02

Blog

Another Cyclist Killed, Another Shoddy Police Investigation

As the old, awful saying goes, if you want to get away with murder, kill a cyclist.   Well, it looks like it’s happened again here in Georgia.

On July 11, 2018, a very experienced rider and friend to many in the Rockdale County area, Albert “Ab” Roesel, was killed while out on a rural road doing a ride that he no doubt had done many times before.  Ab was 75 years old.   The police investigation concluded that Ab had been headed Southbound, crossed over into the Northbound lane while going around a curve to his left, then swerved back into the Southbound lane.  A Northbound driver swerved into the southbound lane “to avoid hitting the cyclist”, but Ab “also swerved into the Southbound lane and collided with the rear” of the truck.

From what we’ve heard so far, here’s where it happened

Bike Accident Scene

To anyone who has ever been on a bike on a rural road, this explanation sounds completely absurd.   Further, what common traits are shared among riders that are in their 70s?   Experience, safety, caution, awareness and prudence come to mind, just to name a few.  What traits don’t we associate with riders in their 70s?   Recklessness, foolishness, lack of judgment, etc.    The idea that Ab “swerved” across his lane into oncoming traffic and then “swerved” back into his lane just in time to meet up with the rear of a pick up truck strains believability.   Compare that to the possibility that the 30 year old driver of the pick up truck either wasn’t paying attention, was speeding, and/or distracted and which scenario seems more likely?

Keep in mind, the crash occurred in Ab’s lane.   Who was it that said that Ab swerved into the Northbound lane before swerving back into his Southbound lane?   There were no eye witnesses.   The statements regarding Ab’s maneuvers came, apparently, from one source:  the driver of the truck that crossed into the Southbound lane, killing Ab in the process.   Yet, apparently, that statement was enough for the local Sheriff to conclude that the crash was the cyclist’s fault.

From Bike Law’s perspective of representing bicycle crash victims, this is a scenario that we’ve seen repeated far too often, and all across the country.   Too many Law Enforcement officers, consciously or not, have an inherent bias against people who ride bicycles.  When they approach a crash scene for an investigation, they do not come at it with an eye towards objectively reviewing the facts, statements and physical evidence to reach a conclusion.   Instead, the mindset is to find ANY facts that would be consistent with showing that the bicyclist was at fault, and to latch on to those, to the exclusion of other facts and evidence.   If this were an isolated phenomenon, that would be easy to blame on an individual officer, but sadly this happens everywhere.

Among the many things that Bike Law advocates do to try to level the playing field for people on bikes is to provide free training and education for police officers so that they’ll be well informed on both the law and cyclists’ behavior when they approach a crash scene.   Additionally, we help victims and their families get to the truth behind crashes by both working with investigating officers AND facilitating independent crash reconstructions by highly qualified engineers and experts who don’t cut corners and who get to the underlying cause of a wreck.   An independent investigation does not always come out in favor of the cyclist, but it always digs much deeper than the cursory look done by law enforcement in a circumstance like the one that took Ab’s life, where it appears that the officers conclusions were too heavily influenced by the self-serving statement of the driver, a statement that in no way possible matches with the very likely behavior of Ab Roesel.

Here’s a link to the story. 

Comments

Minnesota Cycling Advocate
Daniel Brazil Jul 01, 2020

I recently had the great opportunity to interview fellow cycling advocate, Dave Sanderson, the chair of Pedal Fergus Falls, a Minnesota bike advocacy group. What began as a simple conversation about advocacy turned into an inspiring deep dive into the work Pedal Fergus Falls has done and continues to do for our cycling community. Pedal […]

Read More
Bike Safety
Daniel Brazil Jun 05, 2020

As a cyclist (and bike crash attorney), I often worry that I’m placing my life in the hands of motorists each time I hop on my bike. And stories like this one about bike safety recently shared on Outside Online heighten my fears, as cyclist deaths continue to rise across the U.S. even in a […]

Read More
Biking After COVID 5
Ann Groninger May 28, 2020

What will biking after COVID be like? Before COVID, it seemed like there was a handful of people in my city who rode bikes to get places, and we all knew each other. We’ve always had a robust recreational road riding community of people who gather after work and on weekends to head out to […]

Read More
Bike Advocate
Bruce Hagen May 26, 2020

If you’ve ridden a bike anywhere in Atlanta, chances are you’ve met Atlanta bike advocate Angel Poventud.  If you’ve stopped for a post-ride beer, been to an important advocacy event, or to any major Atlanta gathering, chances are you have met Angel Poventud.   It may only seem that Angel is everywhere, but when you […]

Read More
Bicycle accident lawyer group riding in COVID
Kurt Holzer May 15, 2020

Idaho’s Governor Little has issued the State’s planned staged transition away from his Stay-at-Home health order.  Road cyclists continue to wonder how we should engage in group riding under COVID. As a bicycle accident lawyer who deals with the negative aspects of cycling, I have been thinking a lot about when and how to ride safely […]

Read More
Felix Mayer Cyclist killed by car. NO VRU law
Bruce Hagen Apr 30, 2020

On May 1, 2020, the City of Dunwoody’s new Vulnerable Road User (“VRU”) ordinance will take effect, the first such law to be enacted anywhere in the State of Georgia.  Hopefully neighboring municipalities like Sandy Springs, Roswell and Chamblee will follow suit, and more importantly, the State of Georgia.   VRU laws recognize and prioritize […]

Read More
Load More