Questions linger in collision that has Army physician clinging to life

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More than five weeks after being struck from behind by an SUV while riding his bicycle in Beech Island, S.C., Dr. Matthew Burke remains comatose and fighting for his life. His riding partners, four of whom were also taken down in the collision, continue to rehabilitate from their physical injuries, while it is uncertain whether the psychic wounds will ever heal.

THE COLLISION THAT put Dr. Burke in the neuro-intensive care unit at the Medical College of Georgia has provided an opportunity for some to lay blame for the crash squarely on the cyclists. That this particular incident has served as a call to arms by anti-cyclists shows an abject lack of knowledge about the incident, and has shown that many among that set have a callous disregard for the condition of Dr. Burke and his family.

Almost immediately it was established that the driver of the SUV, Daniel Johnson of Beech Island, was at fault for running down the group. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, the driver claimed to be distracted and did not see the pack of cyclists at the moment he slammed into the group of 15 riders. According to reports, Mr. Johnson's source of distraction has changed as his story continues to evolve.

With evidence to the contrary, it is appalling that anyone would still place blame on the bike riders. Yet, there has been no shortage of polemics in the weeks following this tragic occurrence.

A commenter on The Augusta Chronicle's website posted the following comment at the end of an article Oct. 4: "The bike riders broke the law and this poor driver is paying the price. If I was on the jury working this case I could not find him guilty. No way in hell."

It is sad that individuals are more concerned for the welfare of an at-fault driver than they are for an innocent 37-year old husband and father who may not survive his traumatic brain injury.

What seems to be lost on Mr. Johnson's defenders is that it has been clearly established that the riders were riding legally and taking the appropriate precautions as they rolled along Beech Island Avenue. The SCHP has acknowledged as much.

The section of road where the cyclists were hit is straight and offers clear visibility for more than a mile. The posted speed limit is 35 mph, and there was sufficient daylight because the sun had not yet set behind the group as they rolled along, unaware of the pending disaster. The bike riders all were wearing helmets and had flashing red taillights on their bikes, which were clearly visible to a driver following Mr. Johnson.

MARKINGS FROM the crash investigation show that Dr. Burke was just right-of-center of his lane of travel as he rode two-abreast with Scott Moore, who was riding on the white line on the right side of the road. In South Carolina, cyclists are allowed to ride two-abreast, and drivers are to give at least three feet of clearance when passing cyclists.

As Mr. Johnson collided with the group, Mr. Moore was forced off the road, while Dr. Burke absorbed the direct impact of the Dodge Durango and was catapulted approximately 40 feet. Damage to the Durango indicates that Mr. Johnson hit Dr. Burke almost center with his vehicle.

At this time, no charges have been filed against Daniel Johnson, and the crash remains under investigation by the SCHP. There is concern, however, that this incident will be considered merely an "unfortunate accident," and the driver will be undercharged. Before the investigation is completed, it is imperative that several questions be answered:

- How did Mr. Johnson not see a group of 15 cyclists when they were clearly visible to the individuals in the vehicle following the SUV?

- How fast was Mr. Johnson driving at the time of the crash? One of the cyclists heard the driver behind Mr. Johnson confess to a patrolman on the scene that he was following the Durango at approximately 50 mph right before the crash. Could the high rate of speed explain why, according to Mr. Moore, the driver did not brake until after he slammed into the group?

- Most importantly, why did some of the cyclists state that they heard the vehicle accelerating in the moments before the impact?

It should be noted that Daniel Johnson Sr., the driver's father, openly questioned why the cyclists even rode on Beech Island Avenue. And a number of anonymous comments on local websites indicate that some residents in the area feel the cyclists got what was coming to them.

As cycling continues to grow in popularity in the CSRA, the potential for incidents will continue to exist. And there is no doubt that this episode will serve as a wake-up call for area bike enthusiasts. As a lifelong cycling advocate, I think it is vitally important that cyclists respect the rules of the road, as we expect the same courtesy from drivers. But those who choose not to follow the law should not run the risk of taking their punishment by anyone other than law enforcement.

