Roads Report: Be aware and prepare

Roads Report

David Matthews / July 17, 2003

Roadside attraction

Police in Japan see some odd things, but a senior citizen
riding a silver girls-style bike down the highway carrying paper bags full of
old clothes still managed to stick out.

The 66-year-old homeless man swiped a high school girl's
bicycle from a parking lot in front of a train station and then took it on a
90-mile getaway.

After three weeks of pedaling, Yasuji Sugimura was spotted
by police. Thinking maybe he had taken a wrong turn and become lost (possibly
back in 1987), the officers were surprised to find out that he had stolen the
bike in order to make the 150-mile trip to Nagoya, Japan's fourth largest city.
Police suspect he was headed to a Hello Kitty convention.

Don't look back

John Stewart of Etobicoke, Ontario, awoke to a strange sight
two months ago. A car was sitting on its grill, leaning upright against a
utility pole in his front yard.

With no witnesses to the incident, police were baffled as to
how a car could have wound up in such a position without the help of a tornado.
The driver, a woman from nearby Richmond Hill, eventually admitted that she had
been backing up quickly, hit the pole and drove the rear end of her car up the
guide wire that runs alongside the pole. She emerged uninjured and was later
charged with "impaired driving."

In unrelated news, three days before this accident an
Ontario court decriminalized the possession of up to 30 grams of

Tips from the road

This month we examine the potential danger you can cause for
your entire neighborhood by leaving your car unattended.

Take the case of James Berke. This past May, he spotted a
woman stepping out of her car to throw away some trash. Berke sneaked up,
jumped in the running car and drove off.

At a nearby car wash, Berke spotted a car he liked better so
he tried to wrestle the keys away from the owner. When that didn't work, he
returned to the first car and continued on.

Next, Berke found two men loading a van. Instead of trying
to grab their keys, he told them he was having a seizure. With the men
distracted, he managed to steal the van. 

Unfortunately it wasn't long before Berke crashed the van
into a lamp post. Abandoning the van, he broke into a nearby residence and
stole the family's pickup truck.

Determined to avoid police, Berke crashed the truck through
a fence and ended up losing a wheel. He managed to keep going until he hit a
curb and lost another wheel, forcing him to abandon the truck.

By this point, Berke was pretty beaten up and bloody. In
fact, one of his eyes was actually dangling from its socket. But determined to
keep his insurance rates from skyrocketing by getting caught, he took off on
foot. It didn't take police long to catch up with him, though. You know, what
with the eye hanging out and all.

So the lesson this month: never leave your car running and
unattended, even just for a second to throw out some trash.

Tax dollars hard at work

The small Rhode Island town of Foster got its first
crosswalk recently. The only problem is that it leads from a hedge to a stone

The lines were accidentally painted on Rte. 6 by state-hired
striping contractors. The workers noticed two "Pedestrian Crossing"
signs along the road and figured a crosswalk needed to be repainted. The signs
were actually put up 20 years ago to slow traffic on the busy country road, not
to mark a crossing. (The contractors also were working in the dark.)

The state has decided to leave the "crosswalk to
nowhere" since it would cost $200 to remove.

Accomplishing a dream

He may not be the first guy to sleep his way across the
U.S., but Tom Wilson is surely the first to do it for a good cause.

In an attempt to raise awareness of sleep disorders, the
self-proclaimed "King of Sleep" made a 10-day journey across the U.S.
in June, traveling only while asleep.

Wilson made the trip from Malibu, Calif., to New York City in
a customized Winnebago, complete with a sleep monitor. His driver was only
allowed to hit the gas when the monitor showed that Wilson was asleep. If he
woke up, the Winne was parked.

The King declared the trip a success, and rumor has it he's
now planning to raise awareness for alcoholism by traveling from Seattle to
Miami sober.

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