Obscure Laws, Rules, and Traffic Justice Summit

In the news today, a bell law:

Tampa poised to repeal law that requires bells on bicycles – cited as an excuse to stop and arrest people, Tampa’s bell law is about to get voted off the books.


And the Saratoga School District revises bike policy in – apparently they haven’t heard of Safe Routes to School or possibly just getting to know Congressman Oberstar who’s working on a bike-friendly century. Why wouldn’t you ride a bike to school? Cause of all the cars.

Traffic Justice Summit


Help get justice for: Kevin Black, Jill Spanjer, Susanne Scaringi, Tatsuo Nakata, Autumn Sansom, Paul Douglas Ratliff, Jose Hernando, Gordon Patterson, Ilsa Govan, Stuart Thayer, Paul Jaholkowsky, Veronica Gonzalez, Michael Ann Boucher, Bryce Lewis, Marvin Gene Miller, Michael McClurkan tonight at the Traffic Justice Summt, an effort to make history by changing the law.

Wednesday, Oct. 14, 5:30 - 7:30, Seattle City Hall, Bertha Knight Landes Room.


You’re a few days late on the Tampa news:


That law was eliminated a couple weeks ago.

The AP story ran today.

I don’t really think Kevin Black has anything to do with justice in traffic laws. He died blocks away from where I live and the ghost bike that went up was supplied by me, in addition to the U-lock that held it up, but let’s not point fingers when the blame is two-way. He made a bad decision: you don’t bomb down a hill like 24th in the bike lane and blow through a light right after it turns green. Your view of the intersection is blocked and you’re opening up a huge spread of variables, many of which can kill you. Now of course the delivery van driver also made a bad decision in that they made a U-turn at a questionable place and time, but is not, I think, anymore to blame in Mr. Black’s death than he himself was. As with most traffic accidents, you have two people doing questionable, but not really illegal, things, and they crossed paths in exactly the wrong way. Catastrophic and terrible, but it has nothing to do with getting justice, so let’s keep our focus where it matters. There are many, many cases where drivers are utter idiots and operate their vehicle in a completely irresponsible manner, but Kevin Black’s death was not one of those.

That was very noble of you to supply a ghost bike and lock, really. But like so many people you are still basing you conviction on what you read in a blog or on the initial police report? Have you actually read the full report? Somehow I doubt it. Read that first, then come back and tell us what you think. Thanks.

Hi Vaticdart. The word justice might be a bit polarizing in this situation. And you and I might not come to an agreement, and that’s ok. What I understand the traffic justice summit is trying to do is get equity for bikers and pedestrians killed by a car. There are definitely accidents between cars and bikes on one end of the spectrum where there is little fault on either side, and on the other end, there is the legally-defined reckless driving and biking. Unfortunately right now, a reckless driver is only classified as such if completely drunk, on drugs or something else outlandish. So, anything less than that, in a realm I’ll refer to as “negligent,”  like blowing a red light, not paying attention and swerving into a bike lane/traffic, and the driver only gets a traffic ticket, even if the biker/pedestrian is killed. There need to be repercussions, both for driver and biker, when one or both has been negligent. That is the grey area between accident and reckless. And, when someone’s life is lost, those consequences need to be higher, even if the fault wasn’t 100% the drivers. Maybe something like driver retraining and lose licence for a few months?

Anyway, just wanted to engage you on the issue a little bit and try to show that the justice is really just about equity in consequences, and this summit is about equity for all.

Thanks for your time.

I was unable to attend the Summit tonight, but expect it’s touched a lot of nerves. [Black’‘s ex-wife](http://www.flickr.com/photos/huggerindustries/4012546965/) and mother of his children spoke.

Please if you attended, tell us about it.

I found myself too close to this death and others since we started blogging here and as a publisher of this blog decided it’s best for me to step back and just post what we know, are hearing, or reports of accidents and deaths. I think that Jose’s death was similar to [Kevin Black](http://bikehugger.com/2009/07/seattle-cyclist-jose-hernando.html).

I appreciate the frankness of this discussion. We all at times forget how dangerous what we do is. I was nearly taken out by a cargo bike last week—the cyclist didn’t know, he was just riding along and came into my lane with, in cycling terms, like a semi truck.


I don’t think Seattle Police put their reports online (a quick search now pulls up nothing but references to the police report in question, but not the report itself), but do you happen to have a link to that report? Maybe someone who scanned it? I’m open to changing my opinion.

If not, I will contact the Seattle Police and request a copy. I ride downtown pretty regularly.


I think we’re more or less in agreement. There are plenty of examples out there of cyclists and peds killed by distracted, careless, or impatient motorists who blatantly disregarded their responsibilities as operators of 2 - 3 ton vehicles. From what I learned of Mr. Black’s unfortunate death at the time that it happened, it seems to me that there is no equity or justice that can be had after the fact. I’m basing that on the notion that the driver made every possible reasonable precaution that the u-turn they were executing was safe, and I may be wrong there. Bryce Lewis and the UW professor who died at 1st Ave NE and N 56th St (her names escapes me) are both examples where the driver got a slap on the wrist for negligent behavior where they could, and perhaps should, have been charged with vehicular manslaughter.

Part of what colors Mr. Black’s death for me is that I do ride down 24th regularly, and the intersection at 65th is a nasty one (two cars had a fender bender while we were putting the ghost bike up). It is very easy to be going 30 mph or faster when clearing that intersection, and at that speed I can see how Mr. Black would have closed the distance between the intersection and where the van was in the time it takes to transition from checking mirrors to pulling out.

I may be completely wrong though, as most of my opinion comes from information obtained through the MyBallard Blog, Cascade and Point83’s forums.

Please do go down and request a copy. It is a 400+ page report, not something that is available online.
The information on the blogs is speculative at best and colored from all angles. The driver was charged with negligent driving, failure to yield and driving in a bike lane. The combinations of her actions were the direct cause of Kevin Black’s death. There is no vehicular manslaughter in this state. That is why the families feel no justice. The driver doesn’t get a suspended lisence, community service, jail time or anything beside a ticket with minimal fines for killing someone due to their failure to pay attention while driving. Do you really think a driver who kills someone through negligent acts should be allowed to jump right back behind the wheel? Do you think it is an acceptable excuse to run over a person in a crosswalk and say “opps I wasn’t paying attention” and our laws then excuse them because, well it wasn’t like they were drunk…
Remember, if a driver in broad daylight on a straight road runs you over from behind and they say “I just didn’t see him” You can be dead and they will pay a ticket for failing to yeild. Tell me if you think that is just?

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