Monday, September 18, 2006

First Blog Entry

I know that this post is going to be pretty lame, but I've got to put something here just to get things started.

The Coasters, from Gastonia, NC, are bike riders. We had a busy weekend of riding. Some of our members participated in the MS 150, Breakaway to the Beach. Others did the very challenging Bridge to Bridge Ride from Lenoir to Grandfather Mountain.

I am pleased to be able to report that all Coasters returned home safe and sound.

Regrettibly, there was a tragedy on the Beach Ride. A 15 year old girl from Charlotte, Rachel Gilbin, was riding tandem with her brother when they were struck by a truck pulling a trailer on US 15/401 just north of Society Hill, SC on Saturday. According to published reports, the Gilbins family were riding single file along the edge of the paved portion of the highway. Her father was leading, with his son and daughter on the tandem; the mother was bringing up the rear. The driver apparently came over into their line, striking the tandem and traling bike.

I was at the lunch stop at Society Hill when I saw a fire engine and 3, 4 ambulances headed up the highway. At the time, it seemed too large of a response for a bike accident, at least for the kind that we're used to seeing (zero mph, wheel touch, etc). Later, word spread of a crash involving numerous bike riders, but no word of anyone's condition. It was not until late afternoon that the MS folks made an announcement on the subject.

Here is a link to Rachel's obit:

According to the Charlotte Observer, "the truck with the trailer was driven by Rudy Robinson of Hartsville, S.C. The highway patrol will not decide whether to file charges against Robinson until later this week, after troopers meet with prosecutors." .

I cannot believe that charges haven't already been filed against the driver of the truck that struck the cyclists.

Bikes are vehicles under the laws of all states. Subject to minor exceptions, they have the same right to use the highway as motor vehicles. When the operator of a vehicle attempts to overtake or pass another, the overtaking vehicle is charged with a legal duty to ensure that his movement can be made in safety. He is required to stay not closer than 2 feet from the overtaken vehicle. Obviously, that rule of the road was violated here. Deaths that occur when someone is violating the law constitute some form of manslaughter, either involuntary or voluntary. The driver's state of mind would be relevant to the determination of which charge would apply. My guess: the driver was upset that these bike riders were inconveniencing him by holding him up. He took chances with their lives and this child and her family lost.

I think it only fair that he be inconvenienced by dealing with the criminal justice system and SC Dept. of Corrections. I'll bet that if this accident had involved the truck attempting to pass two or more motor vehicles and the truck driver struck them, with a death resulting, charges would have already been filed.

Let me know what you think.


Blogger Scott Roberts said...

Doc, I agree. Whatever the circumstances, the driver could have done it differently.
Hopefully, this beautiful girl's death will not be in vain. We can all try to use it to raise awareness for cyclists so that our children can ride in the future. What a horrible, and easibly avoidable loss. Scott

2:38 PM  
Blogger RichP said...

We shouldn't pre-judge the driver or the SC Highway Patrol. It is too easy to assume bad intent since we've all been victims of malevolent or careless drivers.

No matter what the verdict, the feelings of loss cannot be eased.

It's been a while since I rode in that much close traffic, as we did in Society Hill and on the last leg on Rt 9. It was frightening. It is a measured risk we take when we do that. Even if we are within our rights to be there, the bicyclist will always be the loser. After we get over our anger and sorrow, we should concentrate on getting parts of roadways dedicated for cycling, rather than argue over who was right or wrong.

11:54 PM  
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