Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pothole Propaganda

As soon as I heard media reports blaming the fatal motorcycle crash of a Marion County Sheriff's deputy, Eric Stofer, on a pothole before awaiting the autopsy report and toxicology results, I knew it was inevitable that the Ballard administration would get the media to blame his death on the city-county council for its failure to approve more funding to make street repairs blamed on this past winter's harsh weather. A story in today's Star titled, Deputy's death underscores dangers of potholes for motorcyclists, and says:
A seeming endless sea of potholes has plagued Indianapolis motorists for months, slowing morning commutes and flattening the occasional tire.
But the severity of the nagging infrastructure problem reached a new level Sunday night when a pothole on the Southeastside contributed to a motorcycle crash that killed a Marion County sheriff's deputy.
Eric W. Stofer, 35, was found underneath a silver 2002 Suzuki motorcycle about 7:30 p.m. Sunday, said Capt. Dave Bursten of the Indiana State Police.
Bursten said Stofer, who was off-duty at the time, was riding southbound in the 8900 block of Acton Road when he struck a pothole and lost control of the bike. No one else was riding on the motorcycle, and no other vehicles were involved in the crash.
The incident illustrates that while many drivers consider potholes to be a bearable nuisance, they are an extremely dangerous obstacle for the roughly 200,000 registered Hoosier motorcyclists itching to get back on the road after a long winter . . .
"We've asked the Public Works Committee for $8 million for emergency resurfacing of the worst thoroughfares in every council district. They tabled our first request but may take it back up May 1," she said. "Still, this is only about 40 segments out of the hundreds that need serious repairs across the county."
Funny, but I didn't see anywhere in the story where it mentioned that Ballard chose to spend ReBuild Indy money on frills like building a new cricket park on the east side and giving hundreds of millions of our tax dollars away to his pay-to-play pals for their private real estate development projects as a possible reason the city lacks money for street repairs.

Nobody saw Stofer crash so they're only surmising that his crash was caused by potholes in the road. The most important take-away from the story is that Stofer was not wearing a helmet. Police say they don't suspect alcohol or speed contributed to his death, but that's just speculation at this point. Yeah, I know that Indiana law doesn't require motorcyclists to wear helmets because it's our God-given right not to wear one and suffer a traumatic brain injury or death whenever we crash our motorcycles.

The story also notes that pothole requests for Acton Road were submitted in December, but a spokesperson for the Department of Public Works couldn't say whether the requests related to the potholes near the scene of Stofer's crash. The spokesperson claims the Department has received 14,500 pothole repair requests this year, about 9,000 more than it received last year. DPW sent repair crews out yesterday to repair the potholes on Acton Road following Stofer's death Sunday evening. The section of Acton Road where Stofer was killed is in Councilor Aaron Freeman's district.


Anonymous said...

There were at least a couple of very serious motorcycle accidents elsewhere in Indiana over last weekend.

Excessive speed is sometimes also a factor.

The media tends to accept explanations too readily.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, our state's refusal to enact a helmet law has resulted in the loss of millions in federal road repair money.

C. Roger Csee said...

I heard in one news report that the motorcycle had been borrowed from a friend.
This brings to mind the following questions:
1) Was the deputy qualified to ride a motorcycle?
2) Did the deputy have a motorcycle endorsement on his license?
3) Did the deputy attend and pass ABATE riding classes?
4) How much time did the deputy have riding motorcycles?
Instead, this has turned into a "well, the pothole killed the deputy and why wasn't it filled?"
Marion County politics at its finest!

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should name the new Cricket Stadium after this guy.

Either that or have a granite memorial wall with the names of all those who have died as a result of utilizing $6,000,000 of public safety money for a folly of a cricket stadium.

A crime ignored is a crime encouraged.

Flogger said...

The Pot hole situation is a different manifestation of the lousy job of snow plowing we had during the winter. The problem is the public receives the left overs. Indy Go is another non-essential service that receives left overs once the Pacers, Colts and others receive all their subsidies.

Whenever I am in stop and go traffic I take a look at the streets. Pot holes and cracks seems to be rule rather than the exception. Even main streets like 86th street on the west side are falling apart.

"Repaired" sections never seem to last very long. Is the City using a cheap brand X mixture??

The Star and the Mega-Media TV will never challenge or even mention the possible misplaced priorities in Indy. We have this Hollywood "False Front" of prosperity down town the Media touts, while the rest of the city falls apart.

