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Is It O.K. to Kill Cyclists?

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posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:16 AM
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Title is taken from New York Times article.


The American Medical Association endorses National Bike to Work Day, and more than 850,000 people commute on a bicycle, according to the League of American Bicyclists. Nationwide, cycling is the second most popular outdoor activity after running, supporting a $6.1 billion industry that sold 18.7 million bikes last year.

But studies performed in Arizona, Minnesota and Hawaii suggest that drivers are at fault in more than half of cycling fatalities. And there is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault, as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene. When two cars crash, everybody agrees that one of the two drivers may well be to blame; cops consider it their job to gather evidence toward that determination. But when a car hits a bike, it’s like there’s a collective cultural impulse to say, “Oh, well, accidents happen.” If your 13-year-old daughter bikes to school tomorrow inside a freshly painted bike lane, and a driver runs a stop sign and kills her and then says to the cop, “Gee, I so totally did not mean to do that,” that will most likely be good enough.

“We do not know of a single case of a cyclist fatality in which the driver was prosecuted, except for D.U.I. or hit-and-run,” Leah Shahum, the executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, told me.

Laws do forbid reckless driving, gross negligence and vehicular manslaughter. The problem, according to Ray Thomas, a Portland, Ore., attorney who specializes in bike law, is that “jurors identify with drivers.” Convictions carry life-destroying penalties, up to six years in prison, Mr. Thomas pointed out, and jurors “just think, well, I could make the same mistake. So they don’t convict.” That’s why police officers and prosecutors don’t bother making arrests. Most cops spend their lives in cars, too, so that’s where their sympathies lie.


www.nytimes.com...

In response to the article in NY Times an Economist writer made another post offering also solution using Netherlands as an example.


motorists in America generally receive no punishment whatsoever for crashing into or killing cyclists, even when the accident is transparently their fault. This insane lacuna in the justice system reflects extreme systemic prejudice by drivers against cyclists, and would be easy enough to fix. All that America would have to do would be to adopt traffic regulations like the ones in place in the Netherlands, where the number of cyclists is vastly higher than in America while the rate of fatalities per kilometre ridden is far lower.

in the Netherlands, if a motor vehicle hits a cyclist, the accident is always assumed to have been the driver's fault, not the cyclist's. As explained in this FAQ from the ANWB, the Dutch tourism and car owners' organisation, "the law treats pedestrians and cyclists as weaker participants in traffic... The driver of the motor vehicle is liable for the accident, unless he can prove he was overpowered by circumstances beyond his control (overmacht). The driver must thus prove that none of the blame falls on him, which is extremely difficult in practice."

This regulatory regime places an extra burden on drivers. That burden can be summed up as follows: before you turn, you have to check carefully in the mirror to see whether there's a cyclist there. That's it. When you are driving in the Netherlands, you have to be more careful than you would when driving in America. Does this result in rampant injustice to drivers when accidents occur? No. It results in far fewer accidents. As the ANWB says, some drivers may think the liability treatment gives cyclists "a blank check to ignore the rules. But a cyclist is not going to deliberately ride through a red light thinking: 'I won't have to pay the damages anyway.' He is more likely to be influenced by the risk that he will land in the hospital."

Of course, the sacrifice is not all one-sided. Cyclists in the Netherlands learn to stay inside the country's ubiquitous bike lanes, not to run red lights, and to signal before turning, and they obey those rules more scrupulously than Americans do—partly because if they don't, they are likely to annoy or crash into other cyclists, who will give them a verbal hiding. And traffic lights and road infrastructure are adapted to cyclists' needs, which entails some inconvenience to autos, though probably not as much as having lots of bikes out in the middle of traffic, ignoring the rules.

Is this an unacceptable price to pay? Well, cyclist fatalities in America were estimated at somewhere in the range of 58 to 109 deaths per 1 billion kilometres cycled in the early 2000s. (It may have declined somewhat since, but probably not by too much, since the total number of deaths has remained roughly constant.) In the Netherlands, statistics on this subject are more precise: there were 12 deaths per billion kilometres cycled in 2010, down by a third since 2000. So I guess it depends on how much one values human life, as against the inconvenience of having to look in the rearview mirror more often.


www.economist.com...

