Apparently, it's open season on disabled tandem riders downstate
Update: Richard Masoner has compiled some updates, including a heartbreaking story about David and Cindy in the News-Gazette, which quotes Sue Jones. I suppose I ought to disclose that most of the reason I was so angered and upset by this news about two complete strangers in Champaign is that I recently finished prepping the hybrid for one of Matt's good friends, who also happens to be legally blind. I can't say I haven't been a little worried about her since my own incident occurred, and now this. The world is a hostile place.
Within 15 minutes there will be somebody criticizing the harshness of the title, but I don't care. You see, I'm angry. 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.
Or so I thought, until I found out that two of Sue's friends had been hit by a driver who, in my somewhat uninformed opinion, either must have been so distracted that he was halfway to the Moon or is some kind of lying sack of shit. Somehow, on a deserted country road in the middle of Flatland, he didn't see a tandem bike that must have been close to the size of a Buick and mowed down the disabled couple riding it. David Combs, 51, was critically injured; Cindy Combs, 53, was killed. Mr. Combs has an unspecified disability; Mrs. Combs was blind.
These are the vulnerable users who absolutely must be protected on the public way.
Forget for a moment about all those cyclists you hate: the spandex road warriors who think they're Lance Armstrong, the entitled hipsters who ride around without helmets or reflective clothing, the bike messengers swerving out of nowhere and then flipping you the bird, every single goddamned bike rider you ever saw blowing through a stop sign or a red light or simply just being in your way.
Think about the Combs, a middle-aged "handicapable" couple in the heart of the Midwest, riding tandem on a deserted country road.
I want you to think about them the next time you want to say that cyclists on the road deserve whatever they get. I want you to consider whether you really think a 53-year-old blind woman, by virtue of nothing more than simply riding a tandem bike with her husbad, deserved such a gruesome, horrible death.
If you still think the answer is yes, then fucking shame on you.