• Gene Hackman struck by a pickup truck: Editorial

    by  • January 14, 2012 • Education, Injuries and Fatalities • 5 Comments

    Gene Hackman’s bike accident illustrates importance of knowing how to avoid accidents with cyclists when driving a car or truck

    By Ben Schwartz — Actor Gene Hackman was hospitalized after a bicycle accident on Friday in Florida. According to news reports, the veteran actor was riding his bicycle when a pickup truck hit him from behind, knocking him off the bike and onto a grassy shoulder. He was airlifted to a hospital in Miami where he was later released after routine tests. According to USA Today, Hackman, who is 81 years old, was not wearing a helmet but sustained only minor injuries.

    Hackman, one of my favorite actors, has won two Academy Awards and three Golden Globes. He played Lex Luther in the 1978 film Superman (which I saw at the Capitol Theatre in Dover long before it became the Schwartz Center). He played a lawyer in The Firm with Tom Cruise. The list of films Hackman has appeared in is as long as your arm.

    This story illustrates the importance of focusing on safety both when riding a bicycle and when operating a car or truck where cyclists are present. According to the Delaware Office of highway Safety, there have been eight bicycle fatalities in Delaware in the last three years. There were no bicycle deaths in Delaware in 2011, but in 2010 there were two and in 2009 there were six. Although the numbers are low, even one person dying after a bicycle accident with a car is one too many.  [Continue reading …]


    5 Responses to Gene Hackman struck by a pickup truck: Editorial

    1. Amy Wilburn
      January 15, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      I’m glad that Gene Hackman is okay. Riding his bike at 81? That’s pretty cool.

    2. January 15, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!! DO NOT listen to Ben Schwarz’ advice how to drive around cyclist!

      TWO FEET?!?!?!?!? If someone passed me that close, I’d call the cops and in an attempt to charge the driver with reckless driving at least if not a criminal offense. I’m not the lawyer here (but I am an LCI) but I would consider such a pass at that close range a willful, reckless threat on my life. In my opinion 5 feet is the minimum safe distance to pass a cyclists and even then it should be done with care at a speed below the posted limit.

      His second recommendation is also reckless and irresponsible. He essentially suggests that drivers should cut-off cyclists and just make sure that the cyclist doesn’t crash into your car. Wrong answer again! If you need to make a turn near a cyclists, just wait behind the cyclist, let the cyclist pass where you need to turn and then turn in behind the cyclist. No “right hook” required.

      The final recommendation is horribly insulting and condescending to cyclist and paints with a broad brush. Yes some people who ride bikes are very irresponsible but so are many car drivers. I treat both as being equally incompetent.

      Frank, what’s the deal of linking to this post?

      PS – I’m also glad that Mr. Hackman was okay.

    3. Chris J.
      January 16, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      I agree with the above poster. Regarding the article — doesn’t DE already have a 3-foot passing law on the books?
      Most people who pass me seem to give me about 3 or 4 feet, 2 feet does seem way too close for comfort.
      If I can reach out and grab your side mirror, you’re too damned close to my bike.

    4. Frank Warnock
      January 16, 2012 at 4:19 pm

      My bad, the 2′ bit was overlooked before cross-posting. I asked the author to please update this article to reflect the current 3′ law, which I agree is inadequate, at least for higher speed roads, i.e. 35+ mph.

      It can be difficult to write on a topic like this in a blanket fashion. Conditions vary too much, particularly speed limits, road design, rider speed, etc that may justify passing safely before turning, I had a friend who recently was honked and cursed at by multiple drivers when she was riding slowly uphill in the shoulder, at the point it became a right turn-only lane. The first car came in behind to wait for her to clear, but she was moving slowly and several cued behind with at least 2 honking and 1 screaming “get on the sidewalk, stupid!”. All the while, at least the first 2 could have passed her first and safely turned right with no threat of a hook. I know this sounds ridiculous, because of course they should wait. It probably sounds like we’re making excuses to save the driver scant seconds. It is very sad as all too often we’re dealing with issues of road rage and the outcome could be far worse. Too many drivers lack even the most basic respect and compassion for other road users.

    5. Amy Wilburn
      January 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

      The law has two elements. 1) The law requires a minimum of 3 feet of clearance when passing a bike (this is between the closest points on the car and bike (like side view mirror and the end of the handle bars). 2) On multilane roads, whenever possible, the car must move into the adjacent lane when passing a cyclist. Similar to the “move over” law, if this is not possible, the driver is required to slow down and leave a minimum of 3 feet of clearance. I agree that 5 feet is best and that 2 feet is definitely inadequate. And yes, if the I can touch a car as it passes me or the passenger in the car can touch me, then that is definitely too close. An easy way to estimate 3 feet is the distance between the center of a grown man’s chest and the tip of the fingers on his outstretched arm. So a passing car should be well beyond the reach of any cyclist.

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