Open Season Declared on Cyclists

So apparently, they’re selling cyclist licenses now in Illinois. Of course, you’ve got to make sure you acted surprised. You know, it’s sort of like yelling ”it’s coming right for us!”. The “tags” aren’t that expensive either, only $1,000 plus a six month waiting period before you can hunt again and the stupid hunter’s - err, traffic safety education class. But the beauty of it all, you don’t have to worry ‘bout the licenses and classes and such before you tag your first cyclist. Just go out, do it, then say you’re “very sorry” and you’ve just managed to tag yourself one of the most elusive, and some might say colorful of all game animals, the human cyclist.

A 19-year-old girl - with three prior moving violations since getting her license in May 2005 - runs over a 25-year-old cyclist who’s riding on the shoulder and only has to pay $1,000 fine, serve a six month conditional discharge (probation without the probation officer), and don’t forget the worst part… she has to go traffic safety school. Personally, I’ve always considered the taking of a life through reckless behavior to be on par with the feeding of wildlife (Section 635.50). Yes, Urbana judges fined the girl the same amount as they would fine me if I were to put a salt lick out in my back yard in Urbana to attract deer.

Am I missing something? What’s the difference between what she’s done and if I were stand in front of you, load a six-shooter with one bullet, spin the chamber, then point it at you and say “Odds are I won’t kill you” before I pull the trigger? Was her past driving record not enough to indicate that she was “willful[ly] and wanton[ly]” endangering those around her every time she got behind the wheel? Wouldn’t my loading a gun and pointing it at you would be the same endangerment? Given the odds in my favor, could I not also say that the 16% chance that the gun would land on the chamber with a bullet meant that I could have “no reasonable expectation” that the gun would actually fire.

And “reasonable expectation”? Please, that excuses all sorts of crimes. “I’m sorry officer, I had ‘no reasonable expectation’ that the old lady in the crosswalk wouldn’t move when I ran the red light - I seriously thought she’d get out of the way.” “I had ‘no reasonable expectation’ that I would hit that other driver because it was late and quite frankly my reasoning skills were no longer good because I had too much to drink.” “I had ‘no reasonable expectation’ that I would kill you because the odds were 34% in my favor that the gun would not fire.”

I’m not saying to hang her, but she needs to pay for this. She was so far off of the road that she hit him on the driver’s side of her car! Not only should there be a fine, but revoke her license for 25 years - one for each one that Matt Wilheim was alive. He can’t go anywhere, so why should her getting from one point to the other be easy? Urbana doesn’t look that big, if she doesn’t want to take the bus she could ride a bike.

Then there’s the community service. She should be spending two evenings a week giving talks on reckless driving and its consequences on top of the 480 hours (the number of hours required if you kill someone while under the influence - Sec. 11‑501.d.2) of community service with a preferred focus on community cycling events and awareness.

I sympathize with her, she’s just screwed herself emotionally for the rest of her life, but that doesn’t excuse a slap on the wrist she’s been given.