In Eugene, You Can Kill a Pedestrian While Driving Drunk and be Charged With a Misdemeanor

Sometimes you don’t even have to pay a $1,000 fine in order to kill a pedestrian with your car in Eugene.  Sometimes you will just be charged with a DUII misdemeanor, but not manslaughter or murder.  On July 24th Dallin Steward (19) was driving drunk and killed Nicholas Tendick (32) as he was crossing the Ferry Street Bridge near Club Rd.  It was dark (10 pm) and judging by the lack of criminal charges, it seems the police are blaming Tendick.

If this was the end of it I wouldn’t be bitching about it.  Sometimes people do jump in front of your car and it’s not 100% your fault for hitting them (although unless your job requires it, it is your fault that you chose to drive that day rather than take the bus or ride a bike. Hell, I had a guy on bike cut me off when I was riding 20mph near Willamette and 32nd and we collided, but we both were fine because I’d chosen to ride a bike and not drive that day. If I’d been in a car the biker would have been dead.  I saved his life with my choice to bike and not drive.)

However, Steward was drunk.  If he had been sober he could possibly have seen or avoided Tendick and saved his life.  However, he wasn’t.  He was drunk. Drunk drunk drunk drunk.  He killed a man while driving drunk, and all he is getting is a slap on the wrist.  Whatever happened to automatically being at fault when driving drunk?  If Steward had chosen to drive sober, or better yet ridden a bike, taken a taxi, called friend, or taken a bus home, Tendick could still be alive.

This is yet another example of the disgusting “it could happen to me” car culture BS that we have in this country.  When you choose to drive a car you put everyone around you at risk of death or grave injury.  This is a fact. If you, like me, feel that this is unacceptable, DRIVE LESS and when you have to drive, DRIVE BETTERCars are not healthy for children and other living things.

In Eugene, a human life is worth $1,000

Michael Devon Alston was driving carelessly on November 29th, 2012 when he made a right turn in broad daylight off 18th street onto Chambers and killed pedestrian Tamara Kay Glenn.  Alston’s only penalty after pleading guilty to careless driving that lead to the death of Tamara is paying a $1,000 fine.  This is the same proposed fine that you get for talking on a cell phone while driving, stripping in an airport, having a loud party on campus, or littering.

That’s right, driving carelessly and killing someone with your car is the same at littering in Eugene.  This is car culture at it worst.  How can we pretend to be a bike and pedestrian friendly town and let this slide?

This sentence is a result of the typical “oh, it could happen to me!” attitude of other car drivers (like the judge).  Well you’re right, IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU, which is why when you drive a car you should drive with FEAR in your heart that you may kill someone. Treat cars like loaded guns.  They are not safe in any way.  Every time you drive you put the lives of everyone around you in danger, but rarely your own.  We need to change that. Screw up driving, and YOU GO TO JAIL, not pay a $1,000 fine.  Then everyone will drive better, or maybe even choose to drive less in the first place.

I’m tired of people outside of cars (bikers, pedestrians) being the only ones with skin in the game.  We risk our lives existing around cars, but all car drivers risk is a few dollars?  They are the drone pilots of the transportation world: free to kill, but with no risk themselves.  If we don’t increase the risk to them, we aren’t going to see better drivers and people won’t stop dying.

Maybe we should get rid of airbags and put a 2-foot long spike in the center of every steering wheel.  I bet we see some careful driving then! (Idea blatantly stolen from an Andy Singer cartoon that I can’t find online)

Eugene man pleads guilty to careless driving charge in connection with fatal crash | Local News | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon.

Register-Guard focuses on helmets, again, when car driver hits a 14-year-old on a bike

A 14-year-old was hit by a turning car while riding on Hunsaker Road on Tuesday, and Register-Guard story implicitly blamed the victim:

The boy was not wearing a helmet when his bicycle was struck about 5:50 p.m. as he was pedaling along Hunsaker Drive near River Road in west Eugene, police Sgt. Kevin McCormick said at the scene.

The boy appeared to suffer only scrapes and bruises, but was taken by ambulance to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, McCormick said.

The boy apparently was riding his bike west on Hunsaker Lane when he was struck by a silver Volks­wagen Passat that was turning onto River Road from Hun­saker Lane.

It was not immediately known whether the woman driving the Passat would be cited in connection with the accident, McCormick said.

Shame on author Josephine Woolington for continuing in the media’s tradition of victim blaming whenever a person in a car fails to control their vehicle and runs someone over.  Helmets can’t stop a bad driver from running you over! It is irrelevant that the boy was not wearing a helmet!

Notably, this intersection is one of the top ten most dangerous in Eugene.

Source:

 

Separate accidents hurt bicyclist, pedestrian | Local News | The Register-Guard | Eugene, Oregon.

Another Conflict on E. 19th Ave

WBE reader “AW” wrote to me today about a conflict she had with a car driver on 19th Ave between Oak St. and Pearl St.  This conflict was very similar to a conflict I had with a car driver in that very same block last July, although we were going different directions.  This is an area where the road is so narrow that a bike must take the lane or ride in the “door zone,” and there is no room for a bike and car to exist side-by-side on the road.  Both AW and I were riding in the middle of the lane when a car flew past us, only to stop at the red light less then a block away.  In my case, the car passed so closely that I couldn’t even extend my arm out to my side (I know this because I made the unfortunate decision to punch the car in self-defense);  in AW’s case, the car fully crossed the double yellow line. This is where our stories deviate.

The scene of both conflicts. The red area is filled with parked cars every morning, making the road very narrow. (click to embiggen)

While this is a small area, it is a main route between the Amazon Bike Path and the Fern Ridge Bike Path via 18th ave, as well as being the southern terminus of the Willamette bike lanes. This area can also be seen as a case-study of how car drivers who are unaware of the law can create conflict.  Take the jump to read AW’s account, the police response, and a possible fix for the area.

