April 23, 2007
Mother of Accident Victim Angered by Cycling Dude
On April 13th I wrote a piece about The Ride of Silence, and an article in the local newspaper on sharing the road.
That article, and the links included, can be read here.
Over in the comments of the newspaper article a discussion had sprung up, to which I made a point to add a series of outspoken opinions on the 13th, 14th, and 18th.
My intention was to stir up a discussion, and debate, among my fellow local cyclists who were responding to the article by Mr. Whiting and, I admit ( Sneaky Bastard that I am! ), to alert anyone interested to fact that someone in their community was not just writing more about these issues, but was writing about the local cycling scene, and spreading the word about cycling resources online.
I think my outspokeness killed the thread. ;-D
In the Comments nobody has addressed my contributions directly, yet.
Why no-one has done so is a puzzlement.
Why wouldn't my comments spur some reaction, positive, or negative, from the people I addressed?
The same goes for the Motorists?
Refusing to discuss these things, or just coming in and making a statement, and leaving, won't make the problem go away.
There were some interesting comments, and 3 folks, 1 involved in the Cycling Activism side of things, Jim Baross, of California Bicycle Coalition ( CBC ), and California Association of Bicycling Organizations ( CABO ), 1 a fellow member of OC Wheelmen, Mike Lee, and 1 a Cop, who tried, like me, to stir the discussion, with their contributions.
Mr. Whiting has done a great service, over the past year, with his coverage of the Motorist/Cyclist situation in the OC, and his readership far, far, outstrips my humble platform ( How many local cyclists, know of me, despite my efforts at leaving fliers in shops, is pretty much a mystery to me even today. ), but this is the 1st time I've seriously joined the discussions brought on by one of his pieces.
I have to wonder if the comments I found are indicative of the comments left to previous pieces?
One positive result of the article, and comments we all left, has been that of the 53 votes the page has received, so far, 49 recommended the proceedings to future potential readers.
So all was not totally lost! ;-D
One opinion of mine DID apparently get someone's attention, leading to a comment being left, on the 18th, to one of my Blog posts of last year.
The opinion I left was in response to a person who wrote "I just ride on the sidewalk. I know its not leagal. But I will alive to pay the ticket if I ever get one."
Sidewalk rider has made a dangerous choice, and I see far too many cyclists doing the same.
When I approach them, and try to explain that it is far more dangerous on the sidewalk, I am angrily rebuffed with reactions that make clear ignorance, and fear, concerning riding in the street.
Last year there was the story of the teacher on her bicycle, killed on PCH in Newport Beach by a driver on drugs who ran onto the sidewalk.
Everybody was angry at the driver, and justifiably so, and everyone mourned the loss of the teacher, to her family, and students, again justifiably so.
But where was the anger about the teacher riding her bike, WITHOUT A HELMET, near dark, on the sidewalk, WITH A DOG ON A LEASH.
Did she KNOW that it is ILLEGAL to ride your bike on the sidewalk in Newport Beach.
Was I the ONLY ONE to point out that if she had not been doing any of this it is quite possible she would be alive today.
Sorry if I appear insensitive, but someone has to speak up about issues that might make the cycling community uncomfortable, if we are to honestly deal with the issues of safety.
My original Blog Post on this story was written on October 15th, and includes a Disturbing photo of me, and photos of the scene where teacher, and Bicyclist, Candace Tift, died, and my debate with a fellow cyclist who was angry with me.
I have had little feed back, locallly, or otherwise, to any of the stories I've posted since, on sharing the road, and that just goes to show, I suppose, that few cyclists, in my community, and the world at large, are aware of the BikeBlogging Community, or of the goldmine of cycling resources found online that can make them better, more informed, cyclists.
The Mother of Candace Tift either was following the discussion in response to the Whiting story, or learned of my opinion some other way, I do not know.
What I wrote there, and in my October story, however, inspired her to respond directly to me with a comment.
I am the mother of the Candace Tift and just for the record my daughter was brutally and violently hit from behind on the sidewalk ( which is not a road for cars ).
So maybe you should be addressing prescription drug laws and using the automobile as a murder weapon.
Where to begin?
1st let me say that I fired off an e-mail to her, in response:
This is just a quick note to say thank you for your comment, and to make clear my sorrow for your tragic loss.
I have accepted your comment, and am thinking how best to respond to it, but for now am off to work.
If you don't mind I am always curious how people who come to my blog discovered it.
How did you learn of my October Article?
Santa Ana, CA.
