Accidents and Coverage

Out of respect for the University of Minnesota student who was struck and killed on her bicycle yesterday, we didn’t want to run a picture of the scene.  Also we weren’t quite sure how to cover this incident, as it is difficult to strike a balance of informative and respectful when something horrific such as this occurs.  Each of us who chooses to ride a bicycle know the inherent risk as well as the rewards of riding, but that does not make it any easier to deal with when a cyclist is struck and killed.

We originally set out writing this post as a simple report of the coverage of the accident. In all we found it to be balanced coverage, not assigning blame (aside from comments sections) and not condemning the cyclist without all of the facts.  We read three different accounts, from the Minnesota Daily, Kare 11, and the Star Tribune.  Surprisingly the Star was the only one of the three smart enough to turn the comments section off.

During the course of preparing the post, we took some time to reflect on what happened and on the reaction from the cycling community.

We learned about the accident yesterday while surrounded by other cyclists.  The reaction from the group appeared to be heartfelt grief for an individual that none of us had ever met.  We can’t quite tell why the cycling community reacts the way that it does when this happens, in fact, it is something that seems to be unique to our clan of people.  For instance, when a pedestrian is struck and killed, similar conversations don’t occur with everyone who walks.  Someone dies every 13 minutes while driving a car, but when was the last time a single death gripped the entire driving community in one area.  Is it because we can all see ourselves in the rider? Maybe.

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2 Responses to Accidents and Coverage

  1. Reuben says:

    I haven’t seen any reports yet that have clarified whether she was riding southbound in the bike lane, or southbound on the sidewalk. If you come across any specific info about this, I’d appreciate a heads-up. The Strib article included language about the cyclist “entering the crosswalk”, which seems to imply that she was on the sidewalk.

    The situation is tragic either way, of course. But legally, they are quite a bit different.

  2. Lowrah says:

    Accidents are emotionally and logistically hard to cover. Especially right after the event, because the known facts can change quite a bit.

    I appreciate that CTC is respectfully reflecting on why we are all so sad that “Audrey” Kimberly Yeong Sil Hull was killed doing what we all “risk” every day, instead of using this space to determine who was at fault/ victim-blaming.

    My own feeling is that walking and driving are “normal” everyday things that everyone does. Is there a “community” of people that drive to work? There are less cyclists than motorists in Minneapolis and because we can be seen as a minority-/counter- culture we feel like we have to stick together, because sometimes it really feels like it is us against the traffic, and us against the (often) vilifying media and “us” against “them”.

    It is not just cyclists that recognize our small community, either. Some of my non-bike friends called me to make sure I was not the cyclist described (before Audrey’s name was publicized) in preliminary reports. The chances of that happening in the “car community” are nil.

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