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KATU-TV covers Wilberding tragedy

Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 15th, 2006 at 10:40 am

In case you haven't noticed, KATU (our local ABC-TV affiliate) has been doing some quality reporting on bicycle-related news stories lately.

I can barely stand to watch most network TV news, but KATU reporters Anita Kissee-Wilder and Brian Barker are doing great work. As avid cyclists themselves, they bring a much-needed perspective and sensibility to the newsroom.

An example of this came last night in Anita's story on the recent death of cyclist Mike Wilberding. The story is currently on the front page of their website and they've got the full text and video up as well. It's worth watching.

The story—which features interviews with advocate Susan Otcenas and Mike's son Dayn—is balanced yet provocative and gets some important points across to an audience that desperately needs to hear them.

Far from a quick soundbite, the story was relatively long and in-depth; a sign that bicycle-related stories are gaining respect in the newsroom. My hunch is that this is due in no small part to the internal advocacy of Kissee-Wilder and Barker.

I see this as yet another sign that cycling continues to transcend mere hobby or recreational status in the eyes of the Portland mainstream media and non-cycling (yet) public.

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Comments
  • no one in particular August 15, 2006 at 11:13 am

    Dayn Wilberding shows some impressive restraint.

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  • Curt Dewees August 15, 2006 at 12:04 pm

    Please make your voice heard in the online poll happening right now, by KATU, TV Channel 2:

    Question: Should fatal accidents involving vehicles and bicyclists automatically warrant a wrongful death investigation?

    Currently, the results are tied: 48% saying "Yes", 48% saying "No. Sometimes tragic accidents just happen." (4% not sure).

    Here's the link to the poll:

    http://www.katu.com/news/your_turn_060815.asp

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  • Susan Otcenas August 15, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    KATU called last night and asked if I could meet them to talk about the accident and traffic safety in general. Obviously, the interview was much longer than just the small clip they showed. Nonetheless, I was very impressed with the questions Anita was asking. We talked about "collisions" vs "accidents". We spoke about how cyclists become safer the more of us there are on the road, since drivers are more likely to think to look for us. We talked about the needs for both cyclists and motorists to become more aware of their respective rights and responsibilities on the roads. Even if all these topics don't make it to the air, the fact that there are reporters even asking these types of questions bodes well for our representation in the mainstream media.

    Jonathan's right - she and Brian Barker are both cyclists. Anita told me that she and Brian "pitched" the Mike Wilberding story right after it happened, but didn't get a go on it until yesterday apparently, perhaps because of the response of the Mayor and the referral to the DAs office. I don't really know, but I'm glad to see some attention being paid.

    I stayed up to watch, and I had the same reaction as "no one in particular". Dayn Wilberding is showing an amazing ability to turn the other cheek. I realize his family is in mourning and that he probably does not want to be confrontational. Nonetheless, I have to disagree with him. The driver of the vehicle, if he acted negligetnly, should be held responsible for his actions, for the sake of all of us who ride these roads every day.

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  • sdc August 15, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    I have never met Dyan but he reminds me a lot of his father. I knew Mike for the last six years and he was absolutely one of the nicest people that I have ever met. Aaron will pay for this forever in living with the fact that he killed somebody. But he will never know the person that Mike was. He really was not just some average guy. Of all the people for this to happen to. It makes me sick.

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  • sc August 15, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    This is such a sad "accident" that any one of us could have been responsible for. We have all had the sun in our eyes at some time while driving. This driver did not run a stop sign, he was not drinking or on drugs. Even Mike's family is more forgiving than this forum, which just goes to show what a special man he was. Time would be better spent improving bike safety, or going after drunk drivers.

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  • Jonathan Maus August 15, 2006 at 5:41 pm

    sc,

    the point is that the driver piloted his vehicle through an intersection even though he couldn't see oncoming traffic.

    Maybe would can all agree and call it accidental negligence.

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  • organic brian August 16, 2006 at 12:20 am

    Hi "sc"... there was a time when I drove a car for transportation, and if "the sun was in my eyes" or for some other reason I couldn't see what was ahead, I stopped the car until the situation was rectified (shade my eyes, whatever). So, the collision was not something that "any of us could have been responsible for" at all.

    Also, "accident" implies no fault. It's not as though a storm blew the car into the cyclist... this collision was totally, 100 percent avoidable. In this case it was a "collision."

    It sounds like you're on the side of apathy. "Accidents happen" and "that's life" so no change needed, right?

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  • Brad August 16, 2006 at 7:39 am

    Where do you draw the line sc? Fumbling a cell phone, spilling your Starbuck's, putting the binky back in baby's mouth, finding the CD you want to listen to, etc. can cause a driver to lose focus and kill a cyclist or pedestrian. Should those be written off as "accidents" also?

    No one here is asking for summary executions in the street. We are advocating that any car / bike accident be properly investigated with the potential of negligent manslaughter charges being pursued if warranted. A simple $242 moving violation citation is not enough when a death is involved.

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  • dkoop August 16, 2006 at 7:56 pm

    As a new cycling friend of Mike (met him on Reach the Beach this year), I was at the hospital with the family while Mike was in ICU. Mike taught his family well. While we were there to support his wife, she supported us more. Mike taught his family to be strong and compassionate.

    I fully advocate better education, more bike friendly routes, keeping bike lanes clear, etc. However, Mike would not have wanted retribution, he would have wanted compassion. The driver will have this accident/collison (your choice) on his conscience for the rest of his life, that is a huge blow to anyone. Let the law handle its own course.

    The driver called the family before the hospital did and spent time and prayer with the family in the following days. Others would have run for cover. Let's honor Mike by being thoughtful, compassionate, forgiving and make something good out of a tradgedy by improving bicycle safety and education. Don't judge the family as being passive, they are showing remarkable courage, compassion and strength.

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  • Cate August 16, 2006 at 9:10 pm

    dkoop - very, very well said. Thank you.

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  • organic brian August 16, 2006 at 11:48 pm

    I agree somewhat with dkoop. Please don't misunderstand the message, though. For many of us, the new advocacy effort is more about elevating driving a car to the same level of seriousness as, say, handling a firearm, in the eyes of the drivers. Whatever measures accomplish this, that's what many of us will be striving for and it doesn't have to be more severe punishment.

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