The Cycling Dude
Putting the ING in BICYCLING Since January 2003.
As of this writing I have not received a reply.
Well, having waited a few days to see if the discussion at the Register would pick up, I am here going to respond to Mary Logan...
Having read the article about her funeral, and the sentiments expressed on her Obituary Guest Book Page, one comes away with a clear sense of what a fine woman, mother, and teacher, Candace was, and the impact she had on her family, friends, co-workers, and students.
That is not up for debate.
The deplorable actions of the motorist, and the senselesness of this crime, are also not up for debate.
The questions I have revolve around where Candace was riding, and how.
Mary writes that a sidewalk "is not a road for cars".
That is true.
But it is equally true that a sidewalk is not a road for Bicycles.
Yes, I know that "everybody does it", but that does not make it safe, or right, not to mention LEGAL.
How many people know the laws, in this regard, in their community?
I did not know, until I did the research, that it is illegal to ride on the sidewalk in Newport Beach.
I now plan to find out the laws in each city in the OC, and post links to them here.
Nowhere, except here, have I seen anyone question the actions of Candace, and how her fate could possibly have been avoided if she had either not been on the sidewalk, not had her dog with her, or been wearing a helmet, or any variation of these things.
At a local Pet Expo, over the previous weekend, I saw a product being sold that, when attatched to your bike, acts as a leash for your Dog so you don't have to hold it yourself as you ride.
I didn't take a photo to share here because I do not want to imply approval.
This is NOT Rocket Science folks.
You want to ride your bike. You want to walk tiny Brutus, or massive Tinker Bell.
You need to choose, because you can't safely do both at the same time.
There is no telling what will distract the Dog, on your ride, and if there are others around you, at the time, then you are not the only one in harms way.
Some of the same cyclists who are busily getting all worked up over motortists who drive while drunk, or on meds, using their cell phones, eating 10 course meals, brushing their teeth, shaving, or putting on make-up, among many other things, are some of the same cyclists who ride while using their cell phone, listenting to music on head phones, with no helmet, no lights, or in any other combination of unsafe ways [ I have no doubt some are PWP as well ( That's Pedaling While Plastered, for you folks in Rio Linda! ) ].
In the 1st few months of this year I've learned that there are other cyclists in the county actively involved in cycling issues, and have written about the actions of 1 such group so far.
In my opinion Mrs. Logan can best spend her time doing something more constructive, in honor of her daughter, than attacking Motorists, the majority of whom, don't drive drunk, or on drugs, or hate cyclists, or attacking me for raising obvious, and important, questions, and issues that cyclists would do well to address.
The issues involved here are not just a part of life in the OC, or CA., for that matter, but are a part of the fabric of life in every state of the Union, and around the world.
It would be nice if every city in the world could be as Bicycle friendly as Amsterdam, but that's wishful thinking, at least for now.
Candace was a teacher, her mission in life was to edumicate young skulls full of mush, and do her small, but vitally important, part in molding those young people into future, responsible, members of society.
What better way to continue her mission than to do something, in her name, in association with the school district, or not, to educate young cyclists about how to be safe riders, take care of their bikes, and otherwise get the most out of their love of bicycling?
Other parents, whose children have died, or suffered injury, while riding their bike, have done, and are continuing to do, similar things, to great success.
Channeling all that anger, and sorrow, into something constructive, that will educate people, and save lives, would do far more honor to the memory of Candice Tift, than anything else you can do.
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Do you actually have any reasons for believing that it is the cyclist's fault for getting killed on the sidewalk by the car? Sounds to me like the same argument could be had form someone walking down the sidewalk with some crack in their pocket. Problem is, the guy in the auto still kills them. So please give me a reason not to think your argument is just flame-baiting. Please. Because I can't come up with anything.
Posted by: Captain America | Apr 23, 2007 10:07:52 AM
Ok, Capt., let me spell it out for you:
CANDACE TIFT WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.
I HAVE NEVER SAID SHE WAS.
What she was doing at the time of her death placed her in danger, and was irresponsible, but was not the cause of her death, a driver on drugs was.
She just as easily could have been run over by someone driving into, or out of, the parking lot of the car dealership, or someone rounding a corner at an intersection she, and her Dog, were crossing.
My concern has been to point out her UNSAFE CYCLING PRACTICES, and how no-one seems to want to discuss THEM, in favor of piling on the Stupid, and Irresponsible, Motorist.
It's Politically Incorrect to do otherwise, I suppose.
