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reflections on death by auto

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  • J.H. Crawford
    Hi All, Today is the fourth anniversary of the car crash in which my parents were badly injured. My mother died 3 1/2 years later as a fairly direct result of
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 5, 2010
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      Hi All,

      Today is the fourth anniversary of the car crash in which my parents were badly injured. My mother died 3 1/2 years later as a fairly direct result of her injuries. My father eventually recovered physically but was already suffering from the dementia that finally caused his death a few weeks after my mother died. So it's already a somber day.

      Word came late last week that the nephew of my father's dedicated caregiver was killed in a hit-and-run in Hamburg, DE, two weeks ago. Germany has only 1/10th the number of road deaths as the USA despite having a population about 1/3 as large. Still, you're not safe on the streets there, either.

      This morning there was the story below about a Green Party candidate for the US Senate who was struck and killed while cycling.

      I'm sitting here thinking that we're not making progress.

      Joel



      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/21/AR2010092105964.html

      Md. Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate dies

      Natasha Pettigrew, 30, had been training for a triathlon.

      By Josh White and Matt Zapotosky
      Washington Post Staff Writers
      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      A 30-year-old Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate died late Monday night, less than two days after she was hit by a car while riding her bicycle in the Largo area, authorities said.

      Maryland State Police said Natasha Pettigrew died at a Prince George's Hospital Center at 10:30 p.m. Monday. She had been critically injured on Route 202 about 5:30 a.m. Sunday while training for a triathlon, police said.

      In a statement, Maryland Green Party co-chairman Brian Bittner said that Pettigrew had "incredible potential as a future leader for this party and this state" and that the Green Party had "never experienced a loss like this."

      "We all looked forward to working with Natasha for years to come," Bittner said.

      Pettigrew was hit by a sport-utility vehicle traveling near the intersection of Campus Way. State police said the driver apparently thought she had hit a deer or another animal and realized what had happened only when she arrived home and found Pettigrew's bicycle trapped under her car. Pettigrew was not dragged by the vehicle but suffered severe injuries, police said.

      The driver, who police identified as Christy R. Littleford, 41, called Prince George's County police sometime before 6:30 a.m. on Sunday to report the crash. County police then relayed the information to state police, who were on the scene.

      "She had driven to her home and called from her home," said Greg Shipley, a Maryland State Police spokesman. "The initial indication was that she thought she may have hit a deer or an animal in the roadway. . . . When she arrived home and saw the bicycle, she assumed it was something else."

      Shipley said investigators are trying to determine whether Pettigrew had reflective clothing on or had operating lights during her pre-dawn ride, but it was not obvious at the scene that she did.

      Police said it does not appear that alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash. State police are investigating the incident, and no charges have been filed.

      Pettigrew was born in the District and later moved to Maryland, graduating from Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg. She graduated from Ohio State University and started law school at the University of Miami in Florida in 2008 before taking a break to run for the Senate seat held by Barbara A. Mikulski (D).

      Littleford could not be located for comment.




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      J.H. Crawford . Carfree Cities
      mailbox@... . http://www.carfree.com
    • Chris Bradshaw
      As a multi-election Green Party candidate in Canada, I usually campaigned by bike, or should I say trike, as I used a hand-built recumbent cargo trike, so I
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 8, 2010
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        As a multi-election Green Party candidate in Canada, I usually campaigned by
        bike, or should I say trike, as I used a hand-built recumbent cargo trike,
        so I could carry signs and posts and installation tools with me.

        The hit-and-run aspect of this particilar collision is becoming too
        tragically common. It must be the increased weight and size of the average
        motor vehicle, meaning the impact is less jarring to the driver. Even
        though population obesity has also increased during the same period, those
        walking and cycling are probably less likely to be affected by that.

        The mention of what the victim was wearing -- whether she had
        retroreflective top-layer of clothing -- seems to be calculated to assauge
        driver guilt, even though there is no requirement to wear it (although most
        jurisdictions require retroreflective gear on the bike). What the reporter
        didn't mention is whether the cyclist was hit by other vehicles as a result
        of the first driver to hit her not stopping to aid her and divert other
        drivers around the spot on the road she landed.

        Is there any book that truly measures the impact of the car on the
        vulnerable? Aren't speed limits too high and vehicle sizes too large for
        use on mixed-mode roadways?

        Chris Bradshaw, Ottawa, Canada
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