AS THE DEBATE over "sharing the road" continues, U.S. Army Maj. Matthew Patrick Burke, M.D., continues his fight for life at the Medical College of Georgia, while his wife, baby daughter, parents and siblings maintain a vigil at his bedside. It is such a waste that the talented orthopedic surgeon may not survive to see his daughter's first birthday. It is unfathomable that, after admirably surviving in Iraq, his greatest battle was caused by an incident less than 30 miles from his home.

Matt Burke was not a mailbox carelessly struck on the side of the road. He is a valued member of this community and deserves to be treated as such. He willingly supported the country during a time of need. As he continues his fight for life, we owe him the same respect.

(The writer is event manager of the Augusta Sports Council.)

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Gpoulter
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Gpoulter 11/07/10 - 12:53 am
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It is my understanding that

It is my understanding that the police did not search the driver or do a field sobriety test, no blood/urine/breathalyzer samples for alcohol or drugs were obtained, that his vehicle was not searched or impounded, and a complete list of witnesses was not obtained either. From the accounts of those who witnessed the accident, there is reason to investigate the possibility of malice. I am not saying that the driver is guilty, but I hope the SCHP takes this case seriously. Dr. Burke deserves a thorough and professional investigation.

ymnbde
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ymnbde 11/07/10 - 08:37 am
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Mr. DuTeau, the physics of

Mr. DuTeau, the physics of the situation do not care if it's a mailbox, a patch of grass, or a father. People have accidents all the time. They don't hit mailboxes or patches of grass or fathers on purpose. This was an ACCIDENT! Every adult should know the risk involved when interacting with cars. You wouldn't ride on I-20, because the risk is so obvious. It should be no less obvious on any road.
I am a runner. I've been hit by inattentive bicyclists. I've had to run almost off the canal path because bicycles are four abreast and won't leave room for my narrow little path. Bicyclists are supposed to announce themselves. Few do. You're no better than the drivers you hold in disdain.
Most drivers are attentive, polite, and patient. So are most bicyclists. But if you think you can ever ride safely on a highway, you are truly delusional. Accidents will always happen. Physics simply doesn't have a concept of fairness.
This was a sad, very unfortunate accident. The driver feels horrible. What possible benefit are you getting from trying to punish him even more?

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 11/07/10 - 09:07 am
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A very emotional column, well

A very emotional column, well written and with a well stated perspective.
The exclusions still shout out. LAWS OF PHYSICS EXIST!

It seems walking on the streets can cause vehicles to accidentally run over the smaller and weaker pedestrians so special, safe walking places are made available for foot traffic.
Bicycles on these safe walking places cause injury to pedestrians because of the speed difference and the fact that the metal of the bicycles is much harder than human body parts, so, the lawmakers have decided to have the bicycles ride with the cars.
Cars weigh about two tons and bicycles with large riders weigh about 200lbs.
Cars travel about 60mph and bicycles travel about 15mph.
When cars and bicycles collide, cars get a scratch and the bicycle (with rider) gets tossed 40 feet and winds up all busted up in a coma.

Now, we can deem that all drivers will always be aware and cautious at all times and we can deem that all roads will be safe for all bicyclists at all times and we can deem that all will respect everyone at all times, BUT, will this be the actual case?

I'm glad this case is kept in the public's face. The situation needs to be addressed.
It's not a case of mean ole cars attacking the slower, smaller bicyclists,
it's a simple case of physics.

The law makers recognized the need for safe walkways for pedestrians, why not recognize the need for safe bike paths? There are some in this area, but ,apparently, not enough. As a result, otherwise apparently intelligent adults are being tricked into risking their life to enjoy bike riding. The choice to ride in traffic is better than riding the limited number of safe paths available.

It seems a simple path of asphalt, five feet wide, paralleling an existing road for 30 miles would provide a simple 60 mile ride for enthusiasts, but after they'd ridden it once, would it be acceptable to ride it again?

This problem needs to be addressed, but it seem that, in the meantime, intelligent people wouldn't be ridding in traffic.

