A View From the Windshield

By Rick Bernardi

A few days ago, the following news item appeared in the American-Statesman:

Driver critical after collision Saturday with truck in Lakeway

By Philip Jankowski
American-Statesman Staff

A driver remains in critical condition after he collided over the weekend with a semi-truck in Lakeway, police said Tuesday.

Lakeway officials have not released the driver’s name.

The wreck occurred about 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the 2100 block of RM 620. The driver had been northbound in the right lane when an 18-wheel truck traveling northbound in the left lane passed the driver and then turned right, crossing in front of his path and the driver ran into the truck, police said. EMS airlifted the man to University Medical Center Brackenridge in Austin, where he has remained since the incident, officials said.

According to a statement from Lakeway Police Chief Todd Radford, the truck driver does not appear to be at fault. Police filed no charges and issued no citations in the incident.

“The opportunity for the truck driver to see the driver and respond in time was minimal due to the driver’s position in the next lane and the speed at which the driver was traveling,” Radford said.

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Bike Accident Victim Hit By Car And Then Charged By The Police!

Maryland Bike Accident Lawyer on DC Area’s “Intersection of Doom”

By Peter Wilborn

Excellent article today in the Washington Post about Rosslyn’s “Intersection of Doom.” It accurately portrays a situation we deal with at Bike Law on a weekly basis: cyclist hit by a car, transported to the hospital, and presented with a traffic ticket by the police:

“Lindsey Kelley says she was biking through the crosswalk [ed: the correct place for her to be riding] at the intersection last Monday evening when she was hit by a gold sedan. The 23-year-old never spoke to the woman that hit her, but a man in a black SUV [ed: you can't make this stuff up, a black SUV!] stopped to reprimand her, she said, telling her that bikes should be on the sidewalk, that she came out of nowhere and that the crash was her fault. A U.S. Park Police officer asked whether she was hurt and needed an ambulance; she said yes.

She saw the officer again when he came to her hospital room and gave her a $70 ticket for “disregarding traffic signs or road markings.”

“He said, “Don’t get your blood pressure raised; here’s your ID and here’s your ticket. Now let me explain why I’m giving it to you,”” Kelley recalled. He said a witness [ed: remember the black SUV?] had told him that she was not in the crosswalk when she was hit. She protested, she said, and he told her that he had not been there to see the crash.”

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It Never Ends

Law enforcement officers—at least in California—just can’t seem to be bothered with actually learning the laws they are charged with enforcing. Consider the Los Angeles Police Department, which has been enforcing a non-existent law against perplexed USC students. Or the California Highway Patrol officer who didn’t see any problem with a driver who turned into a cyclist’s path—yes, the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk, contrary to local law, but the driver also violated the law by failing to look before turning. Then there’s the Redondo Beach Police Department, which has been enforcing a law against riding two abreast. The only problem is, there is no law against riding two abreast.

And now there’s CHP Officer Al Perez, who has his own newspaper column, “Ask a Cop.” The problem with asking this particular cop about the law is he just doesn’t know what the law is. In his recent column, Cyclists in crosswalks aren’t pedestrians, Officer Perez recounts an incident he observed while off-duty:

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Non-Existent Laws, And The Cops Who Enforce Them

In September, I wrote about an enforcement action jointly conducted between the Los Angeles Police Department and the University of Southern California Department of Public Safety. Their target? Law-abiding cyclists who are legally riding within crosswalks. Despite the law-abiding nature of the behavior that has been targeted, the LAPD invented a non-existent “law” prohibiting riding in the crosswalk, and began slapping USC students with tickets carrying a $250 fine.

Not to be outdone by their next-door brethren, a reader in California informs us that the Redondo Beach Police Department has been ticketing cyclists for riding two abreast:

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The Return of The Usual Suspects

Kevin Connell was from Miramichi, the largest city in Northern New Brunswick, with a population of just over 18,000 residents. The youngest of six children, he had grown to a tall man, with red hair, a thick red beard, and a love of music. He left his hometown to attend Thomas More College in New Hampshire. After graduating in 2008 with a B.A. in literature, Connell had briefly returned to his hometown, but left again in March of 2009, this time for Montreal, where he intended to pursue his music career.

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The Blind Eye of Injustice

“Cyclist At Fault In Crash With Car”

That was the headline of a minor article on the “Cops and Courts” page of the Santa Cruz Sentinel recently. It was also the conclusion, dutifully reported by the Sentinel, of the investigating officer from the California Highway Patrol.

It caught my attention, because I have friends in Santa Cruz. And because I’ve seen the freewheeling ways of Santa Cruz cyclists, it didn’t seem improbable to me that the cyclist might actually be at fault. 

Except as I read the newspaper’s account of the crash, I began to realize that the conclusion drawn by both law enforcement and the media was what an impartial person might call “one-sided.”

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An Exercise In Absurdity

In Bicycling & the Law, one of the issues Bob addressed under the rubric of anti-cyclist bias was police bias against cyclists. Anti-cyclist bias within law enforcement manifests in several ways. One manifestation of this bias is the one-sided investigation. This occurs when the officer investigating a crash between a cyclist and a motorist interviews the motorist, but not the cyclist (who may be too injured—or dead, even—to be interviewed), and based on that one-sided investigation, concludes that the motorist was not at fault—or worse, that the cyclist was at fault. In some cases, the first contact the cyclist has with law enforcement is in the hospital, when the officer presents the cyclist with a ticket.

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The Usual Suspects

It was a Sunday morning in July; the five cyclists, ranging in age from 26 to 45, were on their regular weekend ride. On this particular Sunday morning, they planned to ride from Kanata, on the outskirts of Ottawa, Ontario, to Pakenham, and back again, a round trip of about 57.5 miles.

They never made it out of Kanata.

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