Monday, April 16, 2007

Florida Cyclist Gets Charged with Homicide

April 16, 2007
A cyclist involved in an accident--that set off a chain of events, leading to the death of a motorist, was charged with homicide in Florida last week.

"Ronald Dale, 18, of Waycross has been charged with second-degree vehicular homicide and failure to obey a stop sign resulting in the 6:14 p.m. collision that killed 33-year-old Sarah Elaine Cribb Poss, said Waycross police Chief Tony Tanner," reported Jacksonville.com.

Amazingly, this rarely happens when a cyclist is killed by a motorist. In fact, most motorists who hit cyclists directly, are not even charged and the death of the cyclist is considered an "accident."

Dale's big mistake is that he went through a stop sign, causing the motorist to swerve and hit a tractor-trailer. But we can't even count the number of times motorists have been speeding, took right hand turns or broke countless other traffic laws and killed, hit, and maimed cyclists without receiving so much as a ticket.

What makes the lack of consistent application of the law--on behalf of cyclists--ten times more injurious, is that we don't even have a rightful space on the road. Can we forget about the jeers we get from motorists who expect to use the whole road, and after teaching us a lesson by buzzing us, lean out the window and tell us, "Idiot, get off the f--ing road"?

Or is it simply the ingrained institutional and governmental neglect implicit in the lack of funding, and the lack of implementation of bike routes, bikeways, and other road investments for cyclists that turns us into meek sheep unable to stand up for ourselves? Compared to most countries in Europe, our roads are thousands of years behind in providing safe passage to cyclists.

It is incumbent on you, dear reader, to start making a change today. If you do believe that consistent application of the law should be implemented today, without any further delay, you must drop what you are doing, and write to your state legislators.

You can start by emailing Governor Eliot Spitzer. You'll need to tell Gov. Spitzer that if cyclists are expected to obey traffic laws, then they should be afforded the same rights--and space on the road--as motorists. And that means now, not ten years from now, or 20 or 30 or 50.

That means lanes for us on every single road in New York State, and full prosecution of drivers who kill and are at fault, that is, broke traffic laws, like going through a stop sign--for manslaughter. You should also ask that all such accidents be deemed "incidents" and that drivers be detained and incarcerated--when a cyclist or pedestrian is killed or has life-threatening damage from the accident.

I'd give you Governor Corzine's email address, but at this point, after having an accident caused by a motorist--who by the way was found, but not charged for swerving onto the road--is in the hospital and likely no one will answer your mail.

Please, do your part, and email the governor. If we don't start now, it will never get done.

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