Continue reading “Another Conflict on E. 19th Ave”

Woman Attacked on River Path Near Maurie Jacobs Park

This story showed up tonight at the Register-Guard, KEZI, and KMTR.  I’m going to post the KMTR version because it’s the most thorough.   Please be extra careful out there, especially since it’s getting dark earlier and earlier.


The general area of the attack (click for Google Map)

Via KMTR: Woman attacked on bike path near Maurie Jacobs Park

Eugene Police are putting out information and a suspect description in an assault/attempted rape incident that occurred October 13 around 11:44 p.m. with the hope that someone will have information that can help identify the suspect.

On October 13, a 47-year-old woman was riding her bike home on Maurie Jacobs Park off of Fir and Lombard when an unknown man intercepted her and asked her for a cigarette or a light. While she was looking for one, he pulled her down by the river, and assaulted and attempted to rape her. She was able to successfully fight him off and called 9-1-1.

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Bike on Bike ‘Path Rage’ Puts Woman in the Hospital, Suspect Still at Large

Where exactly on the South Bank Path the incident occured we do not know.

This isn’t the article that I had planned to write tonight, but it looks like the Delta Bridge opening party is going to have to wait another few days.  It’s interesting that this post so quickly follows the one below it.

A KEZI Crimestoppers article/video was posted today about an event that happened “a few weeks ago.”  I’m not sure why it took so long for the article to show up, considering that the perpetrator is still “at large.”  The short version is that a man got mad when Ava Grenzsund passed him on the South Bank Path and  body-checked her off her bike.  She broke her left arm and severely bruised her right arm.  The suspect was stopped by a crowd and returned briefly for a few minutes, but gave a false name and rode away.  Police are still looking for him.

Take the jump for excerpts from the KEZI story and a link to their unfortunately sound-tracked video.

Continue reading “Bike on Bike ‘Path Rage’ Puts Woman in the Hospital, Suspect Still at Large”

MidWeek News Wrapup – Kendra’s Tour, Springfield Bike Trails, Kidical Mass, Drunk Driving, and more

A Deer Tick: Enemy of Cyclists!

WeBikeEugene’s slow-down became a complete stop a little over a week ago when Kendra’s three week bike tour around the Great Lakes ended in near tragedy.  Two weeks into the trip, her riding partner acquired an infection that made it impossible for them to continue.  Disappointed, they cut the ride a week and a half short and headed back to Des Moines, IA.  On the way back Kendra got an incredible headache that lasted for days, and was hospitalized in Des Moines July 11th (Sunday) with some version of tick-borne Meningitis.  They aren’t sure if it is Lyme’s Disease or something viral, but either way it kicked her butt.   I arrived in Iowa a few days later, a week earlier than planned, and stayed with Kendra until she was discharged last Saturday.  She is slowly recovering, and should be okay in a few weeks.

WBE experienced a complete stop while this played out, but we are ready to return in a “slowed-down” fashion, and will return to full speed in late August or Early September.

The rest of our wrapup covers proposed Sprinfield bikeways, Kidical Mass, EugeneBicyclist.com, a car-free family, and drunk driving sentencing.

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What would you have done? A driver threatens my life on E 19th Ave

The scene of the crime, click to embiggen

Like most cyclists, I’ve had my fair share of close calls with car drivers.  Most of the close calls are accidental, comprising of left and right hooks, car doors, and similar things.  I usually just give a hearty “HEY HEY HEY!” and let those incidents go, thanking my lucky stars that my defensive biking skills saved my life, yet again.

Occasionally a driver tries to hit me or scare me.  I’ve been ran into a rock wall by a dump truck in eastern Oregon, ran into a guardrail and almost flipped off a bridge by a truck in Massachusetts, ran into a ditch in Iowa, and honked at and buzzed more times than I can count.  Those drivers were all trying to scare and possibly kill me, and no doubt felt perfectly justified in dehumanizing me.  However, it wasn’t until today that I had a chance to have a discussion with one of these guys right after he threatened me with his weapon of choice, a minivan.

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Editorial: 30 days in prison is not enough for killing a cyclist by driving recklessly

Is this how legislators view cyclists?

Editor’s Note:  A major goal of WBE  is to report the news in a “positive” manner. This editorial breaks from that tradition, but no one can be positive all the time.

Many car drivers, isolated in their protective steel boxes, fail to realize how dangerous their high-speed heavy vehicles are.  They drive in a way that takes liberties with the lives of those around them in an effort to save time, and prioritize their promptness over the safety of others.  We live in a culture in which driving a car is not considered dangerous – a culture that is reinforced by weak laws and the devaluing of the lives of people who choose not to drive.

Many of us have experienced it:  you are riding your are bike out on a nice country road and suddenly you see two cars heading toward you, side by side.  A driver has decided to pass another car and doesn’t care that you are in the way, or thinks that they can make it without hitting you. The driver has decided that saving a few minutes is more important than the possibility of ending your life.

This is what happened on February 10th when 38-year-old driver Tina Marie Baker tried to pass a car on Highway 99 south of Creswell, sideswiped an oncoming vehicle, and killed cyclist Johnny Cayton in a head-on collision. She was going 15 mph over the speed limit (70mph) and later admitted to being in a hurry and driving recklessly. Her punishment for prioritizing 30 seconds of her life over Cayton’s safety was 30 days in jail, probation, and losing her license for 8 years.  I’ve known people who’ve received 30 days in jail for shoplifting.  Is Baker’s punishment enough?

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