P1120805

The Thin Black Line

The Thin Black Line

by / / 105 posts

Every time we get on our bikes, we are playing a game of Russian Roulette. We take care to maintain our machines, to make sure they are in perfect running order, we look after our bodies to maximise our performance, and we, hopefully, abide by the rules of the road to keep ourselves safe from the dangers of other road users. But ultimately, our lives are in the hands of fate, destiny, or even other people. Ours is a sport fraught with danger, and every now and then, and increasingly all too often, we are reminded of the thin black line between life and death.

Such a reminder came today with the news that yet another Pro Cyclist, Kristof Goddaert, lost their life when going about their everyday job. Maybe we are less at risk in our own day-to-day lives than these athletes, but we shouldn’t take with a grain of salt the dangers that are inherent any and every time we cover ourselves with a thin shield of lycra, mount an 8kg piece of plastic, alloy and rubber, then surround ourselves with tonnes of fast-moving metal often operated by less-than-accommodating drivers. We should regard every motorist with caution, never knowing if they themselves are a cycle-aware operator or one of the increasingly common outspoken anti-cyclists that seem to crawl out of the woodwork to vent their disdain for us every time an online article regarding any aspect of sharing the road appears. Make no bones about it, there is a lot of contempt and anger towards cyclists from many drivers.

There’s only so much we can do to minimise our risk of not returning from a ride. Wearing a YJA is not going to help. Having a foam lid half-encasing our craniums will only do so much (let’s not get into a helmet debate here though). Not putting ourselves into a dangerous situation by flouting road rules, running red lights or riding erratically in traffic should be a no-brainer. Yet just by joining the arterial flow of cars, buses and trucks we put ourselves at the bottom of the transport food chain, and like a hyena in a lion-filled savannah, we need to be alert and aware of our surroundings and regard everyone around us a potential predator.

We’ve lost many of our own, and it’s often I think about our community friend @itburns when I kit up. Every time I read about another cyclist tragically killed, the reality of the dangers of our passion hits home, again, hard. Having met Kristof on KT12, when he gave up his time to talk to us before Paris-Roubaix, answering our questions, humouring us as he prepared for one of his most important days at work of the year, it feels that little bit more personal, even though our worlds were so far removed from each other. And now, he is removed from our world completely, a victim of bad luck, a tragic accident of circumstances that we might never consider could happen to us. Which only serves to remind us that it can.

Be careful out there, friends.

 

// Awesome Belgian Guys // Defining Moments // La Vie Velominatus // Reverence

  1. @ChrissyOne

    @andrew

    I was actually shocked that the UPS driver actually held my eye contact the whole time, and even pointed at me with a smile to acknowledge that he saw me and realized what he Of course, in most of the places I visited in the States (Wyoming, Idaho, California), there seems to be so much more space a lot of the time “” more shoulder on the road, etc. (The Olympic peninsula being an exception Chrissy and I mentioned in another thread).

    I’ve been meaning to post a photo of a typical ride for ya’ll. There’s a stretch in particular that’s a long, lovely road in the outback, 15 foot shoulders on both sides – which are sadly rough gravel. The paved shoulder consists of the fog line and approximately 3/4 of an inch beyond. The speed limit here is 45 mph, but as it’s in the sticks, most drivers do 60. There’s a reason I haven’t paused here to take the photo. ;)

    Gas prices will be one thing that can change people’s minds; they seem to have already shut down HumVee production and shifted some people into smaller cars from what I hear. Though seriously, cars and trucks over there are freaking enormous.

    No kidding. It’s absurd. And pointless. These are driven by people with esteem issues and polished to impress others. Almost none of them are used off-road. They mostly carry groceries.

    One of my biggest pet peeves is the size of automobiles that many people deem necessary, especially in urban/suburban areas. I understand that farmers or ranchers need their trucks. Soccer moms do not need giant SUVs or even minivans for one or two kids. My wife drives a Honda Civic, and I drive a Toyota Matrix (that’s our big car–if I can’t fit it in that thing, I likely don’t need it). Great gas mileage with each, but I still can’t wait til the snow is gone and I can start making my daily 40km round trip by bike again.

    Around here, it’s easy enough to get out of town to find less traveled country roads, but it can get a little congested in the city/suburbs. I personally add 3km to my  bike commute to avoid some of the busier streets.

  2. @KW

    Stroopwafels from Gouda and weed are good in Holland. The law isn’t unfortunately.

    You might need to use a car one day and if something bad happens you’re fucked.

  3. @PeakInTwoYears

    Not asking for a physics lesson here, but how do you comparison-shop for lights when some manufacturers give specs in lumens and others give specs in watts?

