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Responsibility

This is a follow-up piece the deaths of the cyclist at 39th and SE Belmont. The objective is to focus attention on what I perceive is the real issue of the tragedy which is the failure of civil trusties to effectively execute their duty to protect the safety and welfare of the public and the willing acceptance of that failure by politicians, public and the media. Civil authority failed to protect the public, in full knowledge of a dangerous situation, and there is no public out cry but rather public acceptance. The public and media and politicians would rather see the police harass CM rather than collar a dangerous drunk in violation of court orders. Excusing civil authority from their duty to equally protect the rights of all vehicles on the road and failing to press politicians for equal protection is all the same thing because it places lives in danger. To make this perfectly clear: I believe that the rights of all people should be equally ensured regardless of race, sex, political beliefs, transportation choice or any other unique human characteristic. These recent events and the treatment of the story by the media has diminished and drawn attention away from the central question; how did the civil authority fail to protect the public from a known danger in the community? And, how is it possible that the public should permit pubic trustees to ignore their sworn responsibilities?
This is a follow-up piece the deaths of the cyclist at 39th and SE Belmont. The objective is to focus attention on what I perceive is the real issue of the tragedy which is the failure of civil trusties to effectively execute their duty to protect the safety and welfare of the public and the willing acceptance of that failure by politicians, public and the media. Civil authority failed to protect the public, in full knowledge of a dangerous situation, and there is no public out cry but rather public acceptance. The public and media and politicians would rather see the police harass CM rather than collar a dangerous drunk in violation of court orders. Excusing civil authority from their duty to equally protect the rights of all vehicles on the road and failing to press politicians for equal protection is all the same thing because it places lives in danger. To make this perfectly clear: I believe that the rights of all people should be equally ensured regardless of race, sex, political beliefs, transportation choice or any other unique human characteristic. These recent events and the treatment of the story by the media has diminished and drawn attention away from the central question; how did the civil authority fail to protect the public from a known danger in the community? And, how is it possible that the public should permit pubic trustees to ignore their sworn responsibilities?


No one can rationally argue against the fact that this drunk could have killed anyone because he was driving drunk at great speed and in a residential neighborhood; his behavior was a menace to anyone nearby. The matter of bicycle safety is a moot point in these circumstances the larger question is public safety. Why was there no warrant issued for his immediate arrest when he violated a court order? The police, courts, and district attorney knew he was a chronic alcoholic with a history of drunk driving and they failed their responsibility to protect the public by their inaction. Where in the world did all of these public trustees believe that he was when he did not show up for his court ordered alcohol treatment?

The simple fact remains that this man was known to represent a clear danger to the community, however, our public trustees; police, courts, and district attorney's failed to address the issue. The death of these people signals a breakdown in a system created and perpetuated at great public expense for the benefit of public safety. Helmets and lights or even body armor can't stop a speeding car driven by a chronic drunk but, in this case, the police, courts and district attorney could have stopped him by taking responsible action to pick him up when he was in violation of a court order to seek treatment.

Civil Authority failed their public duty to protect the public from a dangerous alcoholic and people died. This is the case everyday on the roads for cyclists because civil authority fails to recognize or protect the rights of cyclists and that arbitrary enforcement and neglect of sworn duty creates and perpetuates a dangerous environment for cyclists. This dangerous environment is perpetuated with willful acceptance of the political establishment, the public, and the media.

Allow me to summarize the major points of this very long piece. The laws of physics determine that the cyclist will always take responsibility for every crash with an automobile because of the differential of mass between the two vehicles. Whatever a cyclist does to protect his safety is good, however, as long as politicians, police, and the public view bicycles as interlopers in traffic rather than as an integral part of our urban transportation system the cyclist is placed at greater risk. As long as civil authority fails to equally protect the rights of cyclists on the roadway they are neglecting their sworn duty. The only way for cyclists to achieve social recognition as viable transportation and achieve parity of rights with autos on the roads is by strengthening their community through dialogue and organizing to demand recognition.

