Cyclist remains in critical condition after being hit

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An Army major remains in critical condition after he was hit by an SUV on Oct. 1 while bicycling on a rural South Carolina road.

Dr. Matthew Burke (center), pictured with his wife, Bonnie, and father Dr. John Burke, was struck by a sport utility vehicle while bicycling Oct. 1 in Aiken County.  Special
Dr. Matthew Burke (center), pictured with his wife, Bonnie, and father Dr. John Burke, was struck by a sport utility vehicle while bicycling Oct. 1 in Aiken County.

Dr. Matthew Burke, an orthopedic surgeon at Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, has shown little signs of improvement since the wreck on Beech Island Avenue in Aiken County, his brother said Thursday.

"My brother has been fighting for his life every day since he was struck," Paul Burke said.

A spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol said Thursday that the investigation into the wreck would take at least 30 days and that there are no charges against the Dodge Durango's driver, Daniel Johnson.

Burke was riding with a group of bicyclists who set out for a weekly ride from Outspokin' Bicycles in Augusta.

Johnson told investigators he was reaching for something and didn't see the bicyclists until he hit five of them, according to Highway Patrol.

Bicycling advocates said the wreck highlights the need for better understanding between motorists and bicyclists.

A meeting last weekend in Savannah, Ga., brought together elected officials and city leaders from around the state to discuss ways to improve safety.

"The summit was a major success," said Brent Buice, the executive director of Georgia Bikes.

Buice said that in the coming year his organization plans a random survey to gauge public sentiment in Georgia about bicyclists and motorists. That information will be used for a statewide media campaign to improve relationships and address misunderstanding.

Some of that public sentiment was evident in e-mails to The Augusta Chronicle .

Richard Gilbert, of Aiken, took issue with a photo that accompanied the latest article on Burke, which showed a pack of cyclists crossing two abreast on the 13th Street bridge. Laws in Georgia and South Carolina allow that formation.

Gilbert said the bicyclists have an "attitude" because they are "spreading out on the lane and IGNORING the protected bike lane to their right."

"Bad attitudes lead to bad things happening," Gilbert said.

Megan Scott has commuted by bicycle for 32 years and said she has been "cussed at, spit on, buzzed, and harassed" by motorists. But, she added, "I have also been smiled at and shown daily courtesy."

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Junket831 10/16/10 - 09:14 am
30 days to complete an

30 days to complete an investigation? Let's see, driver admits he was not paying attention and ends up hitting a group of bicyclists lawfully riding on the road. If he had hit a vehicle in front of him that had slowed down I don't think it would take a month to investigate who was at fault for the accident.

There should be minimal charges based on the initial findings and then it may take several weeks to complete the final investigation.

Whatever the cause of this accident, I wish the best for Dr. Burke and his family. You are in my prayers.

TK3 10/16/10 - 01:48 pm
Praying for everyone involved

Praying for everyone involved in the tragic accident and also helping others petitioning to get the cyclist law changed to help prevent accidents between Road bikes and motor vehicles. The Road cyclists (including some politicians) summit meeting was to try and figure ways to stem the growing statewide call for a more common sense Road biker law.
The new Road Cyclists law now in place pushed by the National cyclists and their legal lobby and the PCC , was a tragic mistake as it makes cyclists traveling on two lane roads, without regard for conditions or speed limits, more unsafe and a hazard to motorized traffic and themselves. The old law with its “exclusive side path” provision was repealed/changed. It required that where there was a "usable path" adjacent to a road, you were REQUIRED to use that path but NOW cyclists can legally ignore them and ride on almost-ANY road/highway no matter the speed limit. This creates a deadly hazard for bikers and motorists also. Under the new law cyclists now have more new rights spelled out than motorists as they can report to police and file criminal charges against any driver they SAY “harasses and or taunts them! Also cyclists under the new law can file charges if they say someone maliciously threw an "object” at them, whether you "hit them" or NOT and NO injury or crash is even required to charge/prosecute. The new law also allows cyclists to file charges against autos violating a UNDEFINED “safe operating distance" between the motor vehicle and a bicycle.” For everyones safety, please sign petitions and contact your Representative and urge repeal of this new biker law and that it be replaced with common sense law restricting Cyclist traveling on two lane roads, without-proper escort vehicles, to roads having low speed limits 25-30MPH or less. Also please join the call for ROAD bikes to be licensed/tagged (allowing tickets), have liability insurance and EACH Road bike be taxed (many bikers like to note how their bike costs more than some autos) like autos to help pay for new bike lanes. Politicians need to start considering real public safety and the coming elections where EVERYONE can vote.

