The causes of collisions are so simple and obvious we don’t need to think about them

The only important matter is that we find someone guilty. Then we can move on to the next future tragedy. That seems to be the case in a well-publicized cyclist hit-&-run collision where the cyclist was permanently disabled.

Much publicity has been focused recently on the trial of a motor vehicle driver, Jesse Aaron Bleck, whose vehicle struck a cyclist on Exeter Road near Wonderland Road in London, Ontario, on July 21, 2019. The cyclist who was struck, Tristan Roby, suffered major and permanent brain injuries and is currently reportedly confined to a wheelchair and a very altered future.

A few days ago Bleck was found guilty of being the driver in the hit-&-run collision. Much publicity was given to the fact that Roby and his family could close this difficult chapter and move on. And to some degree, this is a successful end. Yet, the result is troubling.

Although news media focused on the court proceedings with respect to who was driving, essentially nothing was reported on how and why the collision happened. And there has been no concern expressed by anyone that this lack of information existed. Whether it be the police, or news media, politicians or anyone interested in cycling safety, or road safety as a whole, expressed any concern that the public was provided with no information as to how and why the collision happened. And this is a merry-go-round that keeps being revisited after each collision tragedy.

Officially many persons express their desire to achieve the propaganda of Vision Zero. Various improvements are discussed, often related to roadway design improvements, driver controls, vehicle design improvements. Yet very little thought is given to the practical changes that are essential with respect to how we learn from previous tragedies. Details as to how and why a major collision occurred are continually hidden from public view. This leads to the fact that very few persons have even a minimal understanding of the complexity of collision causes. This reality is demonstrated over and over again when various persons express their thoughts about major collisions that occur and these are displayed in social media chats or in official news media articles. In the absence of knowledge and education the standard beliefs exist that all “drivers are stupid” except for the holder of that opinion. Whenever a collision occurs opinions are expressed that the particular road where the collision occurred is “the most dangerous” and that something must be changed, regardless of whether there is any objective data to determine what exactly needs correction. Opinions are given that speeds on a particular roadway are much too fast and the posted speed limits must be reduced, with the belief that reducing the posted speed will magically reduce average speeds. And opinions are expressed that, when average speeds are reduced, safety is improved, with no consideration whether the behavior of the very small group of problem drivers has been changed.

The greater tragedy in the Tristan Roby collision is that, without knowing how and why the collision occurred, we are building the foundations for the occurrence of the next tragedy because we have learned nothing from it.