Cary G. Coovert was 71 years old when he died from injuries sustained in a head on collision on the Minuteman Bikeway in Lexington, Massachusetts, on March 24, 2019. The other cyclist survived. Both were wearing helmets. The exact circumstances of the collision have not been reported.
It doesn’t matter who was responsible for the accident. It is clear that since this was the result of a head on collision, one of the cyclists or both of them were engaging in risky behavior. Of course, these kinds of events are called “accidents” because neither intended to cause harm to each other or to themselves. Yet many cyclists take risks on bike trails that can cause bad things to happen. The memorial to Cary G. Coovert is on the Minuteman near the location of the accident and near the trail, but few understand the significance.
Both on the trails and on the roads there is plenty of risky behavior to observe. Almost every time I ride a trail I see cyclists passing where there is little room. They swerve around pedestrians as though they were slalom obstacles. Sometimes they pass with little regard for oncoming cyclists, putting themselves, pedestrians, and other cyclists at risk.
I have taken a defensive posture to protect myself and others when I ride. I try not to pass when there is oncoming bicycle or pedestrian traffic that will pass at the same time I will. It is almost impossible to avoid riding on the street at some time. On the street I use my rear view mirror to watch cars that are approaching me from behind. If I see a large truck or a wide trailer behind a pickup truck, I try to find a place to pull over and stop until they pass. On narrow streets I often bail out to the sidewalk rather than stake out my rights as a vehicle against vehicles that are much larger. I try to anticipate bad situations as, for example, a car approaching from behind and another from ahead on a curve.
I’m in a bad place right now considering this death on the Minuteman. It is a good time to acknowledge that there are many cyclists on the trails and roads who ride carefully and respectfully. There are probably more of them than there are daredevils. To all of you: be careful out there.