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03/22/2008: "More Institutionalized Anti-Cyclist Bias...."
Disturbing though sadly not surprising observation by Bob Mionske in VeloNews, reporting on the horrific crash in Cupertino a couple of weeks ago--when a deputy sheriff, who had been reported speeding and driving erratically earlier, fell asleep and crossed the double yellow line, colliding with three competitive cyclists on a training ride, and killing two of them. Says Mionske: is seen as the responsibility of the cyclist--witness the growth of mandatory helmet laws while distracted driving and speeding remain accepted behaviors--and when a cyclist is injured or killed, blame is inevitably shifted from the driver to the cyclist. [...]

And guess what? It happened again last week in Cupertino. In reporting the crash, the San Jose Mercury News exhibited the sort of media bias that I've discussed in Bicycling & the Law. First, the Mercury explained that "The opportunities for hill climbing and downhill coasting along Stevens Canyon make the road tempting for cyclists." This is a twist on the attitude that many non-cyclists share: "What were cyclists doing there in the first place"? Would the Mercury have explained why an automobile was being driven along that road? It seems doubtful, and yet it seemed perfectly reasonable to the Mercury to report that the road is "tempting" to cyclists.

What came next is all-too familiar to cyclists: The Mercury reported that "The group collided with the deputy's car." In other words, even though they were riding on the right side of the road, single file and in the bike lane, and the deputy had crossed the double yellow line before going off the road and up an embankment on the other side of the road, the cyclists collided with the deputy, in the eyes of the Mercury News.

That was only the beginning of the biased media coverage. The Mercury inexplicably went on to discuss cyclists riding two abreast. Well, it's not really inexplicable, if you understand that there is an underlying anti-cyclist bias in almost every media account of cycling. But what is remarkable about the Mercury's discussion of cyclists riding two abreast is that 1)riding two abreast is legal, and 2) had absolutely nothing to do with the crash, as the victims were riding single file...."
Read the entire article on VeloNews: Questions about the Cupertino Crash

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