ReformedRepub
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ReformedRepub 11/07/10 - 09:16 am
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I agree with you, cliff,

I agree with you, cliff, along with the addition of a mandatory minimum speed limit, excluding farm machinery on rural roads

Gpoulter
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Gpoulter 11/07/10 - 09:32 am
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The 2nd and 3rd comments seem

The 2nd and 3rd comments seem convinced that this was an accident and show great sympathy for the driver of the vehicle. Dr. Burke was not someone who harassed cars, or broke the law. He did not deserve this as Orlandu would suggest. My concern, is that Johnson's story does not add up. The anger some feel towards cyclists is evident in Orlandu's post. If such anger possibly caused a close friend of mine to be injured if not killed, I want, and Matt deserves, a complete investigation. If such an investigation exonerates Johnson, I would sleep much better at night. We can all understand an accident. However, an incomplete investigation leaves us questioning and doing what we can to find truth.

This is not about cyclists vs cars or runners. It is about one of the finest people you would ever meet being injured and whether or not that was an accident or an act of aggression. An unbiased thorough investigation by the SCHP is the best way to put this issue to rest.

As a side note, I strongly support separate bike paths. They save lives. 30 miles would be great.

corgimom
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corgimom 11/07/10 - 10:05 am
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I know that every time I get

I know that every time I get into my car, and drive on a public road, that I assume the risk that someone will hit my car. I have been hit several times. I have never had an accident where I was at fault. Through the grace of God, I have never been seriously hurt in an accident. But a certain percentage of people are. It could happen to me today, tomorrow, or the next day. In every accident that I have been in, I was operating my vehicle in a safe, legal, responsible manner- the other driver was not.

There IS no such thing as a perfect world or perfect safety. Risk is in every part of our lives. Every bicyclist that rides on a road that carries cars and trucks assumes that risk.

When a bicyclist rides on a road, they assume- ASSUME- that every car that approaches them is being driven by an alert, consciencious driver that sees them and avoids them. In a car/bike collision, the car will win every time.

What has happened is a terrible tragedy. Many people's lives will never be the same, no matter what the outcome. But Dr. Burke being a surgeon doesn't give him any special protection or make what happened better or worse.

Nobody is callous about this.

Let the SCHP do their investigation. Let due process occur. Let the judicial system of South Carolina determine what happened and what actions should be taken.

The SCHP has an obligation to all the people involved, along with the citizens of SC, to conduct a thorough, fair investigation, in keeping with everyone's Constitutional rights, to insure that Daniel Johnson is charged appropriately.

Cadence
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Cadence 11/07/10 - 11:19 am
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I hope that the injured man

I hope that the injured man has a full and speedy recovery. I'm very sorry this accident happened. I have been in 2 auto accidents in my life, both times I was hit in the rear. Both times were accidents, and the persons who hit me felt terrible. We were each in 2000 pound steel automobiles so we each came out of it unscathed. Mistakes happen. Be prepared, namely don't jog or ride your little, unprotected bike down a busy road traveled by cars and trucks. When a mistake happens, and it will, you will come out on the losing end. When that happens, don't focus your anger on the one who made the mistake, focus it on preventing it from ever happening again. As Mama always said, Don't ride your bike in the street! Pretty simple.

fairinvestigation
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fairinvestigation 11/07/10 - 01:23 pm
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I agree with your sentiment

I agree with your sentiment Cadence, that accidents do happen, and will happen. I also agree with your statement, "When that happens... focus on preventing it from ever happening again." I feel that not only cyclists can prevent accidents by riding safely as they are lawfully allowed to do, but just as importantly (if not more), we as motorists are the superiors on the road and must also prevent accidents by paying attention and responsibly operating our vehicles. I hope this terrible tragedy sends a very clear message that both motorists and cyclists need to pay attention and share the road.

Why I find this story so compelling is because I have driven on Beech Island Avenue countless times. With all witness testimonies aside, I've struggled to understand how this incident could have occurred. I know this road and have seen where the accident re-constructionist marked the POI (point of impact) on the road with spray paint.

