Midsummer Lull, Another Fatality

As often happens in July, there is a bit of a lull in the racing scene around here as both riders and promoters take a little break from the summer heat. My usual morning routine is also in a state of flux as we all try to figure out what and when and where we can best replicate the levee training rides that have been a fixture for over ten years now. So last weekend, after a fairly routine and not particularly fast Giro Ride on Saturday, I headed across the lake Sunday morning for a club traiAs often happens in July, there is a bit of a lull in the racing scene around here as both riders and promoters take a little break from the summer heat. My usual morning routine is also in a state of flux as we all try to figure out what and when and where we can best replicate the levee training rides that have been a fixture for over ten years now. So last weekend, after a fairly routine and not particularly fast Giro Ride on Saturday, I headed across the lake Sunday morning for a club training ride.  We would be starting half an hour earlier than the more traditional 8:00 am in deference to the expected temperature, although as it turned out the morning temperature was a bit less oppressive than usual.  The turnout for this 65 mile ride was pretty thin, which I guess I’ll attribute to riders either taking an easy weekend or taking the opportunity to do their own rides with small groups.  Anyway, we had a really nice ride that was mostly at a moderate but steady pace.  Back at the Lee Road Junior High parking lot I stopped to take pictures of the fledgling barn swallows nesting under the shelter in front of the school. The bike path on the levee was supposed to be closed by Tuesday, although as far as I know it is still open.  River Road, however, is definitely closed where the pipes are being put underneath it.  I’ve reluctantly decided to give up driving out to Harahan in order to ride on the bike path in the morning.  It is just eating up too much ride time.  So on Tuesday I met a couple of other riders on Carrollton near S. Claiborne to ride out to the lakefront and put in a few miles on the Lake Trail bike path.  Unfortunately I had to turn back early because of a morning meeting.  On Wednesday I rode out to meet the WeMoRi again, rather fortunately missing the part along Lakeshore Drive in a crosswind that shattered much of the group. On Thursday a few of us met up at Fontainbleau and Carrollton for another trip out to the lakefront bike path.  We left early, around 5:45 am, in order to meet up with another group that was riding from the west.  We met them right at the start of the bike path, where we turned around to do a lap of Lakeshore Drive before heading back to the bike path and riding that all the way out to the Casino at Williams Blvd.  It all worked out pretty well, although next time we’ll probably just go straight to Lakeshore Drive and catch the Metairie group there.  I got back home just a bit after 8 am with 40-odd miles, which was similar to what we were doing on the river levee, so that was good. On Thursday afternoon I learned about a cyclist fatality that happened downtown at St. Claude and Elysian Fields.  A rider who had been riding normally in the bike lane was crushed by the rear wheels of a tractor-trailer that took a right turn in front of him.  Let me just take a moment to reinforce the advice I always give to riders.  Never, ever let yourself get between a truck and the curb anywhere near an intersection.  This is one of the most common ways that riders are killed in metro areas.  In this case, there was a separate right turn lane that the truck did not take, which probably made the cyclist think that the truck was continuing straight and that it was OK to be momentarily between the truck and the curb.  However, the truck then turned right past the turn lane and the cyclist was trapped and caught by the sweep of the rear wheels.  One of the local guys who is closely involved with Plan B was right behind the truck and saw the whole thing and took photos immediately afterward.  I felt I should blur out the more disturbing part of the photo before posting it here, but on the other hand I thought it important that people see the outcome of this sort of thing.  The truck driver was not charged with anything at the time.  Very sad, and very disturbing for those of us who spend a lot of time riding in the city.  Naturally everyone wants to point fingers at who was at fault, and it is certainly clear that the truck driver deserves a large share of blame for being so negligent and careless, even if it might have been difficult for him to see the cyclist in his mirrors.  He was, in fact, crossing a bike lane at a place where nobody would have expected him to be turning.

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