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.

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.

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

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.

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

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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