We've had three fatal bike accidents here in Boise this summer. Tragic for the families and friends of the deceased. And very unsettling for us cyclists who got left behind.
All three accidents are still reportedly "under investigation" by the Prosecutor's Office.
While their delibration is probably well-founded and beyond the ability of us common folk to understand, two of the accidents seem like open-and-shut cases. (One, an intersection accident in late afternoon when sunlight could've been a factor, isn't so clear. It has not been reported who had the green light.)
It would be a GOOD thing if the folks in the prosecutor's office heard from citizen/cyclists who expect to be represented. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
(If you're experiencing "writer's block," below is the letter I just sent. Maybe it'll give you some ideas.)
Dear Prosecutor's Office:
I'm going on 23 years as a transportation/recreational cyclist here in Ada County. I've ridden pretty steadily since 1986, averaging around 5500-6000 miles and 350 riding days each year. (I haven't driven a car to work, here in Boise, since 1997.)
As you can probably understand, I'm suddenly more concerned about my safety on our streets!
Does a cyclist who's riding legally, visibly, predictably and defensively have a reasonable expectation of being able to arrive safely at his destination?
Several times a week I take evasive measures to avoid colliding with motorists. In most cases, it's people who are operating their vehicles either illegally or inattentively. The stakes are high for me to avoid accidents, no matter who might be to blame.
Unless you don't use our roadways, you are surely aware that there are a substantial number of motorists out there whose primary attention isn't safe vehicle operation. They're talking on their phones, or worrying about the traffic or that they're late, or yelling at the kids in the back seat, or fiddling with their iPods or radios... or just plain have their head in the clouds. I've nearly been run into by people who I swear are looking directly at me - but they seem to not see me! (Despite my being exactly where I should be, and dressed in bright-colored gear.)
Apparently the three recent bicycle fatalities are still "under investigation."
Based on what I've read, the Gowen Road one appears to clearly be the fault of the motorist. (Rear-end collision.) As does the one on Hill Road. (Crossing into the path of an oncoming vehicle.) Why a protracted investigation into those two? (The accident at Emerald / Milwaukee would be equally clear, if witnesses can ascertain who had the green light.)
Now, PLEASE don't get me wrong. I see irresponsible and illegal cyclists every day, too. Some of them are obviously VERY lucky, because they sure aren't operating safely! And they are rarely if ever prosecuted, unless an accident is involved. (Which leads to considerable motorist frustration and resentment.)
The police are dropping the ball on enforcing bicycle laws. I've complained to them numerous times. Their response is always, "Bike violations are not a priority for the department." (At least they're consistent.)
I am expecting you to do your civic duty and hold irresponsible motor vehicle operators accountable! You have the opportunity to send a loud-and-clear message to motorists. It will be either:
1) If you kill a cyclist while driving, and it's your fault, you WILL be held accountable. -or-
2) Hey - accidents happen. Bikers are "asking for it" if they get out on OUR streets! Streets are for cars!
PLEASE do the right thing!