published Friday, March 6th, 2009

Update: Cyclist Meek killed in early morning accident

A bicyclist travelling in the 1000 block of Ashland Terrace was killed this morning, according to Chattanooga police.

Sgt. Jerri Weary said police were alerted to the scene around 6:40 a.m.

According to witnesses, the cyclist was travelling on Ashland Terrace toward Hixson Pike. As a box-type truck travelling in the same direction passed by the cyclist, a saddle bag on the back of the bicycle caught the rear footboard of the truck and yanked the bike out from under him, Sgt. Weary stated in a news release.

The victim, David Meek, was thrown into the street where he suffered life threatening injuries. Mr. Meek was transported to Erlanger hospital where he subsequently died.

The driver of the truck told police that he never saw the bicyclist and didn’t know there was anything wrong until he saw the victim in the street.

Charges in the incident are pending further investigation.

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jamesmadison said...

"a box-type truck travelling in the same direction passed by the cyclist,"

"The driver of the truck told police that he never saw the bicyclist"

"didn’t know there was anything wrong until he saw the victim in the street"

He didn't see the person he passed until he was laying dead in the street BEHIND him! Wake up!

March 6, 2009 at 12:44 p.m.
muffintop said...

This is absolutely ridiculous! PAY ATTENTION TO WHAT'S AROUND YOU!! Too many pedestrians, mopeds, and bicyclists are being hit everyday due to motorists lack of consideration and poor judgement. They have EVERY right to the street just as you do and anyone who lives in Chattanooga knows people on bicycles are everywhere! May you rest in peace Mr. Meek.

March 6, 2009 at 1:15 p.m.
blaudeman said...

The truck was within a few inches of the bike . . or the biker turned toward the truck. In either case the truck driver refused to recognize the bike's right of way and protected safety "envelope."

As a scooter driver, I understand how auto and truck drivers want us to "get out of their way..." but we are the ones who die when we "bother them" -- not vice versa!

Bill Laudeman

March 6, 2009 at 1:24 p.m.
jbibler said...

I am shocked to hear about this. I have known David and his family for 30 years, and have known his wife all of my life. He was such a good guy. My heart goes out to her and their two kids. This is just unbelievable.

March 6, 2009 at 1:27 p.m.
cyclist said...

The following was posted by David yesterday on the Chattanooga Bicycle Club Forum. "No this is not an official Bike2Work event where we are inticed to ride to work by fine food and prizes. This is just ride your bike to work for fun and adventure. Tomorrow promises to be a beautiful day. Its the next day of the rest of your life. See you on the road." What a tragedy for his family and Chattanooga and her cycling community. David was loved by many and will be missed by all.

March 6, 2009 at 2:48 p.m.
scouncil said...

I believe that there is a law stating that you should give a bicyclist 3 feet of clearance when passing? I doubt this was observed by the driver of the "box truck". Vehicular manslaughter comes to mind. The driver didn't even SEE the cyclist? Was a drug/alcohol test done? I can't beleive that David would be riding without a light or reflective clothing at the time of the accident. I'm so sorry for David's family and just heartbroken for all of us that road ride with idiots like this driver.

March 6, 2009 at 3:18 p.m.
mbardelli said...

This is an absolute loss for everyone. I believe this driver needs to prosecuted to the full extent for his ignorant and dangerous negligence.

David is a responsible and safe rider. i am sick and tired of these fools on the road who are oblivious to cyclists.

I am so sorry for David's family. It is a shame that such a fool is out there.

We should form a group to hold a forum with Mayor Littlefield about cyclists rights and increased infrastructure for bicycle commuters.

March 6, 2009 at 3:57 p.m.
Emt1cat said...

My prayers go out to David's family and friends. God will be with each and everyone of you through this sad and difficult time.

I don't know how this driver did not see him on his bike. It was light enough to see a cyclist, David was wearing light colored clothing and his red flashing light was still flashing on his bike. It's a straight, flat area of Ashland Terrace (right in front of Food Lion). Was this driver paying attention or using a cell phone/texting, etc, which is so common these days. IF the saddle bag got caught on the back of the truck, then the driver wasn't abiding by the 3 feet law!!! And, IF that is what happened, then why didn't the driver see him as he passed him. BECAUSE, he wasn't looking where he was going or paying attention. Like it or not, there are those of us who are going to be on our bikes. We love riding!!

March 6, 2009 at 5:25 p.m.
billbiv said...

Some people you can come to know well even after only a few experiences together, because they have such and open and life-loving nature. David was one of those - you came to instantly like him on meeting and the feeling only grew as you got to know him better.