flipa 10/16/10 - 03:13 pm
TK3 friend; i humbly

TK3 friend; i humbly disagree. A motorist hitting THAT MANY cyclist PROVES that motorist could have run down SEVERAL CHILDREN, or hit SEVERAL cars or you and your entire family if you guys were walking along on the side of the road. Your argument would be good if this motorist only hit ONE cyclist. But PLOWING into a WHOLE BIG Crowd like that is inexcusable.
Cyclists burn no fossil fuels, they CANNOT hurt a motorist, the only ones they endanger are themselves and last i looked that was still legal. This is America, the land of the FREE, Home of the BRAVE. Cyclists are going from one location to another FREE and they better be BRAVE to ride as inattentive motorist who are a danger to everyone may run them down. Motorist finance our worst possible enemies by filling their tanks with terrorist owned oil and are destroying the entire world. If and when a motorist no longer finances terrorist every time they fill their tanks then these laws need to be reworked. Until that time they were clearly decided on those merits, and they will stand. Take up the cause of disarming the gangs, before the gangs disarm you.

corgimom 10/16/10 - 04:13 pm
"A motorist hitting THAT MANY

"A motorist hitting THAT MANY cyclist PROVES that motorist could have run down SEVERAL CHILDREN, or hit SEVERAL cars or you and your entire family if you guys were walking along on the side of the road. "

Of course he could! It happens every day of the year. That could happen in ANY accident. Multi-car accidents happen all of the time. So what's your point, Flipa?

People have run cars up on sidewalks and hit many people at one time. People have plowed into storefronts and injured many people.

Flipa, get a gripa!

TK3 10/16/10 - 09:12 pm
The latest local accident you

The latest local accident you refer to is not the basis on which we oppose the last Road cyclists law, although I rather doubt that accident would have happen if the peloton/pack had an escort vehicle, as the proposed law would require, on two lane roads having speed limits in excess of 25/30MPH. Laws should be to help increase safety, NOT make an activity even more unsafe, as the last Cyclist law passed, has. The public and politicians need to and will be made aware of the newest dangers between Road cyclists and the motoring public and to have the problems addressed by changing to a more common sense law. It won't be done overnight, but it will be done.

Big_vike 10/17/10 - 11:42 am
TK3 I will agree to paying an

I will agree to paying an additional tax on my bikes (I already pay taxes for all of my cars, when I buy gas, etc..) when they raise the taxes on Fast food and cigarettes, cyclist rarely if ever smoke and although we eat fast food from time to time, we don't eat it while riding and throw it, or our cigarette butts alongside the road. I will also agree to a tax on my bike when we do the following:

1. Require mandatory road testing of all drivers every 5 years
2. Raise the minimum driving age to 21
3. Create a maximum driving age of 70
4. Implement mandatory vehicle safety and emissions testing
5. Implement a registration fee based on engine/vehicle size/displacement instead of assessed value, you should pay more to drive a larger vehicle since you "damage" the road more.
6. Put some real fines on driver behavior, drive with a cell phone $1000, text with a cell phone $2000 and lose your license and on and on....

Until this is done, I'm not paying squat to ride my bike on the road. If you want to push to have the cycling law reversed, I can get a petition going to implement my ideas to make roads safer.

And since I know its coming, stop with the Physics arguments, weight of vehicles and right of way is not a valid argument when discussing road traffic or Mall traffic. Just because your bigger doesn't give people any excuse to run into someone else be it on the road or walking through the mall.

Is cycling dangerous no, is cycling dangerous around drivers who aren't paying attention? YES. Put down your phones, put down your food, stop fiddling with your radios, GPS's, makeup and drive the speed limit, not 20 to 30 mph's over as this driver had been reported by witnesses to have been doing. There is no danger between cyclists and drivers if drivers share the road and DRIVE their cars, and thats all the common sense thats needed.

Last but not least, your continued attempts to use this accident as a podium to get cyclists off the road ignores the simple fact, there wasn't a problem until Mr. Johnson drove his SUV into a group of cyclists who were following the law, he broke the law, he hit the cyclists, and he admitted that he was distracted. This was 100% his fault, we wouldn't even be having this discussion if he had run down a child, he would be quilty 1000 times over but since its a "cyclist" no compassion, after all, they shouldn't have been there right? Just some goofy clothes wearing, gettin in the way, no rights cyclist. Get out of my way, I gotta get home to my family, all the while Maj. Burke still hasn't even woken up to see his family, but who cares right? He's just a stinkin cyclist that shouldn't have been there. I hope the 10-15 seconds was worth it.

Chief Nocahoma
Chief Nocahoma 10/20/10 - 08:45 pm
All these posts discuss the

All these posts discuss the pros and cons of biking on roads. All this discussion seems to overlook that Dr. Mathew Burke is first and foremost an outstanding person who as a family and has spent a majority of his adult life serving his country helping soldiers injured defending the freedom we all treasure. I pray he and his family come through this ordeal and he is able to regain the health to continue practicing medicine.

I was fortunate enough to meet Dr Matt Burke a week before the accident. We were both riding in the Six Gap Century in Dahlonega and had mechanical issues with our bikes. We met on the SAG wagon taking us both back to our cars.
In the short time I was with Dr Burke, I learned this gentleman had a deep love for his family and life. He talked of looking for a place for him and his wife to raise their child. He talked about the various orthopedic practices around the southeast with another fellow bicyclist who dealt in products used by surgeons.

Regardless of your feelings about bikes, cars and roads, let's all pray for Dr Burke's recovery.

God bless you Dr. Burke. God bless your family.

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