The latest on John Yates

Please note this response to a BBC members inquiry about the investigation :

I am the commander of the Traffic Section within the Baltimore Police Department. I supervise the Crash Team and therefore the e-mail you authored to Mayor Sheila Dixon was forwarded to me for a response.

I was at the scene of this tragic crash and I know that this incident was investigated thoroughly from the very beginning as a very serious issue, as all fatal crashes are. We have obtained a video of this incident that shows the entire event.

There are only some aspects of this case that are public record. I will tell you that the video clearly shows the cyclist to be at fault. There is no "right to the road" as a cyclist. You have the same rights as a motor vehicle and also the same obligations. The cyclist was not operating within those parameters. The tanker truck that the cyclist struck was a large one. The cyclist struck it in the rear. There is no evidence to support that the driver was ever aware there was an impact. Do not believe what the media reports as entirely true regarding this or any event.

The investigators within the unit are very educated and experienced in all types of crashes and have attended several schools specific to the physics of a pedestrian crash and a cyclist fatal crash. With regard to the question of it being investigated as a hit and run accident, not only was it investigated as such but the truck was located by investigators within a few days of the incident.

Please feel free to contact my office if you have any further questions.

Lt. Leslie Bank
Traffic Commander
Baltimore Police Department

by B' Spokes

Like most people I live a hectic life and who has the time for much exercise? Thanks to xtracycle now I do. By using my bike for daily activities I can get things done and get an hour plus work out in 15 minutes extra of my time, not a bad deal and beats taking the extra time going to the gym. In case you are still having trouble being motivated; the National Center of Disease Control says that inactivity is the #2 killer in the United States just behind smoking. ( ) Get out there and start living life! I can carry home a full shopping cart of groceries, car pool two kids or just get lost in the great outdoors camping for a week. Well I got go, another outing this weekend.
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WTF? Is it me, or does this email sound hostile?
Can anyone please ask the chief how the cyclist was at fault. I ask this only to learn from it and ensure that I do not make the same mistake. Thank you for the help
IMHO, the LAB's lawyers (, on behalf of the family, should be able to review this video and tell us whether the police responce is correct.

I can not fathom how a bicyclist could just run into the side of a tanker truck.


