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Campervan driver faces $500 fine for ploughing into group of cyclists, injuring seven, in “terrifying” collision

“After seeing the video, it just seemed like less of an accident,” said one of the cyclists struck by the motorist, as local councillors called for greater protection on popular cycling route

A campervan driver who ploughed into a group of cyclists in a shockingly violent collision, injuring seven and hospitalising four, could face a fine of up to $500 for “failing to give cyclists enough room while passing”, as one victim questioned whether the crash was, in fact, an “accident” and called on “pissed-off motorists” to see the “human element” of cyclists on the road.

Local councillors and activists have also called for safer cycling infrastructure to be introduced in the wake of the horrifying collision, which took place on Saturday morning during a weekly group ride on Lake Mary Road, a popular route for cyclists near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Footage of the crash, which has been shared on social media, shows the cyclists riding on the edge of Lake Mary Road – with most of the group riding on painted bike lane – when the driver of a campervan slams into one of the riders, launching him into the air and flinging him across into the rest of the group, causing most of them to crash heavily.

“I just felt the impact and then I was rolling on the ground for a while,” Dane Wallace, the rider who was struck by the motorist initially, told Arizona’s Family.

“It’s just terrifying. I mean, these people are like family. You ride with them every week. My partner was on the ride as well and she crashed right behind me. So your first thought is just like is everyone okay?”

Three riders injured in the pile-up were immediately taken to hospital. According to a Go Fund Me page set up to raise funds to cover medical and legal bills, one cyclist required surgery for a broken collarbone and ligament damage, as well as suffering concussion to the extent that they “couldn’t recall the date or month”.

Another rider suffered a fractured collarbone and concussion, while a third sustained a possible broken kneecap and tendon damage. Wallace, meanwhile, is set to undergo surgery today on multiple shoulder blade fractures and spinal injuries. Several other riders sustained road rash in the fall, along with minor injuries.

The campervan driver, who pulled in shortly after the collision, was not detained by police but has since been cited for failing to give cyclists enough room while passing, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office Lt Adam Simonsen said.

The citation is a civil violation and carries a fine of up to $500 (just under £400). Simonsen added that there was no evidence that the driver had broken any other laws or that he was under the influence at the time of the crash.

The police officer also said that Lake Mary Road – a route heavily used by both cyclists and runners – is not viewed as particularly dangerous, though he did note that the office often receives reports from cyclists concerning close passes, while motorists have also complained about cyclists “taking up too much of the road”.

“Stop, stop, stop, they’ve all been hit”

One of the riders involved in the crash, Kyle Horneck, a local bike shop owner and member of the Pay-N-Take racing team, told the Arizona Daily Sun that he has struggled to process the collision and its aftermath.

“I bounce back and forth between trying to make sense of it, put myself in everyone’s shoes and just trying to operate from a place of how can I be helpful,” he said.

“I’m less concerned about punishment for the driver, just more concerned with the diagnosis and prognosis of my friends and teammates.”

Group of cyclists hit by campervan driver in Flagstaff, Arizona (Matthew McElroy)

Describing the crash, Hornbeck said: “We’re coming down a decline. We call it the steps, that's like the slang for that area. When you're climbing it, it’s the steps and it’s really hard. And it’s an incline and it’s just a really good challenge.

“When you’re coming down, you’re going 30 to 45 miles an hour, depending on what part of it is. So you’re almost keeping up with traffic there. We stay in the bike lane or as close to it as we can, riding side by side as we typically do, two abreast.

“The rest of the group is behind us and a little compact. And from my perspective, what went down was a [vehicle] screamed past us and then a fender, a piece of his wheel well, flipped up and brushed against the guy I was riding with. And we start hearing, ‘Stop, stop, stop, they’ve all been hit.’”

“It’s very easy for a pissed-off motorist to take the human element out of the cyclist”

The cyclist added that, having now seen the footage which has circulated on social media, he remains unsure about that exact nature of the collision.

Group of cyclists hit by campervan driver in Flagstaff, Arizona (Matthew McElroy)4

“After seeing the video, it just seemed like less of an accident,” he said. “Then again, maybe it could have been. But again, that video is now in the public domain on Instagram. So people can make of it what they want.

