"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer

2.5.08

Additional Hate - Biker Down

This is in all seriousness.

Wednesday, a young woman was killed while riding her bicycle in Logan Square, the second fatality in the neighborhood in a week. Amanda Annis was headed west on Armitage when she was struck by a car traveling north on Kedzie.

This is what makes me sick. If you read the link I posted, you will see that Curtis, the driver, was cited for both reckless driving, possibly running a red light, and driving without insurance - yet, amazingly, will as of now not face any criminal charges.

Pardon while I try to stand up again.

How is this possible? Those acts listed are crimes, are they not? So how can you be cited for breaking those laws, yet not be held criminally liable, even when someone is dead as a result of your criminal actions?

I am lost and beside myself.

"There was a helmet recovered at the scene, but police couldn't say whether she was wearing it."

That's how hard she was struck my Mr. Cordell Curtis, who couldn't be bothered with the law.


So, I plan on calling my Alderman, and you should to, if you feel even a fraction of the rage that I am experiencing now.

Billy Ocasio
3236 W Division
Chicago, IL 60651
(773) 276-4269
bocasio@cityofchicago.org

In addition to expressing my dismay at the lack of seriousness applied to this specific situation in which yet another cyclist has been killed by an inattentive driver, I will also be addressing the seemingly appalling driving behavior of motorists in the area.

For example, I travel north (by car) on Humboldt Blvd (Sacramento) with my band mates after rehearsal at Superior St. Studios, and well after the light turns green at North Avenue - I'm talking 2 or 3 full seconds - often a car will come barreling through. It's gotten to the point the drivers waiting at the intersection wait for the inevitable red-light run before proceeding through.

Yet is there ever a police car at that intersection? No. A traffic camera? No.

Cars continue to speed down these roads such as Western, Kedzie, and Grand as though they were highways, and God damn any cyclist, right of way or not, who happens to be in their way. And the response behavior by the city, which effectively blames the victim for just being there as evidenced in this case, only encourages them.

We as a group constantly bitch and complain about traffic, or take the high road and express our hope for a better place less dependent on cars. Yet as individuals, we (royally, I don't own a car) are heavy on the gas pedal, honk at cyclists, pedestrians, and slower commercial vehicles. Even as they, through their actions, reduce demand at the pump, parking, and actually use the roadways for the betterment of our economy - generally making the world a better place to be.

As well, a friend of mine notes, drivers need to be better educated about cyclists' rights to the road, and they also need to be held accountable when they commit crimes such as this, or even more minor ones, like intentionally driving in bike lanes. These laws are never enforced, and it causes one to wonder why the laws exist in the first place.

Please don't let this institutional indifference stand. Call or write Alderman Ocasio. Make sure this murderer gets what is coming to him.

9 comments:

s said...

Thank you for writing this letter, Brian. I wrote a similar one and encourage every cyclist to do the same. It's really important that we let city officials know that we will not stand for this.

Matt said...

In this case, I think "murderer" might be a bit strong to describe this guy, as that suggests he intended to run her over. I think it's more likely that he is just a typical inattentive asshole. Add running a red light and it's more like voluntary or involuntary manslaughter.

Either way - I agree with you.

I get depressed just thinking about the disconnect society has with the lethal potential of automobiles.

Not to long ago, some guy revved his car at Julian and actually ran him over (luckily only his rear wheel was run over). Now that is attempted murder. How is it any different than firing a gun at someone? It's not. This guy got some kind of citation. If it were me, not Julian, that cop would have had to jail the motorist, or I would have been the one going to jail! Somehow, attempted murder isn't so if you're behind the wheel.

Now mix in a dose of the well-documented media bias. Why do they mention that a helmet was found at the scene, but that they don't know if she was wearing it? First, who the fuck carries a helmet without wearing it? That's more trouble than it is worth. Second, what the fuck does it matter if she was wearing a helmet or not? Bicycle helmets are not designed to protect against car collisions! Fuck you newspaper article!

How do we fix the situation? I have no fucking idea. This is a car nation, and sometimes I don't feel welcome.

Illinoisfrank said...

All the education in the world won't change driver's behavior as much as one well-publicized manslaughter charge against a driver that kills a cyclist.

Christine said...

