I’m no accomplished cyclist, but I’ve logged hundreds of miles on county roads north of Davenport and Bettendorf. A biker in that situation is obviously putting faith in the competence and good faith of motorists. On my rides, close encounters with vehicles aren’t especially uncommon.
Barb Ickes’ Feb. 9 article about Jim Stoffer’s fatal bike accident in Bettendorf last July described the known details and subsequent Bettendorf Police investigation. The article raises serious questions. Here, a healthy, experienced rider in daylight and good weather, wearing a helmet, is nearing the top of a long incline on essentially new pavement with a striped bike lane. Somehow, he falls on his right side hard enough to fracture pelvis, clavicle and skull. Further, the left side of his drop handlebar is bent and the ring finger of his left glove is tattered.
To me, a reasonable scenario emerges. The speed limit at the site on Forest Grove Road is 45 m.p.h., so a passing vehicle would likely be overtaking at more than twice the speed of the bike. With today’s light bikes, a car’s outside mirror could easily clip the drop bar hard enough to bend it and launch the rider into the curb, barely scratching the vehicle. The notion that investigators expected to find broken pieces of a car as evidence is absurd.
The police concluded the evidence wasn’t strong enough to even seek public tips. I disagree. Dropping this investigation was a disservice to a grieving family and to Jim’s fellow cyclists.
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