“I’m not really trying to be an activist. It’s just good to let people know that regardless of what you think of cyclists or where we should and shouldn’t be riding, we do have a right to be out there and if you pass us, you’ve got to do so in a certain way.

“It's very easy for a pissed-off motorist to take the human element out of the cyclist and the cyclist’s existence there in the bike lane, because it's just something in the road as you pass them doing maybe twice their speed.

“And I just think continued visibility for cyclists in the community, knowing that they’ve got a legal right to be there, and that we do belong on the road. That’s a really easy, simple place to start.”

Hornbeck’s comments were echoed by his teammate Wallace, who said: “I think it’s just a sad point that when we get behind the wheel of a car, we don’t see our fellow humans out there as someone who has someone to go home to after the ride.”

Group of cyclists hit by campervan driver in Flagstaff, Arizona (Matthew McElroy)3

The incident has also spurred local councillors and cycling activists to demand safer infrastructure for cyclists in the area.

“This is a very challenging time for the community, and a time where the community is grieving once again from an incident where cyclists are in danger,” Adam Shimoni, a former councillor for Flagstaff – where one cyclist was killed and several others seriously injured when a motorist drove through a junction and into a bike lane in 2021 – said this week.

“Those of us who are on our bikes and travel by foot are extremely vulnerable and at risk, and it's concerning. It’s a problem and it needs to be addressed by the city and the county.”

In a statement, the county council said they have worked in recent years to improve safety conditions on Lake Mary Road for cyclists and runners.

“With the support of the Federal Highway Administration, the county has invested funds in this corridor increasing the width of shoulders for runners and cyclists, as well as improvements to the roadway surface, and increased maintenance such as sweeping the shoulders to remove cinders and other debris,” the statement said.

“This past summer, Lake Mary Road has undergone routine maintenance including resurfacing portions of the roadway, crack filling, shoulder sweeping, and roadside drainage maintenance.”

> Promising teenage cyclist killed after being hit by driver just days before World Championships

The shocking incident in Arizona comes just a month after a promising 17-year-old cyclist was killed after being struck by a motorist while riding on the hard shoulder in nearby Colorado.

Rising star Magnus White, who was due to represent the United States at the UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland, was hit from behind by the driver as he used the hard shoulder of a highway popular with local riders.

It has been reported the route is so popular with bike riders there has been talk of building a separate bike lane. In the absence of such infrastructure, White was instead riding on the southbound hard shoulder of the highway when he was hit from behind by the driver of a Toyota Matrix. The authorities say there is no indication that drugs, alcohol, or excessive speed were involved.

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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43 comments

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Benji326 | 5 months ago
0 likes

$500 so far, until lawyers get involved. By the end it will end up being at least 7 figures.

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neilmck | 5 months ago
4 likes

It looks like another case of a motorist trying not to cross the dashed line in the centre of the road. If you stay near the kerb (as is the law in France) motorists will illegally try to squeeze past you so not to cross that dashed line. (I gave up with following this dangerous law after I was eventually hit by the wing mirror of a very apologetic motorist) If you are further out in the road then they have to cross the dashed line, and once the dashed line is crossed, magically they give you over 1 metre space.

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marmotte27 | 5 months ago
8 likes

I don't get the part where it says "failed to give enough room" and "fine of 500$". WTAF?

I mean they actually violently HIT a cyclist and made the whole group crash, resulting in many heavy injuries.

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NOtotheEU | 5 months ago
7 likes

Every one of the too few drivers convicted of close passing a cyclist should have to watch this video with the face of a loved one digitally superimposed on that rider.

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mitsky | 6 months ago
13 likes

When someone uses a vehicle to mow down other people (pedestrians or other motor vehicle users) ... it is criminal/terrorism.

But when the victims are cyclists... barely a slap on the wrist.

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mattw | 6 months ago
1 like

Interesting to see road.cc covering a US story.

Can we expect more?

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cyclisto | 6 months ago
0 likes

Uncomfortable truth: this collision wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been riding two (or maybe three) abreast.

