What began as a beautiful early morning ride ended with another senseless and preventable death of a Redding cyclist.
The tired euphemisms of ‘accident’ or ‘tragedy’ are woefully inadequate to describe the circumstances that led to the death of a man who’s identity remains undisclosed at this time. Today was neither an accident or a tragedy, but rather a testament to the dangers of inattentive driving and the risks local cyclists brave each day.
Shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, August 11th, the victim was struck as he rode southbound in the crosswalk from North Boulder Drive. Witnesses at the scene state the driver of a Dodge pickup ran the red light striking the cyclist. Traffic from the neighborhoods along Boulder Drive and Lake Boulevard backed up as morning commuters sat in mute witness to another traffic fatality.
When such news stories break many, ask “what did the cyclist do to cause the accident?” An uninformed yet typical question considering the driver-centric society in which we live. Beyond the obvious victim blaming that is common in cycling deaths are the myths that are perpetuated by the media.
Helmet use is criminalized across the country, not by law but by the media. A local television station’s article included this enlightening tidbit. “The bicyclist was not wearing a helmet at the time of the collision.” The last time I checked a cyclist not wearing a helmet has never contributed to an accident nor protected anyone from internal injuries. To be generous let’s assume no attempt was being made to imply the cyclist was at fault. The ugly truth is such statements leave a misleading last impression in the minds of readers and television viewers while completely ignoring the driver’s actions and history.
Driving a motor vehicle is a dangerous business. Riding a bicycle amongst countless strangers on the roadways of Redding is even more perilous. Consider the history of the driver who struck the cyclist. According to public court records, she has numerous criminal traffic offenses: one in 2000, two in 2003 and another in 2008. Rounding out her driving record are ten non-criminal traffic infractions, four which were charged in 2007 alone. One would hope our local media would find these points more informative than the absence of a helmet.
Today we are left with another sad chapter for our city and riding community. Sadly the courts continue to enable drivers with a history of impaired and unsafe driving to maim and kill cyclists and pedestrians alike with little consequence. While alcohol or drugs do not appear to be involved in this incident, we are left with the lingering questions, what could have been done? When will cycling deaths be treated as any other negligent death of a driver?
Until then, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and loved ones of today's victim.