Four seconds.  Standing in the parking lot of Ludington's Downtown Wesco, using a stopwatch to measure how long of time it takes a motorist to cross Ludington Avenue from the stop sign on Robert Street and get to the crosswalk on the opposite side, this was the quickest it would take the four cars I monitored.  The times:  4.0, 4.1, and 4.0 and 5.1 seconds.  I had to wait there a while, over 90% of the traffic turned.

I was surprised it took so long, and those first three vehicles each seemed to be at their maximum acceleration to get across.  This went against my initial presumption in the article Who Failed to Yield?, when I presumed a Mazda crossing the avenue would take under two seconds.  But I was wrong, experiments showed it took over twice as long. 

In the article, we hear of a young Russian woman, Guliya Sabirova, riding her bicycle (presumably in the crosswalk) collide with the Mazda crossing from the opposite side.  Responding police made the decision to claim the bicyclist was at fault for failing to yield.  With the limited information given, I disputed that call by presenting what the law says (and doesn't say), and promised more research, including a FOIA request to the Ludington Police Dept. (LPD) for the police report and video from WESCO's cameras.  Using what I have seen on those two records, coupled with additional research, I can now claim that my original guess was correct.  The Mazda driver was legally culpable for violating the bicyclist's right of way.

The LPD took a limited amount of pictures, but two stand out.  The first shows the damage done to the Mazda, where you see the damage restricted to the driver's side front corner

The second shows what looks to be an undamaged bicycle lying on the ground.  The handlebars and remarkably intact front wheel even seem to be in their proper position, perpendicular to each other.

The detail of the distantly filmed video is not the clearest, but this additional evidence would seem to indicate that the initial collision was the front corner of the car with the front wheel of the bicycle.  This would prevent major damage to the bicycle, however it would immediately have the effect of twisting the bike's front wheel 90 degrees and taking the bicycle out of the big collision, which would have been Guliya's body into that same corner, as inertia would be still moving her forward. 

Physically, this scenario would also explain the location of where the bicycle and Guliya wound up, to the driver's side of the Mazda, 20-40 feet beyond the crosswalk.  Let us then turn towards the LPD Report 17-002188.pdf written primarily by LPD former Detective J.B. Wells. 

Wells has had a history of questionable investigations into incidents which may be the reason why he is a 'beat officer' nowadays.  The death of Ling Yan Zou at the city marina was one of many where his investigatory method was questioned, including also the death of Robert Ford and the Baby Kate fiasco.  This report suggests he still has a problem with investigations.

"There were no skid marks or any signs the vehicle was violating any traffic laws.", he declares on page 2.  On page 3, he relates:  "[The driver] said she crossed Ludington Avenue and was continuing S/B on S Robert when she was struck by a girl on a bicycle." which is confirmed by the next witness, who also reportedly adds that "She just ran right into the car!" before noting that the driver had not been speeding or driving irresponsibly.  He concludes at the top of page 4:  "The driver of the vehicle was not cited or found at fault as all evidence and witness testimony show Sabirova crossed the street outside of the crosswalk, and did not slow or stop to check for vehicles."

After reviewing the video the next day, he amended his conclusion in a supplement to say that the bicyclist had crossed at the crosswalk, but otherwise vindicated his overview that the bicyclist was solely at fault for the accident.  But that is not what I saw in the video.   

Unfortunately, the video needs a special Storekeeper application software upload to play and was not readily downloadable to Youtube, so I have included only stills from that video to display what happened.   Our first look at the impending accident has a view of the bicyclist coming from the east approaching the crosswalk.  At this point, the Mazda hasn't moved, but the bicyclist continually moves along at a constant speed during the video to the west over the sidewalk and then the crosswalk. 

The Mazda starts moving shortly after the black car in the middle of the picture above clears the intersection.  If we look at the driver's viewpoint before they crossed the avenue, we would see it looked like the photo below.  The bicycle would be at the far left edge of this picture in front of the Maker's Market travelling down the sidewalk.  It should have been visible to the driver several seconds before they decided to cross after being at a complete stop.

The driver has to follow the below driving rule, clearly stated in the Uniform Traffic Code (UTC):

This not only refers to the crosswalk in front of them at an intersection, but the one on the opposite side of the street too.  We see, however, the Mazda moving forward as the bicyclist moves towards the crosswalk, the video shows the bicyclist about ready to enter the crosswalk as the car proceeds forth.  The second picture below shows the bicyclist entering the crosswalk as the car is still a ways back. 

We can actually determine the position of both when this last still happened by noting the location of the camera and the Mazda's profile against the background.  The Mazda had crossed only the first lane of traffic at that point. 

One would have to expect the driver hasn't seen the bicyclist up to that point, they never slow down until impact in the video, as they drove directly into the side of the bicyclist' front wheel.   

The video also summarily shows that there was no more traffic coming immediately up the south lanes of Ludington Avenue.  Had the Mazda driver seen the bicyclist at some point in the four seconds it took her to cross the avenue and two crosswalks, she could have stopped without any effect on the traffic. 

Even if that wasn't the case, there was also plenty of space she could have been out of the traffic lanes if she stopped within the 12-14 foot space before the crosswalk and between the southernmost lane.  So what happened here was the following.