There are two kinds of drivers that are both super dangerous. The first are simply the distracted/not fully aware. They may use their phone while actually driving, be sleepy, drunk or on drugs, or incapable of driving safely any time of the day. The second are the ones searching to find an excuse to show their hidden anger and pick any kind of fight.

Not sure whether this collision is intentional or an accident. But had all riders been behind the white line, it wouldn't have happened as both of the above described dangerous drivers wouldn't have a reason to cause an accident. The distracted driver would just continue on his path and the angry wouldn't have been provoked by riders riding out of the generous hard shoulder.

Are these drivers too immoral to be that easily distracted or provoked and cause such violent changes to other peoples lives? Yes.

Do they still exist on the roads? Unfortunately yes, so as long as they exist it is wise to try protect from these guys, especially when at a case like this one, the only loss is delaying a chat with a fellow cyclist. Where I am riding, riding two abreast is illegal, but I would avoid it even in places where it is legal to avoid accidents or attacks like this one.

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brooksby replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
13 likes

What is the purpose of that white line in the US?

Does it define a marked cycle lane, which is intended for cyclists and which motorists aren't allowed into, or is it analogous to our hard shoulder on motorways (a border where nobody is really allowed to be)?

I'm not going to address your gross victim blaming.

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andystow replied to brooksby | 6 months ago
14 likes

It may vary by state, but in most it's indeed a hard shoulder and the white line marks the edge of the "roadway." Typical state law tells cyclists they "shall ride as near to the right side of the roadway as practicable..." followed by exceptions. Case law has established that this does not require them to ride on the shoulder, which is not part of the roadway.

However, some of the quotes in the article mention a "bike lane" so it's possible someone had painted bicycle symbols there. Still, in most states the use of a bike lane or sidepath is not mandatory. I can't figure out exactly where the incident happened, but scrolling along the road a bit I do see a nice shoulder with an occasional cyclist, parked Jeep, and no bike symbols.

Interestingly, in Illinois (where I live) it's only been about five years since they made it legal for cyclists to ride in the shoulder, which of course most of us were doing the whole time on roads with suitable shoulders. Before that, the list of exceptions to the general requirement to use a travel lane (e.g. farm equipment) did not include bicycles. 

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brooksby replied to andystow | 6 months ago
3 likes

Thank you, Andy.

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cyclisto replied to andystow | 6 months ago
1 like

Thanks for spending time finding the road on Maps. I hadn't understood that this shoulder was that wide, if the Jeep is 2m wide, the overall width must be around 3-4 meters.

In my jurisdiction on single carriageway roads, with such shoulder/outer lanes everything slow is allowed as well as emergency stops, whereas in dual carriageway motorways only emergency stops and emergency vehicles are allowed, but of course no bicycles or anything slower than 60km/h are allowed in a motorway. I understand that shoulders/outer lanes may have worse paving, but on the video the guys riding on the shoulder/outer lane seem to have no problems, and on the Streetview posted the central lane seems to have large potholes.

I would definitely prefer riding on this super wide shoulder/outer lane even if it was illegal, I prefer to be safe rather than legal. But even if it is illegal on this particular road, I strongly doubt that a rider has been somehow punished for riding on the shoulder/outer lane instead of the central lanes.

 

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AidanR replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
14 likes

The driver could see the painted line but couldn't see human beings? Sure, that doesn't sound like nonsense.

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chrisonabike replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
10 likes

cyclisto wrote:

Uncomfortable truth: this collision wouldn't have happened if they hadn't been riding two (or maybe three) abreast.

No, that is irrelevant.  What makes you sure that the driver would have been any better at giving any more space - even only an extra metre! - if the cyclists were in a single line?

Quite frankly they'd have been too close for comfort driving that line even if the outside cyclist hadn't been there.

As we know drivers drive into stuff all the time.  All we can say is that this collision wouldn't have happened if the driver hadn't driven too close (well - into) the cyclists.  (Or - and this would be a rare thing in the US but it sounds like it has been considered here - if there were a separate space for cyclists.  And the driver didn't drive into THAT...)

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Steve K replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
16 likes

The uncomfortable truth: this collision wouldn't have happened if the cyclists had stayed at home.

