The out-of-town news thread
We have so many stories from out of town, so rather than have one thread for each, I thought I’d start one we can add to, every time we come across happenings from elsewhere.
This one’s from Boston MA:
From San Antonio TX, this just goddamned sucks.
“Have you ever drifted? Have you ever looked off the roadway?” Mark Stevens asked jurors. “That’s what people do. It doesn’t mean they’re criminals when they do it.”
Eye witnesses testified that he was speeding too.
Yeah, I just read that via your Twitter. So stupid.
“Have you ever drifted? Have you ever looked off the roadway?” Mark Stevens asked jurors. “That’s what people do. It doesn’t mean they’re criminals when they do it.”
Why yes, it does mean they’re criminals when they do it.
This, by the way, is apparently part of the original news item, which you can find as the caption to picture #23 in the slideshow at the top of the article:
Gregory and Alexandra Bruehler were southbound on the shoulder of Texas 16, about three miles north of Helotes, when a pickup struck them from behind, said Deputy Ino Badillo, spokesman for the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office…. He said the accident occurred when a maroon Ford F-150 veered off the highway as it also traveled south on Texas 16, striking the bicyclists. He said it appeared the driver of the truck veered off the highway at least once before the cyclists were hit, but investigators don’t suspect alcohol played a role in the collision. Badillo also said the truck dragged the bicycle for about 200 feet after striking it. The truck driver was identified as 40-year-old Gilbert John Sullaway Jr. of Helotes. Badillo said Sullaway wouldn’t be cited for any traffic violations, saying the collision was an accident.
The line at the end is especially telling, and I have to wonder if it had any effect on the whopping two-hour jury deliberation.
It really is disgusting that he considers that an accident. It was preventable. Unless a tumbleweed or armadillo flew across the street and the drier tried to avoid it, it was the driver’s lack of attention that caused their deaths.
Well, it’s more disgusting that the judge let him make that argument and that 12 people apparently agreed with it. I think I can venture a guess how many of them were cyclists.
There was another particularly egregious ruling in a horrific case in Mississippi a number of months ago: http://bicycling.com/blogs/roadrights/2012/02/28/adding-insult-to-injury/
Bob Mionske writes, “I’d like to say that the way Jan Morgan was treated was unusual. But unfortunately, I’ve seen it many times in my own law practice, in cases all across the country. As I explained in Bicycling & the Law, from the moment a cyclist is hit, there’s a social bias working against the cyclist. At every step, from witness perceptions, to police reports, to insurance-company claims adjusters, to the legal system, the cyclist is blamed for what happened. Sometimes called the “windshield perspective,” this bias even extends to media accounts of what happened.”
It’s safe to say that we’re seeing this “windshield perspective” at work in the Texas case.
It’s been a rough couple of months in Ohio as well: http://www.ohiobikelawyer.com/bike-law-101/2012/09/three-dead-in-one-week/
In this post, Steve Magas provides an interesting discussion of Andrew Gast’s death last month: http://www.ohiobikelawyer.com/bike-law-101/2012/09/andrew-gast-ohios-11th-cycling-death-of-2012-hits-close-to-home/
He also makes the following point about Ohio laws—if only they applied everywhere: In Ohio, unlike many states, careless, stupid, negligent driving which leads to the death of another can be deemed criminal misconduct. If this crash had occurred in New York City, it likely would not have even been “investigated”- it would have been considered an “insurance” matter. In other states, a “pay-out” ticket for a rear-ender may have issued. Here, police and prosecutors have the option of looking closely at this crash and determining if serious manslaughter, or homicide charges are justified.
Apparently Virginia is having trouble, too. I’m not sure of the details, but here’s an excerpt from the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation e-newsletter:
“This week is Virginia Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week. Unfortunately, cycling safety has been in the news a lot lately because of a spate of recent bike fatalities in the region. Emotions are running high in the ongoing tensions between cars and cyclists, with both sides appearing more polarized than ever. From angry name calling to conspiracy theories, drivers and riders are focused on demonizing the other. We’re firmly on a third side.
