Illinois enacted a three foot passing law in 2007. That didn’t help David and Cindy Combs, the disabled couple from Champaign, IL who were hit by a driver as they rode their tandem bicycle to choir practice on Monday afternoon. Cindy, age 53, was killed in the crash. Her widower David remains in critical condition.
The Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette published a moving story on the couple this morning. In spite of their disabilities, they maintained a high degree of independence, in large part due to their bicycle built for two.
[Developmental Service Director Dale] Morrissey said Mrs. Combs was blind and rode on the back of the bike supplying pedal power to her husband, who was sighted.
“They literally rode thousands of miles a year,” he said, adding that in bad weather, they rode the C-U Mass Transit District buses.
MTD Driver Valerie Lockett of Urbana called Cindy and David Combs “intertwined.”
“She was high-functioning, just blind. She had a quick wit and was just hilarious,” Lockett said. “He loved her so much. He took care of her and doted on her. It was beautiful. It really was. They were just waiting to get back on that bike.”
Sue in Champaign was interviewed for the News-Gazette story and asked, “What kind of society would we be if people like Dave and Cindy didn’t have a way to get where they need to go?”
Jennifer in Chicago has her own outraged take on road rights and disability.
Caught up in the middle (or perhaps flung carelessly outside) the raging vitriol between cyclists and motorists are people who literally cannot drive. I refer to persons with disabilities who are prohibited from obtaining drivers’ licenses on the basis of those same disabilities. Telling someone who, say, is legally blind or has epilepsy, and therefore uses a bicycle to get around, to get a car or get off the road is shockingly ignorant at best and heartlessly cruel at worst.
Finally, Carlton editorializes on “road ownership” from his side of the Atlantic ocean. On cyclists who have the nerve to delay motorists for a handful of seconds….
Grabbing that real estate isn’t a cyclist demonstrating ownership of the road, it’s more like a fleeting rental.
We have no exoskeletons, we know our place. Why? Because cars and trucks are bigger than us, we’re really in no position to pick fights with vehicles many times our mass and many times faster than us (in the sales brochures, if not always in urban reality) and many times more bruising and crushing than us. A car roof may get the odd slap now and again, from cyclists who may have just had their life threatened, but, in the grand scheme of things, puny flesh and blood can do little against armoured speed.
Of course, we’re fleet of foot and can jiggle through gaps cars can’t, so is this why it’s said we own the roads, because we can percolate? Probably not. That’s just an irritation for the driver who has been sold a dream of ‘the freedom of the road’ but never gets it because there are too many other road-dreamers out there too.
Sue has an old photo of David and Cindy riding the tandem.
According to news reports, the driver of the vehicle that hit the Combs, Errol Maul, was not ticketed for violating 625 Illinois Compiled Statues 5/11-703(d), which says:
The operator of a motor vehicle overtaking a bicycle or individual proceeding in the same direction on a highway shall leave a safe distance, but not less than 3 feet, when passing the bicycle or individual and shall maintain that distance until safely past the overtaken bicycle or individual.