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Bicyclist Seriously Hurt in Crash, Cops Say

Cranford man transported to Morristown Medical Center Tuesday. Police plan to issue summons.

A bicyclist was transported to Morristown Medical Center Tuesday afternoon after police said he "suffered serious injuries" when he allegedly crashed into an moving car.

According to a press release sent by Chatham Borough Police Lt. Brian Gibbons, the crash occurred around 2:20 p.m. The bicyclist, Jose Batista, of Cranford, was traveling east in the shoulder on Main Street when the driver of a Ford Freestyle, Patrick McVeigh, of Chatham, was making a left turn into the CVS parking lot from the westbound lane.

Gibbons said Batista struck the rear passenger side of the car. Batista was not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash, the press release said, and was transported to the hospital for his injuries.

Chatham police will be issuing Batista a summons for failure to exercise due care when passing a standing or slow-moving vehicle proceeding in the same direction, Gibbons said.

jingle jones December 21, 2012 at 01:34 AM
@leni - the cyclist was not in his own lane. he was on the shoulder and did not exercise "due care" as stated above several times.
Max Power December 21, 2012 at 02:23 AM
No law requires an adult to wear a helmet.
Max Power December 21, 2012 at 02:29 AM
There is similarly no evidence that Mr. Batista failed to exercise due care, either. It is most likely that he hit the rear of the Ford because he braked to avoid being crushed by the car. In most collisions between two autos, especially when failure to yield is unclear, the CPD issues no ticket and lets the insurance companies haggle it out. They should exercise the same discretion here. I hope Mr. Batista "lawyers-up" when he recovers.
Max Power December 21, 2012 at 05:32 AM
@Squash. No law requires an adult cyclist to wear a helmet, only children. Even if it were required, it would have no bearing on a failure to yield right-of-way, and more than failing to wear a seatbelt would.
Max Power December 21, 2012 at 03:01 PM
This is a major problem with the design of that section of Main Street. Through Madison, the "shoulder" is a marked bike lane. That lane apparently ends when Main Street reaches Chatham, even though the shoulder lane is the same width, but no bike stencil. There are "Keep Off Shoulder" signs on Main Street in Chatham, but those signs are not defined in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and have as much legal standing for traffic as the "Green Acres" sign. There should be a Bike Lane Ends sign at the Division Street intersection so cyclists coming from Madison are aware of it, as well as the MUTCD-defined "Bicycles May Use Full Lane" sign as Main Street enters Chatham if the Borough wants cyclists to use the main travel lane and not the shoulder.
lenni December 21, 2012 at 04:22 PM
jingle jones- the shoulder of the road is a desingated bike lane. What I suspect is that a car, traveling East, stopped and allowed Mr. McVeigh to make his turn into the CVS parking lot. The cyclist nor Mr. McVeigh saw each other. I did see the accident shortly after it happened. It appeared to me that the cyclist hit the rear side window of Mr. McVeigh's van and smashed it in. Chatham Squash- your sense of direction seems to be lacking. Perhaps you can revisit which way is East and which way is West. Whether the cyclist was wearing a helmet or not is not germane as another poster mentioned, helmets are not required by law for those over a certain age.
lenni December 21, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Well said, Max Power.
jingle jones December 21, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Nope. It's simply the shoulder and not dedicated to any sort of vehicles beyond emergency vehicles.
jingle jones December 21, 2012 at 08:20 PM
oh, you're one of those lovely cyclists who challenge our patience and safety regularly. marvelous.
Max Power December 21, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I challenge noone's safety. I operate my bicycle in accordance with the law, and expect the same of all others using a public road. As for your patience, I can't help you. Operating a car does not entitle the user to demand that others accommodate your sense of entitlement to travel as quickly as you wish. Traffic laws cut both ways - that part of the law that requires cyclists to obey traffic laws also grants them all of the rights to use of the road that an operator of a car has. I suggest you get some stress management MP3 to play while you're in traffic if you have trouble dealing with it.
Steve December 21, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Here's my take on all these posts. As between some apparently bitter cyclists who generally attack the competency of the police, and Police Lieutenant Brian Gibbons' summons specifically charging Batista with a "failure to exercise due care," I would put my faith in Officer Gibbons rather than the anonymous cyclists (who seem to have an axe to grind and are making up their own version of the facts).
lenni December 22, 2012 at 05:05 PM
