I’ve said repeatedly that bike paths are not the magical safety zone that many would believe them to be. We have a tragic example of that from Bloomington, Minnesota, today. MPR reports a bicycle-related fatality as two cyclists collided head-on at a tunnel intersection on a bike path near 86th and Bush Lake Road.
MPR focuses on the helmets, but this really isn’t about helmets. Even the most strident and yelping helmet advocate will admit (if forced) that helmets are not magical. They help, certainly, in the event of impact, but they’re still plastic and styrofoam.
A more important factor in this accident, I think, is that one rider came out of their lane while turning, creating the head-on situation. Head-on crashes – whether cars or bikes or anything else – have greater consequences than rear-end collisions, because both objects have momentum towards each other. This is elementary physics.
I don’t know this tunnel well, and don’t know if there’s really design flaw or if it was user error. Following rules of lane usage – on roads and on trails – is really critical for the safety of all users of a throughway.
My sympathy goes out to the family of the victim, as well as to the other rider involved.
September 1, 2009 at 5:23 pm
Helmets are great; wearing one has saved me from serious injury. However, they won’t prevent a broken neck, internal injuries, or serious lacerations. If worn properly (–a big “if” since not everyone does), they’ll help keep your head intact, but they aren’t a panacea.
As with you, my heart goes out to the family of the victim, and to the other cyclist involved as well. That sounds like a heavy burden to carry.