Visibility and Liability

To the best of our recollection many of our childhood horror stories stated with some variation of this line, “It was a dark, dark night on a dark, dark road”.  Unfortunately this is also the horror story for many cyclists who, while riding legally are struck and either seriously injured or killed by a driver who claims that they “didn’t see them”.

Last week an opinion piece printed in the The Huntsville Times, one cyclist declares that he is fed up with the I didn’t see them defense.  The anger and frustration experienced by the writer stems from several accidents in Alabama last year that subsequently resulted in death or serious injury for the cyclist, and no criminal charges for the offending driver.

Two proposed laws for the State of Minnesota would, if passed, forever change the usability of the I didn’t see them defense.  Proposed bills HF68 and SF201, would make killing someone as a result of careless driving a gross misdemeanor (instead of simply a misdemeanor, under current laws).

As a cycling community we need to support this legislation in every way possible.  It is important to have both front and rear lights while riding at dusk and dark, but we shouldn’t have to look like a lighted Christmas tree to be seen.  Today (Monday) we will be doing it face-to-face with state legislators at the Minnesota Bike Summit on Capitol Hill, but just in case you can’t make it, check out the excellent post from Ride Boldly! on the topic.

Of course if we could ever get Strict Liability legislation passed, this would all be a moot point.

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