I won’t call this attempted murder because that would imply malicious intent, but it was certainly reckless driving. Watch the film closely and you will observe that the driver of the car that hits both bicyclists doesn’t turn his front steering-wheels away from the bikes after striking them. That would be a reflexive reaction of any driver who accidentally struck something like a bike. Even if the driver was on a cell phone, or even if he was drunk, he would still reflexively turn away after hitting the bikers. But he didn’t turn away; instead he drove ahead, leaving the two bikers splayed out on the ground and possibly dead. He didn’t know how badly they were hurt, but getting hit by a car traveling about 40 mph certainly puts a person at risk. As luck was in the bikers’ favor this time neither of them was badly injured, but the driver didn’t know that. Of course he was violating the law by leaving the scene of the accident. Fortunately for all concerned the camera image was clear enough to capture the make, model and license number of the car and the driver was apprehended within hours.

Berkeley car departs downed bicyclists

Berkeley, CA – Car departs two tumbling bicyclists he just hit.

Note that even the driver’s side wheels are over the white line separating the bike lane from the car lane. Note the camera time 3:15/4:22 so you can jump to the “accident”.

Google street view of the spot where the car hit the bicyclists

The Google street-view of the spot where the car hit the bicyclists

The video is on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3LatOGCWVc. The location is 37.8532 -122.2356 where you can see how wide the car lane is and how clearly marked the bike lane is too. Looking backward on Google street-view you will see that it’s about the same distance to another mild curve in the road. With the wall to the left side it requires paying attention, but as there are no skidding fender marks along this sixty-year-old wall it is proof that it is an easy street to navigate. There has been some graffiti painted over and on careful inspection of the half mile of retaining wall I think there was one old skid mark. But this is about as easy as driving gets, and there was no accidental reason to hit these bikers because they were very easy to see in the middle of the day and very easy to avoid.

When living in Berkeley I drove along this street many times, biked it several times, and jogged it a couple of times too. It is a very pleasant street through an upscale Berkeley  Hills neighborhood. During rush hour it can be hectic and slow but it is never dangerous.

This is an object lesson for all of us. There are some people driving cars who are stupid, nasty and nearly unconscious of other people’s rights. I am reminded of an old saying, “A good sailor never dies at sea.” I have no idea where that came from, but it made me wonder about its truthfulness, because the sea can be absolutely powerful compared to a tiny human and his boats. The only good answer is that a good sailor knows how overwhelming the sea can be and therefore never goes to sea. Perhaps we should be thinking the same thoughts about going out onto the highway – but who wants to hide under the bed? We must be reasonably careful about our well being but also we should:

Go boldly forth when the odds are good for a productive outcome and the risks are minimal.