Most people reading this are both a motorist and a cyclist, and understand the issue is less about bikes and cars, than it is about people. Bad decision makers, law breakers, distracted people, and thoughtless jerks use roads, whether they’re driving, walking or pedaling on them.”
I think the difficulty in prosecuting these cases lies in the difficult distinction between criminal intent and criminal behavior.
Caring, normally considerate people can find themselves, through the unhappy coincidence of inattention and physics, responsible for causing the death of innocent people. I’m sure the flip-flop kid is one of these.
There is something innately abhorrent about the idea of being personally responsible for something that happens “in the blink of an eye”. Brain surgeons and air traffic controlers, yes – average joes, no. Yet our society is built and operates around the perceived (and at times true) requirement for all adults to put themselves in the position of piloting several tons of metal around each other at high rates of speed daily.
‘ “Have you ever drifted? Have you ever looked off the roadway?” Mark Stevens asked jurors. “That’s what people do” ‘
Either we’re all a blink of the eye away from being killers, or we allow the delusion that we are not responsible for the occasional “collateral damage”.
I believe we are responsible. I believe as a species and as a culture we are capable of doing better. I also believe we’re headed in that direction of wider acceptance of personal responsibility, extinction bursts and blowback and outliers and all.
But it still pisses me off to see arguments like that hold water in the eyes of those who could provide some measure of justice. I suppose, given that it’s Texas, we should be happy that charges were brought at all.
I’m surprised in the Texas case, the prosecutors didn’t take the positiion “No the guy isn’t a criminal at heart, but YES, we need to keep him from driving for a while.”
Of course, it’s not just New York…
New York is brutally tough on drunk drivers (if they bother to test them), but their enforcement is all over the map. A cyclist was recently struck and killed on Route 250 near Rochester—a road I know well from having trained on it as a college student in the late 80s.
The cyclist was a teacher at a local school. She was initially struck by a man who swerved onto the shoulder on a motorcycle. She was then thrown onto the road, where she was struck by the man’s girlfriend. Both have extensive criminal histories, neither had a license, and both are now up on vehicular homicide charges.
However, a fellow I knew from my racing days in the 80s was killed on Route 5 and 20 near Lima, again a road I know well. By all accounts, Jon was doing everything right. The visibility was good, the weather clear, and he was riding 2 feet to the right of the white line. The woman who hit him never explained how her car drifted onto the shoulder.
She was charged with crossing the white line, a minor offense.
Admittedly, there was no indication of intoxication, she was cooperative and she stopped immediately, so it’s a very different story than the recent case on 250, but there is a striking similarity with some of the other cases where drivers receive minimal—or no—penalties for taking a life through inattention, carelessness or other behavior deemed as “unavoidable” in our culture.
Ejwme’s point about brain surgeons and air traffic controllers is a good one; we hold them responsible in large part because we can, because the vast majority of us will never operate on a patient or direct a plane, but most of us drive, and drive frequently. Mark Stevens was telling jurors, “It could have been you driving that car. If you convict, you’ll be setting a precedent that could come back to haunt you in the end, and we all know it would be impossible (and undesirable) to regulate this behavior because that’s what people do.”
Drifting left, over the yellow line, and causing a head-on collision where people die, yeah, that’s a problem. Press charges.
Drifting right, over the white line, and causing a rear-end collision where people die, no, just an accident. Carry on.
Better news, this time nationally, from The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/21562252)
Transport in cities
Vive la révolution – A cycling renaissance is taking place in America
MORE and more Americans are taking to the road on two wheels. Between 1977 and 2009 the total number of annual bike trips more than tripled, while the bike’s share of all trips rose from 0.6% to 1%. Commuting cyclists have also increased in number, with twice as many biking to work in 2009 as in 2000.
