Citizen bike advocate Susan Otcenas just forwarded along an email response she got from Beaverton mayor Rob Drake.
The email (full text is below) was also sent to several other citizens who had written Drake about their questions and concerns regarding the recent death of Mike Wilberding.
Most notable is the mention that the “failure to yield to a bicycle” ticket has been thrown out and the case has been turned over to the District Attorney for, “possible prosecution for criminally negligent homicide.”
Thank you for your recent e-mails. I appreciate hearing from each of you. The content of your e-mails was very similar, so for the sake of efficiency and time I’m choosing to send one response. I’ve talked with our City Prosecutor, City Attorney and Police Chief as a follow-up to your e-mails. I’ve taken your comments very seriously, but also wish to correct some outdated or outright inaccurate information from some of you.
I’m a member of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA), ride a bike frequently and also run most every day. I value exercise and conditioning, recognize that more people than ever do bike and have actively supported Beaverton’s efforts (the last 14 years as Mayor) in advancing biking in this community. I’m very proud of the fact that the League of American Bicyclists has named Beaverton a ‘Bicycle Friendly Community’ annually from 2003-2007.
All that said, it is tragic what happened to Mike Wilberding. Some of you are incorrect about the disposition of this case. Because of Mike’s death and the nature of the accident, the City actually sent the case to the Washington County District Attorney for review and possible prosecution for criminally negligent homicide. It is now in the hands of the DA and it will be their examination and eventual decision whether to prosecute. I’m not in a position to say whether the driver was or wasn’t blinded by the sun.
Beaverton and surrounding areas have grown considerably in the last decade and also has a huge amount of traffic going through our community coming from other places. We have major State highways and County roads, in addition to City streets to patrol. Our Police Department Traffic Team works hard to enforce all laws, regardless of the mode of transportation. If you have ideas for improving enforcement, please contact our Police Dept. Traffic Team to suggest ways to focus enforcement and improve.
We are also open to driver and bicycle awareness and training. One potential source could be our Bicycle Advisory Committee, which is a standing commission of the City and annually seeks new appointees. Our City Transportation Engineer, Randy Wooley, is an active bicyclist who understands the biking community and the many issues faced when taking to the streets.
I think the need for education goes both ways. Being a biker, I also notice bicyclists who run stop signs and lights regularly. I nearly hit one Saturday morning at 6th & Menlo St. after he drove through a stop sign as full speed, though I had already stopped and entered the intersection. I honked at him and he promptly gave me the middle-finger salute.
One of you commented about dirty roadways. Three jurisdictions clean and maintain streets (State, County & City), so you’d need to be specific about which street needs more frequent cleaning. City boundaries are awkward, so you may be outside one of the cities and not know it. The real root of the problem is that people disregard their trash indiscriminately and don’t care enough about others.
Mike Wilberding’s death was a tragedy and he seemed like a quality person. If the driver was negligent, I believe the DA will prosecute him. Again, thank you for writing me and sharing your concerns.
Rob Drake, Mayor
City of Beaverton
Given this response and the other recent activism around this issue, I feel like the Wilberding tragedy will be forever remembered as a catalyst for positive change in Beaverton.
There’s a lot of work to do, but we’ve got to start somewhere.