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Old 08-11-06, 04:35 PM   #1
Brian Ratliff
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A Cyclist dies in Beaverton and nobody blinks

This is a repost from the "Cycling Fatalities Spark Outrage and Activism." Someone commented I should make this a separate thread from the two now considering the treatis of how a stripe of paint on the road single handedly caused this fatal accident in Beaverton involving cyclist Mike Wilberding who lost his life from a "mistake" made by a young guy making a left turn. The young man was let off the hook with a minor $242 fine. This article comes from Actually, no; I am bitter. Like the title says: nobody blinks. We need to change how our system of laws deals with fatal vehicle accidents. Too often they are written off as "inevitable" or "unavoidable" or "the cost of doing business." We seem to have forgotten that a person's life (even one who is holding you up in traffic for those 15 precious seconds) is worth more than all the treasure one can gather in a lifetime.

...I feel for the family of Mike Wilberding. Like all traffic crashes, they are so tough because the loved one is lost so suddenly. One moment, healthy and strong; the next, dead.

There have been two or three major accidents involving cyclists doing nothing of the sort wrong in the westside suburbs of Sherwood, Forest Grove, and now, Beaverton. These were all of the sort that cyclists fear, since they are nearly completely due to a mistake by a driver. These were not "multiple point" accidents, but single point accidents where the mistake of only one party, the one who was not injured in any way, causes the death of another.

I've often thought: why is the erronious expectation that a cyclist is risking their life to be cycling on the road built so far into the legal system? The bike lane law (as it was enforced recently) has cops telling cyclists to act in a way which decreases their safety to increase the convenience of the cars behind. Now this, where a driver makes a blatent mistake on the road and kills someone and gets off with a $242 fine.

Too often in our culture, we are all about second chances. Fail a class at school? Make it up. Kill a cyclist by not yielding during a left turn? $242 ticket. What will it take for the authorities and the law makers to realize that one person's "little mistake" can cost another person their life?! When can it be realized that those little six words "failure to yield to a bicyclist" amount to a death sentence? Only on our roads do we make excuses for people who lose control of their 2 ton vehicle and kill someone. If you step into a car, you are taking responsibility for what happens with that car when you are behind the wheel. Kill someone; you are a danger to society and your license needs to be revolked on the spot. It doesn't come back for at least a year, and not until an extensive driver's safety class is taken. No excuses. No "I need my car to drive to work." No "I'll lose my job if you take away my car." No "my kids will starve without a car to get groceries." Too bad. You committed the greatest sin in killing another human being. You'll figure out a way to live without your car. If not... well, eye for an eye...
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Old 08-11-06, 05:33 PM   #2
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The part that bugs me is all a driver has to do is say "I didn't see him" or "the sun was in my eyes" and it's like they just simply believe that and hand him a little slap on the wrist.

That's why I have a flag, a yellow vest, a yellow and orange triangle and lots of lights and reflective sidewalls for night. I want to remove as many excuses as I can from the equation.
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Old 08-11-06, 05:37 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Brian Ratliff
Kill someone; you are a danger to society and your license needs to be revolked on the spot. It doesn't come back for at least a year
+1 but make it a lifetime. And a jail sentence.
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Old 08-11-06, 05:55 PM   #4
John C. Ratliff
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Thank you for bringing this up here. I too am disturbed by this situation. I visited a friend who is prominant in the cycling community in Beaverton on Wednesday, and she was pretty broken up by this one. There is a good analysis of this fatality on the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's website:

I have entered comments on this site. I would urge others in the area to write Mr. Hull, Washington County Assistant District Attorney, and Mayor Drake, about this situation.

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