Thursday, June 28, 2007

Cyclist Hit

Yesterday a cyclist was in the wrong spot when a driver in a pickup decided to blow a stop sign.

Here's what we know (from Spokesman-Review):
  • Cyclist suffered a concussion and back injuries
  • According to a witness, the driver of the truck was "going so fast that he was flying." The truck blew through the stop sign at Madison and Sprague, crashed into a Pontiac and flipped in the air, landing on it's roof. The Pontiac spun 180 degrees.
  • Another witness: the cyclist "was caught in the cross fire." The cyclist hit a parked Blazer then was shoved underneath the Blazer by the pickup.

So: here's where we get to the part that makes me shake with anger. According Cpl. Mike Car, the officer on the scene (as paraphrased by S-R), "the pickup driver seemed only to have only failed to yield and had not been negligent. Without negligence or recklessness, the driver would not be charged with vehicular assault, (Carr) said."

Uh. Ok. Let me get this straight. Some yahoo in a 2 ton truck blows a stop sign. He's obviously going over the speed limit (it's 25 mph there right?) -- we have a witness (by definition a person who was there and saw the incident) telling us that "he was going so fast that he was flying." Not to mention the obvious physical evidence of a flipped truck and a "old Pontiac station wagon" that was spun 180 degrees -- a cyclist laying unconscious on the ground, and we have this cop saying, "It looks like a fairly low-speed impact..." and making an on the spot decision, with no further investigation, that that there's no negligence.

Gee. Why don't folks feel safe riding bikes in Spokane?

You can blow through a stop sign, flip your truck, spin a station wagon 180 degrees, plow over a cyclist, and then walk with a "failure to yield" ticket.

That's justice.

Just in: here's the police version, which conveniently fails to mention the eye-witness accounts. The net: "The driver of the truck was cited for FAILING TO STOP AT A STOP SIGN." (caps original)


Anonymous said...

That's messed up. I'm not really litigious, but the cyclist needs to lawyer-up. How does a truck flip in a low-speed accident? A driver needs to be held toaccount for that kind of driving.

-Jon Snyder

bleckb said...

I agree with Jon. I also think you should rework this as a letter to the Spokesman. This hardly evinces any notions of "same road, same rules, same rights." Maybe it all depends upon gross tonnage?

John Speare said...

An interesting perspecitive from an anonymous emailer:

"The real justice will come when the cyclist sues for damages. Failure to yield is a pretty bulletproof charge in this case, and puts liability for *all* damages squarely onto the pickup driver. Reckless driving is more difficult to prove, and with nothing other than witness testimony to back it up, it leaves the possibility the charge could get tossed out if the pickup driver takes it to court. That would make it nearly impossible for the cyclist to prevail in a civil suit.

So it's possible the officer was going with the foolproof charge in order to make certain that the pickup driver was held liable for damages later on. Sure, he gets a smaller fine from the city, but he's virtually guaranteed to also have to pay for the cyclist's hospital stay and repairs to the Pontiac.

I don't know if that holds water or not, but the system works in funny ways sometimes. It's unlikely, but not implausible."

CountD$ said...

I suggest writing a letter to the SPD and tell them you're listening. Summer driving is upon us, so watch yourself out there.