A graduate student at UVA was enjoying a ride on his bike down West Main in Charlottesville, Virginia (VA) when he encountered a city utility truck while it was making a right turn onto Fourth Street. Sadly, this encounter had tragic consequences. The bike rider hit the front right tire of the truck, suffered serious injuries and died from those injuries while being transported to the University of Virginia Medical Center, according to nbc29.com.
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Reports indicate the bike rider was wearing a helmet and charges may be filed against the truck driver, though the accident is still being investigated. An important aspect of this bike accident that needs to be determined is if the truck driver failed to give a signal or did not provide enough time while turning to give the bike rider an opportunity to avoid a collision.
This accident puts a spotlight on the inherent risks bike riders are exposed to while sharing the road with massive vehicles like city trucks. Just one error, either by a truck driver or bike rider, can have tragic consequences.
A bill that would given bike riders an additional foot of clearance on roadways was defeated 54-43 in the House of Delegates back in February. If that bill passed, it would have increased the clearance when cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. pass bike riders from two feet to three feet. While the bill was supposed to increase safety for bike riders on the roads, the counterargument was that it would have had an adverse effect on drivers who try to pass.
Re-examining the issue of providing more space between bicyclists and drivers should be explored in the future. Bike riders are at such a high risk of serious injury on busy roads that something needs to be done to improve their safety.
To the family of the bike rider, my deepest sympathies go out to you. This is one of those terrible moments every family dreads.