… the topic started spreading around, and I confess I am a little shocked at just how ugly some drivers can be about having to share the road.

No, scratch that. I just moved from the DC area! I KNOW that drivers can be complete asses – to the point of actually killing people – when it comes to anyone impeding their God-given rights to keep their cars moving forward at a high rate of speed at all times. In my old neighborhood, I saw many unsafe road incidents every… single… day. There are the people who pass other cars over the double yellow lines on curves with no view of oncoming traffic. There are those who impatiently pass the garbage truck right in the face of oncoming traffic, forcing those drivers to come to a screeching halt. There are those who come within mere inches of homeowners trying to retrieve their mail (I bought a new rear-opening mailbox for sheer survival). The list goes on.

So… yeah. I’m not surprised at what some people think. I am just surprised that they would actually put it in writing, on social media, attached to their names, where their friends and neighbors and bosses… everyone… can see just how ugly / unintelligent / misinformed they are. Here’s a small sampling, which amounts to the common idea that anything that happens is all the cyclist’s fault for being there in the first place, because God knows, they’re pains in any red-blooded American driver’s rear, have no right to use the roads, are “arrogant” to assume that they might have such rights, and pretty much deserve anything bad that happens to them:

“Shouldn’t ride his bike down there, didn’t our tax money pay for a bike trail that nobody uses, come on now the road is barley big enough for one car and they want to ride bikes down the middle of it”

If he was on a scooter he wouldnt have been hit…no one likes bicyclists. Thats why they get hit so much. “

“I would not jeopardize my families safety by swerving and hitting a tree or another vehicle to avoid a cyclist. There are many areas appropriate for cycling, [this road] is not one of them. It’s frustrating how entitled some (not all) cyclist feel in this area. …. Very unfair to put drivers in a situation where they could be charged with involuntary manslaughter due to the arrogance of others.”

So I guess we know where this woman stands: when suddenly faced with a cyclist, plow over him and then blame him for the totally “unfair” charges that might result against the driver who killed him.  And all for the sake of her family’s “safety”… hmmm… I wonder if it has occurred to her that one day, perhaps even in adulthood, one of her children may ride a bike in the road.  I hope for their sake that the drivers they encounter don’t think like their mom.

I grew up on [this road] my entire life and you bikers are a real pain in the ass!!! You ride in groups don’t yield to fast traffic don’t ride single file. Plain and simple y’all suck maybe it’s time y’all find another road to ride and stay the hell of [this road]. That is all!!!

“My husband was nearly killed when he choose to go down a ditch to keep from hitting a stupid man who refused to move riding his bicycle in the middle of the road as my husband was … approving a curve. The cyclists never moved. Another vehicle was coming the other way. My husband had to hit the other vechicle before he went into a deep revevin . The man on the cycle never claimed any responsibility at All.”

This last one is the classic garbage-truck scenario often seen in my old neighborhood: my lane is blocked, so I will just take over the oncoming lane! This lady’s husband chose to leave his own lane, move into oncoming traffic, plow into the vehicle that had the right-of-way, and ended up in a ravine. Just for the record, he did not “have to” hit anything. I leave it to another commenter to explain what should have happened in this case:

“You know, you can drive behind a cyclist for a while. You don’t have to pass when there is oncoming traffic.

Wow, that… that almost sounds like common sense! But this next commenter thinks not:

“Oh …, you can’t reason with someone like that. Arrogance is blissful and extremely defensive. … Most people on this thread are road cyclists and are incapable of taking any responsibility or even considering that one of their own could make/made mistakes. If accidents like this continue to occur, laws will be changed, and it won’t be in the cyclists favor.”

Ha, WRONG! Just last year, Virginia did pass a new law: the three-foot rule. This is from the DMV’s own study guide for the written exam: “When approaching or passing a person riding a bicycle, moped, or power-assisted bicycle or other device, reduce speed and pass at least three feet to the left.” This is new to Virginia, but really should not be a big surprise: 26 states already have laws requiring motorists to give cyclists at least 3 feet of clearance when passing them, and more states will soon add similar laws.

“… if we needed to know the laws of biking to drive, they would make their rules part of the driving test. But it’s not. So how about you start there with requiring motor vehicle operators to know the laws/rights of cycling

Actually, how about we start with driver responsibilities? Here’s something pretty basic that the DMV study manual also helpfully points out:

“Every time you get behind the wheel, you accept responsibility for your actions. You must obey Virginia’s traffic laws, and ensure your safety and the safety of your passengers and other motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists on the roadways.”

Here’s Lila’s bottom line: our primary responsibility when driving is to not hit anything. No trees, ditches, mailboxes, trash cans, other cars, signs, lampposts, buildings, animals… no pedestrians… no babies in baby strollers… no bicyclists! It’s so simple, yet somehow, it just seems so dang hard to do.