News reports often leave me with more questions than answers. A perfect example: When Peter J. DuPerron was killed in a head-on collision with a truck on a road near the Liberty Lake ORV park on April 5.
Speaking to the Bicycle Alliance of Washington I learned that sometimes a cyclist is just assumed to be at fault in accident even if they aren’t. Eileen Hyatt, Spokane’s bicycle education guru, told me that one of the biggest causes of bicycle accidents is a cyclist riding against traffic where cars aren’t expecting them. Theo Probst at Cycle Sports in Liberty Lake said that road near the ORV park is quiet and virtually shoulderless. “You don’t expect to see many cars out there,” says Probst.
Sgt. Dave Reagan gave me the results of the Spokane County Sheriff’s investigation of the crash. According to Reagan, the cyclist was at fault for the accident. “The rider was unable to maintain control of his bicycle coming down a hill and entered the oncoming lane and hit the truck with fatal results,” says Sgt. Reagan. “The truck driver had pulled over and had completely stopped when the crash occurred.” DuPerron was wearing a helmet, but died of internal injuries.
John Abernathy at Wheelsport East in Spokane Valley, had just met DuPerron when the 27-year-old transplant from Redlands, California, recently came into his shop. DuPerron was buying some BMX and single-speed parts. “He wasn’t just a roadie. He seemed to be interested in everything about bicycles,” says Abernathy. “A true cyclist.”
“I’ve done that myself,” says Abernathy, hearing my description of the downhill corner-cutting that the Sherrif’s Department determined caused the crash.
Is that the moral of the story? Watch your ass on semi-rural roads that don’t seem to have much traffic? Don’t ride faster than you can control and don’t cut corners on curves? Don’t expect a helmet to always save you? All good advice, but DuPerron was also the victim of really bad luck. Even the most conscientious riders may have a momentary safety lapse-but that doesn’t always mean a head-on with a truck.
I’m terribly saddened by DuPerron’s death. I hope knowing the circumstance can help more riders be safe. If DuPerron loved cycling as much as Abernathy seemed to think he did I hope that his spirit lives on and we get ten new folks on bikes to replace the one we just lost.