Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Assaulting and/or killing cyclists is a "minor" offense

In the New York Times on November 9, writer Daniel Duane asked, "Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?"
The anecdotes mounted: my wife’s childhood friend was cycling with Mom and Dad when a city truck killed her; two of my father’s law partners, maimed. I began noticing “cyclist killed” news articles, like one about Amelie Le Moullac, 24, pedaling inside a bike lane in San Francisco’s SOMA district when a truck turned right and killed her. In these articles, I found a recurring phrase: to quote from The San Francisco Chronicle story about Ms. Le Moullac, “The truck driver stayed at the scene and was not cited.”
In stories where the driver had been cited, the penalty’s meagerness defied belief, like the teenager in 2011 who drove into the 49-year-old cyclist John Przychodzen from behind on a road just outside Seattle, running over and killing him. The police issued only a $42 ticket for an “unsafe lane change” because the kid hadn’t been drunk and, as they saw it, had not been driving recklessly.
You don’t have to be a lefty pinko cycling activist to find something weird about that. But try a Google search for “cyclist + accident” and you will find countless similar stories: on Nov. 2, for example, on the two-lane coastal highway near Santa Cruz, Calif., a northbound driver lost control and veered clear across southbound traffic, killing Joshua Alper, a 40-year-old librarian cycling in the southbound bike lane. As usual: no charges, no citation. Most online comments fall into two camps: cyclists outraged at inattentive drivers and wondering why cops don’t care; drivers furious at cyclists for clogging roads and flouting traffic laws.
Idiotic victim blaming is the norm when cyclists are injured or killed (read: murdered).  It is assumed that the cyclists was "violating the law" or "impeding traffic", usually spewn by those without basic knowledge of the law (i.e. that cyclists are considered vehicles and have the same right to the road as cars).

It shouldn't surprise you, then, to hear that the British woman who deliberately ran a cyclist off the road received only a fine and a few "points" on her driver's license.  No assault or attempted murder charges were filed.

Emma Way, 22, clipped cyclist Toby Hockley with her car in Norfolk in May.
She then tweeted: "Definitely knocked a cyclist off his bike earlier. I have right of way - he doesn't even pay road tax! #Bloodycyclists."
Norwich magistrates convicted her of failing to stop after an accident and failing to report it, which she denied.
Miss Way, of Watton, was acquitted of driving without due care and attention.
She was ordered to pay a £337 fine, £300 in costs and was given seven points on her licence.
She said: "The tweet was spur of the moment. It was ridiculous and stupid and I apologise to all cyclists.
Her only regret was getting caught, not that she did it.  You can be certain that if a cyclist had run her over while she was crossing the street illegally, the cyclists would have been charged.

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