Tom Chapman – Arcata Bicyclists Are Risking Head Injuries, And Getting Them – March 1, 2011

A veteran officer once described the “lug nut rule”    as, whoever has the most lug nuts will win a traffic accident. The same officer coined the phrase “Predictable is Preventable.”

On Tuesday, February 8, a young man was riding his bicycle down J Street and he allegedly ran the stop sign. A car driving east on 11th Street swerved to avoid the cyclist but was unable to avoid the collision.

The young man was rushed to the hospital with head and neck injuries. The driver was left with a damaged car and the memories of a horrific experience.

Twenty-four hours later, one block away, a bicyclist was riding on 11th Street during the evening without a headlight. It was alleged a car rolled through the stop sign at I Street in front of the bicyclist.

The bicycle collided with the car, sending the rider to the hospital by ambulance and leaving the driver of the car badly shaken.

Bicyclists involved in traffic collisions almost always suffer some type of injury, especially when they are up against more “lug nuts.” The question for cyclists is not if they will be injured, but how severely they will be injured.

Because of the inherent danger cyclists face when sharing the road with lug nut-laden motor vehicles they must be extra cautious and obey traffic laws that are in place for the community’s safety and well being. Along the same token, motorists equally share responsibility and must show respect and caution when sharing the road with bicyclists.

When collisions do happen your first responders see first hand the devastating effects on bicyclists and skateboarders that are not wearing helmets.

If you knew that you or your child would be in a traffic collision today wouldn’t you do everything in your power to prevent injury?

Head injuries occur to the young, the old, the experienced, and the novice riders. Head injuries are a predictable outcome in a bicycle or skateboard collision. I invite each citizen to prevent these predictable life-threatening, life-changing injuries by simply wearing a properly fitted, properly worn bike helmet.

We all want Arcata to be a bike friendly community. In order to make Arcata a safer place for cyclists to commute to work, ride to school, and ride for sheer enjoyment, we must work together.

The law requires drivers of both cars and bikes to obey the rules of the road. Bikes and cars must both come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Bikes and cars are not permitted to drive the wrong-way on a one-way street.

Bikes and cars cannot cut people off or make unsafe turns. Bikes and cars must have headlight(s) illuminated during hours of darkness.

The list of rules goes on and on. Obviously the point is everyone using the roadway must obey the rules for a safe and orderly flow of traffic.

For more information, is an outstanding resource. You can follow the APD on Twitter and Facebook.

Tom Chapman is Arcata’s police chief.





Related posts


  1. Mark Sailors said:

    Bicycle licensing is already the law in Arcata. The bureaucracy is in place, I have 3. One for each bike.

    Generally traffic laws apply across the board, but not all. Take the anti cell phone law for driving a car. That law does not apply to bike riders. Strange but true.

  2. MarkB said:

    Mr. Sailors, are you going to pay for the bureaucracy that bike licensing requires? Hope you have a good job……

    Traffic laws generally do not apply to one type of vehicle over another; they are pretty much universal. EVERYONE is required to obey traffic law in order to use public streets. I wonder when that little nugget was forgotten.

    Cyclists — take my word: ride like you’re invisible, because all too often, you are, to the obliviots. And hey — OBEY THE FRIGGIN’ LAW!

    Drivers — you are operating a potentially deadly weapon; the onus of extraordinary care when doing so is ON YOU. NO ONE is required to just “get out of your way”. (Nor, for that matter, is anyone required to pay to be on the street; except for the homeless/disenfranchised, everyone already DOES pay their share in general taxes. Direct auto-related taxes are a spit in a hurricane when it comes to road maintenance.)

  3. David said:

    I ride a whole different type of bicycle, a totally human powered vehicle known as a Velomobile. It’s a recumbent trike built into a aerodynamic shell with a head light, tail light, stop light, turn signals and flashers, all controlled by an illuminated control board from within the Velo. I’ve added even more lights, a 400 lumen rear flasher and over 800 lumens off the front. I run with lights night and day and stick to the roads as I can readily hit 45 + mph with the slightest descent. I obey the rules of the road, take the lane and for most of the time the overwhelming majority of motorists behave them selves.
    Lights are important. One cannot be bright enough.
    On conventional bikes, the cyclists must wear reflective clothing. Stealth cyclists are a danger to us all.
    Ride safe. Ride smart. be seen.

  4. Mark Sailors said:

    “Bikes and cars cannot cut people off or make unsafe turns. Bikes and cars must have headlight(s) illuminated during hours of darkness.”

    Lets not forget that bikes in Arcata should be licensed, and that flashing headlights are illegal.

Comments are closed.