Steve- Just for the record, I have no bitterness towards the Chatham Police who do a fine job and are courteous at the same time. The cyclist may have been traveling too fast for the situation, but he being in a bike land had the right of way and the turning van did not. Perhaps both of the vehicle's "drivers" should have been summoned for careless "driving".
Anna Tivade December 23, 2012 at 01:56 PM
McVeigh, who made a left from the Westbound lane, as the oncoming Eastbound traffic stopped for hm, was already three quarters of the way into the CVS parking lot when the cyclist hit the back of the vehicle, breaking the rear glass window of the right side of the vehicle. Cyclist was passing stopped cars as he traveled in the shoulder.
Donald December 23, 2012 at 09:32 PM
Thanks, Anna. That's entirely consistent with Officer Gibbons' summons correctly charging Batista -- and not McVeigh -- with a failure to exercise due care under NJSA 39:4-14.2 (which was inferable from the reported facts, as explained above in some detail by those wishing to accept the propriety of the officer's actions). Nevertheless, the Patch article could have been clearer.
BlueCollarBob December 25, 2012 at 10:24 PM
First- it probably didn't help that the cyclist was from out of town and didn't speak English Second - for those of you supporting the motorist I can only assume you have never witnessed the way he drives his "Steeler Mobile" around the streets of Chatham Borough...this was an accident waiting to happen
Steve December 26, 2012 at 12:47 AM
This was posted on Cranford Patch Sunday night by "kls": I witnessed this accident and still feel extremely upset over the injuries mr. Batista sustained. I pray that he makes a full recovery. It was a horrible and unfortunate accident. From my innocent bystander view, mr. Mcveigh did not cut the bicyclist off and there was no way he could have seen the bicyclist coming. There was a long line of stopped traffic traveling east. Mr mcveigh was traveling west and made a left into the CVS parking lot. The bicyclist was passing the line of traffic (also going east) on the shoulder. The bicyclist hit mr mcveigh's car after mcveigh had turned into to the parking lot, blowing out the rear window located in the trunk (very back of the car). It was not a SUV. I'm not sure mr mcveigh could have even seen what hit his car as it happened behind his line of vision - the bicyclist hit the very rear of the car. I also don't know how mr mcveigh would have been able to see bicyclist coming in advance as bicyclist was bent over not visible behind a very long line of cars traveling east.
Donald December 30, 2012 at 12:55 PM
By the way, it is illegal for bicyclists such as Mr. Batista even to be riding on the shoulder of a road (and especially passing slower or stopped traffic on the roadway to the bicyclist's left, for which he will receive a summons). As held by the New Jersey Supreme Court in Polzo v. County of Essex (January 18, 2012): "Bicyclists do not have special privileges on a roadway’s shoulder. Indeed, a bicycle rider is directed to ride on the furthest right hand side of the roadway, not on the roadway’s shoulder. The Motor Vehicle Code does not designate the roadway’s shoulder as a bicycle lane."
Max Power December 31, 2012 at 08:38 PM
Which means that during the 20 hours of the day when Main Street is not backed up, you should expect to drive behind a cyclist at his speed, since the lanes are too narrow to allow a safe passing distance, and most of Main Street is a has a solid yellow line in one or both directions prohibiting lane changes to pass.
Julles51 January 02, 2013 at 03:13 PM
I guess you're not a fan of Mr. McVeigh...perhaps you could keep your personal views to yourself and not bring them up in a public forum. We're talking about a bicycle who hit THE BACK OF Mr. McVeigh's car...pretty obvious it was not his fault and you are just using this opportunity to bad-mouth a neighbor. Nice.
Julles51 January 02, 2013 at 03:17 PM
To Max Power - I see that you commented on 12/31 at 3:38pm...start New Year's Eve early, did you? What Main Street are you talking about? I think you meant "the 20 hours a day when Main Street IS backed up...when is it not backed up??? Bottom line: Bicyclists need to obey traffic laws just like everybody else. Period.
lenni January 02, 2013 at 11:45 PM
Julies51- I would say that Mr. Battista was obeying the law. Mt. Mc Veigh should have seen the cyclist and the cyclist should have seen Mr. McVeigh and his van. I would say it is Mr. Mc Veigh's responsibility to yield to the slower vehicle since it was he who was turning across the bike land/shoulder.
lenni January 02, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Donald- I had better turn myself in to the nearest Police station because I ride the shoulder of the roads in Morris County everyday of the week. Perhaps the Police just are not enforcing the law.