Please tell me why no-one wants to discuss the fact that Candace was putting her life, and the lives of others, at risk, by her choice to ride where she was riding, and when, riding without a helmet, and Riding While Dog Walking, because I truly wish to know.
Posted by: Kiril, The Cycling Dude | Apr 23, 2007 12:37:16 PM
If your concern is why people aren't talking about her unsafe cycling practices, the obvious answer is because those practices don't matter for this story.
I don't know how everyone else feels, but I couldn't care less that she was cycling. The only place that information is relevent is in cycling circles. The story is that this woman was killed by a driver on the sidewalk. The fact that you want to point out her unsafe cycling has zero to do with the story.
People will always talk about the big story, the one that actually matters. No one cares that this woman was cycling illegally because it doesn't matter what she was doing. She could have been doing handstands. It just doesn't matter.
People are upset with you picking on her cycling because of this and the fact that is seems (almost screams, actually) that you are trying to get some press from a tragedy.
If you want to point out how her acts were so terrible, find a scenario where that is the story. Not one where your villain is the victim.
Posted by: Captain America | Apr 23, 2007 3:56:51 PM
Oh, but her cycling practices DO matter for this story if only because if she had made other choices than the ones she made she might be alive.
If that driver had not happened along she still would have been putting herself, and others, in danger.
It is not wrong to point that out.
I refuse to believe that no cyclists out there have not privately been thinking what I have been writing openly.
You are right that what she was doing was relevent to cyclists.
In case you have not noticed this is a CYCLING BLOG, and one thing I try to talk about is SAFE CYCLING.
THE MOTORIST WAS AT FAULT HERE, but what the cyclist was doing is important to any cyclist interested in the issue of safety.
If, on my way to work, or shopping, I had seen someone riding as she was, and had my camera with me, there would be a picture to go with my post about the unsafe cycling I had witnessed.
Your accusation that I am out for publicity is totally uncalled for, and just shows how ignorant you are of me, and the history of this Blog.
I shouldn't waste my time answering the charge, but I value my reputation too much not to.
I would never have known of the story if an angry cyclist had not e-mailed me last fall, to take me to task for not covering the issue of cycling safety in the OC.
I have not spent the time since my original post covering the same story, and issues, but focused on other important safety stories in our community.
My original piece, and all the stories I've written since, have gone virtually ignored, especially by the OC Cycling Community.
Few cyclists seem to know of the BikeBlogging Community, and they don't know what they are missing.
Anyone familiar with me, and this blog, know that I do not have the time, expertise, or resources, to spend tricking the place out, or publicizing myself like many in the mainstream Blogosphere.
I accept whatever little publicity comes my way, whether it's a place in someone's Blogroll, someone linking me in a post ( Unless they know how to use Trackbacks, I rarely learn of such links unless I check my stats, or they send me an e-mail. ), someone mentions me in a forum somewhere, being honored with a coveted Instalanche by Uber-Blogger Glen Reynolds, being listed as a resource in a cycling club, organization, online directory, or store, website ( I find out about most of these thru my stats showing where people come from. ), being interviewd for a newspaper story ( Daily Pilot ), and being quoted in a book ( How to live well without a Car by Chris Balish ).
Most of my visitors result from people doing Online Searches, and how many of my puny number of 150 visitors a day are regulars is a mystery to me.
Most people who blog don't do it for publcity, or an income ( I have yet to get enough money for any checks from the various types of Ads you see here, or on my other blog ( I thank those few who have bought books I've recommended! ), and the BlogAds are so far my own creations, since no-one has chosen to buy the space.
I am an avid cyclist who became one of the earliest BikeBloggers out of a love of cycling, and wanting to share information with others, and I am proud of the 4 years I've put into the place.
I spend far more time, and space, through my blog entries, and sidebar, publicizing others than I will ever do promoting myself.
Hell, I coudn't even get my fellow cyclists to promote themselves by sending me links to their best monthly stories, so someone has to tell the world about their efforts! ( Yes, The Tour de Bicycling Blogs WILL RETURN. )
I am outspoken, and opinionated, and far from perfect, as a person, or a cyclist, and as far as being an expert on all things cycling... that I most certainly am not.
Posted by: Kiril, The Cycling Dude | Apr 24, 2007 3:00:14 AM
Clearly, I struck more of a chord with the publicity-seeking comment than I meant to, but the point stands. I'm not going to pretend to know you, but if you honestly think that this very vocal opinion of yours does not come off as that, then I believe you are mistaken.