My curiosity lead me to drive the road several days after this crash because the road is remarkably straight for about a half mile (according to my SUV odometer) before the POI and for longer than that afterward. There is nothing close to the road that could have obstructed anyone’s vision before or after where Dr. Burke was hit.

I purposely drove this road shortly before 7pm, which was when previous articles stated the incident occurred. There were no clouds in the sky and in no way did the sun affect my vision by reflecting in my side or rear view mirrors. Trees behind me blocked the sun from hitting my mirrors and actually highlighted the road. It was easy to see the POI spray paint from afar while driving the speed limit. Of course my timing wasn't perfect, I wasn't driving the same vehicle as the driver and the sun begins to lower in the sky at a different time each day.

As a motorist I have felt the frustration of riding behind cyclists, it is at times unnerving but I responsibly maintain control of my vehicle and have never been kicked or yelled at by a cyclist. It costs me only seconds of my day to slow down and share the road.

I felt compelled to comment because what we know of this story just doesn't add up. Many are referring to the physics of the crash. Let's back up and apply some simple math. The driver was reported to have been driving somewhere between the speed limit and 50 mph. We've learned that there was no oncoming traffic and no other motorists between the driver and the cyclists. If he were driving 60 mph he would have been driving on a straight road, in daylight, for a full 30 seconds with nothing in front of him except 15 cyclists in reflective clothing and red blinking tail lights. Lets say he were driving 30 mph, then he would have been driving for 60 seconds in a straight line, in daylight, with nothing obstructing his vision except 15 cyclists in their appropriate attire. I am having a hard time understanding how one could remain inattentive for a full 30 - 60 seconds without driving off the road.

Driving the road myself spoke volumes to me about this terrible tragedy. It doesn't make sense. I don't understand how one could drive inattentively for that length of time, not swerve out of the lane, and instead directly hit multiple people in broad daylight while staying in the lane. Other articles state that the driver didn't apply his brakes and swerve until after he hit the cyclists and that he has repeatedly changed his story of why he was inattentive or distracted.

The driver also lives very near where the crash occurred. Apparently, cyclists ride the back roads around that area almost nightly, around the same time each night, and have for over a decade. Despite how frustrating it may be, the residents in that area have to note that pattern. I would think around that time of day their senses would be heightened to expect cyclists on the road.

I have friends that live several miles from where this occurred. They can attest to the nightly pattern of cyclist riding past their house. They also noticed a huge increase in the numbers of cyclists riding in their area in the weeks before the incident. The increased numbers were thought to be local and out of town participants training for the Ironman Augusta that took place only one week before Dr. Burke was hit. This is my own speculation, but I find it plausible that the patience of area residents was wearing thin.

I don't think the driver meant to hit the cyclists. I really don't. I do think it is very possible that he meant to intimidate them by “buzzing” them. The fact remains that a hostile, anti-cyclist culture does exist in that neighborhood. Previous posts are a glaring testimony of this.

I really do hope this was an accident. Has the driver apologized to the family? I noticed he declined to comment in last week's article. One thing we can all agree on is the hope for a fair and thorough investigation. May God bless all of those who are involved.

dwb619
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dwb619 11/07/10 - 04:12 pm
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Prediction: Next car versus

Prediction: Next car versus bike incident- Woodlawn Road in Edgefield/McCormick county. On weekends the cyclist clog this curve and hill road, three and four abreast. It is hard to slow a boat or rv from 45 mph to 10 in the middle of curves. If you don't have an open lane to move to somebody is going to be run over. I will run over a cyclist before I hit another automobile head-on.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 11/07/10 - 04:23 pm
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Correct, DWB. Never swerve

Correct, DWB. Never swerve into the oncoming traffic lane, and be very wary about swerving off the road to the right. Both are extremely dangerous.

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 11/07/10 - 05:05 pm
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Prediction, next car versus

Prediction, next car versus bike incident...the car will win.

It's legal but unsafe to ride on the road where the large/fast vehicles run.

