Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bryan Byrge and John Coons: A Sad Saga

Bryan Byrge, 39 and John Coons, 35 were on their weekly cycling jaunt to work when they were killed instantly in a head on collision with a pickup truck while turning left at the corner of Redwood Road and Twenty-First North in Lehi, Utah.  The accident happened at six o' clock in the morning before sunrise.  The dark may have been a contributing factor, but contrary to the statement made by the Lehi police: there were no contributing weather related issues that could have "impeded visibility."  Bryan Byrge and John Coons both were family men who left behind wives and children; men who were very respected by the community.  The stupid senseless deaths of these men prompted the cycling community to organize a group memorial twenty mile ride; and over a hundred cyclists participated.

The driver of the pickup truck, whose identity is unknown, was also hospitalized in the accident.  The investigation as reported in the press, could not identify who was at fault, the pickup truck driver, the cyclists, or the fact that there was no fault by either party; but from the tone of the reporting the most likely conclusion will be the patented "I did not see them" excuse; and the most likely outcome of the investigation will be no formal charges or criminal prosecution of the pickup truck driver.

Remember, cyclists, when you are laying dead on the road that you are in no condition to testify about your behavior, or whether you were following the rules of the road.  You are presumed to be at fault simply because you are on the road.  This idiotic notion has emerged because there is a minority of cyclists who ride with a blatant disregard of the rules, a fact that is editorialized in newspapers by disgruntled people with an anti-cyclist bias.  The truth is far different than the perception portrayed in the press; professional cyclists are strict adherents to the rules, they have to cycle carefully to survive the onslaught of automobile drivers who are either incompetent or aggressively belligerent.  The fools who act out on bicycles are not professional cyclists; but they sure do seem to garner all of the attention!  And there is an additional problem associated with foolish cyclists; when automobile drivers encounter a person who follows the rules they seem to be confused as to what to do; like deer staring into the headlights.  This adds to the safety concerns cyclists experience every day; the confused automobile driver.  For example, at intersections, I tend to let automobiles go first, because it has been my experience that when you put foot to the pedal, automobile drivers put foot to the accelerator.  Then there is that awkward breaking moment, followed, of course, by a noxious adrenaline rush, and a propensity to want to explode into a verbal tirade of frustration.  But experience in these matters is the best teacher and may end up saving your life.  Patience saves lives.  Wave the fools through!  Bryan Byrge and John Coons were responsible people who from their very nature were road rule followers to an excessive degree of caution; but this caution did not save them from a horrible end.

What about the pickup driver?  What personality traits did this person possess?  Was this person in a hurry or distracted?  After the funeral of Bryan Byrge and John Coons, will this person simply disappear completely without penalty after killing two people?

Remember Josie Johnson, the young woman who was killed in Big Cottonwood Canyon by a woman who wasn't paying attention?  Josie Johnson was riding on the shoulder out of the traffic lane when she was rear ended by a woman driving a sports utility vehicle.  The last time I rode up Big Cottonwood Canyon, there was a bouquet of flowers resting at her accident site, adorned with tears, placed by a sensitive soul who is tired of all this senseless slaughter of cyclists! Every year there is the Josie Johnson Memorial Ride, ridden to lament this senseless decimation of young cyclists who are murdered on the roads every year!

Josie Johnson Memorial Ride original bib. Bibs were worn to honor fallen riders who died on the road.

I have a challenge for all of you who editorialize in the media about the horrid cyclists and their disrespect for the rules of the road.  Come ride with me for a month, if you have the courage!  You will see the road from a perspective of a cyclist!  But I am warning you that you will have to learn defensive cycling skills very quickly or you will die!  You will be another statistic lying dead in the road!  You will not have an opportunity to defend yourself!  You may develop an attitude adjustment when you realize that that cell phone wielding zombie who is bearing down on you at thirty miles an hour is about to end your paltry existence!  You either get out of the way or die, it is as simple as that!  These enjoyable experiences happen several times every day!  And just wait until you are hit by a car!  Only a suicidal maniac would continue to ride after being hit by an automobile; but we pros do so every day with pleasure!  Then, after a month of this fun, you can go back to your editorializing in the newspaper, scolding people who don't know how to drive!

I didn't even mention the people who drive automobiles who intentionally try to kill you or cause you harm.  But these paragons of social virtue exist in the world too.  People who make obscene gestures, people who shout, "get off the road!"  People who throw objects at you.  People who drive up behind you and honk their horns.  People who spit on you.  People who deliberately try to run you off the road.  How about mentioning these facts in your editorials, eh?

Sure people need to be educated about automobile/cycling safety.  But the education is a two way street. Cyclists can't control the behavior of automobile drivers and visa versa.  Nevertheless: it is a given axiom that people should not be allowed to kill cyclists with impunity, and they need to be punished for their crimes.