Bicycling is a popular and favorite urban pastime that also meets the needs for a healthy lifestyle for many. But urban planners have not always provided an allotment of safe areas for bicyclists to use, such as dedicated bike paths, where a cyclist might ride relatively safe with traffic. As Bernalillo, New Mexico, cyclists know, bicycles offer no protection when involved in crashes with other vehicles and riders are consequently at far greater risk for injury from a bicycle accident. A recent fatal bike accident on Santa Fe’s Rail Trail highlights just how unprotected and open to injury risk, a cyclist can be.
A 60-year-old local woman was hit by a train as she crossed the tracks that intersect with the bike trail. The victim was known to be an experienced bicycle rider who wore protective gear and, according to friends, never rode with earphones distracting her hearing. Witnesses to the accident stated she was wearing headphones and investigators also disputed claims made by witnesses about the woman’s direction of travel after examining a surveillance video. Further, the safety devices installed on the train as well as at the intersection where the accident occurred were found to be operating normally. However, while equipment as flashers and gates exists for roadways, the Rail Trail, itself, may not have had any warning devices for bicyclists.
Despite the best efforts of groups lobbying for cyclists, little is done to ensure that cyclists have privileges similar to operators of other types of vehicles. For bicycling enthusiasts, riding is sometimes an adventure with unfortunate consequences which result in much pain and suffering.This case illustrates the potential tragedy of bike crashes. Even when an accident is not fatal, a bicycle accident can result in serious injuries. Santa Fe victims do have the option of seeking compensation for medical expenses through the legal route.
Source: Albuquerque Journal, “SFPD garners new details from video of fatal train/bicycle crash,” Mark Oswald, April 25, 2014