Experienced Bicyclist Killed After Colliding with Ohio Trail Bollard
follow-up with photo of bollard:
“For the past six or seven years whenever we ride together as a group, the person who takes the lead yells, ‘Poles up!’ when we approach the barricades,” Elliott said Thursday. “We always knew they were dangerous and someone could get seriously injured, and we know people who have gotten hurt, but we never thought someone would get killed by one of those poles.”
On a ride in Ohio my son and I saw/heard an older experienced roadie hit one of those very things. Broke a carbon fork, sounded like a rifle going off. Guy was very banged up. Not surprised.
Terrible. Things like this is partially why I’ve been hesitant to ride in large groups lately.
Also, is this why there’s cones at all the open gates on the Jail Trail now?
I almost had this happen to me on a Tuesday ride near the prison. I must have zoned out or something because I just didn’t see it until marko yelled at me to watch out saving my life. I think we have a heightened awareness on the street but maybe not as aware on the trail because there aren’t any cars to worry about.
I am terrified of bollards (partially because I have limited depth perception and often run into things, partially because of a childhood bike accident). I feel more justified now.
[My condolences for Giuseppe and his family.]
Considering the purpose of bollards and how long they’ve been around in this form factor, I feel that this is one of those times wherein the purpose of the thing in question is to prevent someone from doing something, which presents a danger to someone who accidentally does that thing.
Danger to the greater good by protecting from the lesser evil, damned if you do and damned if you don’t and all that. Trail bollards are there to prevent folks from driving cars, four-wheelers, generally motorized vehicles on the trails. Should they enter the trail, it does damage to the trail infrastructure and can pose a severe hazard to anyone on the trail at the time. Think, worst case scenario, dude in a jacked bronco drives on a trail and runs full speed into a woman jogging with her child. Insert public outcry for the biggest most harmful bollards you can come up with.
This is one of those trickle-down full spectrum things in which no one wins:
Solution: Softer bollards, as a suggestion, sort of like the orange traffic poles that flop over if you hit them.
Problem: The sort of folks who might want to drive on a trail will drive over these and/or destroy them.
Solution: Bollards that are made out of strong materials but are less likely to injure someone on impact.
Problem: Less likely to harm people, less likely to stop a car.
Solution: Autonomous sentry robot programmed to stop unauthorized vehicles by various means of force.
Problem: Y’know, sentry robots.
This is my really long winded way of saying, if you build it, someone will run into it, exploit it, or otherwise defeat it. Until we don’t have idiots who want to drive on trails, park budgets can afford high tech reliable solutions (scan rfid to gain access to trail something something), the best we can do is ensure bollards are visible and hope for the best. This isn’t a problem like a longitudinal drain grate, this is a problem of a momentary lapse of attention.
It’s also fair to question the speed of the cyclist on the trail, and whether there were posted limits.
Be careful and pay attention whether you’re running, walking, riding driving or flying a hot air balloon. There are things in your way, and you will hit them at some point.
I think there must be a technical solution somehow, but don’t know it. Maybe some diversion at the trail edge that a car can’t get through? To me, it just brings home how dangerous cycling really is.
Found this on bollard alternatives.
The whole thing seems so bizarre. We have an experienced cyclist on a trail, riding at the back of a group of cyclists, on a trail he had ridden before any number of times, in decent weather, in daylight. And doesn’t just have a wreck, doesn’t just end up in the hospital, but is killed. It’s such an outlier as to defy any sort of rational explanation, or to be used as the basis for making any sort of lasting changes. I really don’t know how you can make any sort of sense out of this. It just shouldn’t happen, but like nuclear meltdowns and people flying out of belted-down amusement park rides, sometimes it does.
If he had been one centimeter one side or the other of where he hit, would he merely have wrecked, or ended up in the hospital? Do we know exactly what the cause of death was, as in did a shard of his frame sever an artery or some such thing? If he’d been on a simple steel frame instead of a carbon fiber, would that have changed anything?
Or am I misreading it, and he wasn’t on a carbon frame? I picked that up from a later post. I don’t really know what sort of bike he was on. Having the exact cause of death (and I don’t mean merely “he hit a post”) would really help.
