Posted by Jonathan Maus ( Publisher/Editor ) on September 12th, 2005 at 11:46 am
Tough punishment has been given to a cyclist in Corvallis who ran a stop sign and killed a 71 year-old woman.
From the Associated Press:
A bicyclist was charged with manslaughter after he ran through a stop sign and struck and killed a 71-year-old woman, police said Monday.
Jean Calder died at Good Samaritan Hospital after she was struck Friday night as she crossed a street at an unmarked crosswalk, Corvallis police Capt. Ron Noble said.
Christopher A. Lightning, 51, was charged with manslaughter and reckless driving.
“A car and a bicycle are both vehicles and if they are operated in a way that could be criminal, then charges are filed equally in both situations,” Noble said. “He was going right through a stop sign.”
Lightning was being housed in Benton County jail with bail set at $57,500. He will be given a court-appointed lawyer at his arraignment in Benton County.
Wow, that’s pretty tough talk from the police. I’ve never heard such swift action coming down on a motor vehicle driver that kills a cyclist. Perhaps the circumstances are different in this case..but of all the severe and fatal bike/car incidents we’ve had in the Portland area this year, how many motor vehicle operators have spent one minute locked up in jail!?
One thing’s for sure, this incident will galvanize the cry from the community calling for cyclists to be more vigilant in obeying the same laws as motorists. I can already see the anti-bike editorials with titles like, “Crazy bikers need to obey to law!” Sure, I want everyone to obey the law, be it pedestrians, cyclists, or motorists. But I sincerely hope the discussion doesn’t devolve into talking about how law-breaking cyclists are making our streets unsafe. The real issue here is the swift and severe punishment given to the cyclist and lack of that kind of response when the tables are turned and a motor vehicle kills a pedestrian or cyclist.
So the question I have is: Is their instituionalized bias/insensitivity between the police and cyclists? If you look at the record you’d have to say yes.
Let’s see…despite rampant law-breaking, maiming and killing, how many motorists have spent time behind bars this summer? How many motorists have been followed for no reason while driving through the city and told how to operate their vehicle by intimidating members of the police bureau (like cyclists are each month during Critical Mass)?
Bottom line is that if you’re on a bike, you’re treated differently, no matter if you’re breaking laws or not. And most of the time you’re not treated as well as someone in a car for no other reason than your chosen mode of transport.
It sort of seems like tranportation racism to me. Transportationism.
I’m also curious how Corvallis’s bike community responds since they are (along with Portland) one of only four cities in the country to be designated as a “Gold Level Bicycle Friendly Community” by the League of American Bicyclists.