(Photo: Wash. Co. Sheriff)
A crash occurred in Washington County, OR. I used to live in that county. A pickup plowed into three cyclists from the rear on NW West Union Road about 1/2 mile east of the intersection with Jackson Quarry Road. Immediately the blame patrol works to blame the victims. Even with the picture to the right where one of the mountainbikes was embedded in the grill of the truck.
So we have a rear end collision. If it were a motor vehicle crash, the guy hitting from the rear is automatically at fault, but with bicycles it is all about how to blame the victim. Even though the pickup was going too fast for his headlights and driving too fast for conditions (by definition, he hit three cyclists). Everyone is already upset that the cyclists didn't have lights. Now sure, they probably should have, but they aren't required to and there is evidence that it wouldn't have made a difference. Because the driver hit THREE cyclists, one hard enough to embed the bike into the grill of his vehicle.
I understand why cyclists would want to review the situation to address what they could do better. But in no way should that have impact on who is at fault. The law is clear, cyclists are required to have rear reflectors. The bikes had those reflectors and studies have shown that reflectors are often better than lights in the cases where auto lights are very bright and wash out rear lights of the bike. With many cars running super bright LEDs now, it is important to have some reflectors facing backward. Reflectors are brighter under bright lights.
In the end the motorist outran his headlights or was not paying attention. Given the impact evident in the picture I suspect he wasn't paying attention. I am infuriated that the cyclists are in critical condition and paying the price for the motorists error. Additionally I can't abide how everyone wants to blame the cyclists who are the victims and give the motorist the benefit of the doubt. Our legal system posits innocent until proven guilty, but that doesn't mean that our outrage and frustration are required to wait for proof as well.
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