The real problem with the bollards in Ohio is that if I remember correctly, they are wood posts about 4′ high, weathered gray. If you are in a group, or even if there are people stopped at the crossing milling around, you have no idea where they are or even that they are there. It’s a terrible design. To someone with the proper kind of imagination or forethought they are, as jeg says, terrifying. But they seem so innocuous. If there are bollards, they need to be 8 feet high, and yellow, or something. Maybe with a delightful colorful flag on top. Hideous, sure, but safe. Now someone has died, so hopefully someone takes a look at this.
Anonymous 04/29/2012 at 10:02pm #
@edmonds59 In this particular case the bollard was steel one. But gray and low. Take a look at the second Vannevar’s link.
FWIW, a few hours after the article that says he hit a steel post, that same site published this article that says he hit a “concrete barrier”. Probably it’s just wrong, but…. I couldn’t find any reports on the web that didn’t seem copied from the newspaper with the contradictory articles.
I think bollards are fine, but visibility is a big issue. The photos in this article show yellow lane markings to direct cyclists around the bollard; they seem like a good idea.
The technology exists. This isn’t rocket science. How about inductive loops like what you find at intersections to trigger a light? (I’ve never been able to trigger a light with my bike). Or a camera? Shape of CAR! If it’s a car, stop it. if it’s not, don’t.
quizbot: no one has been able to make that tech perfect, and there are always ways around it. Even if it was perfect, no park division would be able to afford it for every bollard blocked intersection.
What would happen if someone were moving fast enough that if the software glitched and didnt open a gate, they would get harmed. Then you say “well you shouldn’t be moving that fast”. Then you shouldn’t be moving fast enough to get severely injured hitting a bollard, either, and theres no reason to spend the money.
I suppose this is poignant, personal and pointless but this Ohio story was significant to me because a few years ago I almost got killed on the McKeesport trail by a bollard.
In 2004 a small group of us were riding from McKeesport to Rockwood for an overnight, back the next day.
We hadn’t got out of McKeesport when it happened. There are bollards on the trail, and at times the center bollard is removed so maintenance vehicles can have access. When they remove the pole, the base (is that a stanchion?) remains.
This is the actual photo of the actual bollard base that got me, no fooling:
So we’re riding single file, five bicyclists and I’m last. Nobody called the hazard; the lead saw it and assumed everybody else would, too. And they all did, except for me.
My view of it was blocked by the four bikes in front of me. My front wheel cleared it, my back wheel didn’t and the rear wheel pitched up real severely. “Ass over elbows” is the engineering term.
Halfway through the maneuver my lizard brain said “this is bad” so I engaged both brakes, with my rear wheel airborne – and that physics stuff really does happen, the front wheel locked and the bike kept rotating.
My head bounced off the pavement, popped back up two feet, then descended and came to a stop. The helmet did its job and was ruined. I was laying there trying to see if I could wiggle my toes, thinking about my wife and kids and what a stupid way this was to die.
My friends didn’t see it; they heard me yell and heard a big “splotch” sound when I hit the pavement.
It took a while, but my friends got me up and I was remarkably without significant injury. Took quite a while to get the bike back together, and then before we got on our way one of the guys said Hey now that you’re alive, can we restage the scene for a photo?
and a few weeks later, one of the geniuses produced this, they’re funny that way.
but I’ll never forget trying to see if I could wiggle my toes, and thinking about my family.
And I’ve never understood why we put obstacles in a path, that’s kind of crazy, right?
That yellow diamond around the bollard base is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen.
I’d say it’s good that they marked the hazard with a yellow diamond, though it should have been much longer, with a lane divider leading up to the diamond.
But the main lesson I take from Vannevar’s story (glad you were OK!) is that calling out hazards is really, really important when riding close in a group. Whether it’s a pothole or a bollard hole or glass shards, when cyclists are blocking your view, it turns an easily avoidable hazard into a serious danger.
Or, to phrase that in another way that is under the individuals control, never ride so closely that you can’t see the road ahead at all times, and don’t assume the road ahead is safe just because you are following another rider. Don’t Lemming.
I mean to add, farther up thread, this is why it’s both dangerous and impolite to start drafting someone in a non-race situation. You’re entrusting your safety to that person and making them liable for you if you hit something while sitting on their wheel.
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