26 Aug

After learning of the conviction of the Seminole driver of Negligent Homicide, a misdemeanor, for killing a bicyclist on the road, I was outraged.  Further outrageous was the fact that he could have been sentenced to a year in jail (or better yet, a year of community service), but instead he was placed on probation and 40 hours of community service.  I could have accepted a year of community service (perhaps 10 hours a week) – it would have better fit the crime and produced a valuable service to the community.

In addition to rants on Facebook and Twitter, I wrote to my State Senator and Representative the following letter (I also copied Senator Andrew Rice, who announced yesterday he planned to introduce legislation to better protect bicyclists):

Dear Senator Jolley & Representative Moore,

My husband, Mark  wrote to you last night about his concern over Dr. Bradley Walck’s conviction of Negligent Homicide, a Misdemeanor, when Walck struck and killed 50-year-old bicyclist, Artie Lewis. I will not repeat the details of Mark’s letter, suffice it to say, my feelings/thoughts are the same.

To say the bicycling community is outraged is an understatement. I have fellow bicyclist friends of the community as “friends” on Facebook and Twitter, and the anger and outrage expressed is very high.

We are also all waiting to see what charges, if any, are made in the two recent deaths of cyclists, Debra Miller and Clyde Riggs, where the drivers of the vehicles are known. What value will the lives of Miller and Riggs hold? Will the persons that killed them receive a similar slap on the wrist?

I am happy to learn that Senator Rice will be introducing legislation to better protect bicyclists. Senator Jolley and Representative Moore, I hope that you will be supportive of these efforts.

Having reviewed the Colorado Bicycle Safety Act summary, in my opinion, it is not strong enough. In Oklahoma, we currently have a “3-foot law” and bicyclists’ riding two abreast is legal. While the Colorado type law would make harassing a bicyclist a more serious offense, it did not appear to address instituting stiffer penalties for injury or death to a bicyclist by a driver.

I applaud Senator Rice’s statement yesterday and his efforts to pursue legislation on behalf of every bicyclist (and pedestrians, runners, the disabled), young and old. It is my hope that new legislation will go further then what Oklahoma currently has.

Mark and I plan to research what other states have done and provide that information to the three of you as well as local bike organizations. Perhaps reviewing the best of what other states have done will help to insure that new Oklahoma legislation will go further than what is currently law to afford greater protection of bicyclists. When injury or death does occur, it is my hope that the new legislation will provide for an appropriate penalty.

In November 2007, I approached the City of Edmond about adopting the “3 foot” state law as a city ordinance. Working with the Edmond Bicycle Committee, it was adopted as a City Ordinance in January 2008.

If there is any way I can support you in this effort, please let me know.




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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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