Safe4all
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Safe4all 11/07/10 - 05:49 pm
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Fairinvestigation seems to be

Fairinvestigation seems to be the most rational comment thus far. Several have encouraged the use of laws of physics in the discussion of this "incident" as johnston called it and predicts the outcome of any such future happenings. The key is to have the larger and/or faster object in a collision. One would not be well advised to accelerate past the speed limit and cause an unsafe situation by driving too close to a slow moving tractor trailer or bus (which can also tempt a driver to be upset). Another lesson from physics is that the universe does not rotate on our axis no matter how mighty we may be. That's probably why we have laws of the road which most likely are much the same in every state of the union and do not permit driving too close or running into or over any other vehicle, person, or property (such as mailboxes and lawntractors) because they are in the way or on "our" road.The laws also require a driver to be in controll of their vehicle at all times. Such laws, specifically the ones in South Carolina need to be applied carefully and thoroughy to bring justice to this horrific event. This is not a sport or competition. We all lost this time.

dani
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dani 11/07/10 - 05:53 pm
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None of the above excuses the

None of the above excuses the driver of the vehicle. as Safe stated "maintain control of car at all times".

Gpoulter
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Gpoulter 11/07/10 - 08:47 pm
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Orlandu - I have known Dr

Orlandu - I have known Dr Burke since we were in Junior High School. He has been one of my closest friends for 25 years. I am sorry that you feel so much anger. Your words only increase my concern that my friend was run down by someone who shares your hatred. There is no evidence that he was breaking the law. Dr. Burke is a father, family man, veteran, and skilled physician, not a trouble maker or criminal. I am sure that you would not write these comments if you spent 30 seconds with him or his family.

This article is not about me or you. It is not about whether cyclists should be on the road. It is a plea by those who know Matt Burke and his family that the accident be investigated appropriately.

If you are wondering who I am ... Greg Poulter

If you stand by your words. Are you willing to provide your real name?

cyclingman1
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cyclingman1 11/07/10 - 08:47 pm
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Let us all know when Critical

Let us all know when Critical Mass comes to Augusta. BTW, I doubt very seriously if all of the alleged Critical Mass idiocy taken together equals the intimidation on the part of angry drivers that occurs in one major city in the US in one week's time. Furthermore, what the heck does Critical Mass have to do with the consequences of angry and/or irresponsible behavior being referred to as an "accident." What an irrelevancy. Drivers in Augusta have to be worried about people on fifteen pound carbon fiber vehicles capable of maybe 20 mph causing harm to drivers. Yeah, right. I think that is what is referred to as paranoid, delusional thinking.

RandyDuTeau
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RandyDuTeau 11/07/10 - 09:15 pm
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Orlandu, It is unfortunate

Orlandu, It is unfortunate that you have become the defacto voice for Beech Island, as I was told over and over about the number of good local people that stepped in to help following the collision that critically injured Dr. Burke. However because you have been inconvenienced by cyclists in the past you now seem to celebrate that a good man is fighting for his life. It speaks volumes for your character. Of course this is nothing new for you. You were the same individual that boasted of plans to heave water ballons at cyclists before the 2009 Ironman 70.3, and stated that you could rundown a group of cyclists and still sleep at night.

As a former elite racer and lifelong cycling advocate I have worked diligently to encourage safe cycling and better relations between cyclists and drivers. What is still lost on you is that the group that was struck by Mr. Johnson was NOT riding four-abreast and WERE engaged in safe cycling behavior at the time of the collision. The only thing I can surmise from your glee in this tragedy is that you see it as some sort of vindication for perceived wrongs committed by some rogue band of cyclists.

I have done countless group rides through Beech Island, Jackson, New Ellenton, and Aiken County. Not once have I been party to, or been a witness of these baseless accusations of kicking vehicles and throwing items at cars that you've made. If you have been victim to so many countless acts I can only guess that you have the police reports to back them up. As passionate as I am about cycling I would never question anyone reporting to authorities the items you mentioned. Ever.

If you took the time to carefully read my article, and to give it thoughtful consideration, you would realize that I too encourage all cyclists to obey the laws of the road. What you can't acknowledge is that Matt Burke and the group that were struck on October 1 were exercising proper riding behavior, and no past perceived transgression justifies what happened to these folks.

