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The driver was 100% at fault and needs to be charged with negligent homicide. There was one car stopped at the crosswalk, another one slowing, and this driver completely ignored those cars, and the bicyclist, and plowed through the crosswalk.

If the County Police have been saying so for years, and if cyclists/peds have complained about it, why has DOT/SHA failed to act?

Don't stop at flashers. This crossing needs a red light.

Sue SHA and the driver. It is clear this is an unsafe crosswalk and the gov't knew it was unsafe but chose not to make it safe.

Turtleshell: the government can invoke sovereign immunity, which means that they cannot be sued for $ damages unless they waive their immunity. You could sue for specific performance, e.g. to add lights etc, but that would be tough.

"Peddling?" A new low for the WP, where successors are "in waiting" and inanimate circumstances beg questions.

Crickey's comments are on target as usual, but can someone explain the strangely prevalent belief in the safety of walking one's bike across intersections?

The driver was obliged by law to stop, and the two other cars - not to mention the flashing yellow lights - alerted him to the presence of a person trying to cross the street. He was 100% in the wrong; but anyone crossing a high-speed busy road, and confronting visibly stopped cars in only two of the three lanes, has *got* to look to see that the empty third lane doesn't have a car hurtling down it.

Just two weeks ago I could have been creamed at the CCT and Little Falls by a car in the second lane that ignored the signage, ignored the car that had stopped, and ignored me in the crosswalk and blew through at 25-30 mph.

This is a really easy mistake to make and is a critical lesson in self-defense for us as cyclists and pedestrians.

So John, will be happy with just $800 to $900 in penalties for this driver as you are with the drivers who fell asleep and hit and killed the cyclist riding on the shoulder?

Not only as a cyclists but also as a driver I expect the unexpected and expect drivers, cyclists and peds not to follow the rules. Problem is there is no real punishment for not following the rules and killing someone. In the case of the rider hit and killed on the shoulder, if he (cyclist) was only injured the penalties on the driver would still be the same. In other works, no value was placed on the life taken by the driver. We'll see if this "accident" goes the same way.

Sadly all this hit and kill a cyclist with no real punishment is doing nothing to make drivers better follow the rules. As a result I rarely ride anymore.

I really don't understand your question to me, Joe F. I wasn't talking about the driver (who as I noted, was "100% in the wrong") but rather noting the important cautionary lesson here for those of us who spend a lot of time trying to get around on two wheels or two feet. The state should do something about that crossing. Police should vigorously enforce rules about yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks - and whatever those penalties are, they should probably be raised. Eight hundred or $900 sounds good to me, just for the failure to yield. Meanwhile, as cyclists and pedestrians await the infrastructure changes and cultural shift that will elevate our needs to the same level as auto traffic, we should be alert to the manifest (and latent!) dangers and take appropriate care.

Thanks John, you answered my question. You feel fines for rules and laws broken are punishment enough and that it's once again ok to ignore the fact that a life was taken in the process of those laws/rules being broken.

I disagree. The driver in both cases should also be charged with something along the line of gross negligent manslaughter or involuntary manslaughter even if these sentences are suspended.

In 2012 when I asked the police what the charges were for a driver who killed a cyclist on 108 near Olney they started with "... understand we wanted more..." They then proceeded to tell me that the driver was charged with neglected driving, failure to yield and not giving a cyclist 3 feet with a total of just under $500 in fines. Three years later while the fines have double, it's not helping. We are still ignoring when a driver kills another person.

Until our society finally puts value on life when it is taken by a driver braking the rules and laws (regardless of if the life is a ped cyclist, driver, passenger) people will continue to think that killing someone while driving is not much different than a fender bender.

I said, the state and the local police and drivers and cyclists all need to work to solve this problem. One place to start would be with substantial fines for the failure to yield, even when no one is hurt (which according to police happens *all the time* at this crossing). I believe that punishing the underlying behavior when there *isn't* a death is essential to effecting meaningful change, rather than waiting until someone dies so that we can make an example of the driver.

Do you disagree?

I did not say a thing about what should happen to this driver, whose inattentiveness in the face of (what appear to be) several warning signs to yield, not to mention an unequivocal legal requirement to do so, led to the death of a young cyclist.

Don't put words in my mouth. Thanks.

I agree that more enforcement is needed for all, especially drivers as it is incredibly easy to kill people with a motor vehicle. What is completely wrong is when the fines are identical when a person is killed. Just have more value on life than you do.

That was the question and you stated that you are happy with the $800 - $900 fines as with the cyclist killed on the shoulder. I did not put words in your mouth.

So to simplify the question, do you feel that this driver should have some type of manslaughter charge as well?

To quote myself:

"Police should vigorously enforce rules about yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks - and whatever those penalties are, they should probably be raised. Eight hundred or $900 sounds good to me, just for the failure to yield."

