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Response to Bicycle Accident on West Main Road in Middletown

A bicyclist was seriously injured yesterday on West Main Road. Our prayers are with the cyclist and his family.

[editor's note: These comments are in response to the bicycle accident that occurred on Friday, Jan. 11 on West Main Road. To read the story, click here.

It’s terrible to hear of another serious bicycle accident in our community. We are all waiting and hoping for good news on the cyclist’s condition. Our thoughts are with the cyclist and his family.

While no one can comment on this exact incident – there are too many unanswered questions, and speculation helps no one – we can certainly immediately share thoughts that are universal to safe road sharing:

 -   Cars must be keenly aware of all users of the road.  Any distraction that takes the driver’s attention away from the road is dangerous.  Our number one responsibility as drivers is to pay attention.

 -   Cyclists have a right to the road and motorists must be vigilant, patient and respectful when cyclists are present.  Impatience, distraction, frustration all put vulnerable users of the road at risk of serious harm.

 -   Bicycles are vehicles. Cyclists have a responsibility to know and follow the rules of the road, to be predictable and to be visible. 

 -  Many of our roads are still not conducive to safe cycling.  We have a responsibility as a community to support cycling as a safe and viable mode of transportation.  We must continue and increase our efforts to educate cyclists and motorists and to engineer safer conditions for road sharing.

Bike Newport will soon be announcing a series of short workshops and discussion groups about road sharing for cyclists and motorists.  As a community, we need to embrace our shared responsibility to ensure that our roads are safe for all users.

For now, our prayers are with the cyclist and for his complete recovery.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