Furthermore your statement that Augusta, and by default,the Sports Council, are to blame for this tragedy is ridiculous. The Augusta Sports Council does not host bike rides and is not a cycling organization. It is true that the Council annually hosts the Half Ironman. A significant portion of the bike route travels through greater Aiken County. In hosting the race we have enjoyed an outstanding partnership with Aiken County, the cities of Jackson and New Ellenton, and the South Carolina DOT. And not a single dime of taxpayer money pays for the support of law enforcement for the event.

Sir, the blame for this collision rests solely with the driver. And if anyone needs moral courage, it is you. You can't get past your blind hatred to realize that the grave injuries to Matt Burke have caused a significant amount of pain to his family and friends. He did not deserve this, nor did anyone else in the cycling group that Friday. And because of your anger you will never be able to admit that this isn't the incident to justify your rage. I will pray for you.

I know this means nothing to you, Orlandu, but nearly every day for the past five weeks I've been with Matt's family and felt their anguish firsthand. Only a person with the blackest heart could find something to celebrate in this horrible experience. My wife and I love Matt, his wife and their ,eight-month old daughter deeply, and with so many others pray every day for some positive resolution. If you took the time to understand the situation you may consider saying a prayer for them as well. But from the things that you write I gather that you really don't care. What a shame.

ymnbde
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ymnbde 11/07/10 - 09:28 pm
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my goodness... are you

my goodness... are you cyclists about to garner pitchforks and torches and ride to the poor man's house, shouting "kill the beast"?
Anyone riding or walking beside a road assumes a certain risk.
This isn't the first accident involving a bicycle or pedestrian.
Accidents are common. You people don't know if the driver was angry.
You people don't know if the driver was drunk. All you know is that a driver was inattentive at a very unfortunate time.
I think your comments about angry drivers are grossly exaggerated.
It seems one of those tiny simple rear view mirrors that attach to helmets would have been very useful.
Would you have preferred the driver had been some texting teenager? The victim had been some poor pedestrian? The police had strapped the driver to the road and run over him?
It isn't that the people posting here don't care about the victim. We care. It's just that you cyclists seem to have some sort of persecution complex along with a feeling of superiority.
YOU ASSUME A REAL RISK WHEN YOU RIDE ON A ROAD!
Why haven't your organized a fundraiser? Why haven't you raised funds for bike trails? Why haven't you done anything except call for the drivers head?
Shame on all of you.

Safe4all
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Safe4all 11/07/10 - 10:29 pm
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My goodness....ymnbde you

My goodness....ymnbde you have suggested some bizarre things. I hope those things are not examples "Southern Justice". I think what most folks are encouraging is a thorough investigation and appropriate application of the law. I haven't seen anyone else write about the remedies you listed. Heaven forbid such!

PWRSPD
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PWRSPD 11/07/10 - 11:11 pm
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When I was a kid we were told

When I was a kid we were told to ride on the left so we could see a vehicle coming and get off the road and out of the way. No one had a helment then either, but times have changed. Seems most cyclists don't want to get off the road, or those tiny tires won't let them, not sure. I wouldn't feel safe with a car I could not see or hear passing me, inches away.

This could be a case of object fixation.

Whatever the case, I hope Mr. Burke will make a full recovery.

Andikiros
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Andikiros 11/11/10 - 08:53 pm
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Mr. DuTeau, I understand that

Mr. DuTeau, I understand that this is an opinion column. However, you are not allowed to state lies as facts. Among some of the issues I have with your article, I would like to state, that even though I did not witness the accident, I saw that group of cyclists about two minutes before the accident occurred. They were NOT riding two abreast and they did NOT have their red lights flashing. I have driven into Beech Island almost every Friday for the last 3 years. I have encountered these riders on both Sandbar Ferry Road and Beech Island. I have NEVER seen them riding 2 abreast, except if there are only 2 riders. I have never seen them use their red flashing lights. I am by no means suggesting that they should be run down by vehicles; I am suggesting that you should get your facts straight before you form an opinion. I wonder if you would feel as impassioned if Dr. Burke were homeless, and "not an important member of our community." I have several other issues with your article, where untruths were sold as truths. I, however, believe I have made my point.

mparis
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mparis 11/08/10 - 12:08 am
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I concur that cyclists should

I concur that cyclists should not ride on busy highways. Beech Island Avenue, however, is hardly that. This particular stretch of road has a 35mph speed limit and is home to 100+ residences, a Baptist church, stores, farms, and miles of farmland.

