Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cyclist Down

Those are rarely words we cyclists like to read, but they flash across my email too often.

Dennis Dumm is dead. I did not know him. He looks familiar from the press photo that is circulating. I've probably passed him at some time or another. Such is the way of the Mpls bike community.

I know in my last post I said I did not give a shit about bike advocacy. Hopefully, if you actually read my words, you took away that I meant popular bike advocacy. What could pop bike advocacy have done for Dennis? What does it do for me or thousands like us? Another bike trail? Fuck off. A repainting of bike lanes? Too late. You people are missing the point.

Dennis Dumm died doing what he's probably been doing for weeks/months/years -- he was simply riding in the bike lane on Park Ave on his way to work -- where the city told him, through painted lines and signs, he belonged. But there he died. Bike lanes fail, and failed horribly in this instance. That is where pop bike advocacy can kiss my ass, and Dennis's dead ass.

I followed this story throughout the day and there was nothing new to report. Such is the case with mainstream news -- they focus on helmet usage, did a cyclist run a signal ... . Fuck you guys, too. If there are three things I've noticed from years of following bike/car incident reports they are thus: 1) Always report whether the cyclist (although maybe dead) was wearing a helmet; 2) Report whether or not the cyclist was at fault for breaking a traffic violation; and 3) Twist the language so that the cyclist was at fault. You penny-a-dozen journalists seeking the next Connie Chung award may not know you're doing it, but as late as this very night I watched the KSTP footage and heard "the cyclist collided with the semi" ... What?? The cyclist collided, meaning intentionally or not, "collided" with a vehicle some exponential amount heavier than him?? Please.

This brings me to my final point. The driver of the semi will NOT be issued a citation. That patent news phrase chaps my ass drier every time I read it. Excuse me, not issued even a ticket?? This dumb ass fucker cut into a bike lane to make a turn and KILLED someone but he will not be given even a slap on the wrist?

I have been issued one traffic violation, for speeding -- driving over the limit on a desolate section of Hwy 61 just south of Grand Marais. It cost me $135 and I thought it was unfair but I had little recourse to challenge it. I paid it with a smile the next day at the county courthouse and made the clerk's day because I was nice and she'd never had that experience before.

I have plenty of friends in the city who have been issued citations aboard their bikes for rolling through stop signs and lights. But you are telling me, in our American justice system reknowned for fair treatment and due punishment, that a person can KILL someone with their car and not get so much as a ticket?

Where is the justice in that?

A biker rolling a signal does nil damage, but a barely awake semi driver can kill. The former can get the Nth degree; the latter, nothing. Wow.

Dennis Dumm is dead. It was not an "accident," it was the result of an inattentive driver who killed him. End of story. I, personally, am tired of stories ending like this. I am sending a letter to our mayor, to state officials, to national legislators and to the bike advocacy guy that my corporation supposedly pays a lot of money to in order to make things better for cyclists. I suggest you get off your ass and do likewise.

Even if you're not an avid cyclist think about the disparities. A DRUNK driver strikes and kills someone -- s/he is charged to the maximum penalty. A driver strikes and kills a child and there's an outrage. However, it's all too easy to dismiss what happened this morning as an "accident."

Drivers are implicitly trained that all you have to do is say the stock phrases (that have been reported over and over in the media): "I didn't see her/him"; "I wasn't even aware something had happened." But, hello, driver, if you'd have been talking to your significant other on the cell phone you'd have heard it; if it had been your favorite team on the sports radio cast you'd have been listening. Accident, no. Negligence, certainly. Murder, yes. You have control, or should maintain control, over everything you do in your car. That is the implication of DWI, but the principle is thrown out the window as long as someone is "sober."

I maintain that double standard must be breached and eradicated.

Branching widely, where are you pro-lifers when things like this happen to adults? Could it be that you're only pro-life when it involves babies, and not adults or death-row inmates or any of the multitude others who "deserve" to die for misjudgments or poor choices? Hypocrites. Prove my judgment otherwise, please.

People are dying. The environment is wilting. Much is askew with the law but nothing is being done about it. EVERYONE deserves this chance to speak up.


Snakebite said...

Good post. I'm with you - the fuckers. I also agree that unless more and more of us speak up, nothing will change.

Tim White said...

Dennis was a photographer, and a cyclist. More here:

bikingbrady said...

Great post and so true. I live in a much more rural area, but it always burns me when I see things like this. Whether you are careless with a gun, a car, or whatever...your dumb ass killed somebody. I can never understand why it is "okay" when you are behind the wheel of a cage.
As Snakebite always says when yelled at for rolling through a stop sign (without impeding any traffic and safely): "I'll obey all traffic laws when you do". The hypocritical bastards that yell at us are the same asses that drive 35-40 down my 20 mph section of fairly narrow residential street..... maybe I need my own rant soon without hijacking your post. Thanks for the post. It sucks somebody died yet again. It sucks worse that literally nothing was done. We have to be heard.

Rachel said...

Great post Woody. Jeff Roth got killed in Maryville a few years back when a fucking wacked out drugged up fucker pretty much purposely veared over and hit Jeff Roth. Jeff was even off the road standing and waiting on a light. I'm not sure of the outcome for the still may be in litigation, but his wife started the Jeff Roth foundation...and with that helped get the 3 Foot bill passed in TN. Does this help? Not really...the cops could care less about our 3 foot law...we even have it on our new team jerseys this year. It is just there are SOOOOO many people in Tn and every other state here that could care less, choose to ignore us, or just are idiots to the fact that cyclists are traffic too. I argued with someone a few weeks ago why I should have the right to the road and why I don't choose to ride on a SIDE WALK...

Anyway, I am involved and will get more involved in this matter.

Thanks John for always a great post.