Here is the bike Elyse Stern was riding on Friday night when she was hit by Juan Ricardo Hernandez-Campoceco, who was driving drunk.
I would like MPD Sgt. William Palmer to explain to us all how a helmet and lights would have prevented Hernandez-Campoceco from doing this to Stern’s bike with his car, killing her instantly, and continuing on his way without even slowing down.
I would like Palmer to explain to me why, when “one of the key lessons here is prevention,” he immediately mentions a helmet and lights, without saying anything about harsher drunk driving laws. Sure, let’s talk about bike safety, but let’s also talk about how physics, the legal system, and our culture ensures that, no matter who was at fault, motorized transportation will win out in terms of bodily harm, police reports, and a media that still portrays cyclists as outliers and freaks. Explain to me why that is.
I would like Palmer and, by extension, anyone beating the helmets / lights / get-off-the-road / cycling-is-inherently-unsafe drum, to explain how a helmet and lights would prevent Hernandez-Campoceco from getting behind the wheel drunk. Explain to me how a helmet and lights would prevent Stern from having to ride through one of the busiest and most dangerous intersections in town at 2 a.m., an intersection she nonetheless had every right to use.
Or perhaps you could explain how easily preventable tragedies like Elyse Stern’s death are maybe not the most appropriate time to point out what she was doing “wrong,” when the above photo makes clear that doing everything “right” and riding safely and being a Model Cyclist almost certainly wouldn’t have prevented her death.
Explain to the trolls in comments sections far and wide how a person has every right to ride her bike on a city street at 2 a.m., especially if that’s her primary mode of transportation, and how getting killed by a drunk driver should never be an acceptable risk of riding late at night.
Explain to them, to all of us, how her ride home would be safer if our city had more bike lanes and motorists understood what they mean. Explain why even responsible, conscientious motorists have revealed to me, through experience and in conversation, that they don’t understand basic laws governing bicycle use within traffic.
Explain how helmets and lights and encouraging cyclists to “follow the rules of the road” are supposed to prevent accidents when, in every fatal car/bike collision in the Twin Cities for at least the past five years, as near as anyone can tell, the cyclist involved was obeying the rules of the road, and in most cases wearing a helmet. The families of Dennis Dumm, Audrey Hull, Thomas Malloy, and Virginia Hauer are patiently awaiting your lecture about lights and helmets.
Explain why, in the majority of the countless instances where my safety on a bike was jeopardized by a motorist, it was by a “professional” motor-vehicle operator, such as a taxi or school-bus driver.
Explain how helmets and lights might not even be necessary if we had more bike paths; if motorists drove the speed limit and didn’t get behind the wheel drunk or take calls or text while driving; if motorists didn’t hate cyclists just for exercising their equal right to the roads (which cyclists pay taxes on too, so let me just save you the time of trotting that one out); if motorists didn’t intimidate cyclists by passing too close or tailgating or honking or yelling at them in order to “teach them a lesson,” always justifying their actions by saying they’ve seen some cyclists ride unsafely or illegally, so therefore apparently all cyclists should be afraid, all the time.
Explain how our culture has accepted all of that as the norm for a city that’s consistently ranked among the most bike-friendly cities in America.
Ha ha, April Fools—I know you’re not going to do any of that.