Holding Drivers Accountable

Well written. Thank you Richard. After suffering a devastating run in with an irresponsible motorist last July, who also was not charged with negligence, it angers me to see the apathy when it comes to enforcing making motorists responsible for their actions. I am happy to say that although my accident caused me significant physical, emotional, property and financial loss, I am fortunate enough to still be here. I have been able to return to work and riding my bike. When I went to the police department in the town where the accident occurred to retrieve the accident report, I was made to feel that it was all my fault, even though there were witnesses to support me. I was traveling at 23 mph after assisting at a women's road riding clinic. A woman in an SUV passed me and without notice, took a right hand turn directly in my line of travel. I had no time to respond other than to try to turn with her. Thank god for cyclocross! The impact still broke my collarbone, tore my shoulder, and split my helmet in half. I was treated and released from the hospital and sent home. A week later was when the severity of the hit to my head declared itself. I was out of work for 6 months. I still have issues with balance and vision. I have returned to riding but with a fear I never had before. I was cautious before but now am super vigilant and assume everyone is either out to run into me or cut me off. It stinks to feel that way. The animosity I have encountered from motorists is unimaginable. I try to educate motorists but in the end, the cyclist is the bad guy no matter how skilled we are. I believe this is because motorists are hardly, if ever, held responsible for negligence. Not only was this woman not charged, she did not carry insurance and it has been a battle going through the insurance company of the owner of the car. At this point, I would have even been grateful for an apology for such impatience and negligence on her part. This woman can go forward without any responsibility whatsoever, while I am working just to get my feet back on the ground physically, emotionally and financially. Thank you for the hard work you do with the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition. Kindest regards, Lori Cooke On Jun 27, 2016, at 14:55, Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition wrote: Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition Lori -- In the wake of the tragic loss of Amanda Phillips in Cambridge last week, MassBike has sent the following letter to Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan. While we continue to work diligently to improve our roadways and pass new laws, we cannot expect to see change unless we enforce existing laws. Copied on our letter to Ms. Ryan, we have reached out to Cambridge Acting Police Commissioner Christopher Burke, Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons, Attorney General Maura Healey, State Rep. David M. Rogers, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, State Sen. Patricia D. Jehlen, State Rep. Timothy J. Toomey, State Rep. Marjorie C. Decker, and State Rep. Jonathan Hecht to ensure that charges are filed against the motorists involved. June 27, 2016 Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan 15 Commonwealth Avenue Woburn, MA 01801 Ms. Ryan, I write to you today on behalf of thousands of bicycle riders in Massachusetts. At MassBike we work tirelessly to make our streetscapes safer and healthier for all users. Without enforcement of the existing laws, however, we can never succeed. For this reason we are asking that your office bring charges of vehicular manslaughter or negligent homicide against both drivers, whose actions led to the tragic and unnecessary death last week of Amanda Phillips in Cambridge, only the most recent death of a cyclist by a reckless motorist in Middlesex County. We seek more information regarding the June 16 collision that killed Eugene Thornberg in Lincoln. In both instances no charges were filed. Opening a car door into a cyclist without first looking is negligent and a violation of law. [See MGL c. 90 sec. 14, near the end of the very long first paragraph] When a driver does so and the victim dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter. Likewise, when a driver runs into a cyclist and hits her from behind, if the cyclist dies, that is negligent homicide or manslaughter. These are the facts that lead to the death of Amanda Phillips. In our work to improve safety we often refer to the “Five E’s”. The first four are education, engineering, encouragement, and evaluation. But the critical fifth “E” is enforcement. For too long there has been little or no enforcement in such circumstances involving bicycles. This failure to enforce such laws leads to institutionally blaming the victim. Without enforcement, motorists will continue to operate with the same negligent and reckless disregard for the safety of bicyclists that has led most recently to the death of Amanda Phillips, a 27-year-old graduate student. We believe to use the term “accident” in this circumstance is both harmful and wrong. With enforcement, these crashes can be prevented. But we need enforcement to do so. We can think of nowhere else than Massachusetts - which serves as the world’s college town - where such enforcement is appropriate and overdue. I await your comments. Thank you for giving the consideration it deserves. Richard Fries, Executive Director We encourage you to attend the Vigil for Amanda Philips this Wednesday at 7pm. Ride safe. support our work Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition http://www.massbike.org/ MassBikeLogo_color_gear.png Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition · 50 Milk Street 16th floor, Boston, MA 02109, United States This email was sent to [email protected] To stop receiving emails, click here. Created with NationBuilder, software for leaders.

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  • Lori Cooke
    Dear Catherine,
    While I cannot speak for the cyclists you are referring to in your comment or why you chose my story to attack, but I can tell you that cyclists need to be held accountable as well.
    I am also not sure you read my story clearly. At no time did I cross lanes or behave with “impunity.”
    I was riding with traffic when a motorist sped up to go past me and then without signal, took a right hand turn right into my line of travel.
    I am an accomplished cyclist and I respect the danger of the road. I understand I am taking my life in my hands every time I get on my bike and ride on the roads and especially moreso nowadays with drivers so distracted. The animosity from entitled drivers and lack of punitive response from law enforcement only makes me even more cautious. I believe that we cyclists need to be held just as accountable for reckless behavior, however, when a driver intentionally causes a crash as happened in my case, THAT and the lack of her being held accountable is inexcusable and only serves to build the animosity between cyclists and drivers.
    I am not sure what can be done to establish a more harmonious balance between motorists and cyclists but I do know that MassBike is working very hard to make it safer for both cyclists and motorists to coexist safely.
  • Catherine Wood
    I drive to work every day from Stoneham. EVERY, and I mean EVERY stinking day I cross over the Mass Ave bridge and EVERY single day cyclists weave into traffic. They hold out their left arm while cutting in front off a car going 35 miles an hour with impunity, often and usually crossing over two lanes of traffic and taking a left on Marlborough Street. I drive every day to work praying that I don’t kill some moronic ass who thinks his 20 pound bike will protect him from my 2000 pound car. They are freaking insane fools and their dangerous behavior and naiveté will ruin my life. They need to FOLLOW THE LAWS OF THE ROAD!!!!! Am I correct in assuming that motorbikes or Mopeds are not allowed on highways or roads where they cannot keep up with the speed limit? Why are bicycles allowed on these same roads?
  • John McKingsley
  • Lori Cooke