Rise to Action on Bicyclist Fatalities

The head of the League of American Bicyclists is asking Americans to appeal to the federal government for safer cycling.

Location of the crash where Billy Dominguez was struck and killed on January 7, 2013, in Georgetown, SC.

In a letter from LAB’s director Andy Clarke, he writes, “The US Department of Transportation is required by the new transportation law to establish national safety goals and performance measures to guide the states.

Right now, they are NOT proposing any separate national goals or performance measures to improve the safety of bicyclists and/or pedestrians.”

What that means is that the federal government is not stepping up to the plate to make cycling safer for everyone, even though they do so for motorist traffic.

That would have made a significant difference for Billy Dominguez who was killed in January when a 25-year-old driver struck him with his pick-up truck in Georgetown, SC.

Dominguez was accustomed to cycling all across America, but in South Carolina where he was struck, using handheld phones while driving is not illegal.

Dominguez’s father visited the scene of the crash and described what he saw as the result more of a tornado. “However, because of the severity of the “accident” it would have been almost impossible for anyone to pick up all of the “debris” scattered for almost 60-80 yards.”

He went on: “I picked up pieces of personal clothing and bike parts that were far removed from the point of impact. It was almost as if a tornado had struck my son riding his bike. There were no tire marks anywhere near the point of impact, no evidence of a driver attempting to panic stop or steer the vehicle to avoid the killing of my son.”

Though it is not clear why Dominguez was struck, he certainly had enough experience as a cyclist to be cycling safely nationwide, but presumably the driver did not.

What’s worse where driver safety is concerned, the DOT works hard to set high safety standards for the states to adopt. But where cycling is concerned, it’s “anything goes.”

Motorists are required to inspect their cars: highways are supposed to be safe and accessible to drivers: and cars must meet safety standards. Speed limits are also established. But when it comes to bicycle safety and tacking the tough problem of fatalities, the DOT is mum.

Further Clarke writes: “If this is allowed to happen, there will be no national target to improve the safety of cycling or walking; there will be no measures established to track or monitor pedestrian and bicyclist safety or collect data related to these areas; and there will be no incentive, guidance or leadership given to state and local agencies to tackle this important piece of overall traffic safety policy.”

Clarke asks that you click on the link below and send an email message to the U.S. government that you are concerned for cyclist safety, and you want the federal government to get involved.

Below is the full letter from Dominguez’s father, Carlos Dominguez, to the Georgetown Times:

Not Just an “Accident”

On January 7 my son [William C. Dominguez] was killed on Highway 17 going north about 1 mile outside of Georgetown by a vehicle, also going north. Your paper describes my son as a bicyclist and also as a pedestrian.

He was riding from Florida to New Jersey as he had done on five prior occasions, He had also biked to Alaska, Newfoundland twice, California from Michigan twice, and numerous times between Florida and Michigan.

He was an experienced bicyclist who had traveled over 260,000 miles on various bicycles. He was aware of the dangers of biking but also aware of his rights and responsibilities sharing the road with vehicles. He always rode with high intensity lights front and rear to minimize the hazards of biking.

I visited the scene of the accident. I commend the “cleanup” of the scene by whoever was responsible for such a duty. However, because of the severity of the “accident” it would have been almost impossible for anyone to pick up all of the “debris” scattered for almost 60-80 yards.

I picked up pieces of personal clothing and bike parts that were far removed from the point of impact. It was almost as if a tornado had struck my son riding his bike. There were no tire marks anywhere near the point of impact, no evidence of a driver attempting to panic stop or steer the vehicle to avoid the killing of my son. An actual tornado would also have left nothing but the aftermath damage with property and bodies scattered throughout a wide area.

When a vehicle hits another vehicle, the word “accident” is used; when the struck vehicle is hit from behind there are usually legal consequences. When a vehicle strikes a bicyclist from behind it is called an accident, usually with no consequences other than a prescribed investigation.

The law is quite clear on the rights and responsibilities of riding a bicycle as well as the rights and responsibilities of a vehicle driver. Quite often bicyclists are intimidated and cursed for riding on the road by vehicle drivers ignorant of the law, despite the fact that to be a licensed driver knowledge of the rights of bicyclists is required.

Carlos Dominguez

Send an Email to Secretary LaHood now
http://www.capwiz.com/lab/issues/alert/?alertid=62423866&type=AN

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