A young man was riding his bicycle on Thompson Peak Parkway in Scottsdale last month when an SUV hit him in the bike lane, causing him to fly into the air about 30 feet and land on a sidewalk about 20 feet from his bike. The cyclist, a 53-year-old from Scottsdale, was dead an hour later.
The driver of the black Chevrolet Tahoe was cited for unsafe passing of a bicycle and driving in the bicycle lane. For the two tickets, Alexander, 41, paid a fine of $420 in Scottsdale City Court.
For years, members of the cycling community have advocated for stronger penalties if a motorist hits or injures a cyclist or pedestrian on the road. They point to the March 11 crash as another tragic example of what happens when a driver is distracted for a second. In this case, two civil charges were all that the law would allow, a Scottsdale police spokesman said.
In 2008, Sterling Baer and Dara Schulenberg founded the “Not One More Cyclist Foundation”, which works to educate the public on cycle safety, pushes for legislation and helps families of injured cyclists hit on Arizona roads. According to the most recent state data available, 19 bicyclists were killed on Arizona roads in 2010.
Organizers tried to draw the attention of Arizona legislators to pass a bill to protect "vulnerable users" on the road, such as bicyclists and people in wheelchairs -- basically, anyone who can encounter a motor vehicle. "If we institute a distracted-driver law, there will be more awareness in the mind of people driving behind the wheel," Baer said.
There were more than 51,000 bicycle injuries and 618 bicycle deaths nationwide in 2010 alone. This alarming number may be much lower than reality, due to the fact that many bicycle accidents are never recorded by the police.
With these staggering numbers, it would make sense that harsher penalties would be instituted to make bicyclists and pedestrians a little safer. Phoenix is the 14th largest metropolitan area in the United States with 4,192,887 people. Of the total population, approximately 2.4% commute by walking and or riding a bicycle. That is 16,592 of the total population of Phoenix alone.
As a Phoenix Bike Accident Lawyer, shouldn’t there be harsher penalties and more awareness moving to the forefront of the city and even across the state? Should it depend upon the reason for the accident, as opposed to the mere occurrence of the accident?
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?