I am usually reluctant to post stories here about cycling deaths; there often seems little purpose on dwelling on the negativity of these tragic events.
However, this morning I read of two cases where not only have cyclists been killed, but the families of the deceased have been denied a proper investigation into the incident, and police going out of their way to blame the cyclist for their own death.
If there is any good to come out of these tragedies it has to be a push by families, friends, and cycling advocates everywhere, to bring an end to this “Oh well, it’s only a cyclist” attitude. Especially by law enforcement, who after all are there to serve and protect.
The video above shows the mother of Alice Swanson, a bicycle commuter from the Washington, DC area who was killed in July of 2008 when a garbage truck made a right turn at a light and ran over her.
Police failed to file a proper report at the time of the incident, and then later placed the blame on the dead person to cover up their own inadequacies.
The second incident I read of has just happened this last Saturday in San Diego. Cyclist Ben Acree was riding east on Friars Road when he was hit by a large commercial vehicle that was exiting a freeway off-ramp. San Diego Police Lt. Dan Christman said:
"It appears at this time that the bicyclist traveled in front of the truck violating his right-of-way and was struck by the commercial vehicle."
All Lt. Dan Christman had to say was that a truck struck a cyclist, but instead he is already expressing an opinion that Ben Acree was somehow responsible for his own death.
Unless they have some different rules in San Diego, Friars Road is a through road, and vehicles merging onto that road from an off ramp, have to yield to traffic traveling along Friars Road, not the other way round.
The cyclist was clearly in a bike lane; the picture above shows it marked on the pavement between the truck and the bike lying in the road.
With the San Diego incident just happened, I hope that all cyclists and cycling advocates from that area will push for a swift and proper enquiry into this tragic death.
There are lessons to be learned from the Alice Swanson case; don’t let this one drag on unresolved for almost three years.