Nothing Can Keep Her From Driving- And What Can We Do With A Person Like That?

When I was in law school, I used to work nights in the law library. After the library closed, I would walk to the nearest bus stop, 30 minutes away, where I would catch the last bus home. One night, I was running a little late, or maybe the bus was running a little early. Whichever it was, I saw the bus approaching the stop from a distance, and began sprinting for the stop, but I was just too far away. I missed the last bus home. I briefly considered calling a cab, but it was really out of the question for a law student with no money, so I started walking along Barbur Boulevard, back towards downtown Portland. After a walk that lasted several hours, I finally arrived home in the early morning hours.

I thought about that walk home two weeks ago, when I heard about a hit and run crash that left a Lewis and Clark College student lying crumpled on Barbur Boulevard. The student, Henry Schmidt, 20, had been riding back to campus from his job in town, when he got a flat. He started walking his bike home, when, within minutes, he was hit by a driver who then left the scene. Schmidt sustained severe injuries, including a lacerated spleen, broken clavicle, two broken legs, three broken vertebrae, a fractured cheekbone, along with scrapes and contusions.

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Confronting the Scofflaw Cyclist

By Rick Bernardi, J.D.

You’ve probably seen “the comment.” It goes something like this. A news article reports that a cyclist was injured, or maybe even killed. The cyclist was following the law. The driver was not. Maybe the driver was just being careless. Maybe the driver was deliberately targeting the cyclist for harassment, or worse.

It doesn’t matter, because “the comment” always follows the same logic: “When cyclists stop breaking the law…” Regardless of what actually happened, regardless of the fact that this particular cyclist was following the law and this particular driver was not, some aggrieved motorist feels obliged to point out that cyclists break the law.

This is the myth of the scofflaw cyclist.  

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Red Light Runners

By Rick Bernardi, J.D.

The reason most often-cited by motorists for the animosity between motorists and cyclists is the disregard that cyclists have for the traffic laws. And one complaint in particular always comes up in any discussion about cyclists—the well-known disregard that cyclists have for stop signs and red lights.

Well, it’s true that many cyclists do not follow the traffic laws when it comes to required stops. But it’s also true that many cyclists do follow the law. And yet it’s virtually guaranteed that whenever the subject of cyclists comes up, motorists will volunteer their observations that cyclists have no regard for stop signs and red lights. And these observations are offered regardless of circumstances. A motorist right-hooked a law-abiding cyclist? A driver has no explanation for why he didn’t see a brightly-clad law-abiding cyclist in broad daylight? A road-rager uses his vehicle to assault a cyclist and bully him off the road? No matter. Somebody will mention that cyclists break the law. 

So with all of that sanctimony, one might reasonably believe that drivers are themselves paragons of lawfulness, especially when it comes to observing stop signs and red lights.

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