09 March 2011

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.


At 09 March, 2011 11:24, Blogger Yokota Fritz said...

Well said, though it's unfortunate that it must be said.

And if the comments section at the C-U News-Gazoo is any indication, a number apparently do believe even disabled and blind people deserve what they get.

There's more background on the Combs in today's paper.

At 09 March, 2011 15:47, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I say a big AMEN to everything you say.

Larry Bob from Tulsa

At 10 March, 2011 11:36, Blogger SiouxGeonz said...

Fortunately, most of the comments stomp on the trolls. Unfortunately, there really are drivers who feel that way.
Cindy and David were incredibly visible in the community. I can't tell you how many people emailed or stopped me and said "OH! THat was THEM?!?!?" and gasped... because they really were incredibly BLAZING FLAMING lights of inspiration.
I have heard that our state's attorney is getting a *lot* of contact about this, but she thinks it's not worth pursuing beyond the usual "failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident."
Friends of Julia Rietz
PO Box 939
Urbana, IL 61803

E-mail: jrietz1@gmail.com

At 13 March, 2011 10:53, Blogger Terry said...

Now this is righteous indignation. You go girl!!

At 21 April, 2011 15:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happened to find your blog today since the Combs verdict came down on Monday and Maul will pay a $2,000 fee and maybe little else. I have to say that reading this is the first time in a few days I felt better--the tone of your anger just fits with mine. I want justice for cyclists, and especially for these two people, and there is none. It really does make me sick.


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