I wasn't talking about this case, where a cyclist died, but those in which a driver harmlessly blows through a place where s/he was required to yield. I thought that by describing the issue in the abstract, suggesting increased penalties, and using the word "just" to modify failure to yield, this would be clear. I suppose it would have been clearer still to say, "just *a* failure to yield".

Anyhow that's what I meant and on this it appears we agree. As for the rest, if it's all the same to you I'd rather leave this discussion at a point, and on points, where we're in accord. Thanks.

No, we do not agree. As a person died there should be more charges than just failed to yield type charges. I also do not agree that fines of $800 to $900 will be a strong enough deterrent to persuade drivers to follow the rules and laws of the road, in regards to situations when a person is killed.

With that said, I can leave this discussion with the understanding that there is much we disagree on.

I said, $800-900 for cases where no one was hit. I don't know how much clearer I can be on the point, goodness! So please stop - again - putting words in my mouth by suggesting I am talking about anything else. Thanks.

Now i see the disagreement. I am stating that the fines alone are not enough in the two recent deaths and have only been refering to this issue in regards to the two recent situations where cyclists have been killed.

You are not refering to these two siuation when stating that
fines of $800 to $900 are appropriate in failure to yield stuations when a person is not hit. Yes, on that we can agree.

Yes, that's it. Thanks.

I suspect that the state's attorney is carefully evaluating whether there is sufficient evidence for negligent homicide. Passing cars that were already stopped at a crosswalk may be far better evidence of a substantial deviation, than the other case of swerving onto the shoulder while drowsy--even if the driver was not on a cellphone.

I am not sure whether SJE is correct in the assertion that SHA has sovereign immunity. But winning a case against the state is hard, and proving that this design is bad enough to be negligent would be difficult unless SHA failed to follow standard guidance. The courts are not going to find SHA negligent every time a driver violates the crosswalk rule and kills someone.

JimT: even without strict sovereign immunity, there is "political decision" doctrine which is a type of immunity. Essentially, the state has to make difficult trade-offs with limited budget. As a result, it is hard to sue the government when their actions hurt you.

The prosecutor is no doubt weighing whether the perceived tendency of a jury to put themselves into the driver's shoes is outweighed by a revulsion at the age of the victim and the failure of the drivers to even slow down despite other drivers having fully stopped. It's not a purely legal calculus.

@SJE: I don't know what you mean. How does this political decision doctrine cause a court to dismiss a lawsuit against the government by a victim? There are tons of reported cases against states for defective roads, including a recent case where a bike lane ended abruptly and merged a cyclist into traffic.

Crickey: That may be what the AA prosecutor did by submitting the matter to a grand jury in the Patricia Cunningham case. I have a bit more faith in MoCo prosecutors, given that it was the MoCo political establishment that pushed HB 363 to begin with (while it was the AA prosecutors that pushed for the Governor vetoing HB 363).

Crossposting: I took a look at the warrant sections in the MUTCD/

Here is the short, slightly oversimplified, answer to why they post HAWK instead of a regular traffic light at a lot of trails.

You need 93 pedestrians (or cyclists) in a one-hour period or 300 bike-peds in a 4-hour period to get a regular traffic light, but you only need 20 in a one-hour period to get a HAWK signal. Either way, SHA can base it on peak season without violating the guidance.

I also learned that they can add traffic lights even if volumes are a lot lighter, if doing so creates desirable "platoons" of traffic, i.e., creating an predictable pattern of breaks in traffic to let ped cross of people drive out of side-streets.

Overall, I think that this probably means that the state was not negligent in striping the crosswalk without a light, since there were no HAWK signals at the time. However, if someone demanded a traffic count, and SHA did nothing, and it turns out that a HAWK would have qualified, maybe that failure to act on a warning would make the state negligent. I am inquiring of the likely advocates whether they pushed for a HAWK and what the outcome was. In the aftermath of this crash, it is much more likely that SHA would be potentially liable.

I do not believe that a pedestrian struck in the crosswalk is contributorily negligent as a matter of law for expecting drivers to stop in a case like this. I doubt a MoCo jury would find a kid in the crosswalk contributorily negligent.

And now my editorial: While the HAWK might make this moot, requiring 90 pedestrians per hour seems quite stingy if the traffic light is controlled by a button and also set to match the light timing of the highway. In fact, for a rural or western state where drivers obey the crosswalk rule, this threshold seems designed to promote automobile traffic. Once you get to 90 pedestrians per hour, having to stop for them at crosswalks slows traffic more than giving them all a light, since they are not allowed to cross until the light turns green, where there is a light.

It just happened again.

SHA needs to install a proper traffic light, like the one at Connecticut Avenue and Lawrence Avenue.

^ posting link. :(

Cyclist struck, killed by car in Rockville

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