Guliya was riding down the sidewalk in front of the Maker's Market while Mazda driver, Gail Martin, was waiting for traffic to clear on Ludington Avenue, after having stopped to the north of the avenue on Robert Street.  Guliya moves towards the intersection and enters the crosswalk at about the same time Gail crosses the first of five lanes of Ludington Avenue, accelerating to get across.

Gail continues hurtling across the avenue for more than two seconds without having any vehicle interfere with her seeing Guliya cross the 17 feet of the eastern lane of Robert Avenue on the crosswalk and about three more feet into the path of the Mazda. 

The Mazda runs into Guliya's front wheel, Guliya's momentum takes her into the Mazda's front corner, her body and bike gets catapulted about 30-40 feet south of the crosswalk.  The witness and the police claim it is Guliya's fault as she fights for life. 

Now one should say that Guliya should have been riding defensively, and should have noticed the Mazda, but not riding defensively is not against the law.  One should say that Guliya should not have been listening to her IPod on her ear-buds while riding (if that was the case), that losing the sense of hearing is a recipe for more accidents. 

But one should say also that Guliya had the right of way to use the crosswalk she had been on for a couple of seconds, before her ride, and her life, was interrupted by someone who should have been looking out for her when they were stopped for four seconds, and then during the next four seconds when her vehicle was on a collision course with a Russian guest that should have been easily avoided by somebody actually paying attention to their driving duties while carelessly crossing the bicyclist's lane of traffic.

Four seconds; one life in the balance due to four seconds of distraction.

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We both know that in general, the only time bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians involved in accidents get a fair shake from the investigating authorities is when the victim is part of an investigating authority. 

The law is meant to help the vulnerable and powerless achieve equity with the protected and powerful.  In the traffic code, we need to stress to our law-makers and law-enforcers that vulnerable users of the road their own right to use the road, crosswalk, and sidewalk without fear of getting blamed for an accident that wasn't their fault.

well as i see it it was the drivers fault for not paying attention , for 1 they had to be going to fast to cause that must damage to their car ,cause if they were going real slow their would not of hardly been a scare on it, 2 her bike I'am sure the fork was messed up and the front wheel was all bend around and the driver of that care should be sued for damages to buy her a new bike , doctor bills if she had any, you know that the driver had to of seen her unless it was a sunday day and the sun was in their blind spot , but if not i think that car was going to fast, just look at the damages on the car you surely are not going to get all that for going slow and bearly moving across the road, come on now let's be real here. and even if the bike rider had ear buds in she can still see with her eyes so i believe that car was in the wrong spot and caused that accident , not the bike rider. So yes this bike rider should get a good lawyer and fight this case!!

If you have a Facebook account, you should be able to check out Guliya Sabirova's page, where it appears that she has made a full recovery since the accident (presuming she's uploading new pics) and is back in Ludington.  Isn't that fantastic?

Nothing in the state's vehicle code requires a bicyclist to walk their bicycle through a crosswalk.  Interestingly, however, Chief Barnett created a lot of bicycle rules when he came to town including sec. 58-157 of the city code which prohibits bicycle riding in the 'downtown' area, if they have a bicycle they have to walk it through the whole downtown.  Like many of those rules made into ordinance, it is not enforceable due to state law MCL 257.606, which allows municipalities to make such rules for bicycles for streets under local jurisdiction only, James and Ludington Ave are state highways in the downtown.

Thanks, Verdad.  I think she is an unlikely candidate for pressing the case, basically being here on a work permit for Luciano's, authentic Italian food prepared and served by imported Russian labor.  I do think she should gain something for the ordeal she was put through, so if an attorney is looking in, please contact her via her Facebook page and explain her options.

Was the driver tested for sobriety since she injured a person in an accident? Was the drivers phone checked to see if she was on her phone? Did this vehicle have automatic emergency braking, or any accident avoidance technology?  Clearly the driver was not paying attention and should be responsible for this accident. Typical Ludington Police. 

The full police incident report is included, meaning the answers are:  NO, NO, UNKNOWN.

The poor lady has just been involved in a traumatic accident, didn't get injured but she has some expensive body work in her future.  Why burden her with the usual questions and probes that one might expect from a thorough and legit investigation?

While the Mazda driver stopped immediately and appears to have frantically rendered aid to the bicyclist, she should bear the burden of showing why she hadn't noticed the bicyclist for the four seconds plus it took her to cross the avenue, half of that time during which the bicyclist was plainly in the crosswalk.

Two things that bother me about the accident report.

Why are there no photos of the front of the auto?  Of the 8 photo's in the report none show the front of the vehicle.

Wouldn't that help define who was at fault?

And why in the report is the address of the driver blacked out and then following in the report it lists her address?

(319 N. Robert) Why bother blacking it out if it is listed.


The driver would have a valid gripe that their address was given out to the public, but it surely was unintentional in the context it was provided.  Somebody with as much experience as Officer Wells should know by now that such information in the narrative of the report is a no-no, unless it is very consequential.  Here he could have easily left off the number. 

I noticed that, and the poor incident scene photography selection by Wells. One would think that if you had only eight pictures to take, you would have shown the damage to the Mazda and the bicycle in better clarity and used more than one picture for each, so somebody who wasn't there would know more of what's happening.  It should again be remembered, this is the same detective that led the less-than-exemplary, a-lot-less-than-complete investigations on the deaths/disappearances of Baby Kate, Ling Yan Zou and Robert Ford.


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