Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Thank you Edward, You Were Heard

Last week, after filing on the City Bikes Cupcake Ramble, I heard from a reader who was pleased to see that someone in what I guess would be called 'the mainstream media' was discussing cycling, but felt that I needed to focus on more serious issues. So here's what he said, and here's what I've been up to since I got input from Edward.

Here's what reader Edward shared with me:

Kate, all good. But why not use this platform for something more serious, like the treatment of drunk drivers who kill cyclists? Stan Miller was killed in Gaithersburg last month by suspected drunk driver Quinzy Fraser, who has a past DUI conviction. Charges are pending based on blood tests taken after officers smelled alcohol on him. Fraser has had charges dismissed for resisting the test and assaulting officers in the process.

Mr. Miller was riding on the shoulder when Fraser veered out of the lane and hit him at full speed, witnesses say. Will Montgomery County speak for the victim here and pursue meaningful charges to take Mr. Fraser off the road? What if Mr. Fraser drives on your commuting route? How would you feel?
Edward,  thank you for your input. You were heard. And your comment helped put the spurs to me in gettting back to a story I'd initially tweeted on, and then forwarded to my desk for coverage.
Since filing that report, I got a number of emails and heard from Alice Swanson's mom. Alice Swanson, as many of you will recall, is the name of the 22 year old woman who was killed two years ago this month as she pedaled to work on R Street, NW. She was struck and killed by a trash truck operator. No charges were filed in that crash. Ruth Rowan, her mom, talked to me, and I'll share the WTOP reports here:  


I have heard from a number of people who lost loved ones over the years, and it never gets easier. But it's not about me. It's about those people and what their stories can tell us about what we all need to do to be safer out there.
But I have to explain that I walk a very fine line here. I don't see my blog as a platform--simply a place to pursue an area of reporting interest. Yes, when my wonderful old minivan bought the farm, I figured I'd try to cover ground on a bike on my time. (WTOP still provides a news vehicle while I'm on the clock) but I'm still a reporter, and am trying to tell stories and pose questions.
So, I'm not an advocate, and I don't play one on TV. But I will say as someone who's been reporting for decades, in rural, suburban and urban settings, what happens on the roadways matters to me.  I've covered far too many crashes not to ask what we can do to improve the chances that we all get home to our loved ones at night. Whether I'm on foot, behind the wheel or on my bike, I want to get where I'm going, safe and sound. And I want the same for you, too.
My question is: how do we get there?

1 comment:

  1. Kate, Thank you for taking this up, but don't shy away -- the press is a platform, and even if journalists did completely avoid the bully pulpit in their reporting, the choice of what to cover is itself significant.

    So, it's not just "how do we get there," it's particularly, "what can I (Kate) do that others cannot?" What pressure can you bring to bear that the rest of us cannot?

    One answer is, you can ask hard questions of the legal system in an effort to understand why it does not protect pedestrians and cyclists from drivers the way it protects people from other dangers in society.

    If, in fact, I am right, and it does not, then you're not using this blog or any other portion of your job as a platform, you're pursuing a legitimate and important story of significant importance to your constituents.