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andystow replied to Steve K | 6 months ago
10 likes

Steve K wrote:

The uncomfortable truth: this collision wouldn't have happened if the cyclists had stayed at home.

Better yet, if the driver had stayed at home. Or if the driver's mobile home had stayed parked.

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polainm replied to andystow | 5 months ago
1 like

Better yet; the driver was deemed too incompetent to be given a driving licence. 

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mctrials23 replied to Steve K | 5 months ago
6 likes

The sad fact is that your sarcastic comment is what some people actually spout without a hint of sarcasm when they see this sort of thing. Their instant reaction is to absolve the driver and blame the cyclist. More and more its getting harder to spot satire because real life is so mental. 

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Steve K replied to mctrials23 | 5 months ago
0 likes

mctrials23 wrote:

The sad fact is that your sarcastic comment is what some people actually spout without a hint of sarcasm when they see this sort of thing. Their instant reaction is to absolve the driver and blame the cyclist. More and more its getting harder to spot satire because real life is so mental. 

Yep - fair point.

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chrisonabike replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
4 likes

cyclisto wrote:

There are two kinds of drivers [...] The second are the ones searching to find an excuse to show their hidden anger and pick any kind of fight. [...] But had all riders been behind the white line, it wouldn't have happened as both of the above described dangerous drivers wouldn't have a reason to cause an accident.

[...] Where I am riding, riding two abreast is illegal, but I would avoid it even in places where it is legal to avoid accidents or attacks like this one.

Once we get into the "I'm angry" then it's a sliding scale.  Unfortunately there is simply no telling what (if anything at all) may trigger a person.  And at what point they may stop.

The problem is that a car is such a force multiplier and speeds on roads may mean incident times are short.  That "flash of anger" can mean death and / or injury very quickly.

Even if "I didn't see why I should move" or "I just wanted to scare them".

I try to be aware that people get provoked (in extra ways on the road) and avoid consciously triggering them.  But also knowing that occasionally you just meet (more or less temporary) lunatics and all previous bets are off.

So there are some things I'm just going to keep doing.  Like cycling on the road at all.

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Zigster replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
13 likes

This "accident" wouldn't have happened if we demanded even minimal levels of competence from drivers.  There is no defence for such dangerous driving so quit with your victim blaming nonsense.

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BalladOfStruth replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
11 likes

cyclisto wrote:

Where I am riding, riding two abreast is illegal,

Where is that BTW? I'm sure that last time we had this discussion, you claimed to be riding around London. Though, I might be misremembering...

cyclisto wrote:

but I would avoid it even in places where it is legal to avoid accidents or attacks like this one.

Hard disagree. I know that we've had this discussion at length before and that you seem to think that riding two-abreast or riding primary is somehow dangerous. But I promise you that controlling the traffic in the lane by use of primary position and two-abreast riding has prevented hundreds of times as many accidents as you could possibly begin to argue that it's caused.

I view drivers as a group that is 99% inept and 1% malicious. The inept ones will get too close and will be tempted to make poorly-judged overtakes when there simply isn't room. Primary and two-abreast riding protect you from the inept drivers. The malicious ones will come for you no matter what. Hugging the kerb is no guarantee of safety from them.

By refusing to take the lane and insisting on riding single-file, you're putting yourself in danger from the 99% because you're scared of the 1%.

 

On this specific incident, when you say that this would not have happened" had they not been riding two-abreast". what you actually mean is that it wouldn't have happened if the cyclists were "off the road". If there wasn't a shoulder on this road, and all of the cyclists had been single-file hugging the line, the RV would have still hit all of them. The cyclist's position (relative to each other) isn't relevant, it's the fact that they dared to be on the road at all...

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cyclisto replied to BalladOfStruth | 6 months ago
0 likes

No, definitely not riding in London now, I may had written something ambiguously and created a confusion. In general, riding two abreast, is not allowed at any case in many places https://road-safety.transport.ec.europa.eu/eu-road-safety-policy/priorit... . I think it is permitted in some places under circumstances and even in UK there is the "ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends" part.