    I think the answer is: badly.  You normally need more info for any sort of comparison, and there’s no standard, from what I can see, for what information manufacturers provide.

  4. @andrew Yes. And how the light is focused matters an awful lot.

  5. @TommyTubolare

    @KW

    Stroopwafels from Gouda and weed are good in Holland. The law isn’t unfortunately.

    You might need to use a car one day and if something bad happens you’re fucked.

    But isn’t the point that you will be more careful/aware so that you’ll not be in a position to get fucked in the first place?

  6. I’m surprised at the different driving habits of motorists in different regions of a small state, Connecticut. Rode for many years in the eastern/southeastern part of the state. Many great backroads and the motorists seemed a bit more laid back and tolerant than where I’m living now in Branford. These shoreline motorists have places to go and don’t get in the way! It’s only been a few months and I’m longing for better weather and road conditiions to do more exploring, but it’s a hassle to get away from traffic to get to better riding. But people all over the world manage to ride, I’ll get this figured out.

  7. @TommyTubolare

     

    ‘something bad’ doesn’t just happen. The law was about creating a situation in which the risk is more evenly distributed. A cyclist does not want to get hit by a car. And if you place the burden of proof at the car, the car will not want to hit a cyclist as well.

  8. @RVester

    Dude the law also says to ride 40 km/h in some zones/areas but nobody fucking does so until the law actually slows the car down to 40 km/h for everybody you know where you can stick that law of yours.

  9. Very sad story indeed and it shows how we’re one distracted driver away from disaster. Sometimes though, luck can shine on us just as well. Back in the toe clip days, I had to tighten one strap and did it while my foot was on the downward portion of the pedal stroke. As I was thinking I was being stupid for doing it that way, I felt the wind from a passing extended mirror that people use when towing trailers. It passed exactly where my head would have been had I not been reaching down so far.

    Stupid lucky for sure, but I expect everyone to be out to kill me now, and I see no protective quality to the white line on the road.

  10. Nice piece and some touching comments. I relish the tone and the attitude of the Keepers of the Cog.  I regularly insist to my VMH that this site is a Global Source for Good.  Still… in light of events like deaths of Amy Gillett and Kristof Goddart, I wonder if Rule #66 and “Wearing a YJA is not going to help” really are defensible.   Not sure.  Just asking.

  11. @PeakInTwoYears I go to my LBS in autumn when it’s darker and try them.

  12. @TK

    Nice piece and some touching comments. I relish the tone and the attitude of the Keepers of the Cog. I regularly insist to my VMH that this site is a Global Source for Good. Still… in light of events like deaths of Amy Gillett and Kristof Goddart, I wonder if Rule #66 and “Wearing a YJA is not going to help” really are defensible. Not sure. Just asking.

    By all means go YJA. Last night I had the following on: Tights with reflective tape across the calf. A “winter” helmet with reflective tape on the back. My jacket had white sleeves with some reflcctive stuff on the upper arms. Three different blinking red lights behind (two on the stays, one on the seat post) two blinking white lights at the front. All removable in seconds. It was getting dark by the time I got home, but not totally dark. I was on familiar roads.

    In short, given how effective and cheap led lights are these days and how easy they are to attach/remove, there’s no excuse for Velominati to ride in the dark in the dark. Was I guily of overkill? I don’t think so. I think drivers truly appreciate being able to see you. Merckx knows I’ve seen enough folks riding at night in dark clothing with no lights. If they get hit, I’m not sure you can truly blame the driver as you have to take some responsibility for your safety.

  13. Lights and night go together like Velominati and the rules. No compromise !  Drivers and cell phones or lap top for that matter  just don’t work .

  14. First post, but been reading for a while.. you know. I rode a motor bike for many years as a youth and it teaches you to ride very defensively. Last accident on the mbike (only one so far on the bicycle) I had eye contact with the driver, then she pulled out in front of me anyway. Agree with starclimber, I think you have to ride assuming anyone else on the road can do anything stupid and unexpected at anytime, and when we’re tired is when concentration and vigilance lapses. Stay safe out there boys and girls.

  15. We lose to many every year. RIP.

  16. Horrible news not coming home from a nice ride, or any other activity.

    I’ve been teaching my Pedalwan’s to use the road way more better than a car driver. Be more alert and always make eye contact with the driver. As drivers, (most drivers do not ride) they are not looking for pedestrians, cyclist, animals, they’re looking for other cars not to hit.

