Deadly right hook again

It happened again. Another truck driver turned right at an intersection and killed a bicyclist in the bike lane. Once again, Portland Police Lt. Mark Kruger is making excuses for drivers and blaming victims. The Oregonian reports Kruger said “that solving the problem requires more than just faulting drivers.” How about we start with faulting drivers who have broken the law and killed someone due to their negligence?

Here’s what Kruger said to The Oregonian after Tracey Sparling was killed by the right hook:

“Bicyclists expect and are trained by activists groups that when you’ve got the bike lane, you can do what you want to do,” he said. “We have a lot of these collisions that don’t end in fatalities, but they are stubborn to the point that they won’t give up ground for the sake of safety.”

Does this sound like a man who is enforcing the law that protects cyclists? He is not and he wants to further erode cyclists’ rights by passing a law giving motor vehicles the right to drive in the bike lane prior to making a right turn. If passed cyclists would not only have to deal with the right hook from stopped traffic, cyclists would also have to deal with a moving right hook.

I see bike lane violations nearly every single day that I ride my bike. I would be extremely interested to see statistics on the number of citations the Portland Police Department has issued because I suspect that it is extremely low. Timothy S. Wiles, the driver in the Tracey Sparling case, has yet to be charged or even cited the $242 fine for failing to yield to a cyclist. According to all reports this is because Sparling was in the Wiles’ “blind spot.”

A couple of years ago we took some out-of-town friends to Hooters. We ordered the world famous hot wings. When they arrived we were shocked to find that they had what looked like many small hairs sticking out of them. When we told the waitress, she got the manager who told us, “Oh, don’t worry. Those are just feathers.” As if hairs were bad but feathers were good. I suppose some people would accept such an excuse but we haven’t been back to Hooters since.

Kruger sounds like that Hooters manager here: “Yes, an innocent biker was killed as the result of a truck driver not obeying the law, but it’s not what you think. It wasn’t the driver’s fault because he couldn’t see Sparling.” Well, Lt. Kruger, if that’s the case then the driver should be cited for negligence for driving a vehicle which impairs his ability to obey the law. The burden is not on the cyclist here – the law makes that completely clear. The burden is on the driver. If he fails to meet that burden, for whatever reason, he is in violation of the law and should be prosecuted.

As long as Lt. Kruger doesn’t see this as a crime, truck drivers will continue to run cyclists over with no fear of punishment. No awareness campaign can be mounted for truck drivers and no remedies can be put in place with respect to poorly equipped trucks.