We regret to report that a pickup truck struck and killed Don Parker, a Hampton area cyclist, on Harts Run Road in Indiana Township. Mr Parker was a dedicated cyclist, on his way to work when the pickup truck struck him from behind. Although little information has been released, there is word that distracted driving may have been a factor. Mr Parker commutes the eight miles to Aptech Computer Systems and has been a frequent fundraiser to battle Multiple Sclerosis for the MS 150 Ride, according to KDKA.
The Post-Gazette reports:
Indiana Township police said Mr. Parker, wearing a helmet, was pedaling east, or uphill, on Harts Run when his bike was struck by a pickup truck that had been behind him.
Indiana Township police said Mr. Parker’s bicycle was on the edge of the travel lane, not on the berm, when the accident occurred. They said no charges had been filed against the driver, whose name was not released.
The PG quotes the Indiana Township Police Department’s account of the crash, implying that cyclists belong in the berm, not the travel lane. The Indiana Township Police have transferred the investigation to the Allegheny County Police, who refuse to comment until the investigation is complete.
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A view of the Harts Run Road. It is not clear where exactly the crash occurred.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review states that “County Police Sgt. Andy Sherman said the motorist struck the bike as Parker pedaled along the road’s shoulder.” Further they state that “in an e-mail, Indiana Township police Chief Robert Wilson said the bicycle and pickup that struck it were both heading eastbound on Harts Run Road. He said “driver distraction” may have contributed to the accident.”
So what’s going on here?
A cyclist’s position on the road is really irrelevant as it is legal to ride on the road.
PA State law states:
3301(b). Vehicle proceeding at less than normal speed. Upon all roadways, any vehicles proceeding at less than the normal speed of traffic at the time and place under the conditions than existing shall be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic, or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway – PA Vehicle Code
Let’s be clear, if “as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway” can mean in the center of the lane, that means a cyclist can also ride legally “on the edge of the travel lane” and not have to worry about being struck from behind.
Section 3501. Applicability of traffic laws to pedalcycles. (a) General rule. — Every person riding a pedalcycle upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this title
This does bring up some questions. Why was the driver not in control of his vehicle and driving carelessly? Was there a distraction involved? Had this driver run into the back of another car, would charges have been filed?
So far, no charges have been filed, but as often is the case, crashes like this are seen as “tragic accidents.” We will be following this case closely, and will report what we know as soon as the Allegheny County Police Department releases what they find from the investigation. We hope that the law is followed in this case, that the law will be applied equally to all road users, and that justice is properly served.
In the meantime, these tragedies must stay in the news. Please write letters to the editor and to your elected officials telling them that we demand safer streets.
In other tragic news, a car struck and killed 7-year old Tyrique Snowden Hill in the Knoxville neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Tyrique was leaving his friends house on his bike when a car struck him on Bausman St.
Family members now must decide whether to take Tyrique off of life support.
According to KDKA, neighbors say “that vehicles drive too fast on the road and that residents have made numerous calls to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s 311 service to have stop signs put it.” In addition, people park their cars on the sidewalk, creating the fatal combination of forcing pedestrians into a road that allows cars to drive faster than intended due to the extra space.
One of Hill’s relatives said that “an apology would be nice from the girl and her family. At least give us some type of closure. We lost a beautiful, bright, little boy, who didn’t even have a chance to enjoy life.”
No charges have been filed.
Hill’s family said it has been struggling to keep up with medical costs. The Tyrique Snowden Hill Fund has been set up at PNC Bank on Penn Circle South. Donations to the fund can be made at any PNC Bank branch.
Our hearts go out to all of the family members involved in these tragedies.