    Also more so these days is dumb drivers using smart phones and in car GPS’s.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oal-vBFmnRk

    And light up – day and night! Anything to catch other road uses attention.

    http://www.velominati.com/technology/the-eye-of-sauron/

  17. @TK

    Nice piece and some touching comments. I relish the tone and the attitude of the Keepers of the Cog. I regularly insist to my VMH that this site is a Global Source for Good. Still… in light of events like deaths of Amy Gillett and Kristof Goddart, I wonder if Rule #66 and “Wearing a YJA is not going to help” really are defensible. Not sure. Just asking.

    Given that Amy’s death was caused by a drunk (if memory serves correctly) driver that plowed through the Australian national team while out training as a group, I don’t really see how brighter colours would have helped them. If 8-10 cyclists in a group all wearing white jerseys with yellow & green bands around them doesn’t catch your attention, I doubt an extra splash of bright yellow is going to change the situation.

    As Wiscot & the others mentioned, blinking lights are much more likely to attract an inattentive driver’s gaze.

  18. I drive cars, I ride motocycles, but most I enjoy riding road bikes. And what I can tell, even if you are in a car, or on a motocycle or you ride // the zero protection// road bike, chances to shit happents are the same. You can die in any of then just like ..you can die when you cross the street on foot.  Nothing will me make me change.

    RIP Kristof Goddaert 

  19. It’s always sad news when any cyclist is killed. I feel like saying murdered because thats what it is. I do not understand the cars that can not slow for what, 10 seconds, even 30 if thats what it means to pass a cyclist safely.

    I am now commuting in Miami and weirdly it is sort of mellow  because the speed limits are 30-35 mph and I am used to Boston and NYC where some roads are much faster.  Having said that any ride that involves cars (and now crazy Latino- Caribbean- Old) means accepting the odds. Its like  jumping out of a plane on D-Day, some died right away and some lived until 89. My rides are duels and there is no room for inattention, only focus.

    Lastly, you don’t need the YJA but light colored clothing, reflective bits and enough lights so that when Mrs. Wife goes to court to watch the trial of the Escalade/Rover arsewhole driver she can yell out “Which fucking light did you NOT see.”

  20. @Mikael Liddy

    Wasn’t a drunk driver, just a newly-qualified one who lost control of her car.

    Visibility wasnt an issue because the driver lost it going over a hill on a bend.

  21. @Mikael Liddy

    As Wiscot & the others mentioned, blinking lights are much more likely to attract an inattentive driver’s gaze.

    This isn’t exactly the same thing, but it might still be relevant: a sea kayaking partner of mine is friends with a Coast Guard SAR person; this person told him, “We don’t see bright colors. We see flashing lights.”

  22. @Marcus

    @Mikael Liddy

    Wasn’t a drunk driver, just a newly-qualified one who lost control of her car.

    Visibility wasnt an issue because the driver lost it going over a hill on a bend.

    fair enough, was a little shady on the exact circumstances & decided to take the Frank D. Strack approach to research.

  23. Respectfully feels as though we should not argue these points any further.

  24. How to have a moment of silence online?

  25. So, my approach with a mirror and lots of flashing lights is not so uncool then ?

  26. @TK

    Nice piece and some touching comments. I relish the tone and the attitude of the Keepers of the Cog. I regularly insist to my VMH that this site is a Global Source for Good. Still… in light of events like deaths of Amy Gillett and Kristof Goddart, I wonder if Rule #66 and “Wearing a YJA is not going to help” really are defensible. Not sure. Just asking.

    I think it was a Bristol Uni study? YJA will give you 6 cm extra room from passing motorists, but only when it included the word POLICE across the back. Safest way to ride a bike? Long blonde hair, dress, town bike, with a basket on the front! Most dangerous? As a cyclist rather than someone who merely rides a bike.

  27. @Ken Ho

    So, my approach with a mirror and lots of flashing lights is not so uncool then ?

    Who knows?

  28. The Who

  29. Sympathies to the Goddaert family. It was the Bath Uni study and since I’m not ready to wear a wig or a YJA that serves only to indicate that I might be cycling to work at a construction site,  I try to exercise as much caution as possible especially in urban areas where traffic is greater.  We must remember that we share the road with sometimes reluctant partners.  Don’t knowingly put yourself in harm’s way…and you still may not be safe.

  30. 38:38

  31. @andrew

    Gas prices will be one thing that can change people’s minds; they seem to have already shut down HumVee production and shifted some people into smaller cars from what I hear. Though seriously, cars and trucks over there are freaking enormous.

    Hummer went to the wall during the GFC… unless someone has resurrected it.

