06 November 2009

Elephant in the China Shop

Elephantile
I can only see a blue plastic thing and a tree branch...

The classic excuse from motorists when getting into accidents, including those involving cyclists, is "I didn't see him!"

It hammers home the fact that the bull in the china shop isn't attentive and therefore we need to take measures that tame the bull. This story takes it to a whole new level:

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS November 5, 2009

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- It's not unusual to see a deer or a cow crossing Oklahoma's rural highways. But an elephant? An Oklahoma couple driving home from church nearly slammed into a giant pachyderm that had escaped from a nearby circus late Wednesday.

''Didn't have time to hit the brakes. The elephant blended in with the road,'' driver Bill Carpenter said Thursday. ''At the very last second I said 'elephant!'''

Carpenter, 68, said he swerved his SUV at the last second and ended up sideswiping the 29-year-old female Asian elephant on U.S. 81 in Enid, about 80 miles north of Oklahoma City.


I hope that elephant-sized pedestrian flags will be set up quicksmart at this location and all elephants - and other large mammals - will be given courses in how to wave those flags more aggressively.

Read the full story here. Thanks to Jeff from the League of American Bicyclists for the link.

Addendum: Brett just added this to the comments section. It gets better.

Hit-and-run driver claimed he didn't see 6-foot-tall orange rabbit on the pedicab
By Aimee Green, The Oregonian
October 28, 2009, 8:58PM
Pedicab driver Kate Altermatt still can't believe the driver of a Mercedes didn't see her pedaling down Northwest Fourth Avenue last Easter. Altermatt, who is 6 feet tall, was wearing a bright orange bunny suit, and the Cascadia Pedicab was lit up with reflectors and a blinking red light.

"I was very visible," she said.

The crash sent her flying and totaled the pedicab. She lay stunned on the pavement for a minute, then walked over to the driver's side window. She said she smelled alcohol on his breath.

"He was like '$100! $100 and I leave,'" Altermatt recalled. "And I was like, no. I started screaming. I said 'You're drunk! You're going to go to jail! I don't want your money!'"

Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Altermatt finally got to confront the driver, who testified that he didn't see the pedicab because he was fumbling for a dropped cell phone.

After a daylong trial, Judge Karin Immergut found Edward Cespedes-Rodriguez guilty of hit-and-run driving for leaving the scene of the crash.

But Immergut cleared the 34-year-old Southwest Portland man of recklessly endangering another person. That disappointed Altermatt, who testified that Cespedes-Rodriguez looked her in the eye and intentionally hit her a second time as he sped away sometime after 2 a.m. April 12.


***
Brett adds: "The punch line is, he won't even go to jail. Sentence: 25 hours of community service. The judge was a Republican federal attorney under GW Bush. Whatever happened to "personal responsibility" and "law and order" and all those other Republican campaign slogans?"

10 comments:

brett said...

OK, we can top that in Portland:

Breaking News, Portland »
Hit-and-run driver claimed he didn't see 6-foot-tall orange rabbit on the pedicab
By Aimee Green, The Oregonian
October 28, 2009, 8:58PM
Pedicab driver Kate Altermatt still can't believe the driver of a Mercedes didn't see her pedaling down Northwest Fourth Avenue last Easter. Altermatt, who is 6 feet tall, was wearing a bright orange bunny suit, and the Cascadia Pedicab was lit up with reflectors and a blinking red light.

"I was very visible," she said.

The crash sent her flying and totaled the pedicab. She lay stunned on the pavement for a minute, then walked over to the driver's side window. She said she smelled alcohol on his breath.

"He was like '$100! $100 and I leave,'" Altermatt recalled. "And I was like, no. I started screaming. I said 'You're drunk! You're going to go to jail! I don't want your money!'"

Wednesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court, Altermatt finally got to confront the driver, who testified that he didn't see the pedicab because he was fumbling for a dropped cell phone.

After a daylong trial, Judge Karin Immergut found Edward Cespedes-Rodriguez guilty of hit-and-run driving for leaving the scene of the crash.

But Immergut cleared the 34-year-old Southwest Portland man of recklessly endangering another person. That disappointed Altermatt, who testified that Cespedes-Rodriguez looked her in the eye and intentionally hit her a second time as he sped away sometime after 2 a.m. April 12.

***

The punch line is, he won't even go to jail. Sentence: 25 hours of community service. The judge was a Republican federal attorney under GW Bush. Whatever happened to "personal responsibility" and "law and order" and all those other Republican campaign slogans?

dr2chase said...

I guess you can't use the I-thought-it-was-a-hallucination excuse without admitting to DUI.

What's baffling in this country is that we cannot seem to do what it takes to get rid of what is actually a tiny fraction of extremely bad drivers. I've stuck a video camera on the back of my bike and watched car behavior, and 90% of them are quite competent, and the 10% that remains vary from sorta-competent to sorta-clueless. It gets worse in bad weather or poor light. I haven't seen hostile in years.

It would be interesting to study bad driving, to see if the same guy who tailgates in the slow lane in the rain at 5mph over the speed limit, is the same guy who passes with inches to spare, or the same guy who blows through a residential neighborhood at 10mph over the limit.

Irishman said...

Related in Dublin, Ireland:

http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0916/luas.html

Street tram hit a bus. If a driver of an object that goes in perfectly straight lines, can't see a double decker bus, what hope does a cyclist have?

didrik said...

Well, if the animal had been behaving like a proper Vehicular Elephant, this never would have happened.

dr2chase said...

So right about the Vehicular Elephant. No DRL, no leg reflectors, no ANSI-approved helmet, if the elephant doesn't take Sensible Precautions, well what do you expect? Elephants should pay road use taxes, insurance, and get a LICENSE to use the roads.

portlandize.com said...

They should also have gigantic LED spotlights affixed to them, front and rear, so that they blind everyone within 500 feet.

Mikael said...

Hilarious. Vehicular Elephant. brilliant.

Jim G said...

Too much cellphone, texting, iPod, talking GPS, HUD, DVD, and other distractions inside the moving automobile to bother looking outside!

Drunk Engineer said...

"Ha ha" the driver couldn't see an elephant. Very funny, indeed, if this happened during the daytime.

According to reports, the collision with the pacaderm occurred at night on a dark rural highway. Moreover, the driver did see the animal in time to brake sufficiently to avoid major injuries to the animal.

Riding downhill on a bicycle, I once came within milimeters of colliding with a deer -- in broad daylight. I really can't blame the driver in this instance.

Mikael said...

i came very near to hitting a moose/elk in Sweden on a narrow, dirt road at close to midnight. it was just standing there in the middle of the road like it owned the place. which it did.

just veered off in time, although hit the ditch and stranded the van on some large rocks. it was a rental.

the moose story was a hard sell, but they bought it in the end.