Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Andy von Guerard, RIP

As Steve said in a thoughtful comment, it's entirely appopriate, from a policy perspective to speculate and analyze what happened the other day that killed a bicyclist in Newton. We don't want people to die in crashes on our streets. Ever. And, we want to promote the right kind of transportation decisions. Understanding what happened is critical.

But, as we all know, this is first and foremost a terrible tragedy. Dan Atkinson has a nice story in the TAB about Andy von Guerard, the young man who died way to early.


Anonymous said...

Well, I think Steve had a fairly thoughtful comment, and he did state that there was no excuse for a cyclist running into a pedestrian but regardless of the vehicle, the law is very clear cut. You have to stop for lights. And there still seems to be an undertone of "I'm not as dangerous as a car, so you can't blame me for my minor transgressions." I do see some people saying the words, but I just don't hear the urgency when a cyclist says "we need to stop at light" because it's generally followed up with "but cars have to be more careful, because they can kill" that's true, but you're not going to get bicyclists to obey the law unless people say it and really mean it. Although I believe there was some unusually bad judgement here, I can't quite see my way through to agree that it could have been something like sun in his eyes. How fast could he have possibly been going to prevent him from making a panic stop, to at least significantly slow him down. I agree, there should still be more talk about how it happened to discuss preventative measures, but there has got to be more emphasis on obeying the rules without the undertone of "but the car is bigger, so it has a special responsibility"

Steve R said...

There are several conversations that need to be happening. Let's not get them tangled up.

1. What can bicyclists do to avoid accidents and serious injuries, given current road configurations & driver behaviors?

2. How can we change road configurations to reduce the number and frequency of car-bike conflicts?

3. How can we educate drivers and bikers to help both get accustomed to each other on the roads?

4. What effective enforcement methods are available that could be adopted to reduce risky behaviors both of drivers and of bicyclists?

One thread of conversation also touches on assigning blame. Do we blame this cyclist for his death, or do we blame someone (or something) else? Let's suppose that when the police finish their investigation, blame falls utterly and unequivocally on the cyclist. Then what?

Then we still have those 4 conversations, because unless you're only interested in assigning blame, we need to get past blame to policy and planning, so we actually have a chance to reduce the likelihood of these accidents in the future. And yes, with urgency.

Anonymous said...

"Let's suppose that... blame falls utterly and unequivocally on the cyclist."

This will never be true. There are things that could have happened that were out of the cyclists control. We will never know.

However, using this horrible tragedy to raise road/traffic safety awareness seems respectable enough.

Eric said...


"Let's suppose that... blame falls utterly and unequivocally on the cyclist."

This will never be true. There are things that could have happened that were out of the cyclists control. We will never know.

This is total load of crap. Is it a tragedy? Of course it is. But to say that it could never be completely avoidable if the cyclist had changed his behavior in this situation is ignorant.

In regard to Steve's #1 and #4 conversations I believe this incident was more than likely caused by the cyclist's lack of knowledge regarding this particular intersection, ie. the southbound traffic from Lowell to Homer gets the green before the northbound traffic does. Could it be avoided if the lights were positioned differently to afford eastbound Comm Ave traffic a better view of them? Possibly, but then again he was already blowing through a red light, would it matter if he was able to see it for 15 more seconds?

If you want me to share the road with you on your bike then at least follow the same set of rules. That's all I want.

Sheryl said...

Andy Von Guerard was a person who died in a horrible accident. Nobody will know what happened that day or why he didn't stop. You people need to stop trying to assign blame, because Andy is not coming back. Andy was a close friend to me and it pisses me off when you people treat this like its an event. He was a person, he had a life, and a meaningful one to so many people. None of you knew him, none of you cared about him the way we did. So, Eric, keep your snarky comments to your damn self. What happened is done so now do what you can to bring up awareness and safety. Leave Andy alone; you have nothing to do with him.
-Love you and miss you VonG