    Don’t know about passing a law that makes the driver automatically at fault but they are trialling a law here in Queensland, Aus that requires a one meter gap when cars overtake bikes. Fine is massive too, about $4000 if I remember correctly. BIG uproar about it be none of the objectors had any real reason why it shouldn’t be made law. Best they could come up with was “it’s unenforceable”. If that’s they case, why resist it???? They are partially right in that it likely will only be applied after an incident. Regardless, since the debate started months ago on this and a raft of other laws cars have been giving me more clearance than I have ever had. Law or no law it has at least bought awareness. There are actually a lot of folks that believe the laws are already in place. They aren’t just a trial in Brisbane of one of the laws.

  32. @unversio

    How to have a moment of silence online?

  33. @ChrissyOne

    @unversio

    How to have a moment of silence online?

  34. @Mikael Liddy

    @TK

    Nice piece and some touching comments. I relish the tone and the attitude of the Keepers of the Cog. I regularly insist to my VMH that this site is a Global Source for Good. Still… in light of events like deaths of Amy Gillett and Kristof Goddart, I wonder if Rule #66 and “Wearing a YJA is not going to help” really are defensible. Not sure. Just asking.

    You know, my Father in-law is a Fire Chief (or was). He told me something that confimed my perspective on hi-vis colours. He drives/rides in a massive, chrome and red brick shaped truck. It has flashing headlights, strobing blue’s and reds on all sides along with 120db sirens. 99% of drivers have no idea this things is bearing down on them until it’s within a few meters and the sirens have made it past the sound deadening and music. Drivers pull out in front of him, sometimes he sits on their tail sounding the horn until they wake up and move out the way.

    Now, when I was tought to drive I was told to check my mirrors every 30 sec (which is probably too long). When I was taught to ride a motorcycle I was taught to be scanning 360° around me at all times not just looking for cars but any hazard. Dogs, Pot holes, birds, you name it. Clearly no one is doing this riding in their cocoon (car) and no bright yellow jact is going to make a lick of difference. If they are not actively looking for a cyclist, the will simply not see one. Fact.

    I believe everyone should be made to ride a motorcycle for 12 months before they get a car licence and that licence re-testing should be every  years. I am convinced it would revolutionise the roads. I am a miner, and every 12 months I have to go and get my safety inducation re-done. Same shit every year. CPR, Danger Tags, all basic but always drummed into you. Drivers get a licence at 17, and that’s it, for life!! Something is wrong there.

  35. @Ken Ho

    So, my approach with a mirror and lots of flashing lights is not so uncool then ?

    Actually it depends on the bike it’s on. I quote @Frank “On the commuter anything goes”.

    If on the race bike, I think you’ll find you overstep the mark with the mirror.

  36. @Puffy

    @Ken Ho

    So, my approach with a mirror and lots of flashing lights is not so uncool then ?

    Actually it depends on the bike it’s on. I quote @Frank “On the commuter anything goes”.

    If on the race bike, I think you’ll find you overstep the mark with the mirror.

    Yup.  For the daily minefield runs to work, rule violations abound.  Mirror?  Not for me, but no problem if that’s your thing.  Beat up fenders?  Check.  Galactic-scale EPMS and backpack for all the crap I haul to work?  Check.  YJA?  Fuck that.  You have to draw the line somewhere.

    On the chaingang?  Solo 300km training ride?  Hill repeats Sunday morning at the park? The Rules are the Alpha and the Omega, and we break them at our peril.

  37. Unfortunately, it’s becoming almost a weekly ritual here in Southern California:

    http://ktla.com/2014/02/20/bicyclist-killed-in-fatal-hit-and-run-driver-arrested/#axzz2txy0VvH4

  38. @Puffy

    The mirror is really about pinch points.  When the road narrows abruptly, because of a roundabout, or other road furniture, or even a parked car creating a door zone, then I really like to know what’s coming up behind me.    That occurs a lot on commuter routes, but also on a lot of longer training routes.  There is one 15km section that runs back along the Tweed Coast, where there a pinch point about every 500m, with kerbed pedestrian crossings , roundabouts, narrow verges, parked cars, school zones etc.  It’s a real circus and doing it without a mirror is a mad gamble.  I  can no more ride without a mirror on my roadie than I can in my car or on my motorbike.   I tried for a bit when one broke, and it drove me nuts.

    Most of the fatalities that occur on our roads happen at pinch points, where cars and trucks just force their way past bikes, heedless to the consequences.  It was such a death that prompted the successful campaign to have a minimum passing distance law looked at, that of Richard Pollitt.

    Now if I’m actually racing, no worries, it can come off.

