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Cambio Corsa: The Bike Law Blog

Personalizing the Consequences of Bicycle Crashes – the Gerald Apple Story

I always wonder what it will take to get the attention of motorists. How can we drive it into people

that they shouldn’t take risks when operating a two ton hunk of metal at high speed? Maybe stricter

traffic laws – lower speed limits, prohibiting cell phone use – would help; or increasing punishments for

those who break the laws, especially when doing so causes injury or death. Certainly those measures

should be considered. But we can also continue to share stories. All of us involved in cycling, whether

we interact with other cyclists while riding, or on the advocacy side, or in the legal world, have lots of

stories to tell. These stories personalize the consequences of taking unnecessary risks when driving.

And to anyone with a conscience, they should be a daily wake-up call.

Gerald Apple

Today my thoughts are with the family of Gerald Apple, especially his wife, Debbie Apple. Gerald

worked for 37 years serving his community as a firefighter. He had recently retired from his job at the

Guildford County Fire Marshall’s office (although still working part time) and took up cycling to improve

his health.

One afternoon last fall, Gerald was finishing up his ride and turning left into his driveway. Debbie wasn’t

home at the time but expected to come home that night to a normal, quiet evening with her husband.

Instead, she came home to a nightmare. A driver coming up behind Gerald crossed the double yellow

line to pass Gerald on the left, even though Gerald was already in the left lane, hit him and threw into

the air until he landed in a ditch.

Gerald suffered serious brain damage from the crash and never recovered. He was moved from facility

to facility as his wife fought with health insurance to pay for his care. Gerald passed away in February

of this year. His wife, who is disabled, is left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses

that health insurance wouldn’t cover. But worse than that, she is left without her life partner. Gerald

Apple spent his life and career helping others and his life ended too suddenly and tragically.

There is a fund to help the Apple family: Donations can be sent to: 237 E. Main St., Gibsonville, N.C.

27249, or taken to the Fidelity Bank branch; a walk/run fundraiser is also planned this weekend in

Gibsonville. If you live in the area, it’s a way to repay Gerald Apple for his long service to the community.

As part of the bike community, think about what you can do to help prevent the next tragedy. If you

have a compelling story to share, tell us. Be a missionary to your friends, family, co-workers about safe

and cautious driving. Spread the message that the person on a bicycle is someone’s husband, wife,

father, mother and/or child. Our actions affect the community as a whole – I know you know that; now

let’s make sure everyone else does.

Comments

Oct 30, 2014

Understanding trends in helpful in deciding where to focus safety efforts and crash prevention. According to a report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the number of bicyclists killed on U.S. roadways is trending upward. The report finds that yearly bicyclist deaths increased 16 percent between 2010 and 2012, while overall motor vehicle […]

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Oct 28, 2014

Sometimes a wayward comment by a Court can wreak all manner of havoc.  Recently, I came across such a remark in a federal case from the Northern District of Illinois which I fear could have a negative impact on bicycle crash cases filed in Illinois state court. The issue which the federal court stepped in […]

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Oct 27, 2014

Bicycle lawyers are frequently asked for advice about the bicycle insurance coverages cyclists should consider. The answer to this question is complicated and usually requires an analysis of a cyclist’s unique circumstances and existing insurance policies. However, virtually all bicycle attorneys recommend that all cyclists purchase “uninsured motorist insurance” and “underinsured motorist insurance.” The importance […]

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Oct 24, 2014

A local cyclist narrowly avoided tragedy at the hands of a road-raging driver in suburban Olathe, Kansas, on Monday Oct 20. While on a public road, near a well-used public park, the cyclist rode past a driver who was pulling to a stop sign. For no good reason, the driver became engaged, gunned his engine and veered the […]

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Oct 22, 2014

In Ann Arbor, Michigan, the Bike Law CX team participated in the Tailwind Veterans Memorial Park Cyclocross Race. Bike Law teammates Amy Meldrum and Wade Burch rode their way to the podium with Amy taking the top spot in the Women’s Category 3-4 race and Wade riding to 2nd place in a very fast and […]

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Oct 17, 2014

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Oct 16, 2014

Yesterday (10/15), Governor Rick Snyder signed Public Act 317, the Nathan Bower Act, in Lansing, Michigan. It is now mandated that in addition to the standard driver’s education curriculum currently taught to future Michigan drivers, information about motorcycle and bicycle awareness and safety must be included. Students will be taught the importance of motorists being […]

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Oct 13, 2014

It was a great weekend for bikes, at least in my (Ann’s) world. Thursday was the start of the 3rd annual North Carolina Bicycle Summit, this year in Greensboro. Work kept me away until Saturday, when I drove up to deliver a presentation, along with Jeff Viscount and Steven Goodridge, and introduce the Bike Law […]

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Oct 10, 2014

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Oct 10, 2014

This past Sunday (10/5/14), dozens of Michigan bicyclists rode 16 miles, paying tribute to Jill Byelich, a young mother of two killed by a car while riding near DeWitt, Michigan. The cyclists paid their respects at a memorial that included a photo of Jill as well as a ghost bike representing both her and others […]

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Oct 09, 2014

The upswell in bike commuting we have experienced the last few years continues to roll on. Thanks to the public advocacy work of BikeDenver, a concerted effort is now being made to increase cycle and pedestrian multi-modal transportation among students, staff and faculty at the Auraria campus. As this large educational complex abuts both the I-25 […]

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