You know I personally know the motorist who hit Miss Annis and yes it is a tradegy, but you don't know this guy and for you to automatically want to make an example out of him by persecuting him forever is pathetic! I believe he should pay for what he's done but for calling him a "murderer" and an "asshole" is more "bias" than the news!
I have also seen MANY cyclists not abide by the laws either by running red rights & riding on the wrong side of the road and all kinds of crap so don't tell me all cyclists are saints. I'm not saying that is what Miss Annis was doing and that it was her fault because it is NOT! But I know Cordell and he is an upstanding young guy with a heart who works with kids that have autism and many other disabilities and good at his job! Didn't hear that in the news or paper did you? This was an accident, point blank!!! They are both great people and Miss Annis did not deserve to lose her life but neither does Cordell!
-Christine-

The Car Whisperer said...

Christine,

Thanks for your comments. Please understand. First off, nobody called him an asshole. Second, my friend Matt pointed out that the heaviest charge Cordell could face is vehicular manslaughter, not murder.

I realize that this was an accident, but a wholly preventable one. Your friend killed somebody solely because he couldn't be bothered to drive a safe speed, and possibly even ran a red light. And who the heck drives without insurance these days? Sorry for being blunt, but only assholes drive without insurance. Sorry, but you used that name first, and could let that one pass. That he works with kids with autism doesn't do anything to alleviate this. You drive with insurance. Period.

Yes, there are jerks on bikes. There are jerks who drive. We all need to behave behave better and the roads will be a far safer place. I am not a biased individual who ignores the other side of the coin. Read my post from February on Matt Manger Lynch. There is no persecution of drivers going on here.

However, as Matt also points out in the comments, the amount of disconnect that drivers display towards the lethal potential of their cars. People do not think about the consequences of their indifference and carelessness. And the law needs to reflect this. Had Curtis been walking down the street, misusing a handgun, waving it around and pointing it in people's faces, then accidentally shooting Annis, he would be charged with a crime.

This is exactly what he did with his car on Wednesday and I am going to work to make sure Cordell gets a charge that fits his crime.

The Car Whisperer said...

As you will see here, this is prosecution is far from persecution.

The Car Whisperer said...

And I guess Matt DID call him an asshole. Put yourself in our shoes and get on a bike and ride to work for one week and see how you feel about a near-death experience from someone who didn't even notice you as they were texting.

John said...

Mandy was wearing her helmet. We got her things back from the morgue and, besides the fact that the straps were cut by the emt's so they could attend to her, it is very evident that she was wearing her helmet at the time of the accident.

We are naturally heartbroken by Mandy's loss. When we first heard what happened we thought maybe it was a drunk or drugged up person who did it. But it wasn't. It was a 23 year old kid probably trying to beat the light, doing what countless others of us try to do all the time. We went to see the intersection where it happened, and, while we were walking up, a car trying to beat the light, driving in the same direction as Cordell Curtis, ran the red light. If there had been a biciclist or pedestrian, he would have hit him.

Those young men are going to have to live the rest of their lives with the vision of Mandy's body hitting their windshield, knowing that they are responsible for the death of a really great, stubborn, aggravating, fun, loving, wonderful person. Jail would serve no purpose, but to destroy the loves of this kid and his family. I am sorrier for them than I can say.

I don't know what can deter the road rage that seems to envelope people when they get into a car. I'd like for these guys to have to ride bikes to get around for a couple of years when they travel in the city. I'd like to see them attend and then teach bicycle safety courses to kids. I'd like to spend some time with them and their family and just talk.

She is going to be greatly missed by everyone who knew her. I'm glad to know that we will see her again someday.

Mandy's Mom

The Car Whisperer said...

Ms. Annis,

Thanks for leaving your comment. It was really heartbreaking to read this and realize it was Mother's Day. I am very sorry for your loss.

I would love to send your observations at the intersection in one of my follow-ups to Alderman Ocasio and State's Attorney Devine.

Just yesterday as I was biking home from a ride, a truck blew the light at Courtland and Ashland, under the highway viaduct, just as I was starting to stand on my pedals. I thought immediately of Amanda.

At least the camera flashed, and I got some consolation knowing that driver would receive a hefty ticket in the mail.

I want to reiterate that I am not trying to avenge anyone, or go after and persecute anyone. I just want to urge our elected and appointed officials to merely enforce the miriad of laws passed to make the streets safe for eveyone, and to begin to help change the culture that bullies and mocks people who choose not to drive.

Please go well. I hope happier times are headed your way.