Cities are increasingly vying to be bike friendly……
….The growth comes thanks to cycle-friendly policymaking and increases in government spending. In Portland, which brought in a comprehensive programme, cycling levels have increased sixfold since the early 1990s. In Chicago the motivation is to improve the quality of life, and thus encourage both businesses and families to move there.
In a forthcoming book, “City Cycling”, John Pucher and Ralph Buehler argue that the bike boom needs to be expanded to a broader cross-section of people. Almost all the growth in cycling in America has come from men aged 25-64. Rates of cycling have actually fallen slightly among women and sharply among children, most probably because of nervousness about safety. But in fact cycling is getting safer all the time. According to a paper* by Messrs Pucher and Buehler with Mark Seinen, fatalities per 10m bike trips fell by 65% between 1977 and 2009, from 5.1 to 1.8. In their book, the authors claim that the health benefits of cycling far exceed the safety risks.
(there’s more….just follow the link above)
From a FB friend:
Mikael Colville-Andersen is a riveting speaker. Here he is telling us how Seville, Spain, went from 0% cycling modal split to 7% in less than 7 years. A high-quality bike share system and a low-stress bicycle network played a large role.
ejwme There is something innately abhorrent about the idea of being personally responsible for something that happens “in the blink of an eye”. Brain surgeons and air traffic controlers, yes – average joes, no.
Neurosurgeon culture is that “you come to the hosptial – if you aren’t sick enough to be a patient, you operate.” And, trust me, people die from that.
Now, often physicians are held responsible for things that were beyond their control, partly because they have deep pockets. On the other hand, the malpractice situtation is one of the more benign of the predictable consequences of physicians failing to police their own ranks.
Swalfort, is Colville-Anderson (and yr friend) at the conference in San Diego?
Man, if you had MC-A, Gil Penalosa, and Jan Gehl at the same time, it would be like the Three Tenors of biking.
I suspect that is exactly where he is, but his FB page did not say so explicitly.
Philadelphia Inquirer reports that as biking becomes more prevalent, accidents decreased…..
More bicyclists means fewer accidents, Phila. finds
September 16, 2012|By Paul Nussbaum, Inquirer Staff Writer
As the number of bicyclists on Philadelphia streets has risen, cyclists and city officials have seen a counterintuitive result: The number of bike crashes and deaths has declined.
This “safety in numbers” phenomenon has been documented elsewhere, and safety experts believe it is because motorists become more alert to cyclists when there are more of them.
Since 2002, the number of cyclists on many Center City streets has more than doubled, according to tallies at key intersections, and the percentage of bike commuters has also doubled. In 2002, there were six bicyclists killed in accidents with motor vehicles; last year, there were two such deaths.
Traffic crashes involving bikes in Philadelphia have fallen from a high of 1,040 in 1998 to 553 in 2010.
“Where cars expect to find bicyclists and pedestrians, drivers are more cognizant of cyclists and pedestrians,” said Alex Doty, executive director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia. He cited a study in Portland, Ore., that found a doubling of the number of bicycles reduced the crash risk by one-third.
“I know I get better treatment now than I did 10 years ago, or even five years ago,” Doty said. “Drivers have a better idea what to do. Though there is still quite a bit of room for improvement.”
The correlation was reported in 2003 by the medical journal Injury Prevention, when it published what it called an “unexpected result” of a safety study: The likelihood of a cyclist or pedestrian being hit by a car “varies inversely with the amount of walking or bicycling.”
The journal’s study concluded that “policies that increase the numbers of people walking and bicycling appear to be an effective route to improving the safety of people walking and bicycling.”
In Philadelphia, the Nutter administration has created dozens of bike lanes and bike routes, trying to carve out more space for cyclists in a city not known for its bicycle bonhomie.
The safety in numbers phenomenon “is really playing out” in the city, said Stephen Buckley, director of policy and planning in the mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities. The city has about 220 miles of bike lanes, he said, and the administration hopes to increase that to about 300 miles.