I don't think you'll find anyone who is going to say that the woman was riding safely. That isn't anyone's argument. The argument is that your opinions just happen to be using a tragedy to push an agenda and in do doing, you insinuate (and sometimes outright express) that it is her own fault she is dead.
You say this isn't the case, but in the very first line of your last post you say "...if only because if she had made other choices than the ones she made she might be alive." At the same time, you will also say "CANDACE TIFT WAS NOT AT FAULT FOR WHAT HAPPENED TO HER." So what is a reader supposed to believe here? You can't have it both ways.
I think you'll find that most people will say that in the end, her behavior had nothing to do with her death other than maybe putting her in the wrong place at the wrong time. Picking on victims for an unrelated agenda doesn't fall into the non-PC realm. It falls into the "being a jerk" realm and it gets people angry. If you want to call her out, you need to tie it to the accident. Problem is, that can't be done.
If you want to push safe cycling, more power to you. It needs awareness. Using this event to do so is in poor taste, and your form of pretending not to tie this to the accident even though you do is even worse. Those are the reasons that the mother is angry. Those are the reasons people got upset.
Let's pretend you are an average 55 year old American. You go to cross the street one day and drop dead from a heart attack. Would you consider it appropriate is someone started going public with how terrible it is that you were jaywalking and you may not died if you weren't. Oh, but you didn't die from the jaywalking. But you might have. Jaywalking is bad!
That's what you wrote.
Posted by: Captain America | Apr 24, 2007 2:17:06 PM
Dude, you're wrong. Read Captain America's last paragraph "Let's pretend..." If you don't get it, read it again. And again. Don't go to bed until you get it. Stop shouting. Apologize. And go ride your bike.
Posted by: commuter | Apr 26, 2007 9:40:28 PM
Actually, anyone walking on the sidewalk would have been killed too. I believe if you do thorough research rather than piggy backing on the generalization that street riding is safest, you will see that defensive bike riding is the best practice and that it's how you do it that matters more than where you do it.
If a child is riding their bike in a street lane and crashes, where do you think that child most likely to land? You might have a hardcore stance for adults, do you take that same position with innocent children?
Posted by: Rach | Apr 27, 2007 8:26:41 PM
Just a thought but knowing this area the legality of riding on sidewalk is FAR LESS IMPORTANT than the SAFETY HERE!! The spot where Candace was killed there is almost no room for bikes because of the metered parking and the fact everyone is trying to merge onto Newport Blvd. Safety was the reason for her riding there and you usually would think that sidewalk is NOT FOR CARS BUT..... it took 1 curb, 1 parking meter, 1 bike and 1 woman to stop a car that day yet there were NO SKIDMARKS????
Posted by: c | Aug 20, 2007 4:13:43 AM
Thanks for Stopping by, C, and for your comment.
For me Safety HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE ISSUE, here.
PCH is a Bike Route, and every cyclist who uses it should already know how to safely ride their bikes while using it. ( Hint: Take the damn lane, as needed. )
I recently rode along a longer, more dangerous, section of PCH, also a designated Bike Route, and wrote about it, with pictures.
Taking the lane up there is almost impossible in some places, due to the amount of Traffic, but any cyclist can still ride the route by riding carefully, and watchfully.
The city says it is ILLEGAL to ride on the sidewalk, and just because the cops don't seem to enforce that law a lot, doesn't change that fact.
I will repeat myself, yet again:
What she was doing at the time of her death placed her in danger, and was irresponsible, but was not the cause of her death, a driver on drugs was.
Candace was putting her life, and the lives of others, at risk, by her choice to ride where she was riding, and when, riding without a helmet, and Riding While Dog Walking.
I know that to have pointed this out, in the 1st place, was to have pointed out an Inconvenient Truth, or 3, but I have no regret for doing so.
Posted by: Kiril, The Cycling Dude | Aug 20, 2007 11:10:19 AM
Wow, I am horrified by you and your opinions.
What is most disturbing about you and your blog is that you are using a tragedy to champion your own agenda.
I find it in poor taste that you are using Candace's death as a stepping stone to raise awareness of supposed bicycle safety...you do not know her.
I find it equally horrible that you at times seem to blame Candace for her own death?!
Even sadder is that you would question the motives of her mother and state that she is not using her time productively!
Are you kidding?
Having been a friend of Candace's for many years, I know that she would find your ramblings on about her, this case, and Mrs. John's in poor taste.
Cycling Dude, find another story to use...better yet, use one of your own and stop piggybacking a tragic case.
Posted by: Jenny | May 18, 2008 8:26:27 PM