Gary R. Welsh said...

The substandard materials used to construct and repair highways, streets and roads in this country is one of the primary reasons our roads always seem to be crumbling. The highway contractors dictate substandard materials to corrupt politicians so they have a continual revenue stream. I remember when I worked for the legislature in Illinois, a legislator had the bright idea of requiring the use of longer-lasting materials on the state's highways, which brought out the lobbyist for the Illinois Asphalt Pavement Association to promptly get the legislation killed. That same lobbyist served time over in the federal prison in Terre Haute for a shakedown he helped carry out for Gov. Blagojevich's administration regarding the investment of state teachers retirement funds.

Gary R. Welsh said...

I should add that the paving material the contractors used to resurface Indianapolis streets with all of the ReBuild Indy building is some of the worst paving material I've seen. It was crumbling within a year after it was put down. I'm told that I-69 down south is being built with cheap material that ensures that it will require lots of road repairs in the not too distance future.

Unknown said...

C. Roger Csee,

You are an idiot. read the stories. What business is it of yours how long he has done anything? The fact is that he was legal. ABATE classes,,,really? So what if he borrowed a bike….. I understand that your all excited now that you now have internet in your Trailer Park. id spend more time looking into your gene pool to see if there is any hope. No class.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes,Aaron Freeman. Isn't he the Councillor that had a hissy fit at a council meeting and abruptly walked out of said meeting over the scrutiny of the ROC building contracts and particulars?

It seems that Councilman Aaron Freeman has his priorities a bit skewed.

Perhaps if Councilman Aaron Freeman wasn't so satisfied,happy and content with spending $57,000 a month on a building the city can't use, we might have the funds to spend on worthwhile things like,uh,filling potholes.

Flogger said...

Gary, Thanks for the comments on the Paving Materials being used. I suspected as much.

I have been to Europe several times, but it was decades ago. My recollection was the streets and highways were in excellent shape compared to ours in the USA.

I checked Google street maps and visited some areas in London and in Rome. No potholes and crumbling of the streets I looked over this morning.

Maybe Mayor Ballard on one his junkets overseas could inquire about the material mix used to pave roads in Europe.

Our local Media would probably never think to ask about the quality of materials used. Maybe that is another subject they prefer not to know the answer to or they would accept a press release from the City as a fact.

Anonymous said...

Gary, please, potholes are astoundingly dangerous for motorcycles and can easily throw a rider.

Helmets are a feel-good panacea for non-riders, but, in reality, they are only of limited effectiveness.

As for you other idiots, do you take special classes to drive cars? Why do bikers have to take special classes to be considered legitimate motorists?

Pointman said...

The initial report I read was the motorcycle was physically on top of him when they found him... 500# is a lot of dead weight A helmet can't fix that nor can open fix hitting a guard rail or cable car barrier at 70mph.

I agree the story may be being politicized for political purposes (shocking, I know!) but barring a tox screen turning up something I have hit enough pot holes on 2 wheels to be able to see this happening. Heck if he had been drinking just a few beers it's all the more likely a big pot hole was enough.

Best wishes to his family.

Gary R. Welsh said...

An overlooked rock in the path of a motorcycle can be just as dangerous for an unsuspecting motorcyclist.

C. Roger Csee said...

Gee, Ben Dover, I FINALLY found one article on a FORT WAYNE media site that said he had a valid motorcycle license.
In reference to ABATE classes, or other certified motorcycle courses, a lot of time is spent on teaching the rider to watch and anticipate "hazards" coming up. There is also actual practice on a motorcycle to reinforce the training. That would include potholes and other road hazards.
Also, the more time and experience a person has on a motorcycle, the better rider (hopefully) they become.
I shore am sorree I made you all riled up. There ain't much to do in this here trailer park, you know.
I shore hopes I get all edgicated lake you sum day.

Anonymous said...

Odd rocks don't usually appear on the roads, and rocks are rarely of such size that the tire doesn't shed it obliquely.

People ride regular street bikes on gravel roads, every day, without incident.

A pothole can trap a front wheel, immediately ceasing all the bike's momentum. When that happens, the rider, perhaps 190 lbs, does not immediately lose momentum and continues to travel, absent the bike.

Potholes are really bad news and are a big reason why riders move south and west.


Anonymous said...

