Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cyclist's Prognosis Uncertain--An Outpouring of Sympathy by Community

Cyclists are still reeling from the news --and the scene--of cyclist Camille Savoy who was tragically struck last Sunday. And while details of Savoy's injuries--and the exact cause of his accident-- have been slow to come out, an outpouring of sympathy and wishes for his recovery have filled the E-waves.

While traveling north on Rt. 9W, a popular route for cyclists that normally carries from 2,400 to 3,500 cyclists a weekend, Savoy, 54 was struck in the vicinity of Closter, NJ, by a motorist who apparently clipped him and caused him to fall.

The scene was met with horror by passing cyclists who saw the ground strewn with a flattened bicycle, a front wheel crushed some 20 feet away, and a pile of torn multi-colored lycra still another 20 feet further away --presumably where Savoy had been cut out of his clothing by paramedics trying to treat his injuries.

"Camille has made some, albeit very modest, progress," wrote a friend Van Gothner to BBB. "He remains in a medically induced coma and the doctors hope to bring him out of it this weekend. Two of his five sisters have arrived and are with him. The prognosis remains uncertain," he said.

Savoy sustained a broken back, a broken foot, head injuries, and his lungs are filled with blood, according to the last report from Van Gothner.

A spokeswoman for the Hackensack University Medical hospital where Savoy is being treated, said she was unable to release an update from the earliest assessment of his condition which was listed as "critical."

Messages of concern, friendship and love poured out onto the pages of BBB and local discussion groups of the FIve Borough Bike Club. Wrote Sharon F. on BBB, "[Savoy] is one of the sweetest, kindest people I've ever met. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers."

Another person who remained anonymous wrote, "I’m a frequent rider on 9-W. It is heart wrenching to hear about this accident and I hope for the safe recovery of the cyclist."

Wrote another, "My husband and I rode by the scene of the accident shortly after it had occurred... We knew that the injuries were serious and stopped to pray for him then and will continue to keep him in our prayers."

A family who knows Savoy wrote, "Camille is an amazing athlete and wonderful person. He has been like a part of my family for as long as I can remember, and now my three boys adore and admire him as well. I ask that everyone who knows Camille or someone like him send thoughts of healing to him. I believe that it makes a difference. Love, Strength, Healing to Camille and his family. DD, Ben, Matt, John."

Another friend wrote: "He is an extraordinary person, great friend and much loved. It will be some time before the full extent of his injuries are known. Please keep him in your prayers."

A member of the Five Borough Bike Club, one of the largest local bike riding clubs, posting to the group's shared email said that he spoke to a "lieutenant" at the Alpine police station who appeared to attribute some blame to Savoy for riding close to the white line.

Wet leaves heavily carpeted the ground and filled half the width of the road's shoulder, a fact that some cyclists have theorized may have led Savoy to move closer to the white line that separates the shoulder from the northbound car lane. But still there has been no official word from the Bergen County Prosecutor's office on how the accident occurred.

Only the prosecutor's office can make a determination of cause, and the local police station is not party to that investigation.

Chapter Eight of the New Jersey state department of motor vehicles,
states that "a motorist should always leave plenty of room when following or passing a bicyclist, skateboarder or inline skater. Under New Jersey law, each of these individuals has the same rights and responsibilities as a moving motor vehicle," it says.

And while cyclists do have the responsibility to ride as far to the right as possible, they are specifically entitled to move to the left when there are impediments.

According to New Jersey DMV regulation, 39:4-14.2, 39:4-10.11, , "Every person riding a bicycle on a roadway shall ride as near to the right roadside as practicable exercising due care ... A bicyclist may move left under any of the following conditions:... 2) To avoid debris, drains, or other hazardous conditions on the right," says the regulation.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

This article speaks of NJ MV Law (title 39). Yes, a bibyle is a vehicle and has just as much right to the roadway as a motor vehicle (MV). However, just like when another MV is attempting to change lanes, it has to yield to the MV already in that lane. The driver cannot just pull into another travel lane and expect other MV's to stop. The MV attempting to change lanes needs to let traffic clear and make sure it is safe before it can change lanes. THIS IS THE SAME TO BICYCLES. This article is bias and places blame only on the motorist who struck the bicyclist. I wish nothing but a fast and healthy recovery for the cyclist, but lets be fair and just.

Anonymous said...

You are so right, Anonymous, the police should enforce more of the laws regarding cyclist violations on Route 9W. I can't tell you how many hundreds of cyclists run through the red traffic signals on that highway. I heard that the Palisades Parkway Police is going to start there own crackdown next weekend.

Anonymous said...