These are very interesting points made in the article. During the period when I lived at US, that is something, I personally also witnessed. In the particular area I lived at, the conditions for pedestrians and bicyclists were nearly inexistent, whether it came to supporting infrastructure or the general attitude towards non-drivers.

As far as I see here in ATS, most Americans believe in freedom of choice. Although where does it lie in this case? According to the study, unless the driver is DUI or does a hit-and-run, in majority of cases he/she does not get punished when hitting the other person driving a bicycle, even when it was drivers fault. This clearly shows drivers are considered above bicyclists, which leads to not having clear choice, as certain choices are pushed on people by the legal institutions, cities and the general public. When the opportunities are created only for one particular group, in this case drivers, the others do not have much choice, unless they want to risk their lives.

I personally support system similar to what Netherlands is using. When an accident happens in vast majority of cases, the driver of the car does not gain any injuries, while even on lower speeds (a´la 30 mph) a driver can easily kill a bicylist. Due to higher speeds and being in more secure vehicle, drivers should definetely pay more attention. To sum it up, quote from the Economist:


So I guess it depends on how much one values human life, as against the inconvenience of having to look in the rearview mirror more often.



PS.I hope I did not copy-paste too much from the sources.
edit on 15-11-2013 by Cabin because: (no reason given)

edit on 15-11-2013 by Cabin because: (no reason given)




posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:21 AM
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ideally it's always best to try and avoid killing anybody. it's rarely ok.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:28 AM
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reply to post by Cabin
 


Jeremy Clarkson believes it is mandatory.

I personally feel that to be a little extreme, however they can be mighty annoying.
The ones in the full Tour de France regalia - deserve to be slapped - hard.


edit on 15-11-2013 by Timely because: forgot a word ... Derp !!



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:29 AM
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reply to post by Cabin
 



To sum up: in the Netherlands, if a motor vehicle hits a cyclist, the accident is always assumed to have been the driver's fault, not the cyclist's.


Obviously this person has never driven in Seattle. The place is thick with cyclists and most of them ride like maniacs. I'm surprised the death toll isn't higher.

Each injury accident should be judged on it's merits. That includes the cyclists who run over pedestrians which happens as well.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:31 AM
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Cabin
I hope I did not copy-paste too much from the sources.



maybe a bit, but at least you made a seemingly sincere effort to at least provide Your thoughts, Opinions, Cares and considerations into the mix, as well

little over the top, copy-paste wise, but all-in-all a decent thread start....



to the topic:

i see it more as a 50/50 type dealio ....

responsibility on both sides.

cyclists need to Be/remain ever aware and Visually OBVIOUS

drivers need to be equally, if not even mOar AWARE of their surroundings.

Win-Win

in easter bunny land, maybe...

but Still!!!



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:32 AM
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I believe it's ok to do so during a 'critical mass' event, or if they run the light in front of you, or if you get a bicyclist who wants to go 10 mph in a main road during rush hour and won't get off the road.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:32 AM
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reply to post by Cabin
 


The modern roads were primarily designed with cars in mind. There has been some retro fitting to add bike lanes. This is the basic facts. Therefore if your a cyclist recognise there is greater risk for injury even death being on the roads



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:38 AM
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reply to post by Cabin
 


Do you think that an "accident", where there is no obvious neglect or substance abuse, etc., should turn into a criminal offence when pedestrian or cyclist is killed?

I have a friend who killed a child on a bike. It wasn't her fault, the child rode down her own steep driveway, that emptied into the street, right in front of my friend's car. Her own three children were in the car when it happened. She was torn up.

More so, her whole life and her family's lives were torn up, because the child's family sued. It was real hard on her, and her family, going to court and recounting the incident, again and again.

There's no need to criminalize accidents because a pedestrian or cyclist is involved. There's always civil courts, after the fact.




edit on 15-11-2013 by windword because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 12:52 AM
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windword
reply to post by Cabin
 


Do you think that an "accident", where there is no obvious neglect or substance abuse, etc., should turn into a criminal offence when pedestrian or cyclist is killed?

I have a friend who killed a child on a bike. It wasn't her fault, the child rode down her own steep driveway, that emptied into the street, right in front of my friend's car. Her own three children were in the car when it happened. She was torn up.

More so, her whole life and her family's lives were torn up, because the child's family sued. It was real hard on her, and her family, going to court and recounting the incident, again and again.