As evidenced in the post above where he commented just yesterday 'Tomorrow promises to be a beautiful day. Its the next day of the rest of your life,' it is apparent that David relished life and sought to live it to its fullest - also evidenced in his desire to ride a bike to work vs. being insulated from the world inside a motor vehicle.

I have no doubt the driver was oblivious to the world outside of his vehicle for whatever reason. Clearly he was not in tune with life in the way that David was. Ironically, the driver is the one who more likely losing the most of life every day. I expect that David lived his life and relished it. Certainly, 'obliviousness' was not one of David's characteristics - a shame someone else's cost us all his life.

I am grateful for the blessing of David's life and regret the pain that his family is now suffering.

March 6, 2009 at 6:04 p.m.
cyclist said...

Hopefuly the driver will get in tune with life while doing time with the Tennessee Department of Corrections.

March 6, 2009 at 10:20 p.m.
x2bate said...

As part of the biking family in Middle Tn, we know that Chattanooga has a great tradition for advocacy and organization when it comes to biking. We mourn your loss and pray for his family.

I hope the authorities will hold this driver responsible and not just shrug their shoulders and say "Oh well, too bad". We should all be held responsible for our actions.

The fact that the truck hit him brings to mind the legal term from Latin "Res ipsa loquitur". The act speaks for itself. The driver was not 3 feet away. Please enforce this law!!

March 7, 2009 at 8:43 a.m.
icebiker3 said...

The driver of this truck has just killed a man, a husband, and a father. Let us hope the State of Tennessee can make sure he remembers that for many many years to come. We all need to make sure that District Attorneys and Police understand the gravity of this. They need to write a ticket immediately, so the DA can press criminal charges.

March 8, 2009 at 8:37 p.m.
MikesBike said...

Tennessee Code Section 55-8-175 requires a motor vehicle to yield no less than three feet to a cyclist when passing the cyclist. The bike bag did not "catch the rear floorboard of the truck" as stated in the article. The truck driver failed to safely pass the cyclist as required by law when he sideswiped and killed the cyclist. It is the responsibility of the driver passing another to safely pass the cyclist or motorist they pass.

March 8, 2009 at 9:18 p.m.
j2006n said...

After moving to the Chattanooga area 5 months ago, drivers around here can't pass another car safely. Seems like everyone here is an aggressive driver.

March 9, 2009 at 9:13 a.m.
rkw said...

The city of Chattanooga bears a significant portion of the responsibility for the tragic loss of David Meek on Friday morning. The law states that vehicles must allow for a minimum of three feet when passing a bike. Clearly, this was not the case on Friday morning and the loss is all the more shocking and tragic because David was a conscientious and law abiding cyclist. It isn't hard to see why this accident happened, beyond whatever level of attentiveness the driver of the van exercised. There are few roads in Chattanooga that are designed for cyclists--the last two miles of St. Elmo Avenue is the only section that come to mind off hand. Here cyclists and cars can coexist with a minimum danger to the cyclist, but this is certainly not enough.

The city must correct its lack of bike lanes and green ways if it wants to be a "green" and "outdoor enthusiast" city. Take a look at a city like Boulder, Colorado where cyclists are far safer because of the extensive network of bike lanes and green ways, the enforcement of the laws, and the awareness and appreciation of cyclists as fellow citizens rather than hindrances.

We hope that the loss of David's life serves as an incentive for the city to work to educate those in vehicles about cyclist's rights and an impetus for the city and its citizens to begin work on a network of bike lanes and green ways (like St. Elmo Ave. and the River Walk) that will lead to more commuting and exercise (greater health and enjoyment of life) in the city.

David advocated life. He was one of the rarest, kindest, gentlest, and most generous people either of us have ever met. Every moment was an occasion for joy for David and for those around him. His presence in our lives was without equal and we feel honored to have known him. David will be missed by many because he touched so many people with his spirit.

March 9, 2009 at 1:19 p.m.
NedNetterville said...

There was a time when I traveled 10,000 miles a year on my bike, commuting and traveling the Midwest and New England. In doing so I occasionally but repeatedly encountered a certain type of mentally sick motorist (car and truck drivers and sometimes their passengers too) whom I call bicycle predators. There is something about merely seeing a cyclist on THEIR road which incites these types to arrogantly and murderously--murderously because of the speed and weight differential between any motor vehicle and a person on a bike--try to frighten the cyclist in one way or another. In one case on Mentor Avenue in Mentor, Ohio, at night, the driver turned off his lights so as not to forewarn me of his approach and as he passed close by me the front-seat passenger leaned out the window an hit me across the back with an axe handle, baseball bat or similar object. On another occasion the passenger reached out and grabbed my handlebar in an attempt to steer me into the curb. However, the predator "trick" I encountered most often was simply driving by without slowing within inches of my bike while watching in the rear view mirror to see and enjoy whatever reaction they got. Usually, but by no means exclusively, predators play their tricks when there are few or no witnesses observing their behavior.