Julles51 January 03, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Hi lenni - I would almost agree with you except - and put yourself in this picture - you are turning left into CVS and are 3/4 of the way into the driveway because a car in the oncoming lane let you turn - now, remembering you are already 3/4 of the way - are you looking for a bicycle at this point or are you looking straight ahead and watching for cars/people in the parking lot? For the cyclist - you are riding down main street on the shoulder - a car has ALREADY TURNED INTO CVS 3/4 of the way...why didn't you stop? Were you flying down the road so there's no possible way you could stop or were you paying attention to traffic and riding slow enough that you could stop...there was no reason for the cyclist to hit that car if he was obeying the rules of the road like everyone else. Drive down Main St. some afternoon and do what Mr. McVeigh did...you'll see it wasn't his fault. Officer must have agreed or he would have gotten the ticket.
lenni January 03, 2013 at 05:39 PM
Julles51- I find fault with both Mr. Battista AND Mr. McVeigh. Mr. Battista was probably going to fast for the situation, not realising that the car stopped (with an obvious gap in the car line), could be allowing a motorist to turn into the CVS parking lot. Mr. McVeigh could have proceeded into the CVS parking lot more slowly, looking for a pedestrian perhaps on the sidewalk or a cyclist (or another car wanting to turn right into the same parking lot). All in all, it was a perfect storm for an accident.
Max Power January 03, 2013 at 06:42 PM
lenni - Riding in NJ largely puts you in a legal "no-man's zone" due to conflicting expectations. In the Polzo decision cited by Donald, as well as other court cases, the courts confirm that the motor vehicle code does not allow cycling in the shoulder. However, if you do ride in the travel lane, you will be subject to horn blasts, unsafe passing, and other intimidation from motorists who want to pass. You may even find yourself in court rebutting a ticket for "impeding traffic." Adding to the confusion, the recent "complete streets" policy of the state (and emulated by many municipal policies) recommend including wide shoulders as cycling accommodations. The conflicts result in a "damned if you do & damned if you don't" legal position.
Max Power January 03, 2013 at 06:55 PM
What concerns me is that if the Ford was 3/4 of the way into the CVS parking lot at the time of impact, there would be space between the rear of the Ford and the stopped eastbound traffic. The shoulder is about 8' wide on that section of Main. If this position of the Ford is accurate, it's probably Mr Batista was not paying attention. or riding much faster than he could safely brake (which would support the ticket issued). However, if McVeigh continued to move the Ford into the lot after impact, the fault would likely be shared (Failure to yield when turning left for McVeigh, failure to exercise.care for Batista). Batista's statement is needed to clarify this, but he was clearly in no condition to make a reliable statement as he was being loaded into an ambulance, It seems premature to determine fault and issue a ticket without one party's statement.
John S. January 03, 2013 at 07:10 PM
@Julles51 - Let's consider some physics before we assume that the accident was avoidable because the car was "already 3/4 of the way." A cyclist can easily hit & maintain 30-35mpg on that part of Main St because of the downhill slope from Madison. At 30mph, he'd cover 44 feet each second. Given the location and the level of traffic, the driver would have had to slow down quite a bit to make the turn safely (we'll just assume they didn't dive bomb unsafely into the lot). At 5mph, the driver moves 7.33 feet per second. If we consider the length of the car (16.6 feet long! according to MSN Autos), two lanes to cross (the shoulder is super wide there), and the fact that bikes don't turn while under hard braking it's easy to see that the cyclist had little to no chance of avoiding the vehicle. My point is that as a driver you need to double check those lanes not just 25 feet in front but 100 to 200 feet ahead - cyclists can go very fast.
lenni January 05, 2013 at 07:58 PM
John S. Mr. Mc Veigh did not sufficiently check the second lane he was crossing to enter the CVS parking lot. He was crossing not only the auto lane, that was stopped to allow him to proceed across, but also the shoulder/lane adjacent to the curb. As a motorized vehicle, I put more responsiblity on the larger, more lethal automobile.
lenni January 05, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Max Power- Madison has had no problem in naming the shoulders of many of their roads as "bike lanes", so what is Chatham's problem? Chatham Borough Attorney does not wish to commit the town to cycling?
Max Power January 07, 2013 at 04:08 PM
I wish I knew why those lanes end when Main St. changes from Madison to Chatham. It may be a concern about liability, but the town could also face a lawsuit due to the lack of standardized signs indicating that the bike lane ends. In any case, people need to work towards a solution that prevents this from happening again. There's a Traffic Safety Committee meeting tomorrow night at 6:45. If you're live or ride in the town, it's a good idea to get involved. http://www.chathamborough.org/chatham/Calendars/Monthly%20Calendar?month=01&year=2013&day=08

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