What Will It Take?

15 Feb

The trail of Elias Webb has ended.  Webb was charged with hit-and-run in connection with an accident that killed  24 year-old Lanie Kruszewski, who was cycling home from work along River Road.  The Times-Dispatch reports that Webb was found guilty and that the jury has recommended a prison term of three years (the actual sentencing is in May).  The maximum he could have received was ten years and the minimum was no jail time.

The thought that keeps nagging me is that, as far as I know, the sentence has no impact on Webb’s ability to drive a car after he serves his time.  This is especially disturbing because Webb was reported to have had a number of serious driving violations prior to this one.  Let’s just say it’s not clear he’s a very careful driver.

Perhaps the image of Webb riding a bicycle to work represents a kind of higher justice in my mind, but aside from that, it highlights just how difficult it is in this country to lose your right to drive, which in turn reflects the assumption that driving is the way to travel.  Please tell me that leaving the scene of an accident in which the driver killed someone means that the driver will not be allowed to drive for a long time!

Mixed News from Capitol Square

It is fitting — but ultimately disappointing — that Webb’s trial has coincided with another frustrating legislative session.  This week’s Style includes a report on this year’s lobbying efforts and bills related to cycling that have made it a bit further than they usually do, perhaps in part due to Lanie’s death.  I’m sad to say that Style went to press before a couple of the bills — including the one on dooring and the 3-foot passing part of another one — died once again in the House Transportation Committee, thanks in part to that reliable enemy of cyclists, Rep. John Cox of Hanover.*  See RVA News’ coverage of the dooring bill and the Virginia Bicycling Federation site for more details on what happened and where things stand.

A law against following slower vehicles too close (with which the 3-foot passing law was formerly included) did make it through committee, though, so it still makes sense to contact your delegate to encourage them to vote for it.  See the VBF site for links to find your delegate.

There’s no doubt that legislation to benefit and/or protect cyclists is getting a better reception than in the past, but geez — if a high-profile death of a young woman (not to mention the long-standing efforts of local advocates) is not enough to overcome apathy or hostility toward bicyclists, what will???

For the sake of not making this post a too lengthy (if it wasn’t already), I’ll leave some of the more unabashedly positive, fun stuff for the next one…  Stay tuned!

*If you are a constituent of Cox please let him know that you’re not happy with his repeated opposition to reasonable legislation to protect cyclists.  Cox seems to follow an unfortunately not-uncommon but flawed logic regarding cyclists: if they don’t follow all laws to the letter (and perhaps irritate him in the process), they don’t deserve protection.  It’s like saying pedestrians don’t deserve laws protecting them in crosswalks because some of them jaywalk.

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One Response to “What Will It Take?”

  1. James Luggen February 18, 2013 at 7:33 PM #

    This is the kind of verdict that makes me feel like our push for bicycle safety is taking a backseat to the big budget interests on capitol hill. People are dying and the situation remains the same. I think they pass by the 3 foot law as a car might; barreling down the road to put a dollar in someone’s pocket rather than paying attention to those that are grinding gears right next to them.

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