I do not mean to suggest that the truck driver who killed David Meek is a bicycle predator who intentionally tried to frighten him or run him off the road, but if that is the case, the charge against him should be second-degree murder. An analogy would be a hunter in the woods who came upon picnickers occupying his favorite hunting spot. Instead of asking them to move, he decides to frighten them off by shooting close to them with his high-powered rifle. But his aim is faulty and he kills one of them. In reality, a warning shot meant to frighten is probably less likely to go astray and kill than is a several-ton vehicle purposely passing within inches of a cyclist.

Because news media reports of David Meek's "accident" imply that the truck driver may have lied in saying he never saw Mr. Meek until after hitting him, it is incumbent upon the police and prosecutor to look into the possibility of malicious intent. Has the driver ever been involved in other incidents involving a cyclist? Has his employer ever received complaints about his driving from cyclists? Has he ever been cited for road rage? The family of Mr. Meek, his large circle of friends, and the Chattanooga bicycling community in general deserve answers to these and other questions. Publishing the driver's name and the name on the truck might help to bring any previous incidents involving the same driver or truck to light if other cyclists have had similar encounters and lived to tell about it.

March 9, 2009 at 5:41 p.m.
federaloffense said...

I am also saddened by this death. I must, however, take the controversial side of the issue. It may be time to review and change the laws that allow bikes on the roadways with motor vehicles. These laws were inacted very long ago when traffic and roads were much different then they are today. Even cycling itself and the reasons to ride on the streets have changed. In earlier days it was more a matter of necessity. Now it is mostly a matter of sport. I live on an extremely dangerous local road that the cyclists seem to use for training. It is very narrow, very winding and has many blind hills and curves. It is ill suited to be "shared" with groups of cyclists, sometimes close to a hundred in a single evening. It is not safe out there. Training, especially in these large groups, should not be done on todays dangerous roads. Since we certainly can't remove cars from the roads, perhaps we should restrict this type of riding to parks and cycling trails. There would be no more deaths at all. You may now let the hating begin.

March 9, 2009 at 9:52 p.m.
cyclist said...

Federaloffense you are incorrrect. Tennessee Code Section 55-8-175 (the "three foot law") was enacted in 2008, hardly "very long ago". It is also kmown as the Jeff Roth and Brian Brown Bicycle Protection Act of 2007.

March 10, 2009 at 12:42 p.m.
someguy said...

Certainly this is a tragedy that should require a "step back" and a way to prevent these in the future.

I have to admit that I'm not familiar with this area, but did I understand that the accident (or whatever you want to call it) occurred near 1000 Ashford Terrace? If so, I'm a bit confused. When I put in 996 Ashford Terrace into Google maps and do the "street view" I see a road that is not suitable for bicycle driving. I see what appears to be a high traffic, high speed, 2-way road with very little room. Is there even 3 feet between the 2 lanes of traffic for a vehicle to maneuver??

I don't understand how it can be illegal to ride a bike on a 60-80 mph highway, but legal to ride one on 2 lane, low visibility roads with typical speeds exceeding 60 mph. I'm all for taking the kids out to ride in a quiet area, but even a motorcycle would have its own lane and would be less of a risk.

Understand that I'm not trying to be cruel: quite the opposite. I'm terrified of bicyclists as an automobile driver. I've had a few instances where I've had to do dangerous maneuvers (usually going into the oncoming traffic's lane) to try and pass a bicyclist safely.

I pride myself to be a safe and reliable driver and get infuriated (as I'm sure you do) with a lot of the arrogant, don't-know-how-to-drive, talking-on-the-cell-phone, riding-your-tail drivers around here. But I do not know how to drive safely (in my own lane) while providing you with sufficient space to ride.

I'm sorry, I really am.

March 13, 2009 at 2:10 p.m.
cyclist said...

someguy, you are looking at an old picture. Ashland terrace was recently widened to 4 (possibly 5) lanes. It's sad that the city decided against adding bicycle lanes to this new construction, even though it claims to be a bicycle friendly city, even employing a full time bicycle coordinator. http://www.bikechattanooga.org/OutdoorChattanoogaNamesBicycleCoordinator.html

March 13, 2009 at 4:25 p.m.
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