- San Francisco bicyclist pleads guilty to felony in pedestrian’s death (LATimes)
- Cyclist pleads guilty to first U.S. felony vehicular manslaughter by bike: prosecutor (ChicagoTribune)
- Any suggestions on what to do when drivers ignore my polite request to shut their car door? (ChainLink)
The Urban Cycling Community just had its Zimmerman vs. Martin moment. Only this time “the guilty did not get away with murder“. The hard core elements of the Urban Cycling Community are going to try and ignore the story altogether. They are going to do so because the message being sent is inconvenient:
“The goal here is to send a message,” Gascon said about the decision to charge Bucchere with a felony that could have gotten him a maximum of six years in prison. “You have a responsibility. Just because you’re riding a bicycle, not all bets are off. All the rules that apply to everyone else on the road apply to you.”
There is a hard core group of folks who would rather be able to continue drawing people into the movement through Critical Mass Rides and the like because these folks are either automobile-haters or can be converted into as much before asking them to pay dues to some supposed bicycle advocacy group. These folks believe that the only one with “skin in the game is the cyclist himself“. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If my hunch is correct this ruling will have ramifications for those who have bike shops that build up “brakeless fixed gear” bikes. Their insurance premiums might take such a hit that such bike builds would be deemed too costly. A very good thing indeed.
The ‘Free Ride’ Is Over
No longer will cyclists get to play ‘victim‘ in an effort to grab sympathy and membership dues for their favorite bicycle advocacy groups. Now it will be clear to insurance companies and juries alike that cyclists are capable of being as much at fault as any motorist ever was. And again this is a good thing. It will mean that obeying traffic signals is less likely to be seen as something benign that while illegal is ethical (per Randy Cohen). Instead it will become clear that if bicycles are to be touted as primary transportation options then they had better darn well conform to the Rules of the Road.
I can only hope that licensing, testing and education follow in quick succession for those wishing to ride our roadways. We desperately need this. We can ill afford the rogue element that tries to pass itself off as the only legitimate face of cycling simply because it plies the streets of the city. That is a load of horse poop.
Let’s raise a toast to Dist. Atty. George Gascon for offering us a cold dash of reality. This is a good thing.
Wanton Disregard For Safety And Human Life
At present there are at least three articles about this tragedy. It turns out that when our speedy cyclist was doing his downhill run he blew through several traffic controls:
Evidence presented at a March court hearing in the city’s case against Bucchere showed he was going 32 miles-an-hour in a 25-mile-an-hour zone and ran three red lights before striking and killing Hui, who was in a pedestrian crosswalk on Market Street in San Francisco’s Castro district at 8 a.m. with his wife en route to a medical appointment.
Bucchere, a lifelong cyclist who trains others in bike safety, was completing a two-hour ride to Marin County with a friend, following a course taken by members of a local cycling club, when he hit Hui on March 29, 2012.
Strava Inc., a website for cyclists that logs athletes’ data from wireless devices, recorded Bucchere going 32 miles an hour at the time of the crash, prosecutors said.
What is most striking about this case is the similarity to that in which Bobby Cann was killed. Where the similarity ends is that the family of the victim is willing to show compassion. The Chicago Urban Cycling Community is only it seems satisfied if there is vengeance. Of course the other interesting thing is that the pedestrian community in San Francisco did not go ballistic and decide to have vigils and concerts and need to sequester themselves in the local REI to vent their frustrations.
You Do Not Know Retribution
Just imagine if they did all this and hot heads decided the next day was to be celebrated by throwing glass bottles packed with urine at the heads of cyclists on their way to work?
Or what would cyclists have done had every single pedestrian in the city decided to use the bike lanes for a year as their personal footpath to work? Sure they would be breaking the law, but I doubt that anybody of great conscience would have cared? In fact it would probably have been the case that some wag would have suggested that they do this while walking against traffic.
And let us not forget that pedestrians too (as one ChainLink sociopath suggested be done to them) could wield pikes with Tasers on the other end and pick off cyclists at random. Or if not Tasers then certainly there must be literally thousands of paint ball shooters who would find it great sport to plink on passing cyclists.
You really do not know retribution my friends. You only think you do.
Outrage Cuts Both Ways
The important thing to remember is that cyclists represent such a small percentage of the transportation pie that should things turn ugly there would be no really effective way to protect that few people on bicycles from that many drivers, pedestrians, skateboarders, joggers and irate seniors should they decide to vent their frustrations with cyclists in the strongest possible ways.
Cyclists need to thank the Lord above that the family of Mr. Hui wanted to show some compassion. They need to celebrate the likes of Karlyn Beer for having the strength of character to forgive a drunken motorist who like our intrepid cyclist did not give a rats hind end about the safety of those around him.
We are long past all of the trumped up concern that Chicago ChainLinkers have for whether the beer trucks that restock their favorite summer hangouts along the Chicago Lakefront Trail inconvenience them for a few seconds on their way to work. We are even further along than worrying about whether or not some arrogant motorist decides to park their vehicle in the bike lane to save a few steps when we as a community find it “amusing” when we blatantly disregard private property when locking up our bikes during rock concerts.
Folks, it is time to be good neighbors and not antagonists. Tell the fear and hate mongers who want to elevate the situation to something dangerously close to violence that you are not interested in having an escalation of the Nanny Squad every time somebody breaks a rule regarding the bike lane. Otherwise you may wake up having to deal with millions more people than you can muster who have it in for your arrogance shown while riding your bikes. And that frankly is not something you really want to see.
Just An Observation
There has after some 9 hours been not a single response to the thread posted by Kevin C on the Chicago ChainLink Forum. There has been no “so sorry for the loss of another human being“, nothing. Does that say anything about the level of compassion that cyclists have for non-cyclists? Is there really any hope that there can be reconciliation between motorists and cyclists, let alone cyclists and pedestrians? Do pedestrians not bleed when struck by out-of-control cyclists? Are we as cyclists so insecure as a group that we cannot admit our failures? What is wrong with us?
Perhaps I am not really a cyclist. I guess that like millions of others who ride their bikes without feeling estranged from motorists (because I too am a driver) there is no hope for me ever entering the Holy of Holies where true cyclists (you know the kind that bitch, bitch, bitch) are allowed to dwell. Instead anyone according to one prominent ChainLinker who does not believe that confrontation with everyone else in the universe is the only true path is merely an Uncle Tom.
So be it! I am an Uncle Tom and I would guess that a cyclist like Karelyn Beer must be Aunt Jemima? Where do Cycling Activists like this spring from? Wherever they come from I have no interest whatsoever in joining them in that headspace. That way lies madness. To listen to people like this muse in their “tiny little minds” (to quote Saint Hagman) and reach agreement with them would require a solid case of syphilis or the onset of dementia from Alzheimer’s disease.
Either way I thought we left the ramblings of racist Nazis back in Germany where they belong. This kind of divisive thinking is certainly not what he hopes to espouse and yet it would seem that way. That is quite sick and really needs to be rethought. Ghandi, King and Jesus of Nazareth are all seekers for truth that does not divide, but rather unites.
Would that at least one ChainLinker would admit and state publicly that what the SF Bicyclist did was wrong and that they were sorry for the loss to the family of the victim. But I will not hold my breath waiting on the expression of that sentiment.