Monday, April 27, 2009

Chastity Rettinger & Jack Hartly Ghost Bikes

On Tuesday the 14th April, mother of 2 Chastity Rettinger set out from her office to spend her lunch hour training for the MS150.

Chastity along with friend and co-worker Kristine Whitley had no reason to worry about their intended route. They would be riding along Old St. Augustine Rd. which is one of the few roads in Jacksonville that not only has marked bike lanes. But that also correctly moves the cyclist to the left of right hand turn lanes eliminating "The Right Hook" which is the number one cause of automobile/cyclist accidents.

While moving the cyclist to left of the right turn lane might end the potential of the right hook. It doesn't however protect the cyclist from the inattentive driver.

Approaching the I-95 overpass a driver was too busy fiddling with his GPS to notice the cyclists on his left as he left the right turn only lane to merge back into traffic. In doing so he hit both cyclists ending Chastity Rettinger's life and sending Kristine Whitley to the hospital.

The driver drove away from the accident scene with a minor citation.

Kristine Whitley suffered no major injuries and is back to work and still plans on riding the MS150.

On February 3rd, 77 Year old Jack B. Hartley was stuck from behind in the 100 block of Chaffee Rd. North. He died six day later of the injuries sustained from the collision.

According to the Times-Union, "The driver didn't see Hartley because he was wearing dark clothing and didn't have any lights on his bike." No information is available if the driver was cited or not. I'm going to go out on limb here guess not. We (Bike Jax) have put in a request for a copy of the Accident report once available.

So yes, Mr. Hartley bared a certain amount of responsibility for the actions that lead up to his death by not having lights. But last I checked with the State of Florida bicycle and traffic laws, I failed to find any law or statute governing clothing color.

The thing that is so bother-some about Mr. Hartley's accident is the location and the statement, "The driver didn't see Hartley." Abhishek and I didn't make it out to place the bike until just before sunset. By the time we had determined where to place the Ghost Bike and made it back to our vehicle it was well after dark. We did however notice on the walk back how well lighted the stretch of Chaffee Rd. from I-10 to Beaver St. is.

Chaffee is so well lighted that if Mr. Hartley had been dressed as a Ninja there is no reason that the driver should not have seen him other that of inattentiveness.

Divers of motor vehicles have one job to do when driving. That is to simply not hit anything. Is that really asking too much?


The Jolly Crank said...

My city had some similar cyclist deaths last year. That ridiculous "Get Out of Jail Free" card that dangerous motorists use all the time, even when breaking the law--"I didn't see the them." (Read: "I wasn't paying attention") Why is inattentiveness while operating a dangerous machine an okay excuse? I think it has something to do with the subtle hostility our culture has toward someone on a bike (almost like, "well, riding a bike is dangerous--guess they should have known better.") I mean, if I were driving a car and, through inattentiveness, I struck another car and killed that driver, you can bet I'd get more than a minor citation.

Carla said...

Is that all the driver received is a citation? Isn't that vehicular homicide. He took someone's life because he was not paying attention. I hope he has trouble sleeping night and dreams about those 2 boys with no mom.

GhostRider said...

Amen -- " I didn't see him" really means "I had my head up my ass". That is NOT a valid excuse, and yet we keep hearing stories like this with the same sad ending.

ChipSeal said...

Sadly, because driving an automobile has become such an ordinary everyday event, people have become insensitive to the grave responsibility of operating one on the public roads.

Regardless, it is both a moral and legal duty to overtake slower vehicles with due care and in a safe manner, whether they are operating within the law or not.

Keri said...

Thank you guys for the ghost bikes. Thank you for following up on the crash reports and the stories.

It's heartbreaking. It's in the news for an evening, there's no follow-up, the driver gets a minor citation, the family is left to seek justice in civil court, lives are ended, hearts are broken, the community's conclusion is it's too dangerous to ride a bike, and the beat goes on.

Anonymous said...

I rode my bike past the spot this morning .the family lives two houses away from me.The family has alot of support from friends and other family members.Its a very sad thing to have happen.I have not seen the husband yet or the kids.

bike storage said...

This is such an alarming and touching post! RIP bikers. But what also bothers me is the fact that almost all auto drivers get away with minor citations, and place the blame on the cyclists. When will we change the archaic laws, at least if not for ecology then for saving human lives?