There's no need to criminalize accidents because a pedestrian or cyclist is involved. There always civil courts, after the fact.


I am sorry for your friend.

Everything depends on situation. If you read the article, you would see that at least based on studies, even when the accident is CLEARLY drivers fault, he usually does not get criminally punished for it. When two cars collide, the one who caused the accident is usually held responsible. When car collides with a bicycle, even when the drivers is at fault, in most cases they are not held responsible.

See something wrong in that?

From personal experience: One thing that seriously disturbed me was that many drivers were not paying attention at all. Even when I was driving as in the sideway as possible, there were many occasions where I simply had to stop, as otherwise I would have been hit by sidemirror. There was plenty of room for the car to go towards middle or even slow down, but the driver did not bother. When round here for example, when bicyclist is on the road, usually cars slow a bit down and go towards middle area of the road. In US there were only a handful of situations like that during my 4 months I stayed there.

Car drivers should pay significantly more attention towards bicyclist, when they see one, considering the damage they can make. If there is nothing that the car owner could do, of course they should not be punished for it, but if it was simply inattention, they should be held responsible.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 01:00 AM
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reply to post by Cabin
 


I'm trying not to consider this a derail. American cities are not "bicycle cities." We are not Amsterdam—not even Seattle is Amsterdam. American cities are built for drivers; have been since the advent of the car. Bicyclists don't, as a general rule, obey traffic laws; they seem to want to be a cross between a vehicle and a pedestrian. They're in the damn way of traffic—which would be a lot less annoying if they didn't adopt that superior bicyclist attitude.

The point is that it's hard enough for drivers to watch out for other drivers—and never mind a bunch of annoying bicyclists. Don't get me wrong: I don't consider that justification for running them down. But they are seriously in the damn way....



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 01:04 AM
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I guess it happens when people let their temper get the better of them, but this ...
... will get you in a lot of hot water I bet.


ETA: Mods, please wipe this out if you think it needs to go. I was innocently drawn in by the drama of the thread title.
edit on 15112013 by Snarl because: ETA



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 01:06 AM
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Cabin
From personal experience: One thing that seriously disturbed me was that many drivers were not paying attention at all. Even when I was driving as in the sideway as possible, there were many occasions where I simply had to stop, as otherwise I would have been hit by sidemirror.


You get the same thing as a motorcyclist. Especially from older folks. I ride assuming that anyone on a phone or over 60 is going to hit me if they get half a chance.

I toggle the brights and honk a lot. And, although I know there are studies that supposedly say loud pipes don't help, my anecdotal evidence is that they do. Even if they're annoying and fatiguing to the rider.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 01:08 AM
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reply to post by Cabin
 


The only problem I have is when i'm turning right on red and there are cyclists blocking me from doing so, look at me. and continue sitting there while cars honk behind me. But i'm not one to road rage.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 01:09 AM
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Snarl
I guess it happens when people let their temper get the better of them, but this ...
... will get you in a lot of hot water I bet.


Don't think I haven't fantasized this many many times.

The bicyclists always say "you should have planned for the traffic going 5 mph all the way to work" - why? Screw you guys. I expect it to go somewhere about the speed limit, if the traffic is light. I DON'T expect you to be in the middle of the road going 5mph when I come around a blind curve. I don't expect to drive to work at 5 mph while you and your buddies block the road for fun. I don't expect you to run the light, or come off the sidewalk into traffic. Or to be on the road at night with no lights in a black hoodie with no reflectors.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 01:22 AM
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windword
reply to post by Cabin
 


Do you think that an "accident", where there is no obvious neglect or substance abuse, etc., should turn into a criminal offence when pedestrian or cyclist is killed?

I have a friend who killed a child on a bike. It wasn't her fault, the child rode down her own steep driveway, that emptied into the street, right in front of my friend's car. Her own three children were in the car when it happened. She was torn up.

More so, her whole life and her family's lives were torn up, because the child's family sued. It was real hard on her, and her family, going to court and recounting the incident, again and again.

There's no need to criminalize accidents because a pedestrian or cyclist is involved. There's always civil courts, after the fact.

edit on 15-11-2013 by windword because: (no reason given)



Absolutely, I think the courts are right to assume that for normal human beings,
killing someone with your vehicle is already going to be excruciating every time
the memory comes to you. I almost hit a lil girl on easter Sunday once. To tell
the truth of it. I quite honestly have no idea how I missed her. I just sat there
in the middle of the sreet after plunging the break pedal with everything I had.
Afraid to look up.