The supervisor wrote; "I will tell you that the video clearly shows the cyclist to be at fault. There is no "right to the road" as a cyclist. You have the same rights as a motor vehicle and also the same obligations. The cyclist was not operating within those parameters." As a long-time cyclist, with tens of thousands of miles logged in the last decade, I suspect I am not the only one who is both totally outraged and completely confused by the tone and content of this "official" response to the cycling community. CLEARLY we cyclists need A LOT more explanation than this about what I snipped above so we understand our "rights". She states that the cyclist "struck it in the rear" as to the collision. Since we have not seen the video or all the evidence, my understanding of this accident was that it was a classic "hook" where the vehicle overtook the cyclist who was properly riding to the right and then turned right, across the path of the cyclist without leaving enough space for the cyclist to react, take action, or avoid the collision. She states "struck it in the rear" and from what I've read, I assume the cyclist impacted the SIDE of the truck, AHEAD of the rear wheels and that, in no way, can be construed as "struck it in the rear". This is complete insanity to BLAME the cyclist if this assumption is correct. As with all accidents where a vehicle strikes another from the rear, the following vehicle is always at fault, right? I must assume that if John actually struck the truck in the rear, there is no way he could have been run over or tangled up or crushed by the rear wheels. It is physically impossible unless he somehow went OVER the rear wheels. If this is what happened, he actually struck the REAR of the truck, then I must shut up and accept that he wasn't paying attention but somehow I totally doubt this scenario. As we understand the law, we are ride to the right, as far as is practicable (which means not if there are potholes or debris which will crash us) and we always "take the lane" when that is the only safe way to navigate but neither the bicycle or car or truck has any more "right to the road" over any other. Other vehicles often ACT like cyclists have lesser rights but it is our understanding that we are on equal footing in our rights to use the roads. Cyclists have to deal regularly with vehicles overtaking them far too close. If that same vehicle were overtaking another car or truck or farm equipment, I guarantee you that they would be more careful, wait for oncoming traffic to clear, and would never pass closer than 3' away where they often (daily) buzz us at significantly closer spacing and "squeeze by" on blind hills, curves and with oncoming traffic. I have personally been hooked at over 25 mph on Folly Quarter Road in Howard County by an ignorant or malicious driver of a Pearlescent White Escalade that lives in Buckskin Lake. They passed me (flooring it to get around me) and immediately turned right while slamming on brakes directly in my path and I was moving very fast. If I hit them from behind, would I have been at fault? I slammed on the brakes, swerved behind them and was lucky there was no oncoming traffic as I veered into the oncoming lane, but what if I'd hit them in the side as they forced me off the road and I tried to avoid them to the right? This same driver has regularly buzzed me for years at close range along that route I ride out of Columbia regularly. They seem to just ignore that cyclists exist, are human or, perhaps are using their gigantic vehicle as a weapon to threaten cyclists. I was also hooked last year at a T-intersection coming off a small mountain road on RT-15 s/b just North of Frederick. The vehicle stopped at the stop sign, had four vehicles stack up behind them, and with no traffic on RT-15 and oblivious to the queue behind them, just sat there. Perhaps they were re-programming their GPS or something. There was a shoulder to the right and since I was merging onto the wide shoulder to travel down RT-15 for 1/4 mile to crossover to another very small road, I "slipped" past the vehicles to the right. At the moment I passed the lead vehicle, an SUV, he must have realized he was holding up traffic looking at his map or whatever and he "hooked" me as he pulled sharply to the right to the shoulder of RT-15 rather than OUT and into the lane as would be expected. I was caught between the SUV and the Jersey Wall (concrete barriers holding back the hillside) and was almost crushed but they heard me and stopped before I was hurt too bad. I was totally in the wrong on this accident, I admitted it to them and apologized, while they jumped out and were concerned about me. It is illegal to pass on the right and even though the circumstances were "special" and it seemed like an OK thing to do (since I was right, staying right and going to the shoulder) I was still in the wrong passing on the right there. In the first case above, I do not see ANY WAY that I could be found guilty or liable for causing the accident even though I would have impacted the Escalade "from the rear" and in the second case, I would have been liable and guilty of breaking the law and passing on the right. We cyclists cannot accept this response from law enforcement without some kind of clarification. The rules of the road say that when overtaking you must allow a safe distance before taking the lane again and I do not see how that part of the law cannot apply when overtaking and then "hooking" a cyclist and not the "running into from behind" part of the law. How can I possibly be guilty in the first example above? I need some clarification and I'm sure the rest of the cycling community needs the same understanding that I'm seeking. Regards, Stuart Lamb Columbia, MD
I have been a bicycle commuter in baltimore now for years. I was "right hooked" on St Paul when I was in the right lane (bright yellow neon shirt) and a car in the middle lane made a last minute decision to turn right across my lane up a side street. Since they were not aware enough to have noticed me before they turned, I am sure their first view of me was when I was on their right front bumper and hood.Weren't they surprised! In the trolley lane at the Innner Harbor ( now a so called bike lane) cars, trucks, and taxis on a regular basis "right hook" across moving bicyclists to use the so called bicycle lane to do whatever their business is , without their turning signals on or slowing down. I am sure they are thinking about the car traffic behind them on Pratt St. and getting on with whatever their business is. They do slow for pedestrians and other vehicles that are in the so called bicycle lane. Moving bicycles do not seem to make an impression. The impression I draw from that is that they do not think bicyclists should be there. Also, clearly there is an obvious design problem. Clearly there is not an established bicycle culture yet in Baltimore City. Cyclists in Baltimore City need to always create a safety zone around them and maintain high awareness. It does no good to act like a car, follow the car rules of the road, and then after you have been plowed into by a vehicle say that you were following the car rules of the road. It does not take the injuries away, it does not take the size disadvantage of being a cyclist on the road away. I will continue to do what I need to do on the road to maintain a safety zone around me. This now includes consciously being aware of what cars to my left are doing and being ready to alter my course in an instant should it be necessary.
Very true about the bike lane in the Inner Harbor. I commented to a Baltimore City Police Officer about an armored truck that cut in front of me to enter the lane which is clearly marked as do not enter. The police officer saw the whole incident, and took no action. At least three traffic laws were violated. I had another incident recently when a dump truck with a tank trailer intentionally ride to run me over. A 911call on my part took over a 1/2 hour to get a response. Despite the fact that I provided a license plate number and lots of other information about the truck and driver.nothing was done. Calls to the Police officer, I got his card, and to the local construction company that owned the truck, have not been returned. I think the attitude of the Baltimore City Police is very poor at best, and in my opinion borderline dereliction of duty to a sworn oath.
Of course the BCP is sticking to their story. They will not change their attitude until one of their own gets run over. Had it been a police officer that was killed the response would be quite different.