A Year On, A Bicyclist’s Murderer Only Gets Two Years in Jail.  Justice or a Slap on the Wrist?

Casting about for story ideas, I found myself at Michael Bluejay’s long-time and dense website, www.bicyclingaustin.info.  Thanks to him and a poster there, Owlman, and also KXAN TV for posting the story which you can read at this link.  I didn’t know Tommy Ketterhagen, but when I heard the news a young bicyclist had been killed, I swallowed my heart hard. 

Tommy Ketterhage
Tommy Ketterhagen

A Dude didn’t hear about the memorial ride in time to go, but a friend who was on his bike team and hundreds of others did.  Readers of this blog, few of you that there are, would know that not dying while biking is a recurring theme of A Dude Abikes.  And yet near misses happen nearly every day to me and I assume most Austin cyclists.  Will it ever end?  Probably not.

Wrist Slap It is (Plus 10 Years Probation)

The cruel thing about someone just getting two years for killing someone else on a bike is not just that the guy will get to drive again, but that other drivers will see this and go, “Well, I guess I don’t have to really give a damn about bicyclists.  If I happen to hit one, I’ll only get two years.  Maybe I can mow a few down and win those points and not even get caught!”

I’m being only slightly facetious.  The vitriol mentioned on a previous post about the neighborhood app Nextdoor was not something I made up.  The guy who yelled at me – for having the temerity to ride my bike in the lane with lights at night in front of his car in a parking lot – “I’m gonna knock yo’ bitch ass offa that bicycle!” may have been a bit rare, but the hatred is there.

Tommy was young – only 19.  The driver was 21.  Both lives were irrevocably changed in an instant.  Allegedly because the driver dropped his cell phone and didn’t see a bike on a country road.  Whatever the reason, a moment’s inattention is all it takes to maim or kill someone.

Stop the Slaughter by Killer Kars

The problem with that statement is cars have dominated the roads and probably will for some time.  But think back 100 years, and that wasn’t true.  Cars have only been around a century or so.  The bicycle, in current form, longer than that.  Horses, mules and other pack animals, walking, porters, and all manner of other forms of transportation still exist.  That doesn’t diminish the car-nage of motorized vehicles.  Many days, most rides, bicyclists go about their days unscathed.  But big picture, it will take a major cultural shift to make bicyclists the majority.

Until that day comes, please be careful out there, ya’ll!

(This blog is 500 words not counting this sentence.)


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