Gilbert cyclist killed on charity ride

[UPDATE Aug 29, 2014 Verde Independent is reporting County Attorney has decided there will be no (criminal) charges, though the article mentions the driver “was ordered to be re-tested by the Motor Vehicle Division”. The relatively long delay was apparently awaiting driver’s toxicology results. The reporter didn’t mention in the article, but the driver was cited and plead responsible to a 28-735 violation in VV justice court TR-20144749. The online records don’t mention the amount of fine, that is whether or not the enhanced penalty of up to $1,000 was levied]

[UPDATE: July 29, 2014 Case against driver is still being reviewed by the County Attorney’s office. Also the victim’s surname was corrected: Hartline, not Hareline]

Ironically the scene of the fatal collision is next to a “share the road” sign. photo: VVN/Jon Pelletier

This lane appears to be clearly too narrow to share safely side-by-side with another vehicle RIDE IN THE MIDDLE OF NARROW LANES FOR YOUR OWN PROTECTION — this is not only legal, but recommended as best practice by all traffic safety experts. Note that this doesn’t change the driver’s responsibility — the driver is clearly responsible for causing this type of crash; the operator of the overtaking vehicle always has a duty to perform the maneuver safely, not to mention the 3-foot minimum. Later news stories said the location was more specifically Cornville Road just west of Beaverhead Flats Rd.

232 – Motorist Overtaking—Misjudged Space

Incident occurred 5/17/2014. According to the news story, the driver mis-judged the passing space; and rather than slowing just kept going hoping to sqeeze by:

Ethelyn Harline (later corrected to Hartline), 48, of Gilbert, died after she was flown to the Flagstaff trauma center… Nelson Shaum, 90, of Cottonwood, was driving a tan 2011 Chrysler van, and thought there was adequate room to pass the bicyclists even though he remained in the same eastbound lane, since a westbound car was approaching.

There’s an excellent set of graphics and explanation over at that directly addresses these concepts:

Driving in the middle of the lane actually protects cyclists against the most common motorist-caused crashes: sideswipes, right hooks, left crosses, and drive-outs.  A bicycle driver’s top safety priority is to ensure he or she can be seen by motorists with whom they might potentially be in conflict, and bicycling in the middle of a lane is one of the most effective ways to do that.  Most overtaking crashes involve a motorist who attempts to squeeze past (illegally) in a lane that is too narrow to share.

The Crash Report

Reconciling 2014 data, this is adot incident=2837407. and FARS case 40250. It was mostly as described above; one oddity is motorist was dinged for UNKNOWN violation/behavior — usually they would get something like OTHER UNSAFE PASSING or something.

According to both the news story and the YCSO press release there was or should have been another unit (and two more people) involved in the crash, but according to asdm (and I don’t have a crash report), there was only the driver and the one bicyclist.

The FARS data has it correct: including the two additional bicyclists as non-incapacitating injury. FARS has it coded as a crashtype Motorist Overtaking – Misjudged Space.

So it was apparently somehow coded into ASDM wrong, and got correctly coded into FARS.

 Is this what happened?

The vehicle that struck and killed Harline. Damage at the extreme right side further indicates the driver attempted to “squeeze” by

A common motorist mistake, illustration below from (or f.b. page), is that a motorist believes they can squeeze by… Below depicts this on a road with two-lanes in one direction, but the same concept applies to a two-lane highway… just imagine the bus in the illustration is the on-coming traffic which prevented the minivan driver from changing lanes to pass:


iamtrafficClosePassCartoonRiding further into the lane discourages this driver error. (note nothing will prevent this entirely!)


Cattle Trailer close-pass video

Here’s a discussion thread about a youtube video of a close pass by a pickup pulling a cattle trailer on a 2 lane highway with lanes that are too narrow to share side-by-side and an irregular shoulder. This video vividly illustrates the potential dangers of edge-riding; the driver of the pickup appears to have seen the bicyclist, who was on a pretty wide shoulder at the time, and did not react (probably because the cyclist was on the shoulder). As the shoulder melts away the cyclist drifts from the shoulder to the extreme right portion of the (un-sharable) travel lane. There is an oncoming car. The driver continues forward as far to the left as possible and as he meets the oncoming car begins to swerve to the right.

Don’t edge ride.

Make predictable movements, ahead of time.

Shoulders come and go quickly and without warning.

Don’t ‘Ride the White Line’

This quadruple serious injury is classic; it occurred here in  Johnson County, NC in Feb 2016 on a two-lane country/rural highway w/no shoulders. Each lane is clearly too narrow to share, and use of the opposing lane is necessary in order to pass safely. The four cyclists were traveling single-file on the white line. News reports hint/imply/say the problem was with sight lines, but that’s not really the case; the problem is unsafe passing which was enabled by the victims themselves. F.B. post (group membership required to view link):

…This was not a blind curve or anything of the sort; it was a gradual curve where the driver apparently did not recognize the need to slow down and wait before attempting their pass. [map]. FYI (one of the victims) and I have talked about how all of the motorist-overtaking-group crashes that we know about have involved single file cyclists and none involved riding double file, but he felt that riding single file was an expression of courtesy and good public relations.


Cornville Road

There have been no reported pedalcyclist collisions on Cornville Rd (also looked for something like County 30) from 2009-2013; there was one pedestrian collision on Cornville Rd near 89A…

SELECT IncidentID,IncidentDateTime,Onroad,CrossingFeature FROM 2010_incident i WHERE EXISTS (SELECT 1 FROM 2010_unit u WHERE u.IncidentID=i.IncidentID AND u.eUnitType LIKE ('PEDAL%')) AND OnRoad LIKE "Corn%"

One thought on “Gilbert cyclist killed on charity ride”

  1. Jan 10, 2017 article in the White Mountain Independent offers some mixed advice. “Waechter advises… All cyclists should ride single file in a shoulder or bike lane”.
    In terms of advice, the goal should be to get motorists to pass by changing lanes, the article correctly points out that most lanes cannot accomodate a bicyclist and a vehicle safely side-by-side; when this is the case, bicyclists may (legally), and should (to encourage overtaking drivers to change lanes to pass) ride near the middle of narrow lane. Two abreast will provide greater visibility.
    It’s hard to describe in a news article the concepts of where to ride on the road.

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