Biker killed after a car turned into his path

GUILDERLAND — The driver of a motorcycle was killed on July 11 when a car made a left turn into the motorcycle’s path.

David Sherry, 57, of Guilderland Center, was riding his 2003 Harley-Davidson motorcycle eastbound on Western Avenue when Suhui Li, of Clifton Park, was traveling on Route 20 in the opposite direction. Li made a left-hand turn, in his 2005 BMW, from Western Avenue onto Windingbrook Drive, directly into Sherry’s path, according to Captain Curtis Cox of the Guilderland Police Department.

Li was ticketed for failure to yield the right of way, said Cox.

“David died doing what he loved, and that was riding his Harley,” his family said in his obituary. He had worked for more than 25 years as a fleet manager for Albany. (See obituary pages.)

Robert Porter, the president of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education’s New York State office, believes the deadly accident is just another reminder that vehicles need to be more aware of motorcycles on the road.

ABATE was originally formed in 1966, in response to the national mandatory helmet law, and the New York chapter was founded in 1967.

The organization has worked tirelessly since then to promote motorcycle awareness, safety, and education, said Porter.

“Almost everything comes back to cars not seeing motorcycles,” he said.

There are roughly 300,000 registered motorcycles in New York State, said Porter, and drivers need to be made aware of the differences between cars and motorcycles in order to understand how to share the road safely.

For example, he said, even though motorcycles take up less room, they should be given more space, because the wind generated from a car passing too closely could throw a rider off balance.

Car drivers should also know that, when a motorcyclist slows down, he can downshift rather than using brakes, and therefore brake lights won’t signal the change in speed.

“If you are not accelerating, it is easier to downshift than hit the brakes,” said Porter. “That makes it easier for a car to hit you from behind if they aren’t paying attention to speed.”

Porter said it is also important to note that some of the things that car drivers assume are dangerous or even illegal for motorcycles to do are not.

“Wheelies are not illegal,” he said.

If drivers see a motorcyclist riding close to the shoulder of the road or close to the lane divider, it may be because he or she is trying to avoid a pothole or bump in the road that would be far more dangerous for a bike than a car.

Porter said that he was surprised that Li had been issued only a ticket after the accident, but Cox said the charges are dependent upon the investigation.

“If the investigation reveals that the driver was negligent to the point of violating the law, there are further charges,” said Cox.

The only contributing factor for the accident was Li’s failure to yield the right of way, Cox said; neither Li nor Sherry appeared to be speeding, and alcohol was not involved.

Porter, who said he is continually communicating with the state Thruway Authority and the Department of Motor Vehicles to promote motorcycle education, concluded with what he called a cliché that happens to be true: “Look twice, save a life.”

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