Something I found very strange about this one:

The news release from the State Police stated "Indianapolis, IN – At about 7:30 on the evening of April 20, 2014, Indiana State Police Trooper Justin Geltmaker was dispatched to a motorcycle crash in the 8900 block of Acton Road, on the south side of Indianapolis."

1) I have never seen ISP respond to a crash other than on the interstate in Indianapolis...that includes the State Roads and U. S. Highways in Indianapolis. Never.

2) The crash was on a city street.

3) Does anyone know the phone number for the State Police? -I doubt it. That means they likely did not receive a dispatch.

4) If the call came into 911, they'd send the city police.

5) Why did the State Police issue a press release saying they were "dispatched" to a city street? Why did they take that accident report?

6) The State Police Press Release states a most unusual item: "Any questions about Deputy Stofer should be directed to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department Public Information Office" State Police Press Release

7) Will a toxicology screen be done?

-See what I mean? Something is very unusual about this! Gary mentioned propaganda...but I have to wonder about something else...cronyism? You see the ISP Superintendent is a former county sheriff. Did Sheriff Layton call in a "favor"? Why wasn't this handled the way any other motorcycle fatality on a city street of Indianapolis? Why did state police even respond to a crash on a city street that is not part of a state highway?

Anonymous said...


All drivers should anticipate hazards. Why are only motorcyclists expected to take additional courses?

If you drive a motorcycle in Indianapolis after dark, on the current roads, you're insane.

Downtown Indy said...

Ever wonder if the city did proper repairs of road defects intead of throwing shovelfuls of asphalt in them we might have far fewer potholes to go around fixing?

A solid section of pavement will last maybe 10 years before it starts to fail. A hole with some asphalt tamped into it lasts a few months at best.

The areas where potholes happen are usually pseudo-moonscapes because of how often they come back to patch again and again.

C. Roger Csee said...

Anon 2:08 -
Motorcycle riders are not "expected" to take additional courses. If they want to live in one piece, they gladly take the training.
There is a huge difference in the handling of 2-wheels vs. 4-wheels. Read the replies to this article, and you may learn quite a bit about motorcycle riding.

Anonymous said...

Spare us the platitudes, Case.

No kidding, the handling of a motorcycle is different than a bike? Really? Wow. Deep thinking, right there.

Every motorist is entitled to presume that the road beneath him is fit for travel. There's no safety course for a road swallowing your front wheel.

Do they offer special courses in car driving on pothole roads?

Don't talk about motorcycles. It's obvious you've never been on one.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10:20 makes an outrageously funny statement: "Every motorist is entitled to presume that the road beneath him is fit for travel." The truth of the matter is that if anyone believes that, they have an impaired thought process and should NOT hold a driver's license. There have always been and always shall be road hazards.

C. Roger Csee said...

Anon 10:20 -

Well, I will end my responses to you with this last entry. Obviously, you are FAR better educated and experienced than me, so why bother.
If you feel that "Every motorist is entitled to presume that the road beneath him is fit for travel" you must live in Pixie Hollow. And as I said earlier, training and experience helps prepare you for "a road swallowing your front wheel."
None of that has anything to do with "offer special courses in car driving on pothole roads" although people who drive with two hands on the wheel, paying attention to conditions, traffic, weather, etc. instead of music, cell phone, other passengers, one arm out the window, two fingers on the wheel, etc. do much better. They also use turn signals properly, do not speed, tailgate, run lights, etc.
And by the way, I started riding motorcycles in Viet Nam two out of my three years there, and since, including to this day.
So you can take your sarcastic, smart-ass remarks, and your talking down to me, and move along.
Drive safely, you never know when a police officer might be watching your driving habits! (Oh, I did that for 37 years here, also.)

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:20, You have lost your mind if you think that "Every motorist is entitled to presume that the road beneath him is fit for travel"!!!

In fact, according to the Indiana Driver's Manual, you should not have a driver's license. Page 13 states clearly that:

"Any of the following actions shall result in the automatic failure of the
driving skills test

Failure to react to hazardous driving conditions."

Page 71 of the Driver Manual states:

"Road conditions, which are minor annoyances to drivers of larger vehicles,
pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists may change speed or adjust
their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions,
such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad
crossings, and grooved pavement."

I guess that proves the statement of Anon 10:20 is not only FALSE, but also that Anon 10:20 should not hold a driver's license because Anon 10:20 would not pass the Indiana driving test.

