Oct 19, 2008 - Bike Advocacy Thoughts    Comments Off on Nashville 2008 Bicycling Accidents

Nashville 2008 Bicycling Accidents

I’m going to try to list Nashville-area bicycling accidents that I know of in 2008.  If you know of more, let me know and I’ll put them here.

August 2008:  Jeff B  – while morning commuting on Thompson Lane east-bound in the bike lane, on a downhill section, an elderly couple passed him, heading for Shoney’s turned right in front of him and ran him into the curb and off the road.  Jeff was scraped up, bleeding from the road rash on his elbow.  Not sure whether it was that they didn’t see him or they misjudged his speed.  The couple in the car was so distraught over the whole event that Jeff requested that they not be ticketed.  Bad idea.  Here are his words:

"The elderly couple that hit me (minor scraps and a bent front wheel) did stop.  We exchanged phone numbers and
someone else had called the police.  When the ambulance and fire truck(!) showed up, I waved them on.

Pat’s point about getting a police report is correct, however, and I probably should have pursued that option.  But the couple who struck me were more visibly upset than I was.

Bike commuters are still in the vanguard here in Nashville.  As we become more prevalent on the streets, I believe motorists will get used to our presence, and we’ll become more visible. For what it’s worth, you’re still more likely to be hit by a car as a pedestrian, but that won’t prevent me from walking."

August 20, 2008:  Richard M (his own write-up) –  "I was commuting into to work today (headlight/tail light blaring).  A ride I’ve been making once a week this Summer, from Franklin to Nashville.  My route takes me on back roads across to Hwy 100, where I then take 100 all the way to Nashville.  I was just before the 100/70 split, when a person taking their teenager to school decided to SLOWLY pass me then make an IMMEDIATE right-hand turn!  All in the distance of 25yds. No turn signal!  I was amazed.  I yelled out "no f’in way" (I need to work on that part, cause if I’m being taken out of this world, that’s NOT that last thing I want going through my mind and/or coming out my mouth).  Then, get this, she decides to STOP as she’s making the turn.  I guess she remembered she had passed me just 20 yards before the turn (yes, 20 yds).  I was doing about 25mph.  I guess I should thank her for stopping (which put her car at an angle), cause that left me the ability to careen down the side of her car and fall eloquently into the street.  She will remember me always, cause I left a nice handlebar mark from the back end to the front of her SUV.  Her and her daughter did manage a slight "are you alright?", which I was, so they promptly drove off.  Two others at the intersection actually got out of their cars and came over and asked if I was okay.Anyway, so now I question whether or not I will continue riding in to work."

Richard obviously was in no state to get a tag number, name or good description of the vehicle, and neither did the witnesses.  There was no police report or investigation of the driver who was demonstrating "leaving the scene of an accident." 

May 2008:  Wanda H. – she and several folks were out for a recreational ride through urban Nashville on the holiday weekend.  Thunderstorms threatened, so the group split up, with Wanda joining one of a smaller group to shortcut back to the starting place.  They rode through ‘The Gulch" (12th Avenue under the Demonbreun Street bridge) where there are multiple railroad tracks crossing the road at an angle.  Somehow while crossing the tracks, one rider took a crash and I think she got distracted by that and crashed herself.   After a ride in an ambulance and an extended stay in the hospital and a rehab unit, Wanda  fractured her pelvis in two places and chipped it in a third place. She was on short-term disability and I think she went back to work the second week of July.

Was this rider error or were the tracks a hazard?  I’ve ridden in just about every terrain imaginable.  I’ve ridden in urban areas including Manhattan.  I’ve ridden in the country where trains are up to full speed crossing between major towns and depots.  I’ve ridden in small towns all over the southeast.  In the country and most small towns, you’ll find tracks with rubber bumpers to smooth them for cars, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrian crossings.  Metro Nashville has the worst most dangerous tracks of anywhere I’ve been.  We should (and I am) ashamed that we tolerate this in our community.

The tracks that Wanda crashed on are under the responsibility of CSX Railroad.  The City of Nashville has no responsibility for fixing them.  Wanda even wrote to them explaining what happened, simply to ask for more signs to be posted warning bicyclists of the danger.  She got a very insensitive letter in response from the city explaining it wasn’t their problem.  Again, I’m ashamed, and this sort of response inspires me to be active in resolving such issues.