HI
I don't think anywhere in this article I wrote that it was either the cyclist's fault or the driver's fault--I merely outlined the law. It seems maybe you don't like the law however, as it is written?
JB

Anonymous said...

Author's comment to the second Anonymous: there was no red light where this cyclist was hit. Let's keep this in perspective: the cyclist was hit--not the other way around. Cyclist--165 pounds. Car: 3,000 pounds.

Jen B, said...

PS if you have some insight to what the driver experienced--that is, if you know them and spoke to them, and heard their account we would like to learn what happened

dc said...

Curious about the law. I ride in NY where it is my understanding that cyclists are entitled to ride in the road. To me, that means we are entitled to ride to the left of the white line. To the right of that line is the shoulder, not the road. I'm not saying that we should always ride to the left of the line. Sometimes, it just makes sense and is safer to ride on the shoulder. However, to suggest that a cyclist is in part at fault for riding to the left of the line seems inaccurate. I believe that much of the animosity that is directed at cyclists comes from a misunderstanding on the part of motorists as to where cyclists are entitled to ride. Many probably believe we should be way off on the shoulder and get annoyed when we're simply riding where we are entitled to ride.

Jen B, said...

In response to DC; the law in NY and NJ states that you are entitled to ride on the road.

Thus, if there is no room on the RIGHT of the white line, you are entitled to ride on the LEFT of the white line.

Motorists have responsibility to move around you safely in those instances. Of course, in those instances cyclists are supposed to be going single file if a car is trying to pass. They can double up when there is no traffic.

Tripling up--which I have seen--on major roads with steady traffic is not recommended and is not legal, and frankly it is rude. It gives responsible drivers real fear about moving around you, less responsible drivers "license" to drive unsafely--because the cyclists are disobeying the law.

If a car cannot move around you safely when they want to pass, they must wait until they can do so.

Obviously some drivers today (with no reference to the above accident since we still do not know what happened) don't want to wait--for cyclists or, pedestrians, dogs, cats, raccoons, squirrels, deer, or any other living thing.

It is a sad fact of our time. That is one of the reasons why we see so many dead animals on roads that have 40 MPH rules (that and speeding,)and children hit by cars in heavily populated areas.

David said...

jb,

about the law, that's helpful and my understanding as well.

on the hostility front, it's unfortunate that some cyclists have brought some of this upon all of us.

sure, there are some motorists who just don't like anything that gets in their way.

but running red lights and stop signs and riding three abreast only
makes foes out of potential friends.

it is our responsibility to set the stage for mutual respect.

and when it comes to those times where we are mistreated by motorists, we should consider what we want the outcome of any confrontation to be.

more hostility and anger? or do we want to peruade that driver to behave better next time?

after years and years of getting angry with dangerous drivers, i've come to realize that it does no good to wage war in the form of cursing, gesturing and pounding on roofs.

even if you win that battle, you only perpetuate, and escalate, the war.

when necessary, i've pulled up to motorists and said something as simple and non-threatening as... "hey, that was a little close back there. i've been riding for 30 years so i can handle it, but if that had been my daughter or some other les experienced cyclist back there it would have really spooked them and might have made them crash. so do me a favor and just give us a little more room next time."

it doesn't always work, but more often than not i've received an understanding nod. and maybe the driver was left thinking that we cyclists aren't all that bad.

also, i've been trying to spread good will without waiting for an incident to happen. for example, if i'm on a tight road and a car has had to wait beofre being able to pass, i wave as they go by as a sign of thanks.

i also wave when a driver has waited for me to clear an intersection before pulling out.

little things. but if they keep one motorist from taking an angry run at one cyclist, then it's all worth it.

Anonymous said...

Oh Man! I can't even believe the Us vs. Them argument. We're not just 'cyclists' or 'bicylces' out there. We're HUMAN BEINGS -- mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, etc. trying to enjoy the outdoors, getting exercise, and being social. Most of us are also drivers and being cyclists often make us better, more careful drivers. Just watch out for us out there. Let's face it. NJ/NY drivers are dangerous. Cyclists, runners, and pedestrians take a big risk being anywhere NEAR a road no matter what the laws are. It's also the law to yield to pedestrians. Try crossing the street at an intersection without lights or stop signs.
Slow down...life's too short to be in such a rush and life's way too long living with someone's blood on your hands. Do

Anonymous said...

Camille is one of the most kind hearted and generous people in this world. He is loved by all that have the fortune to know him. I believe in his gradual recovery and he will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

in response to the first anonymous post:
"The driver cannot just pull into another travel lane and expect other MV's to stop. The MV attempting to change lanes needs to let traffic clear and make sure it is safe before it can change lanes. THIS IS THE SAME TO BICYCLES. This article is bias and places blame only on the motorist who struck the bicyclist."

