As we start feeling the warmth of the sun, the trees start to blossom, the grass turns green, and motorists find themselves sharing the roadways with bicyclists. The intersection at Falls and Butler Road, in Baltimore County, is no exception. This is one of many popular scenic routes frequented by bicyclists. Unfortunately, this area is also known for heavy traffic and there are no bike lanes or sidewalks. Vehicles must share the road with the cyclists.
Sharing this stretch of road became deadly for an Owings Mills cyclist. On the afternoon of April 7, long-time cyclist, Larry Bensky was riding along Falls Road with a friend, Joel Wyman when he was struck by a vehicle and fatally injured. Apparently, the driver of the vehicle, 64-year-old, Faith Frenzel, drifted off the road, onto the shoulder, and struck Bensky and Wyman. Bensky was pronounced dead at the scene; Wyman is in serious condition at Sinai Hospital.
It is not known what caused Ms. Frenzel to drift off the road. The accident is still under investigation and no charges have been filed. What is known is that the road is too narrow for vehicles and bicycles. The State of Maryland is looking into a bill that requires drivers to give cyclists a buffer of three feet when passing. This is not an uncommon concern across the country. I am pleased that the State of Maryland is turning this fatal automobile-bicycle accident into a call for making our roads safer.
Unfortunately, for Mr. Bensky and his family it is too little, too late. It is uncertain whether charges will be made against Ms. Frenzel or if a lawsuit will be filed. What is certain is the grief that follows for Mr. Bensky’s wife, and two young daughters, ages 7 and 3. Even before the grief subsides, the Bensky family may face financial hardship due to income loss and funeral expense. Death of a family member can have devastating legal and financial consequences.
If a lawsuit is pursued, the family can include lifetime loss of earnings, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. This accident also reminds us all of the dangers of cycling on roadways, especially commonly traveled ones by motorists. The photo of Mr. Bensky shows him wearing a helmet. We assume he was also wearing one at the time of the accident. But, this is a good time to remember a few bicyclist safety tips.
· Wear a helmet; make sure it is properly fitted
· Ride with the flow of traffic; ride on the right side of the road, not against the flow of traffic
· Adhere to the same rules of the road as vehicles
· Avoid stopping in the blind spot of a vehicle
· Use a mirror to glance at traffic behind
· Use common sense and remain alert
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