Anonymous said...

"And as I said earlier, training and experience helps prepare you for "a road swallowing your front wheel.""

No. There's no training that can prepare you for that. you've come up against a law of Physics from which there is no escape.

And, yes, every motorists is entitled to presume the road is fit for travel. I can't believe this is contentious. You must have been living in a crappy state so long that you have no idea how things work in better states.

When you drive in other states, you never see potholes so large they can throw a rider. I know a guy who blew two tires, this Winter, on potholes. You never see that elsewhere.

I know you Hoosiers have no ability to drive the right way in a real city, but when you're driving as you should, you're always driving two cars ahead. In the presence of potholes, you stop forward-thinking driving and draw your focus downward, picking your way through a treacherous road.

Looking down is dangerous because it pulls you away from two-car-ahead driving, and it kills your time, as you're not able to make the moves and set up the other drivers as you will when a road is in safe repair.

I've forgotten more about driving than you'll ever know, so it's very disheartening to see uneducated comments that clearly evidence that I'm living among Bush Leaguers.

It seems dumb people are content with bad roads. Expecting less is the Hoosier Way.

Anonymous said...

"And by the way, I started riding motorcycles in Viet Nam two out of my three years there, and since, including to this day.
So you can take your sarcastic, smart-ass remarks, and your talking down to me, and move along."

You get the treatment you deserve.

"Drive safely, you never know when a police officer might be watching your driving habits! (Oh, I did that for 37 years here, also.)"

Don't threaten me or imply that your friends will carry out your threats on me.

Don't attack because you'd rather tax dollars go to cop salaries than safe roads.

Anonymous said...

And to the guy at 7:18 who tried to fit potholes into "road hazard," get a working use of the English language. A road hazard is an extraordinary road condition, such as a dead animal on the road, a fallen tree or an ice storm.

The regular state of a road is not a "road hazard." If the regular state of the road is poor, that's a poor road.

If you're looking down so frequently that you don't have the ability to pay attention to traffic, that's an unsafe road that should be closed to motorcycle traffic.

Until the pothole epidemic is cured, Indianapolis should close many streets to motorcycle traffic. The resultant embarrassment might cause them to take steps to improve public safety.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:59 and Anon 1:58: You really need to stop driving!

As for your definition of "road hazard," well, that's not the definition in the Indiana Driver's Manual. Take a look-see at page 71:

"Road conditions, which are minor annoyances to drivers of larger vehicles,
pose major hazards to motorcyclists. Motorcyclists may change speed or adjust
their position within a lane suddenly in reaction to road and traffic conditions,
such as potholes, gravel, wet or slippery surfaces, pavement seams, railroad
crossings, and grooved pavement."

...and if you fail to react to hazardous driving conditions, that is an automatic failure of your Indiana driving test.

Both of you, please surrender your license to the BMV until such time as you can pass the Indiana driving test.

Potholes have always been here and always will be here, along with multiple other road hazards. As for the idea of "closing roads to traffic," well I'll go with what the Indiana driving manual says to do and adjust driving accordingly.

Anon 9:14, paranoid much? You know, if you need the number for a crisis center or stress center, just dial 211.

Anonymous said...

Sure are some really stupid people around here. In answer to the government's dereliction of duty regarding maintenance of roads, some moron cites a government publication.

How do some people get to be so stupid?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:18 I don't live in a nanny-state, wet-nursed by government! I'm sure you are fully dependent on government.

My copy of the Indiana Constitution says nothing about the government having a duty "regarding maintenance of roads."

I'll just use common sense, and take care of myself by using proper caution when driving.

You can just be ignorant, drive without regard to hazards then existing, and see how far that gets you. Then, when you crash, I'm sure you'll try to blame government.

That is WRONG! Government is not the answer to your problems! Don't expect government to be your nanny, and wet-nurse you through your life.

Anonymous said...

Remember, in Indiana, if you fail to react to hazardous driving conditions, that is an automatic failure of your Indiana driving test.

The government does license drivers, and those who think like Anon 6:18, Anon 8:59, Anon 1:58 are prohibited from being given a license to drive (for good cause...we don't want them on the roads)!

Unknown said...

This is yet another reason I'm so hesitant to get on a motorcycle. Set aside the fact that a lot of motorcycle accidents can be fatal or crippling when just cars are involved, the road itself is out to get you if you're on two wheels. Stay safe, bikers.