Saturday, February 19, 2011

Traffic Justice, Two Views

(Note--click any picture except the first one for the full size version)
Amy Jobe's sister (l) and mom (r) at the dedication of a 
Ghost Bike (descanso) for Amy. 
Pic courtesy of Duke City Wheelmen
Deceased cyclist Amy Jobe's mom, in red shirt, and Amy's sister in the white dress, behind the Ghost Bike. Jennifer Buntz of Duke City Wheelmen (purple jersey, bending in front of front wheel) finishing up the bike placement.

Two events today had me in the car rather than on the bike. The first was placement of a Ghost Bike (descanso) for Amy Jobe, a 16 year old bicyclist who was hit by a car along  US 84/285 Highway near mile marker 177 back in 1999. Tom Sharpe of the Santa Fe New Mexican researched details of the crash for me, digging through 12 year old stories, and I am extremely grateful for that. Thank you, Tom (this has been updated on Monday, 21 February).

Amy was hit was crossing the road from a mobile-home park where her sister lived to use the pay phone at an Allsup's convenience store. She was on her way to call a friend when she was struck by a northbound 1973 Pontiac. Officer Nick Jimenez of state police in Santa Fe said in the original story. It was apparently after dark. No driver fault was found. That finding may have been fair, or may not. How does one know?

This was also before all the improvements were made that have grade-separated the highway and shut down the old road except for local access. The Ghost Bike is between Camel Rock and the new gas stations, on the access road to the east of the main highway.

Jemez Mts. in background. 
Not too far from home

Amy's Ghost Bike
Afterwards, most of us headed for the State Capitol for a joint rally (sponsored by the NM Motorcycle Rights Organization and the Duke City Wheelmen) in support of House Bill 68 and to memorialize fallen riders. A press release is here. This bill, if passed, will  increase the available penalties for careless drivers who kill or injure others.

Most of those present were motorcyclists, according to Jennifer Buntz, 125 wearing leather vs. 25 in lycra . Those who don't know me well don't know I have a motorcycle endorsement on my driver's license and have put over 100k of miles on my hind end on motorcycles, including riding motorcycle support for several Dick Evans Road Races on Oahu. So I am entirely comfortable surrounded by the leather jackets folks.  You should be too. Believe me, we are all in this together. My very first realization of cyclist vulnerability was when I was pulled out of school as a high school junior and rushed home because my dad had just wrecked his cherished BMW R60 (and himself) when a motorist failed to yield and made a left turn right in front of his big bike. He lived, but was permanently partially disabled with a shattered leg that had to be reconstructed. He eventually got back on big bikes again, too. Tough old coot.

I was a little disappointed in the cycling turnout. Kinda interesting mix, though, and the motorcycling fraternity definitely motivated a bigger turnout than we did. We need to do better if we are going to be listened to in the Roundhouse.
Duke City Wheelmen Foundation President Jennifer Buntz 
and Annette Torrez, President of the NM Motorcycle Rights Foundation 
address those assembled at Saturday's State Capitol rally 
in support of House Bill 68
Amy Jobe's mom, on her scooter, joins the rally

A poignant memorial. If anyone's offended by the fake blood and legs, I've actually been present at a motorcycling  double fatal caused by a delinquent motorist. Real blood and gore is worse than this.

A good crowd filled the Roundhouse main floor
(From a Jennifer Buntz e-mail). Due in part to those of you who wrote to the House Judiciary Committee members, HB68 was given a unanimous "Do Pass" recommendation by the committee.  Its a great step in the progress of this bill, but more importantly, its a step towards having more behind our push for increased attentiveness and diligence while driving.  Duke City Wheelmen Foundation can keep putting up ghost bike for a long time, but what we really want is for fewer cyclists to be killed.  Ghost bikes do generate awareness of cyclists on the road, but descansos or road side memorials don't have the same impact as a law with stiffer penalties, nor will they reach the same audience.

The next step for HB68 is to pass on the floor of the House.  With all the Judiciary Committee behind the bill, we are optimistic that the bill will receive a favorable vote from the House.  Then it will progress to the Senate, where we will need to voice our support again, this time to our Senators.

For those of you who wrote to Representatives, please consider e-mailing again, to thank them.  You could contact all the Representatives, noting the unanimous "do pass" recommendation in Judiciary today and urging support for the bill.  The bill was also given a "do pass" from the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee two weeks ago. 

Like the "5 feet to pass" bill, getting through one chamber is good, but what we need is for the bills to get through the other chamber.  Then, there may be a need to lobby the Governor to sign.  We will wait and see about that.

For Los Alamos readers, please contact Jeannette Wallace and our Senators. A full House list is below,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,


jennifer said...

Thanks for coming to the event and posting your photos/description of the day.

jennifer said...

More pictures on the DCWF facebook site