Two cycling tragedies on the roads this week – so far no charges filed in either case

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.

View Larger Map
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.

You can join a conversation about this tragedy on the BikePGH Messageboard


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.

Videos: Neighbors want action after boy was struck by car in Knoxville and Parents to take child hit by car off of life support

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.

6 Comments

  • jimbonant says:

    The driver should be in jail right now facing manslaughter and gross negligence charges. No charges were pressed, what if that had been a bike cop? He would be facing much more greater chargers I am sure than none at all.

    Bottom line, WTF, who does the driver know that got him out of this one and why are police so nice about this?

    And as you all have stated the bikes position is irrelevant in cases like this, he had every right to be where he was when he was, lack of control of the truck that killed poor late Mr Parker is the issue here.

    This just shows you can kill a biker and get away with it, is that what we want? Was it even an accident I am left to wonder?

    :

  • erok says:

    well, the investigation is still going on. it’s upsetting that no charges were filed, but we’ll know for sure once the county police come out with their findings. they may end up pressing charges yet

  • Vannevar says:

    Actually, if I may, there have been three deaths in a week, four deaths in two months.

    http://vannevar.blogspot.com/2010/05/dying-to-ride-bicycle.html

  • Paul says:

    Cycling on the roads of Pittsburgh I have found to be quite the risky proposition. People are for lack of better word, assholes. This skim by you so close their side mirrors miss you by an inch, the come up right behind you and beep their horn or scream obscene gestures out the window. I have been hit by a full bottle of gatorade that someone through out the window, I have had my life threatened by some back woods dumbass. He was real tough, until I caught up to him at a stop light. People just need to calm down, use some commone sense and realize that that extra 5 seconds it might hold them up to pass a cyclist when it is safe to do so, is not going to make a difference in their pathetic, lazy lives.

    Sometimes it feels good to just vent, my heart goes out to the the family of Don Parker and Tyrique Snowden and all families that have to deal with such tragedy.
    I understand that accidents happen, but if people would just THINK and BE AWARE of the possible outcomes of their actions, I believe we would have a LOT LESS “Accidents”.

  • […] on Thursday morning, on a bright, sunny day, Mr. Parker, 52, was struck and killed by a truck as he climbed the hill on Harts Run Road from Saxonburg […]

  • […] Allegheny County detectives have not filed charges against the teen driver who was untangling flip-flops when he killed Donald Parker. […]

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