The city’s goal is to boost the percentage of commuters who travel by bike from the current 2 percent to 5 percent by 2020 and to reduce injuries and fatalities by 50 percent.
If more biking means safer biking, safer biking is likely to produce more biking.
1) that strikes me as more of a mental health issue than the “normal” harassment of cyclists.
2) If it were me riding, I would pull over and stop – probably after the third or fourth honk. I’d probably prepare to lock up my bike, even (puts the large U-lock in my hand.)
wasn’t sure whether to post this here or in the good news thread, but it seemed like this thread could use some good news: city of buffalo decides to install cycle track! got this from my sister’s facebook, and i am eager to see it become a reality.
i was just asking someone, and it seemed like buffalo (my hometown) was lagging behind pittsburgh a good bit when it came to cycling advocacy. but this is a fine step in the right direction. i am eager to see what this “complete streets ordinance” is.
edited to add: actually, the complete streets ordinance is in my link, and it looks pretty damned sweet, at a glance.
I have mixed feelings about CM but I bet this is going to be spectaular… I’m debating whether I should change my flight home to saturday and go.
The New York Times carries a story today of a cyclist killed in Queens by a Hit and run driver.
What I find most interesting is the three comments that have been posted since the article appeared mid-morning. Very different from Pittsburgh comments of late.
Here’s the article, followed by the three comments:
September 25, 2012, 10:53 am
Hit-and-Run Driver Kills Cyclist in Queens
By ANDY NEWMAN
The police are looking for a driver who fatally struck a 38-year-old bicyclist on Queens Boulevard on Tuesday morning and drove off. The collision occurred around 6 a.m. near the intersection of Hoover Avenue in Kew Gardens, the police said. The cyclist, whose name was not immediately released, was pronounced dead at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center. No information about the driver’s vehicle was immediately available.
Share your thoughts.
o East Brunswick
The mans name was Alex Martinez and he was a great person . Please speak up if u know anything. He has kids a wife, family and friends who loved him very much
o Sept. 25, 2012 at 11:10 p.m.
o New York
Eastbound? or Westbound?/
Which way was he pedaling/
When he was murdered/
o new york
I’m sure there were witnesses. Speak up, don’t let such murders get away. If Bloomberg plans to have the bike program in effect next spring, the laws for “hit and run” should be toughened. There will be a lot more bicyclists on the roads.
o Sept. 25, 2012 at 2:39 p.m.
Cleveland gets an apology and a radio PSA from Clear Channel for boneheaded DJ anti-bike shenanigans. Woohoo!:
“Mike Trivisonno will issue an apology on his show. They also offered free airtime and production help in putting together a radio PSA that will run for three-months.”
the menu part of that site looks quite similar to that of another site I frequent.
There’s something spooky about this. Like all the DJ’s got instructions one day “Make fun of bikers,” or something.
Those links from Pseuda are from 2003/04. I guess they havent learned their lesson.
Edit: @dennis. Wait, an elitist millionaire on a bicycle?
Much like president #43.
Bikes are political vehicles. Lends the elitist millionaire the common touch, I suppose.
http://urbanvelo.org/teen-driver-kills-2-cyclists/ in San Francisco.
Dad and his 9-year old riding bikes on the sidewalk. The driver, a 17 year old, was not drunk nor texting, but was traveling around 72 mph in a 45 mph zone
I think my brain just exploded.
The idea of a really rich conservative riding his bicycle to see the prime minister on business? Wonderful.
“F*cking Plebs”??? from a guy on a bike?
Excuse me, I have to go untwist my underwear.
adjusts his Grammarnazi hat
c’mon, guys, get “reckless” and “wreckless” straight. They’re related, but not the same thing.
What’s done is done, but the real problem is in driver licensing. Much, much tougher licensing standards are needed, not just here but everywhere. This case is just the latest instance of Flip-Flop Boy Syndrome.
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