Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dr. Thompson found guilty

Dr. Thompson, the Los Angeles surgeon, who earlier this year slammed on his brakes in front of two cyclists, sending one through the rear windshield and the other over the car, has just been found guilty of six felonies and one misdemeanor. From the VeloNews article:
Thompson was accused of assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving causing specified bodily injury, battery with serious bodily injury and mayhem. The most serious charges stem from a July 4, 2008, incident on Mandeville Canyon Road, the road where Thompson lives, where he was accused of abruptly stopping his car in front of two cyclists. Other charges relate to a similar incident on the same road that did not result in injuries.
The guy had road rage and he tried to kill cyclists and he's going to jail for it. Good. But he's not the problem--he's symptomatic of the real problem. Honestly, as disgusting as this man is, he's essentially a scapegoat for our car culture. Our roads are inherently a place of conflict where we interact only in anonymity and inconvenience. Our only voice is the horn or the finger and our only touch is with the bumper. We cannot hear anything or know anyone.

Thankfully this all-counts conviction can be some precedent for other intentional motorist-cyclist collisions. I think what was most offensive about this particular trial was the defense lawyer's assertion that the cyclist fell down because of the inherent instability of bicycles (nevermind that they're composed of two gyroscopes). But hopefully this will give some traction to safe passing legislation, like Texas' SB 488 -- vetoed by Gov. Perry (because the bill places the responsibility of driving on the motorist) and subsequently passed by the city of Austin.