John January 13, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Maybe you shouldn't be riding a bike on West Main Rd at 11:30 at night! The bike lanes on Memorial Blvd and Coddington Hwy are the worst ideas ever. It's just gonna make traffic that much worse in the summer. There are plenty of side roads to ride a bike on!
Bill the 1st January 13, 2013 at 12:46 AM
Sorry, but that's just idiotic. A drunk driver hits a cyclist and it's the cyclist's fault? Yes there are other roads to ride on. However, using the roads to get from point a to point b generally requires use of East and/or West Main. Further, most people live on one side or the other. To get to good routes requires travel on or, at least, across one of these roads.
John ("Anything But Sue") January 13, 2013 at 01:01 AM
The "Other John" responds:: (There are at least TWO Johns on this board.) I agree with the previous John. BTW: Who is to say the guy on the bicycle wasn't the one that was Drunk. Riding a bycycle on I-95 at 11:30 at night probably wouldn't be a good idea either...Maybe I'm missing something..
Peggy January 13, 2013 at 01:08 AM
West Main Road in Middletown has sidewalks. How about those on bicycles ride on the sidewalks instead of the road....? Nah: That makes too much sense.
John January 13, 2013 at 01:49 AM
Because technically, a bicycle is a vehicle and isn't allowed on a sidewalk. But when I was a kid, we were smart enough to not ride in traffic. Bill, my point wasn't about the driver being drunk, it was more of a generalization. First of all, it's winter. Common sense says don't ride a bike. Take a cab or the bus if you don't own a car. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for exercising and riding bikes. But why should I have to take extra precautions and be even more aware because some idiot wants to ride a bike down the busiest road on the island?
Kyle Braga January 13, 2013 at 02:33 AM
First of all,some people cant afford any transportation other than a bicycle. I am one of these people. Let me ask,if i own a vehicle (bike) and you own a vehicle (car) would you be taking the bus??? FYI biking isn't just a recreational thing. Oddly enough i bike West Main everyday from downtown Newport to Bayview Estates in Portsmouth everyday at 2:30 in the morning and have never had problems. while i will say that most people who ride at night don't have any lights (not me) if a drunk driver hit a car.. noone will be saying that the driver that was hit should have taken "side roads" Stupid Point. People shouldn't be drunk so why should i add another half hour to my already hour-long commute? a car wouldn't do that... remember we are ALL vehicles and have equal rights to the roads.
Mike January 13, 2013 at 05:08 AM
I agree with the two Johns. What's next a bike path on the East Main Rd. median?
Kyle Braga January 13, 2013 at 05:17 AM
East Main road is a nightmare..no room for cars let alone bikes...i withhold any arguments about east main
Bill the 1st January 13, 2013 at 10:37 AM
If you aren't "aware" enough to avoid a bicycle on W. Main at 11:30, you are either drunk, asleep or distracted. At the very least, if you aren"t aware enough, you are the one ough to avoid a cyclist at any time, you should be the one taking alternate transportation. The law requires bicycles to ride on the road, with traffic, with reflectors and lights if travelling at night. It is far more dangerous when someone doesn't do that. I've had to stop part way through a trun to avoid a cyclist coming around a blind corner on the sidewalk. Cyclists have every right to the road that a car has. Please respect their presence.
aaron justin ames a/k/a larry wonder January 13, 2013 at 12:57 PM
ive been riding my bike on that island since i was about 8 or 9,i am now 37. been hit by a car was out of work for a year. its war out there mang,treat it as such. giving someones car a kick to let them know you are there is quite necessary. any islander who grew up as kids went thru it,sad it took people getting mowed down to raise awareness.typical Screwport,wait till someone with money is affected then,the whole town is fighting mad.
Bari George January 13, 2013 at 01:08 PM
It was just reported on WRNI public radio that "the driver had a blood alcohol level of .251, more than 3x the legal limit."
John January 13, 2013 at 01:48 PM
Bill, what percentage of bicyclists actually have proper reflectors, headlights and reflective clothing when they ride at night? I'd say less than 50%. So when drivers aren't "aware" enough to see the rider because he/she is wearing all black and has no lights, it doesn't really sound like the drivers fault. And just because you know how to use quotation marks doesn't make your opinion more correct. Again, I'm talking about bicyclists in general, there's no doubt this idiot was drunk and shouldn't have been driving in the first place. Legally, bicycles have a right to the road. I believe wholeheartedly that they shouldn't. On a main road, I find it much safer to be on the sidewalk. Lets face it, the sidewalk in from of Applebee's isn't as busy as the sidewalk in front of Brick Alley.
Kyle Braga January 13, 2013 at 05:32 PM
John- as a cyclist id say less than 30% don't and less than 20% arent wearing a helmet....in that respect,yes it is not the drivers fault. its no different tham a car driving with its lights off,more deadly obviously but same concept. And yes,The sidewalk coming from Middletown (southbound) to newport has little to no foot traffic. Downtown,i can comfortably keep up with traffic so i claim the land without slowing anyone down. You try that on west main,its suicide that being said there are no shoulders so cyclist are at the mercy of attentive/inattentive drivers. Lights and reflectors may save a life people. Unfortunatly and i apologigze if am am being politically incorrect but at that time of night most of those guys on bikes have/dont have visas and are dishwashers that need to bike to get to and from. I bring up visas because more than likely they are not aware of the dangers of riding in this country/not aware that legally they have to have reflectors. I pass these individuals on my bike often and tier brakes are disconnected or their tires is so badly bent its slapping their frame. They simply don't care enough to do anything about it.
DMChasmail January 13, 2013 at 08:14 PM
To those wondering why the heck this person was riding a bike, at that time of night, the person could easily have been just getting off work and trying to get home. There are many reasons for having to ride a bike, and finances are one of them. I don't ride a bike, but don't make the biker automatically wrong here. The bottom line is following the rules of the road and being vigilant, looking out for each other. While reading some of the comments here, I'm wondering if Bike Newport's words went right over some folks' heads. One more thing, about riding on Memorial Blvd. and its bike lanes. How or why is it ridiculous? The bike lanes wouldn't have needed to be created if drivers and bicyclists were both doing what they need to do...to look out for each other. If the person on the bike lives in a Middletown neighborhood at the end of Memorial, what route do you recommend that s/he takes...especially when there are those here who are also complaining about bikes on both West and East Main Roads?
DMChasmail January 13, 2013 at 08:15 PM
Not to mention the fact that bus service here isn't good, not at all.
DMChasmail January 13, 2013 at 08:22 PM
Cyclists riding on sidewalks is against the law in many states. (I don't know about R.I.) The reason is the danger that it creates for pedestrians...the folks using the sidewalks. I've seen too many seniors being knocked to the sidewalk, some seriously injured, because they couldn't move fast enough out of the way. (I've also been knocked down on a busy major city sidewalk when 2 kids were racing on it.) It's bad enough this island has too many roads with no sidewalks without having to ask folks to deal with dodging bikes on top of that problem, too.

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