Stillwater Forms Bicycle Committee

Stillwater has formed a standing bicycle committee in an attempt to improve their bicycle friendliness:

Stillwater has taken another step toward becoming more cycle-friendly.

The Stillwater Bicycle Committee was officially established Wednesday night, following the tradition of other bike-friendly communities across the nation.

Jim Bruer, committee member and Oklahoma State University academic counselor, said this is a necessary step in promoting cycling in Stillwater.

“One of the main things you need to be approved (as a bike-friendly community) is to have a cycling committee like this,” Bruer said.

(via Stillwater Bicycle Committee established Wednesday night – ocolly.com : Osu)

This is a step Stillwater is taking in order to join Norman and Tulsa as Oklahoma Bicycle Friendly Communities as ranked by the League of American Bicyclists.

 


Driver Who Killed Stillwater Cyclist to Pay $20,000 in Resititution

James Michael Hazzard, 20, who hit and killed Debra Miller last August, has pleaded no contest to negligent homicide and has been ordered to pay $20,000 in restitution to the family:

A driver accused of hitting and killing a bicycle rider on State Highway 51 west of Stillwater earlier this year has pleaded no contest to negligent homicide.

. . .

Special Judge Michael Stano deferred sentencing and judgment for one year, but required Hazzard to pay $20,000 in restitution by Jan. 3. The restitution will go to Miller’s family.

Hazzard must also pay $1,300 in court fines and complete an accident avoidance course, a life skills class and 100 community service hours.

via Driver who hit Stillwater bicyclist must pay $20,000 restitution » Local News » Stillwater NewsPress.

While certainly not even close to being as egregious as the recent Vail, Colorado case, this sentence is disappointingly light. Mr. Hazzard did not flee the scene so, I can understand maybe not sentencing him to lengthy jail time but some would have seemed to be appropriate.  Then  you’ve got the 2 1/2 weeks of community service which is just a joke.  However, what really has me incensed is that it appears, according to the last line of the story, that Mr. Hazzard will be able to drive again.

Shouldn’t killing another human being due to admitted inattention (Mr. Hazzard claimed that the sun was in his eyes which caused him to drift onto the shoulder and strike Ms. Miller) be a clear-cut sign that you should not be allowed the privilege of operating a motor vehicle? How many bodies does it take to have your license revoked?


Charges Filed in Debra Miller Death

I know I tweeted about this possibility awhile back, but I’m just now getting the story published.  In any case, charges have been filed against James Hazzard in the death of Debra Miller:

A negligent homicide charge was filed Thursday against a man who drove off state highway 51 and killed a Stillwater bicyclist riding on the shoulder, District Attorney Rob Hudson said.

Edmond resident James Michael Hazzard, 20, could spend up to one year in a county jail if convicted of the misdemeanor charge.

via Charge filed against pickup driver in crash that killed Stillwater bicyclist » Local News » Stillwater NewsPress.

I still find it shocking that a negligent homicide charge is only a misdemeanor and that the maximum punishment is only one year in jail, but at least this is not being treated as an “accident”.


Appeal for Justice

This letter from Brandon Neal letter appealing for justice in the recent Debra Miller crash near Stillwater appeared in this morning’s Oklahoman:

I’m a cyclist who is alive today for a number of reasons; among them are taking reasonable care on the road and good luck. This month, Debra Miller of Stillwater died — as did my friends Jim Socia and Michael Argall before her — killed by a driver who failed to notice her on the road. In the case of my friends, the drivers weren’t charged with a crime. I fear the driver in Miller’s case will likewise go uncharged.  We can’t trust our district attorneys to prosecute these cases unless we make it clear that the case has priority above all the others that a DA’s office handles each month. All too often, we’re left with a dead friend or relative and the tacit endorsement of the sun as a mitigating circumstance, of alcohol or drugs as the only impairment worth pursuing, and that the death of a person in the road is not the responsibility of the person in control of or failing to control a vehicle. Prosecuting the driver in Miller’s case would provide a clear message to motorists that they’re responsible for everything that happens around them when behind the wheel. No distraction — sun, text messaging or anything else — is a viable excuse for ending someone’s life.

via Another cyclist dies on an Oklahoma road | NewsOK.com.

I’ve always thought of driving as something akin to gun ownership.  It is a responsibility that must be taken seriously at all times and in all situations.  I believe that much of the carnage that takes place on our roads today is due to the cavalier attitude we give towards transportation (and that includes cyclists as well).  Moving at high speed is an endeavor with some risk and requires a high degree of responsibility.  Legal recognition of this fact would go a long way towards making our roads the kind of place they need and should be.


Fatal Crash Near Stillwater

Yet another fatal crash:

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol said a 19-year-old driver hit and killed a bicyclist just west of Stillwater Sunday.

Troopers said James Hazzard told them the sun was glaring in his eyes and he was adjusting his sunglasses when he swerved into the shoulder and hit 56-year-old Debra Miller.

She was flown to OU Medical Center where she later died.

via Bicyclist Hit, Killed by 19-year-old Driver Near Stillwater – News9.com.