  39. @wiscot

    @TK

    Nice piece and some touching comments. I relish the tone and the attitude of the Keepers of the Cog. I regularly insist to my VMH that this site is a Global Source for Good. Still… in light of events like deaths of Amy Gillett and Kristof Goddart, I wonder if Rule #66 and “Wearing a YJA is not going to help” really are defensible. Not sure. Just asking.

    By all means go YJA. Last night I had the following on: Tights with reflective tape across the calf. A “winter” helmet with reflective tape on the back. My jacket had white sleeves with some reflcctive stuff on the upper arms. Three different blinking red lights behind (two on the stays, one on the seat post) two blinking white lights at the front. All removable in seconds. It was getting dark by the time I got home, but not totally dark. I was on familiar roads.

    In short, given how effective and cheap led lights are these days and how easy they are to attach/remove, there’s no excuse for Velominati to ride in the dark in the dark. Was I guily of overkill? I don’t think so. I think drivers truly appreciate being able to see you. Merckx knows I’ve seen enough folks riding at night in dark clothing with no lights. If they get hit, I’m not sure you can truly blame the driver as you have to take some responsibility for your safety.

    If you’re talking about riding last night, 2/20/14, the real story here is the fact that you rode last night in the whipping wind and driving rain/sleet, and failed to mention that fact anywhere in this post. Chapeau, good sir.

  40. @doubleR Riding at 11pm is not going to work in the favor of any cyclist. Only nite-time  training ride that we indulged was the first hour and a half after sunset on a semi-inactive circuit — always with front and rear lights. I referred to one rider as the “locomotive” — you could see an enormous beam of light coming up from behind you. He never had a tactful chance to win any sprints.

  41. @unversio

    @doubleR Riding at 11pm is not going to work in the favor of any cyclist. Only nite-time training ride that we indulged was the first hour and a half after sunset on a semi-inactive circuit “” always with front and rear lights. I referred to one rider as the “locomotive” “” you could see an enormous beam of light coming up from behind you. He never had a tactful chance to win any sprints.

    Depends on where you are.

    At home on the Gold Coast, I don’t need to ride at night much, but here in Mackay, when I’m away working, the day time traffic is horrendous.   I’ve just been on the trainer for an hour, because a combination of heat and traffic makes riding out too unappealing.  It’s a mining and pig-hunting town, and while there is a strong cycling presence, it pales next to the bogan (think “red-neck”) element.

    However, at night, there is barely any traffic out on the long ride route I favour, and I can go for 10-20 km with a brae handful of cars passing, most giving me a full lane of clearance, because my flashing lights give me a big footprint and much better than daytime visibility.   Night training is very popular here.  It works from the time management aspect too.

  42. Requiescat in pace, Kristof.

    Puffy’s suggestion has merit – maybe with the modification to have all motorists spend a minimum of X days/miles/units as a cyclist before being licensed.  An annual refresher requirement for motor vehicle operators has long struck me as needed.  In the US mining industry, Annual Refresher Training is an effective tool.  Several of us at my company who are cyclists have introduced a cycling and pedestrian safety section into safety training.  A good venue and tool.

  43. Last summer. Road wide enough easily for a car and a bike. But I ended in the ditch. The dirver’s first response (at least she stopped) was ‘I’m sorry I didn’t see you’. Which was kind of obvious. But even this sad apology was rather tarnished by her next statement. ‘ it’s a new car and I was worried about scratching the paintwork’. As opposed to my fleshwork, I guess. So that’s ok then.

  44. Timely article.  Read it this morning, hit by a truck two hours ago.  I’m okay, just waiting for CT results.  May have dented the hood with my face.  Five stitches in my hand.  Bruises.

    Bike hasn’t been looked at thoroughly yet.  Hanger was bent on quick look.

  45. @DerHoggz Fuuuggh… hope you heal well and things workout with the bike. Glad you are cognizant.

  46. @DerHoggz

    Oh man, very sorry to hear that. “Just waiting for the CT results” is not a phrase you want to have associated with your day.   Riding with stitches in your face does carry high badass points though, so there’s that.

    Rear derailleur hangers are the collarbones of road bikes.

  47. Bruises work too. Damn (lack of reading comprehension) autocorrect.

  48. @ChrissyOne

    @unversio

    How to have a moment of silence online?

    … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … … …

  49. CT scans were good.  I  am the least bruised I have been from any crash ever, no sliding and didn’t even rip my kit.  Just the stitches in between 3rd and 4th knuckle on my left hand, probably sliced it on the grill or something.

    The bike seems to be ok.  Front wheel is out of true.  May have cracks on the fork, I’m definitely having a shop look it over.

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