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A tragedy for the family and a travesty of justice in any sense.

I wish one of our gubernatorial candidates would address the larger issue here, which is the (un)livability of Maryland's suburbs and exurbs. The SHA designs new roads for maximum speeds and long-distance volumes; the state police don't enforce any traffic laws except late-night drunk driving. Thus there is no penalty for speeding, reckless or inattentive driving, and drivers know it. When recklessness causes death, our police and courts default toward ruling it an accident, rather than the obvious consequence of recklessness.

Given the bad driving behavior of one governor candidate, and of at least one of my local representatives, I'm not too confident that Annapolis will be receptive to a "nicer towns/nicer streets, slower/fewer cars" message.

But a bold candidate who's already behind in the polls and has nothing to lose (are you listening Heather Mizeur?) could really make news and start a constructive conversation if she ran on a platform of making Maryland's roads and streets greener, more complete for all ways people want to get around, and just nicer looking.

Remaking Maryland's burbs into nice, walkable, transit accessible town centers surrounded by nice neighborhoods and pleasant streets isn't just a utopian idea -- with our wealth and changes in the way we work, there's no reason to continue to Robert Moses the landscape.

It's not just in Maryland, in Virginia, the recent destruction of a world class athlete's life was worth 10 days, suspended, and $250.

http://www.southlakesmom.blogspot.com/2013/11/a-sad-story-gets-sadder.html

I have often criticized this blog for racing to judgment in these matters, but not here.

As far I call tell, no one is disputing that the motorist attempted to pass in an unsafe manner. How is that not "gross deviation of the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise under the circumstances”?

JimT knows way more about this than me, but if this isn't gross negligence, then perhaps we need to change the law to define it as such.

It's all of the USA. The value of people's lives pail in comparison to the convince of the individual.

guez: because the state's attorney expects everyone to drive like that

also, I hope/assume that the victim's family is pursuing a civil action. If the killer's family can afford to establish a vanity endowment, they can afford quite a bit of restitution, maybe even enough to fund a driver education & pedestrian/cyclist safety program.

I had this mistaken assumption that it was better in Maryland than over here in Virginia, where they couldn't even pass a 3-foot law. I see I was wrong.

Anne Arundel in Md, and King George County in Va.

I don't want to put a jinx on the inner jurisdictions, but I do think the lack of cyclist clout is going to play a role in prosecutor decisions. Ultimately I think the only answer is to further normalize cycling, so that more prosecutors, more jurors, and more voters are cyclists. And pedestrians (though admittedly bad news from NYC vis a vis pedestrians is disheartening)

Makes it tough to convince myself that my job is the most important thing I could be doing when I read things like this. Makes me want to get up from my desk and ride over to the State Attorney's Office and let them know how I feel about this.

IMHO one can pass all the vulnerable road users laws one can think of but so long as the general public sees cyclists as risk takers on the marginal fringe and therefore partially/wholly to blame for these accidents jurors will continue to nullify any serious charges.

With juries and grand juries, it's all about identification. Which party looks most like them in this case? Everyone can imagine screwing up horribly behind the wheel. Who the hell can imagine working out on Riva Rd.? I can, you can, but the rest of the population would sooner jump off the roof.

I've had people swear it's tantamount to child endangerment to take my kid cycling on a road. People's perceptions of what is and what is not dangerous are wildly off of reality.

I agree its about identification with the victim versus the perp: which makes me think that the proosecutor screwed up by not presenting evidence (a) that the victim was hit from behind, not on the side (i.e. destroying the accused's story) and (b) that the accused admitted to texting while driving. Those change the calculus enormously.

The interesting thing about this case is that the fact that there was a bicycle involved is a red herring. This is really about driver behavior. I think it would have been interesting to ask the grand jury this hypothetical: if it had been say a garbage can that was in the road and the driver crossed the double yellow to get around it in the exact same spot and hit another car head on and killed that driver, would it have been above the standard for gross negligence?

Alex: I think a better hypothetical is to ask how the state would treat it if there was a stopped police car, or a state patrolman walking on the side of the road.

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