Related: The Traffic Justice Project.
The folks leading with their chin on this effort, Rep. Rick Miera, the New Mexico Motorcyclist Rights Organization and the Duke City Wheelmen Foundation emphatically made it clear that increasing driver accountability has become an ecumenical issue, including bicyclists, motorcyclists, pedestrians, and other traditional highway safety folks. That's why we need people to turn out and show the flag. But neither BikeABQ nor BCNM made an emphatic, visible presence yesterday and they are the big guns in terms of members. Only the Duke City Wheelmen had jerseys showing and there was precious little in the way of pedal bike at the Roundhouse amidst a sea of Milwaukee Iron. BikeABQ posted good information on its web site and there were a few yellow hats present. If there were more bicyclists hiding in the woodwork, that's great. But it sure didn't look that way to me or probably to the pols in the Roundhouse.
Mind you, the penalties would not become draconian under HB12 but according to the Duke City Wheelmen, the maximum penalty for injuring or killing someone due to Careless Driving, a misdemeanor, would rise from 300 dollars and ninety days to one thousand dollars and 364 days. I think a year in the County Bed and Breakfast is the maximum you can get for a misdemeanor. Some think that is a bullshit change. I disagree, but that's a legitimate gripe. The laws still suck. This bill is a good start.
Anyway, the motorcyclists have always taken operator competence very seriously and that includes folks like Harley-Davidson USA pushing motorcycle training. Maybe its because on a moto, you have no choice but to ride on the roads, so those roads (and the vehicle operators found there) need to be safer. You need to be safer. The other guy needs to be safer. By contrast, bicyclists often respond to crashes and hazards by demanding separate facilities rather than tougher enforcement of the rules of the road. Most bicyclists flee from bicyclist safety training. But you can't put bike paths everywhere, even bicyclists on bike paths have been killed by bad drivers, and we get enough of our own people hurt by bad driving that we need to be pro-active. Be a better cyclist. More to the point here, see to it that at least a few of those careless operators get to spend a birthday in jail as a way to send a message to the others. Crashes that killed James Quinn, Roy Sekreta, John Anczarski, Heather Reu and Dan Montoya, and most recently, Scott Lane, as well as the crash that severely injured both John and Liz Mazzola illustrate this situation. Not to forget to mention, we need to see the bigger picture, not just the bike path picture. The bodily harm done to the driver of a Ford or to a kid crossing the street by a Careless Driver is the same harm done to one of us.
Well, there is still hope. There is one week left in this legislative session and the bill is chugging along. Please help it out by contacting your House and Senate members. And do it yesterday. I did.
|The Leather crowd packs the Roundhouse|
|Duke City Wheelmen|
|DCWF's Jennifer Buntz addresses the crowd|
|NMMRO Board Chair Annette Torrez|
|HB 12 Sponsor Rick Miera (D, Albuquerque)|
|Past BikeABQ President Craig Degenhardt and yours truly, in one of my alternate realities|
|Bombtown residents have probably seen this one near the White Rock turnoff|
on NM-502. I watched JoAnn and Jerry die that day when their Harley was hit
head-on by a wrong way driver that had Meena and me bailing into the ditch.
Now for you others, and especially the BCNM and BikeABQ, its definitely time to take a pull at the front. And finally, thanks so much to those bicyclists who did show up. Sometimes it seems like time wasted when stuff goes slowly if at all, but it takes a long time and a lot of dedication to make sure that legal sausage gets made.