Assistant Polk County attorney in bicycle collision with van in Urbandale
Posted Jul 7, 2004 by BIKEIOWA user
By TOM ALEX
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
July 7, 2004
Assistant Polk County Attorney Joe Weeg's injuries could affect his ability
The dangers of urban bicycling were accentuated over the holiday weekend when a prominent Des Moines prosecutor was seriously injured in a crash with a van.
Joe Weeg, 49, of Urbandale was injured when the bicycle he was riding collided with the van at 70th Street and Townsend Avenue in Urbandale about 12:25 p.m. Friday. He was listed in fair condition at Iowa Methodist Medical Center on Tuesday.
Weeg is an assistant Polk County attorney. His wife, Theresa Weeg, an assistant Iowa attorney general and Urbandale school board member, said the force of the van caught her husband across the throat, causing injuries that could threaten his ability to speak.
Weeg said her husband is an avid bicyclist who was training for his first ride on the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
RAGBRAI, held each year at the end of July, draws hundreds of Iowans onto streets and roads across the state as they train for the vigorous ride.
Especially this time of year, drivers need to keep their eyes open, said Steve Lambert, an employee of Bike World, 2929 Merle Hay Road in Des Moines.
"They need to be watching for kids and pedestrians. And motorcyclists for that matter. There are a lot of people outside right now. Drivers need to remember that bicyclists have the same rights and privileges on the road as a car," Lambert said.
"I may get in trouble for saying this," said Marc Hollander, director of the Des Moines Cycle Club race team. "But my honest opinion for myself, is that I don't like riding on roads any more. My preference now is riding on gravel roads and recreational trails where I can control my surroundings a little better. I can hear cars coming up behind me better on gravel.
"Drivers are on cell phones, using makeup, listening to music. Not everyone is going to see you," Hollander said.
Weeg was cycling on 70th Street and collided with a van driven by Andrew Scott, 28, of Des Moines. Scott was traveling on Townsend Avenue and pulled into the intersection after stopping at the stop sign, according to the Urbandale police report. Scott was charged with failure to yield at an intersection.
Bruce Mackey, state education officer of the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety, has a Web site, Bicyclesafe.com, and lists this type of car-bike collision as one of the most common incidents.
Theresa Weeg said her husband is in good shape, which may have helped him survive injuries that were considered life-threatening.
She said her husband's spinal cord as well as his voice box were injured, and he underwent several hours of surgery to the voice box.
"Speaking, even breathing, are issues," she said. "There is a chance he will regain the use of his voice, a chance he won't and everything in between.
"He's obviously concerned about that because (speaking) is what he does for a living," Theresa Weeg said.
Des Moines Police Maj. James O'Donnell said: "We all love Joe Weeg anyway, but I can't begin to tell you how critical his voice has been to law enforcement in our area."
Weeg prosecutes high-profile criminal trials and is considered a premiere teacher of area law enforcement officers on legal requirements for search warrants and in charging decisions.
"Once in a while someone comes along that you just marvel at," said O'Donnell. "Joe Weeg is one of those guys."
1. Wear bright colors; orange and blue are popular, but lime green and safety yellow are noticeable, too.
2. Stay away from rush-hour traffic. Go early, go late, be aware of the worst times to ride.
3. Don't wear headphones.
4. Have mirrors, and use them to keep track of your surroundings.
5. Scout roads with the least traffic that will take you where you want to go. If you don't feel safe on a certain road or street, don't ride on it.
6. Groups should ride single file.
1. Do not pass a bicyclist and then immediately turn right in front of him or her.
2. Look in the mirror before opening a car door into traffic. A bicyclist might be coming by.
3. When turning left, look for bicyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists and joggers, not just for cars, trucks, vans and SUVs.
4. Scan the curb lane and shoulder well ahead of your current position in traffic.
5. When children are playing at the side of the road with bicycles, skates, skate boards and wagons, be prepared for them to roll into traffic.
6. Stay focused on driving. Preoccupation with other tasks is a common cause of accidents.
On the Web
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has created a kid-friendly "bike tour" that quickly gives a basic primer of bicycle safety for children. Good for third-graders and older.
Let your child take the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's bike tour, then go yourself to the Canada Safety Council's parent guide to teaching children and adults about bike safety.
A highly readable bicycle safety page for people who ride bicycles on streets, roads and highways. Bruce Mackey, state education officer of the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety profiles, with diagrams and advice, the 10 most common situations for a vehicle-bicycle crash and how to avoid them.
This Web site has a lot of information, but particularly valuable is a "bikeability check list" that you can use to rate your neighborhood or common bike routes for safety.