Slow-moving tractors, commercial trucks, school buses, pedestrians, horse-back riders, joggers, dog-walkers — and YES, cyclists — all have fair access to our public roads. As drivers, it is our responsibility to share the road, drive attentively, and make way for pedestrians and slower-moving vehicles. Period.

Yes, accidents do happen. And perhaps this was one.

But the facts are this: the driver was going 50 in a 35mph zone, hit 5 cyclists (in a pack of 15) on a straight road, with clear visibility, in broad daylight, with no oncoming traffic — and left the scene without even a traffic violation. I am dubious that a proper investigation was made.

But that is not for me (or any of us) to determine. As a driver, as a pedestrian, and as a citizen, I plead that local law enforcement take a closer look at the facts, and proceed with a thorough investigation.

Tom_Gillon
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Tom_Gillon 11/08/10 - 12:10 am
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I am sickened and saddened by

I am sickened and saddened by the mentality of some of these comments.
Accidents do happen, unfortunately the evidence has not proven whether this was an accident or not. So far, the story sounds is that Mr. Johnson struck a pack of riders on an open road with good visability. I am unfamiliar with SC law, but heaven forbid for Dr. Burke's sake this doesn't end up to be a vehicular homicide case.

It doesn't matter if they were riding safe or not. If this was not an accident, justice should be had.
All these anti-cyclists comments are missing the point. This is not about cyclists on the road. It is now about one brave man and his family's struggle to survive a horrific incident. A thorough investigation in necessary.

PWRSPD
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PWRSPD 11/08/10 - 12:23 am
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LOL@LL. Parents told me. I

LOL@LL. Parents told me. I know what safety folks say, but i think I'd like to see a car coming so I would at least have the option of getting out of the way. But, don't worry, I don't ride bicycles now.

burninater
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burninater 11/08/10 - 12:48 am
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Open letter to all the

Open letter to all the physicists on the forum:

The laws of physics say that when a person fires a bullet into another person's brain, the brain is going to get the bad end of the deal.

Perhaps we should stop investigating those incidents as well.

ymnbde
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ymnbde 11/08/10 - 06:33 am
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oh my goodness, safe4all,

oh my goodness, safe4all, surely you can't be serious.
You're obviously being sarcastic.
Heaven does forbid such, and southern justice, as well as northern, eastern, and western, in 2010, investigates. The posters here don't seem to want an investigation, they do seem to want revenge and at least a pound of flesh.
Burninator, really (post violation) common sense violation.

cyclingman1
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cyclingman1 11/08/10 - 06:52 am
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The cyclists posting here do

The cyclists posting here do not want revenge. We want it known that the notion that we are fatalists and somehow accept the "fact" that we are sitting ducks for drivers, perhaps even wish to be hit, is absurd. Treat us just like you would treat little old ladies driving to church on Sun morning: give us room even if we inconvenience you slightly.

I wonder why the "risk" theory is being so readily applied to cyclists: which goes like "you should accept being hit because people have 'accidents.'" Please, tell us all, you who have expressed that bizarre belief. Do you use that idea in your life, that is, accidents are a case of - oh well, they happen! The next time one of your loved ones is hit on the head by a falling item in a store, has the wrong eye operated on in a hospital, has a big truck serve in their lane and leaves them a quadraplegic - tell us all how those are just accidents and your loved one was engaging in risky behavior - end of story, no anger, no legal action. If you can honestly say that, then I will buy the sincerity of your idea that cycliests deserve their fate of being hit by negligent drivers, although I totally reject that view. It is a grossly ignorant, anti-people view. We should all be able to expect responsible behavior from our fellow citizens, and not just some of the time.

corgimom
31152
Points
corgimom 11/08/10 - 08:19 am
0
0
Cyclingman, I hope your

Cyclingman, I hope your perfect life continues forever.