This is actually completely false. Motor vehicle laws require that you stay far enough away from and travel at a safe enough distance from all drivers for situations just like this. if this was an insurance claim, the person in the rear is always "at-fault" for hitting the person in front of them. mistakes and accident definitely happen, but there is absolutely no excuse for speeding past and not paying attention to pedestrians or bikers

Anonymous said...

Knowing Camille, this out pouring of sympathy and concern is understandable. He is one in a million; an incredible athlete, a creative genius, a gourmet chief, a wonderfully charming and most captivating individual. BUT, above all he is a real friend. My family are better human beings for knowing him. Please keep him in your prayers.

Anonymous said...

NJSA 39:4-14.2 - definition for bicycles staying to the right and in single file. 9W is a highway, bicycles should not be up there anyway, but since I don't make law, it is required to ride in a single file on 9W unless you ride at 3am. As far as being allowed in the 'travel lane', you are required to stay as far right as possible. Listen sport, bicycles CANNOT just pull in front of another vehicle because they are allowed to go into the lane. How about you look first or stop because there is a car there. Failure to do so is called "Improper Lane Change or Failure to Maintain Lane NJSA 39:4-88".

Anonymous said...

"This is actually completely false. Motor vehicle laws require that you stay far enough away from and travel at a safe enough distance from all drivers for situations just like this. if this was an insurance claim, the person in the rear is always "at-fault" for hitting the person in front of them. mistakes and accident definitely happen, but there is absolutely no excuse for speeding past and not paying attention to pedestrians or bikers"

Well, that would be correct if the vehicle (and bicycles are vehicles and have to obey ALL state traffic laws pertaining to such) was in the lane, but when such vehicle makes an unsafe lane change, it is the fault of the driver/cyclist who makes the unsafe lane change. Do not begin to lecture me on MV law in NJ.

This is not them vs. us. I am trying to clarify things and I feel bicyclist tend to place more blame on motorist than themselves.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with all of your statements. A cyclist can not improperly change lanes or disregard the rules of the road, it is not us vs. them at all, BUT clearly looking at the pictures there is one thing that is very evident: all of the debris is located in the biking lane, not one piece is in the street. He may have been riding close to the lane line, not as far right as he possibly could be riding, but these pictures suggest he was in his lane at the time of the crash and the driver seem to be the one who crossed over to his territory, where all of these rules would apply.

Anonymous said...

"...BUT clearly looking at the pictures there is one thing that is very evident: all of the debris is located in the biking lane, not one piece is in the street. He may have been riding close to the lane line, not as far right as he possibly could be riding, but these pictures suggest he was in his lane at the time of the crash and the driver seem to be the one who crossed over to his territory, where all of these rules would apply."

To comment on the above...
It might appear that way, but were you there? Did you see everything or just one photo that a someone passing by took and posted on this site? Do you know anything about traffic law or accident reconstruction to say this? I don't think so. Propaganda at its finest. Lets keep telling one side of the story.

Anonymous said...

actually from personally speaking with residents of the area, bikers that had rode by the scene that day, and multiple photos posted on numerous other blogs you can research all stories of the scene that are very similar. what you will also find from people that knew him personally, is that this man was no sunday joy rider who was unfamiliar with riding. This man passionately biked hundreds of miles every week for something like the last 30 years, was very familiar with the area, as well as road riding. as a fellow biker shook up by this story, the real propaganda here is trying to justify that a person traveling in their car with a straight view of the person in front of them for a distance is perfectly allowed to hit them from behind. what if this man did not change lanes, but was riding in the street for a while to avoid debris, the car has the right of way to drive over him? as a driver, you have a responsibility to be aware of the things in front of you, you shouldnt be in a situation where you should be flying past someone in the event something suddenly does happen. you keep telling the one side of the story where this man suddenly changed lanes, how bout you read the facts of him being an experienced cyclist that I do not believe would just blindy ride into the road.

Blane Friest said...

Tragic. What can be done to change the way drivers view road rights? I've ridden in Europe where drivers give the entire lane just as if they were passing a car. It's a cultural difference buy maybe here the law needs to be changed to reflect that. The way I read it here it sounds like everything's fine if you're lucky enough to not have debris in the way when a car is going by.

40x14 said...

Camille is a great guy and this is a tragedy. I met Camille riding from Boston to the Cape a few years ago. I hope he pulls through with a speedy recovery. Godspeed to you Camille!