The point is, I know if I would have hit her, perfectly sober and thru no fault of my
own? It would have ruined me. It would have ruined the rest of my life.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 02:01 AM
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Bedlam

Cabin
From personal experience: One thing that seriously disturbed me was that many drivers were not paying attention at all. Even when I was driving as in the sideway as possible, there were many occasions where I simply had to stop, as otherwise I would have been hit by sidemirror.


You get the same thing as a motorcyclist. Especially from older folks. I ride assuming that anyone on a phone or over 60 is going to hit me if they get half a chance.

I toggle the brights and honk a lot. And, although I know there are studies that supposedly say loud pipes don't help, my anecdotal evidence is that they do. Even if they're annoying and fatiguing to the rider.

I'm on two wheels a lot in some of the most congested city driving I've ever seen ... completely defensive. I credit Vance & Hines with saving me twice. They're loud enough and they produce a resonance that gets the attention of otherwise inattentive drivers. The daily lady with the makeup habit is the one I really have to watch out for.

People on two wheels present a very reduced profile. Last year I almost pulled out in front of one of my brother riders on-post. Liked to have scared both of us to death. If that's not a testament to 'accidents happen' there isn't one.

It'd be nice if city planners were good enough at their jobs to adequately accommodate automotive and non-automotive traffic. That's really where the blame lies and people should be asking folks to justify 'how' their tax dollars are being spent.

My bottom line and last comment in this thread: If I can watch myself in traffic on a 700 lb. Harley, bicyclists can mind themselves as well.

ETA: Your name (Bedlam) and that picture go hand-in-glove!!

edit on 15112013 by Snarl because: ETA



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 02:50 AM
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About ten years ago I joined the local bike club and was immediately hit with the "cyclists have the same rights as motorists" mindset. I rode the streets and highways for a while, believing the bike club mantra and following all the state rules and put in over 1,800 miles one summer while training for a one day hundred mile ride (known as a "century").

After many close calls and near death experiences over just three summers I decided to stick to bike trails. Those are fraught with their own dangers but none of them weigh three thousand pounds. Parted ways with the bike club because they felt rails to trails cycling was for fred's.

I found I can pretty much safely navigate anywhere I need to go using a combo of off street trails and back roads with minimal traffic. I think a lot has been done where I live to make room for cyclists on the road with clear lanes and markings but that still won't make people look. Nobody is ever prosecuted here for hitting a cyclist unless under the influence, but even then not much is done. I also do not think the laws on either side have been updated to reflect a much larger population using the road systems. If many more were using bikes like seen in many other countries maybe things would be different.

The way the economy is going, it won't be long until we find out



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 03:00 AM
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New York Times apparently can't use Internet search engines.
The first 5 results on the first page of Bing using query- "driver convicted in cyclist death", list convictions, as do many more on that page alone, and few involved intoxication of any kind.

of Here are 3 random ones from that page:
Guilty dump truck driver
Gu ilty driver
Guilty truck driver

In most places, bicyclists are considered pedestrians and drivers can be charged with vehicular manslaughter in instances where any death occurs. Conviction may not be guaranteed if it is determined there was no willful intent to cause death, much like any instance where actions result in death, but convictions can, and do happen.


edit on 11/15/2013 by abecedarian because: (no reason given)

edit on 11/15/2013 by abecedarian because: Added some text.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 03:16 AM
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shockedonlooker
About ten years ago I joined the local bike club and was immediately hit with the "cyclists have the same rights as motorists" mindset.


I just LOVE the local bikies. They're so CUTE when they get mad.

Bought a basic alloy Trek at the local shop, just to ride occasionally. But it really hacks the guy off because he doesn't see me on it all the friggin' time. For some reason, it's an insult to him if he sees me on my cycle or sees me running down the beach road.

I go in to get a chain or get the thing tweaked, all I hear is how he saw me running instead of on my bike, or why I don't ride it to work.



posted on Nov, 15 2013 @ 04:10 AM
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Stay off the roads! I'm driving here!
edit on 11/15/2013 by ItCameFromOuterSpace because: (no reason given)



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