Yes, you remember well, I always believed riding two abreast is dangerous. I will ride primary only when there is absolutely no space to overtake me in order to make it clear to the 1% you say.

But anyway the greater distance I have from motor traffic the safer it seems to me. Hard to change this for me!

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mattw replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
4 likes

On a serious answer, I think riding primary is important in the UK when then lane is between 3.1m and 3.9m wide, which is the width defined in standards as too narrow to share.

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chrisonabike replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
1 like

cyclisto wrote:

But anyway the greater distance I have from motor traffic the safer it seems to me. Hard to change this for me!

Well, that I can agree with.  Because - just as they do in cars, on trains and buses, when walking... generally humans like to travel side-by side!

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BalladOfStruth replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
6 likes

cyclisto wrote:

even in UK there is the "ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends" part.

That rule only applies in very specific circumstances - if you take it in the context of all the other rules regarding cycling, it really only applies on singletrack. In the UK, cyclists are encouraged to ride two-abreast and take primary for the majority of the time.

cyclisto wrote:

Yes, you remember well, I always believed riding two abreast is dangerous. I will ride primary only when there is absolutely no space to overtake me in order to make it clear to the 1% you say.

The 1% won't care either way. It's the 99% that you need to worry about - the ones that aren't malicious, just inept. You're riding in a way that opens you up to danger from the 99% because you're scared of the 1%.

cyclisto wrote:

But anyway the greater distance I have from motor traffic the safer it seems to me. Hard to change this for me!

But that's exactly my point. If you ride single-file and hug the kerb, most drivers will push their luck and try to overtake in the same lane. You will have less distance between you and motor traffic. Primary forces them to use the other lane (which they should anyway).

Seriously, if I did what you're suggesting, I wouldn't be alive to have this conversation with you right now.

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polainm replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
1 like

cyclisto wrote:

No, definitely not riding in London now, I may had written something ambiguously and created a confusion. In general, riding two abreast, is not allowed at any case in many places https://road-safety.transport.ec.europa.eu/eu-road-safety-policy/priorit... . I think it is permitted in some places under circumstances and even in UK there is the "ride in single file on narrow or busy roads and when riding round bends" part.

Yes, you remember well, I always believed riding two abreast is dangerous. I will ride primary only when there is absolutely no space to overtake me in order to make it clear to the 1% you say.

But anyway the greater distance I have from motor traffic the safer it seems to me. Hard to change this for me!

Riding two abreast isn't illegal in the UK, it's advisory in certain circumstances (see Boardman and peloton spacing).  

Cyclists and all other vehicles can legally use the entire width of their side of the marked road. 

However...UK/US driving culture is so rotted; from Judge, jury, CPS, policing, councillors, highway planners....and the way down to aged and teen drivers, that the attitude towards someone using a bicycle on the public highway is often murderous. 

In no other aspect of culture is such a gross bias of discrimination so violent for any person choosing a different behaviour to others. We would have to look at extreme racism, sexual brutality and rampant fascism to begin to make comparisons. 

If the motor home driver leant out of the window and screamed racist abuse, threw toilet contents over the riders, and spat on them, would this be a $500 fine? 'Accident' and SMIDSY are accepted defence for dangerous drivers who can, and do, get away with murder. 

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mattw replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
6 likes

How do you know?

The only thing that would have prevented the collision would for the winnebago not to have run the cyclists down.

It's USA road culture all over, and why they kill people at a rate 3-5x higher than adavanced European countries (including us).

They kill more on their roads each year than than US casualties in the entire Korean War.

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quiff replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
3 likes

cyclisto wrote:

There are two kinds of drivers that are both super dangerous. The first are simply the distracted/not fully aware. They may use their phone while actually driving, be sleepy, drunk or on drugs, or incapable of driving safely any time of the day.

What makes you think that such a driver wouldn't stray over the line?  

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Patrick9-32 replied to cyclisto | 6 months ago
11 likes

Uncomfortable truth: Whenever someone does something awful to another human being, someone on the internet will find a way to blame the victim. 

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Festus replied to cyclisto | 5 months ago
5 likes

Before posting about riding 2 abreast prehaps check out rules in other countries that fine you for riding single file in groups

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