Every effort of cyclists to achieve parity on the roads is important and valuable. Critical Mass is an important tool to gain that recognition. Bicycle Transportation Alliance is an important tool to gain that recognition. Everything and anything that a cyclist does to advance cycling awareness including writing a letter, making a phone call, just taking a bike ride is valuable. Following this tragic accident the media has chosen to spin the tragedy about bicycle safety and drunk driving, in my opinion, the story is the failure of public trustees to ensure public safety because this man was a chronic alcoholic known within the system to drive drunk and he was in violation of court orders to seek mandated treatment. The system lost him and he killed two people, they happened to be cyclists. Similarly, when the politicians, media, and public fail to compel the police to execute their sworn duty to respect and protect the rights of everyone equally including cyclists on the roadway then they create or permit to occur a dangerous situation for public.

The death of the cyclists is a touchstone for the cycling community, however, the issues of drunk driving, the failure of public trustees to protect the public, and the recognition of bicycles as traffic are only related by this accident. They are separate things that come together in this tragic case. However, the senseless death and injuries of these people can bring us together as a cycling community to demand recognition of Bicycles as traffic.

The media coverage and police response to this event demonstrates social acceptance of the blatant marginalization of bicycles as traffic. The police have the responsibility to protect the rights of everyone equally but they choose to ignore the rights of bicycles on the roadways and practice various tactics of suppression as cyclist speak publicly to gain recognition for the rights guaranteed to them as citizens. The police fail their responsibility to the public and it is permitted with the quiet acceptance of the political community, mainstream media, and the public. Similarly, this chronic alcoholic who represented a significant risk to the community was permitted to blow-off court ordered treatment, obtain alcohol and a car which resulted in two dead people. These two issues are related by the fact that in both cases public trustees failed to address their sworn civic responsibility. This story has been spun by the media to revolve around bicycle safety and drunk driving but the real central issue is; where does the responsibility for public safety lie and how do we hold public trustees accountable. I would suggest to that the responsibility for public safety lies squarely on the shoulders of the public.

Cyclists are citizens, cyclists have rights, and cyclists are traffic. The police fail to protect those rights because they have no compelling interest to do so. In fact, police demonstrate hostility toward cyclists and suppress the free expression of cyclists first amendment rights to speak, demonstrate, and organize to demand equal treatment. Police respond only when compelled to respond, they don't just do the right thing naturally. Compelling interest comes to police from politicians and as cyclists we must lobby politicians to gain recognition for our rights as users of the roadways. It is important for every cyclist to consider these issues because the failure of the system to compel police, civil authority, to protect the rights of cyclists places the life of every cyclist at risk. Similarly, the failure of the system to compel the chronic alcoholic into treatment or to incarcerate him for violating a court order killed two. As a public we must hold our civil servants accountable for executing their duty to the public or we deserve the social environment that devolves from that failure.

If our public trustees would have spent $50,000 dollars picking up all the people in the county who violated court orders to seek alcohol treatment it is very likely these three people would be alive and healthy today. Rather our public trustees spent $50,000 harassing and controlling1,500 cyclists participating in a memorial mass for people needlessly killed by a drunk driver who "slipped" through the system... oops... people died but nobody blocked a bridge or tied up a freeway. Where is the public out-cry for it public safety failure? Where is the outrage at the money that is wasted harassing cyclists? Where is the public outcry for parity on the roads? Where is the public out-crying for civic responsibility? How can the police shoot young girls and get away with it... it is because we allow them as a public to shirk their responsibility.
Fatal bike ride 02.Jul.2003 07:48

Lisa Rubel Lisa_Rubel@msn.com

I am not sure where to go with this but I am requesting any leads to anyone that witnessed the accident or who was friends with Angela Leazenby. She was my niece and her mother and all of her family need some help in gathering information about her short time in Portland. Thank you
Angela Leann Leazenby
Angela Leann Leazenby