There is a lot of writing out there of late concerning accidents involving automobiles and bicycles, and the charges brought (or not brought) against drivers who were at fault. Some of these incidents are quite serious, resulting in severe injury and death to the cyclist end of the equation. It goes without saying we in the cycling community (yes, I am that much at least) are nothing short of alarmed at the situation at hand.
Some things to check out are Bob Mionske’s latest column and the the writings of one Jonathan Maus over at BikePortland.org. First up, Mr. Mionske, who wrote a column titled The lawful (?) order at the end of October. He continues to build on the issue in his latest:
Following last weeks column, I received a number of emails from readers regarding other cyclist deaths that I hadn’t mentioned in that column. The responses from my readers really do bring home the point that many of us know cyclists who have died on the road. But there’s another type of response I want to discuss in this column-the response from law enforcement and the media. In Bicycling & the Law, I discuss the institutional biases against cyclists, including law enforcement and media biases. Following the recent cyclist fatalities, we have seen firsthand some textbook examples of those biases. I will be discussing some of those cases in this column, but first, you asked if there are statistics on the percentage of cycling deaths resulting in criminal charges-not that I’m aware of, but I invite any readers who may be aware of such statistics to bring them to my attention. You also asked if there is an organization that pursues this matter on behalf of cycling in general. Again, not to my knowledge, although I am currently working to create a public interest cyclist’s rights organization.
The rest of his column can be found at velonews.com.
And, from bikeportland.org
The frustration of many people in the community has reached a boiling point. The well over one-hundred comments on this site (and others), emails and phone calls I’ve received, and messages on local email lists leave little doubt that many Portlanders are confused and concerned over how the police have responded to recent crashes.
Frustrations hinge on the policies and practices of the Police Bureau that have come to light following a string of recent bike/car collisions. Many people point out that in three recent collisions (two resulted in a fatality, one led to serious injuries) citations were not issued, even though a law (ORS 811.050; failure to yield to rider on bicycle lane) was violated.
Something has to give.
Following the two tragedies in October, the Police Bureau told the community that it is standard practice to not issue a moving violation citation when the collision involves a fatality (note that both cyclists were in the bike lane when hit). They said doing so would impede the District Attorney’s ongoing investigation.
Then, after yesterday’s non-fatal collision, the police also decided to not issue a citation.
Police Bureau spokesman Brian Schmautz said no citation was issued because the crash did not “meet the criteria for an investigation” and therefore no fault could be found (which means no citation). He also said that investigations are only performed (and citations issued) when the crash involves serious, trauma-level injuries.
Despite these statements from Schmautz, which have been repeated on this site and on TV and newspaper outlets, many people are not satisfied.
You can count me among those who are not satisfied.
Portland lawyer Chris Heaps is also not waiting around for something to be done. Heaps, who has enlisted the help of [Joe] Kurmaskie and bike lawyer Ray Thomas, has already started a formal process to cite the driver in yesterday’s collision.
Fight the good fight, gentlemen.by