Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Another Cyclist Dies in New Jersey

Memorial ride to be held in Sparta, NJ next Saturday, March 28.

Bent Rasmussen, 78, was hit by a school bus in the town of Sparta, NJ when he was riding on Friday, February 27. After being airlifted to Morristown Memorial Hospital, he died on Sunday, March 1, from severe head injuries related to the accident.

Although the exact cause of the accident is not known, the driver is said to have not known he hit Rasmussen, and left the scene of the accident. By some accounts, it appeared as if Rasmussen had been hit by the bus's mirror and was either dragged or thrown some distance when it hooked to his jacket.

Rasmussen was an avid cyclist who rode every day, and a childhood friend and fellow cyclist of Andreas Meyer who informed BBB of the accident. Meyer was the cyclist who searched out, painted and installed the ghost bike for Camille Savoy after he was hit and killed by a motorist along Rte. 9W late last year. Meyer did not even know Savoy.

Meyer will now be obtaining another ghost bike for his dear family friend. The sign on his bike will read:
Bent Rasmussen
Accident - Friday Feb 27th
Died - Sunday March 1
Age - 78
Avid Cyclist and Sparta Resident
Hit and Run by School Bus on Main Street Sparta NJ

Meyer is planning the memorial ride on Saturday the 28th which he said will be about 3.5 miles from the beach area around Lake Mohawk, in Sparta, NJ, to the location where Rasmussen was hit in the center of town. Sparta is about 50 miles west of the George Washington Bridge.

Rasmussen was born in Sonderup, Denmark and came to the United States in 1959. He was a 1962 graduate of Yale Graduate School, with a master's degree in engineering. He and his family lived in Whippany from 1962 to 1965, before moving to Sparta, according to the New Jersey Herald.

In 1976, Rasmussen became a U.S. citizen. In lieu of flowers, the family has asked that donations be made in his memory to the Lake Mohawk Country Club, where a lasting enhancement to the boardwalk is planned as a tribute and memorial. He was also a longtime member of the Sparta Zoning Board. Ironically, even with his community involvement, the bus driver did not give Rasmussen enough space to pass.

Currently the New Jersey Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Council is formulating plans to help change New Jersey law regarding the amount of feet allowable for safe passing by a motorist when over-taking a cyclist or pedestrian. Currently, no number of feet is defined in New Jersey traffic law. The BPAC law committee is hoping to propose that the New Jersey legislature create a half lane minimum when passing cyclists.

Such a law would probably have saved the lives of both Savoy and Rasmussen, and in the event that those drivers had not given either rider enough space when passing, under the proposed changes, they would be liable --possibly with criminal penalties--for not doing so. But under current law, there is no standard cited other than a degree of reasonableness.

Bent is survived by his daughters, Ann Rasmussen and her spouse, Donna O'Meally, of Easthampton, Mass., and Karen Rasmussen and her domestic partner, Karen Schuler Hill, of Sparta; and his grandchildren, Marcus and Maja O'Meally and Miller Rasmussen, said his obituary in the New Jersey Herald.

Here are the details of the ride:
Memorial ride from Beach Six, Lake Mohawk, Sparta (end of Maple Parkway and East 
Shore Trail), to the accident site: Main Street, Sparta, front
of Municipal Building.
9am Start time, rain or shine. Distance: 3.5 miles.
Cyclists will be followed by those in vehicles that cannot ride.
Cyclists are asked to ride no more than two abreast and follow all traffic laws.
The ride will be lead by myself and family members of
Bent Rasmussen to the site of the accident. The return ride will NOT be organized.
Any questions, feel free to contact me at this email address:
andreas@meyer-media.com

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is a great idea. I nice way to say Goodbye and also bring attention to the public that bikers need respect. I will be there in support of this man an dhis family..