October 2008:  Lisa M. – details are still unclear because Lisa can’t remember anything for about a 2 week period after being life flighted to Vanderbilt.  while riding on highway 70, apparently a car sped past her and turned right, hitting her and by eyewitness accounts, throwing her 25 feet. 

"I was hit by a negligent driver on Wed of this week and had to be life flighted to Vanderbilt.  No one including myself knows how I am alive.  According to the officer involved the car turned in front of me, I hit it and was thrown 25 feet.  I don’t remember any of it, nor much that has happened in the last two weeks.  I have a concussion, bruised ribs, shoulder fracture and a banged up knee.  Plus more bruises and road rash than I will take time to describe.  However, I feel very fortunate that I am alive to feel the pain. "

Lisa before the accident was one of the very few that had ordered a 3feetplease.com jersey to spread the word.  As of this writing the jerseys haven’t arrived.  She’ll get hers delivered first.  The other amazing thing is Lisa is inspired to take on some advocacy activism, and I know she’ll be back on the bike.  I hope you the reader share some of her increased enthusiasm and get out and do something to raise awareness of bicycling safety for both motorists and bicyclists. 

August 8, 2008:  Jim Benson

"On August 12, family, friends and co-workers gathered at First United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro TN to celebrate the life of Jim Benson. Jim was involved in a tragic bicycle accident in Murfreesboro on August 8, 2008 when a car turned left into his lane, striking him on his bicycle.


He is survived by his wife, Sandy, and their two daughters, Kate and Kelley. Jim‘s memorial service was one full of heartfelt eulogies, songs of praise and an outpouring of sympathy and respect. Jim was competitive in nature and always looked for solutions to problems. He was the IT director at Middle TN Medical Center where he was very involved with many projects, including the new hospital. He was truly a great guy and will be missed. Clearly, Jim was a man who enjoyed life and touched numerous lives along the way."


I attended the Jim Benson Memorial Ride on September 8.  Damn it was sad when his wife got in front of about 100 riders that showed up, and gave a speech telling us about the beautiful day, how Jim was getting ready, adjusting his helmet, and how she told him to be careful just like any other day, and he said he would just like any other day.


Jim was riding along in a residential area that approached countryside riding.  The entire Memorial Ride stopped at the spot for a moment of silence, in the same direction Jim had been going.  The family was there, embracing each other, teared up, right on the corner where the cross and flowers had been placed.  We approached a stop sign where the road T’s into another road.  Jim had been approaching or moving through the stop sign when the car short-cutted the corner from the right, and hit and killed Jim.  Note the driver was even taken to the hospital with injuries from where Jim must have hit her windshield.  I don’t think there was a dry eye on the scene.


September 5, 2008:  Ricky B – I anonymize his name because I want to share some things about the accident that I clearly think were his fault.  Ricky B was killed on Columbia Pike in Franklin while riding home from work as he did every day.  He wasn’t wearing his helmet, probably because he didn’t wear one when he was a kid. 


Exact words of someone that remembers regularly seeing him riding: 

"I might know the man as well (not personally) I think (just think going by the description), but have seen him ride around a lot. Sometimes he carries a little dog with him, but yes, every time I’ve seen him; very dangerous riding; running red lights in front of traffic, cycling down the road in the wrong direction, and of course no helmet. I did confront him once about the helmet bit when we were both at a intersection a while ago, his comment was that there was no state law that says he has to wear one (I thought there was now?). But anyway, I don’t think anyone deserves to die but then it just supports the common sense of wearing a helmet when you cycle and of course safe riding.  Of course, I don’t know the whole story, he could have been doing everything right and the truck hit him via it’s driver mistake." 

If he was riding this way, I feel sorry for him and his family even more than I already do.  The police ruled it an accident and didn’t issue any citations.  Regardless, wear your damn helmet.  If you’re killed riding your bicycle without a helmet on, I’m going to write about you too. 

"Bicyclists fare best when they act and are treated as vehicles."  Ride like a car would – obey laws, ride with traffic, be aware of your surroundings, ride predictably, share the road – both ways.  


That’s enough for now.  Again, email me if you have one I’ve missed.  Stay tuned for more of my thoughts on the priorities for Tennessee bicycling advocacy.

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