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May 7, 2010

Family member of bicycle crash victim responds

My Getting There column last Monday in the print edition of The Sun, concerning the need to respect the rights of bicyclists on the road, received one of the strongest responses since the column began.

 Many were from motorists who vigorously disagreed and who essentially pointted to bicyclists as miscreants who needllessly clog the roadways. But other, more favorable responses came from bicyclists and from the family members of bicyclists who were killed in collisions with motor vehicles.

Here's one email, from Fran Leonard of Elkridge, that I though was worth passing on:

Thank you for your article 'Sharing the road with bicycles is hardly a hardship'.   My children's father/step father was struck and KILLED by a driver of a four wheeled vehicle on May 4th, 2006 and died the next day.  He was KILLED by someone who has never been caught or punished for this CRIME.  SHAME on the people who feel riding a bike is inferior to them driving a car, van, truck or whatever other thing it is they drive.  They have no respect for others much less themselves or else they would be more considerate.  They are bigoted, self righteous people who think only of themselves.  Our grandchildren will never know the love and compassion he had for his family and others.  He never hurt anyone and he surely didn't deserve to die that way.  The person/persons who ran him down had to have known they hit someone or something didn't even stop, if they had he may still be alive today.  It doesn't matter why bicyclist ride on bikes, whether it's to go to work, out of need, pleasure or a Lance Armstrong wantabe.  They deserve to be on the road as much as anyone else.



Posted by Michael Dresser at 5:48 PM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Bicycles


Well said and this should be the main point of the discussion. No matter what form of transport we choose for various reasons to use, none of us want our families to suffer the way this family and so many other families suffer every year.

While I am very sorry for Ms. Leonard's loss and do not know anything about her husband's riding habits, I will say that as a car driver, I am really tired of bike riders who refuse to obey the rules of the roads they are riding on. Just because you are on a bike doesn't give you the legal right to go through red lights, stop signs that are treated as yield signs (barely), not using hand or mechanical turn signals, etc., etc. The rules and laws apply to you as well as to us so FOLLOW THEM.

@Mar - I am a car driver and a biker. I can tell you from experience that a biker who follows all the traffic rules is only at a slightly reduced risk of being run off the road or hit by a driver. The bottom line is that a driver is in control of a highly deadly weapon (arguably more dangerous than a gun) and therefore the burden is on him to ensure that the road is safe. After all, the purpose of our built environment is (or at least should be) to serve PEOPLE, not cars.

@mar hahahah... very good joke! You act as if even a simple majority of Baltimore drivers heed the law! I ride my bike a short distance to work, and do stop at the lights. However, in the few blocks I ride, there are no bike lanes, and drivers barrel past me at 10-15 mph above the legal speed limit. They have no concern for other vehicles, let alone a lone cyclist just trying to survive. Forgive me if I don't feel any sympathy for Baltimore drivers -- some of the least courteous (and least law abiding, probably) in the nation -- when I hear about one killing a cyclist who rolled through a stop sign at 5 mph.

This past Friday night while biking home a driver attempted to run me over.

I had just turned off of Charles eastbound onto E Lafayette, when a green Ford Taurus wagon crossed the yellow median line, and accelerated hard directly into my path.

I swerved into the curb and jumped to the ground to avoid being struck. The driver came to a stop at the red light on Lafayette. I got back on my bicycle, called the police, and approached the vehicle, which spun out through the light and took off Northbound on Charles St.

There were many other people in the area (the Film Fest was letting out), and several bikers offered to help me chase the vehicle, however the police advised me to wait at the scene.

45 minutes later officers had yet to arrive, so I rode my bicycle a block north to the Northern District, where there was a stopped cruiser, and reported the incident. The officer took down some notes, but that's all that came of it.

I view incidents like this as attempted murder, and ride defensively because of this. Next time someone deliberately tries to kill me with an automobile, they are getting a 10 pound bike chain through the window.

A bike is my only means of transportation. Please don't kill me because you think that's stupid or funny.

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About Michael Dresser
Michael Dresser has been an editor, reporter and columnist with The Sun longer than Baltimore's had a subway. He's covered retailing, telecommunications, state politics and wine. Since 2004, he's been The Sun's transportation writer. He lives in Ellicott City with his wife and travel companion, Cindy.

His Getting There column appears on Mondays. Mike's blog will be a forum for all who are interested in highways, transit and other transportation issues affecting Baltimore, Maryland and the region.

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