I am so glad to know that you are perfect, and that in every minute of every day while you are biking or driving, that you are never distracted, never take your eyes off the road for one instant, never turn your head.

Nobody deserves to be hit by a car. No one is saying that, and where you get that idea is incomprehensible. What everyone is saying is that bicyclists assume a certain amount of risk in riding on a street. Doesn't matter if the speed limit is 20, 35, or 55, because if you are hit by a car while riding a bike, you will be seriously hurt. Period.

It IS very risky behavior. And people that ride, assume that risk. It doesn't mean that they deserve to be hit; it means that they knowingly do an optional activity that has a high rate of injury if hit by a car.

It's not any different than riding a motorcycle. Or mountain climbing. Or bungee jumping.

And that is why I don't do any of the above. I choose not to take that risk.

And yes, people DO accept that they will be hit. Drive a car or ride a bike on a regular basis for any length of time, and yes, the odds are extremely high that at some point, you will be hit. Some people are lucky and they escape that- you can call that odds, luck, God's will, whatever you want; but the odds are very poor that you will not have an accident.

It's not about "deserving". It's about reality. It's about imperfect humans. It's about terrible events that, once they happen, can't be fixed.

cyclingman1
0
Points
cyclingman1 11/08/10 - 09:14 am
0
0
After several decades of

After several decades of driving and riding a bike the tally for me is 0 for hitting someone else and 0 for being hit. That's way more than luck. That is called being careful and paying attention. It's also never using a cell phone, eating cheeseburgers, applying makeup, etc while doing the above. That's not "perfect" behavior, that is responsible behavior.

Life does have risks. Many of them are self-imposed. Mtn climbing and bungee are such and are irrelevant to the topic at hand. Riding a bicycle is in itself a 99.999 % risk free thing to do. The danger comes from others - from their supposed "accidents."

What I cannot get anyone to explain in this thread is why "accidents" to cyclists seem to be accepted - end of story. Yet accidents in many other areas are not, as I pointed out. In fact, most such accidents result in anger, legal action, etc. Where is the concern here?

Furthermore, there seems to be some sort of visceral reaction to cyclists that make them fair game. I think it is wrapped up in the mystique of cars and all they represent. How dare cyclists get in the way of drivers and their cars and their "right" to the entire road and to drive as fast as they want, even at the risk of being ticketed for speeding.

I say that there is a lot of dishonesty and rationalizing going on in this thread. The bottom line is that there is absolutely NO justification for this "accident" and for the vast majority of similar accidents.

PetsArePeopleToo
0
Points
PetsArePeopleToo 11/08/10 - 10:23 am
0
0
My thoughts & prayers are

My thoughts & prayers are with all the people that are involved in this accident. It brings to mind something that happened to me over 20 years ago when I was young and foolish. We were doing a small project
that required a 2x4 from the hardware store, my husband & I went and got this . At that time we only had a car not a truck. We put it in the car and let the end out of the back passenger window with a little red flag as we only had about 3 miles to transport this . As we were almost home, ahead was a cyclist travelling in the same direction and as we passed the extended board came inches from his head . That upset me so bad because I had seen this and my husband who was driving had not. I still see this and know that the outcome could have been terrible.

TK3
562
Points
TK3 11/08/10 - 11:49 am
0
0
It matters not WHO is

It matters not WHO is involved or hurt in accidents as all life is considered precious! That said, the new Road Cyclists law pushed by the National cyclists, their press members (see above) and their legal lobby plus the PCC that was recently passed 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 trying to avoid them. The new law allows cyclists to file various charges against autos violating a number of new rules including a UNDEFINED “safe operating distance" between the motor vehicle and a bicycle instead of a the old set distance of 3' and that could lead to abuse. 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 speed limits 25/30MPH or less and also require them to ride single file, have rear view mirrors and lights and meet minimum posted speed limits. Also please join the call for each ROAD bike to be licensed/tagged (allowing tickets,tracing), insured and taxed to help pay for new bike lanes.

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