Blaming Victims

Recently, the Wisconsin Bike Fed posted a blog about a criminal defense lawyer in Madison, WI blaming a woman who was killed while riding her bicycle.  The lawyer tried to blame the victim even though his client, the driver, admitted the crash was his fault because he was driving distracted.

On May 31, 2017, a young woman was sentenced in Colorado for killing a man riding a bicycle.  The woman was driving drunk and had marijuana and cocaine in her system.  She swerved into the bike lane, hit and killed the man, and kept driving.  The police found her and videotaped her.  In the video, the woman blamed the man riding the bicycle for the crash.  The judge gave her the max sentence of 12 years in prison and based it in part on the video.

The young woman's father spoke at her sentencing.  He stated he used to ride a bicycle but stopped because he thought it was unsafe.  He then said, "Riding next to a 3,000 pound vehicle is dangerous whether or not alcohol is involved.  If you do ride on the open road, be aware about what can happen. You have a responsibility to your family."

Shouldn't the father have said something like, driving a 3,000 pound motor vehicle is dangerous whether or not alcohol is involved.  If you drive on the open roads be aware about what can happen. You have a responsibility to your family.

An interesting question to consider-If the woman driving the car did not have such a complete horrible person as a father who attempts to blame a dead bicyclist in front of his surviving children (who likely gave her bad advice when raising her), could this whole situation have been avoided? While the woman is clearly 100% at fault for her inexcusable actions, it is certainly possible that growing up with this man as her father had something to do with how the woman behaved in life.

I wonder if the father agrees that riding next to a vehicle is not dangerous when people look where they are going and follow the safety rules.

I wonder if his daughter was killed by a drunk and high semi driver who left her dead body in the road and took off, if he would suggest it is her fault because driving on the road next to such a heavy vehicle is dangerous and she had a responsibility to her family?

Unfortunately, this type of attitude is common amongst people who do not ride bicycles.  The people who don't ride think bicycling is dangerous, and that when a person riding a bicycle gets hurt or killed by a person driving a motor vehicle, it is the fault of the person riding the bicycle because they shouldn't be on the road.

Many people are unaware that Wisconsin has a state law making it illegal to ride bicycles on sidewalks.  When grouchy people in their cars and trucks shout out, "get on the sidewalk" they are actually telling the person riding the bicycle to violate the law.  I am aware of an adult bicyclist who was cited by the police for riding a bicycle on the sidewalk in Wisconsin.

The most surprising part of the Colorado news story is the comments section.  Usually when someone gets killed while riding a bicycle there are comments such as the father made that bicycling is dangerous, some people on bikes run red lights.......In this case, every comment is against the motor vehicle driver.  It appears that the anti drunk driving campaigns going on for years have had an effect on the illogical people who usually blame people riding bicycles even if they are not at fault.  Maybe if bicycle advocates can copy what organizations like mothers against drunk driving have done, and apply it to distracted drivers who injure and kill people riding bicycles, in about 5-10 years we would have less victim blaming.

No comments: