Tom Chapman – Arcata Bicyclists Are Risking Head Injuries, And Getting Them – March 1, 2011

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A veteran officer once described the “lug nut rule”    as, whoever has the most lug nuts will win a traffic accident. The same officer coined the phrase “Predictable is Preventable.”

On Tuesday, February 8, a young man was riding his bicycle down J Street and he allegedly ran the stop sign. A car driving east on 11th Street swerved to avoid the cyclist but was unable to avoid the collision.

The young man was rushed to the hospital with head and neck injuries. The driver was left with a damaged car and the memories of a horrific experience.

Twenty-four hours later, one block away, a bicyclist was riding on 11th Street during the evening without a headlight. It was alleged a car rolled through the stop sign at I Street in front of the bicyclist.

The bicycle collided with the car, sending the rider to the hospital by ambulance and leaving the driver of the car badly shaken.

Bicyclists involved in traffic collisions almost always suffer some type of injury, especially when they are up against more “lug nuts.” The question for cyclists is not if they will be injured, but how severely they will be injured.

Because of the inherent danger cyclists face when sharing the road with lug nut-laden motor vehicles they must be extra cautious and obey traffic laws that are in place for the community’s safety and well being. Along the same token, motorists equally share responsibility and must show respect and caution when sharing the road with bicyclists.

When collisions do happen your first responders see first hand the devastating effects on bicyclists and skateboarders that are not wearing helmets.

If you knew that you or your child would be in a traffic collision today wouldn’t you do everything in your power to prevent injury?

Head injuries occur to the young, the old, the experienced, and the novice riders. Head injuries are a predictable outcome in a bicycle or skateboard collision. I invite each citizen to prevent these predictable life-threatening, life-changing injuries by simply wearing a properly fitted, properly worn bike helmet.

We all want Arcata to be a bike friendly community. In order to make Arcata a safer place for cyclists to commute to work, ride to school, and ride for sheer enjoyment, we must work together.

The law requires drivers of both cars and bikes to obey the rules of the road. Bikes and cars must both come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Bikes and cars are not permitted to drive the wrong-way on a one-way street.

Bikes and cars cannot cut people off or make unsafe turns. Bikes and cars must have headlight(s) illuminated during hours of darkness.

The list of rules goes on and on. Obviously the point is everyone using the roadway must obey the rules for a safe and orderly flow of traffic.

For more information, is an outstanding resource. You can follow the APD on Twitter and Facebook.

Tom Chapman is Arcata’s police chief.