When 41-year-old Paul Lin went out bicycling in Newport Beach, Calif., last Wednesday eveing, he was probably like most cyclists. He expected a good, healthy ride with friends and fellow cyclists and then, he would head back to his home in Irvine.
He didn’t expect to wind up dead.
But he did and in what appears to be a disturbing trend, the man who killed him was allowed to simply walk away free, the latest in a series of motorists who kill bicycle riders and yet, face no charges and aren’t even arrested.
Now even the New York Times is noticing, it’s open season bicyclists.
“There is something undeniably screwy about a justice system that makes it de facto legal to kill people, even when it is clearly your fault,” wrote Daniel Duane in a Sunday Times op-ed piece, “as long you’re driving a car and the victim is on a bike and you’re not obviously drunk and don’t flee the scene.”
Duane did an informal study and found numerous cases of bicyclist-car collisions in which the bike rider was killed and the driver not even cited. In the cases where citations were issued, Duane wrote, penalties were lighter than the proverbial slap on the wrist.
Duane cited the case of 49-year-old John Przychodzen, who was killed when a teenage driver hit him from behind and ran him over outside of Seattle. The youth was cited in the crash — and fined a grand total of $42 for an “unsafe lane change.”
Only when alcohol is involved, or when a driver flees the scene, is there likely to be any noteworthy penalty, or any penalty at all, for killing another human being who happens to be riding a bicycle.
On November 2, on a bright Saturday morning near beautiful Santa Cruz, Calif., Joshua Alper, 40, was riding when a 63-year-old driver of a Tesla fell asleep at the wheel. The man woke up, swerved to avoid oncoming traffic and plowed into Alper — a librarian and local musician — who apparently died instantly when his head hit the car’s windshield, despite his protective helmet.
The driver was not arrested.
In San Francisco, after a food delivery truck ran over 24-year-old Amélie Le Moullac on August 14, her friends gathered at the spot of her death to hold a memorial. A San Francisco cop, Sgt. Richard Ernst, pulled over, parked his cruiser in the bike lane and proceeded to berate the group, angrily declaring La Moullac at fault for her own death.
The San Francisco Police Department later apologized for Ernst’s behavior, but only after a surveillance video of the accident surfaced did they reverse their initial call that the accident was the cyclist’s fault. But no charges have yet been brought against the truck driver.
SOURCES: New York Times, KSBW News, SF Streetsblog, KGO TV, Los Angeles Times