Halsey veers from bike tragedy to ethnic generalizations
There were several recent items in the Washington Post that deserve their own articles to respond to. Most glaring of these is the Ashley Halsey piece Saturday about the tragic crash that killed a cyclist and a driver in Fairfax.
Since I often harp on press accounts making it sound like the driver wasn't controlling the vehicle by using passive voice or making the vehicle the subject of the sentence, it's worth noting that Halsey made the driver the subject of the sentence, specifically to not that he really did "lose control" of his vehicle.
The driver and vehicle then crossed a median, hit two cyclists, and then crashed into a tree. One cyclist died, as did the driver. Saddest of all, this happened on Bike to Work Day, though the cyclist, a 17-year-old high school athlete, was not riding to work.
Unfortunately, the article then veers into a very disappointing and unchallenged argument that stereotypes Latino immigrant cyclists as being responsible for crashes.
The majority of the half-dozen cyclist deaths in the past five years have involved Latino immigrants riding to or from work in the dark.
"You want to be careful about stereotyping, but you have to look at the circumstances," said Fairfax Detective Scott Neville, who investigates traffic fatalities. "As much as you hate to say it, it's often a certain socioeconomic class."
Neville is the same detective who seemed to blame bicycle commuters for riding in the County's poor conditions in Halsey's last article.
Halsey cites three examples of cyclist deaths involving Latino immigrants, and he or Neville plays up the cyclists wearing darker clothes and not wearing helmets. But as Ken Archer pointed out in one of many tips submitting this article, those deaths involved one hit-and-run driver, one underage drunk driver, and one driver who hit someone in a crosswalk. What race and socioeconomic class were those drivers? For all we know, rich white people are responsible for most of the cyclist deaths in Fairfax.
There could be some valid public safety conclusions to be drawn from looking at racial and economic factors in cyclist crashes, but this article doesn't come close to demonstrating any.
FABB plans to meet with Detective Neville, and notes that the intersection in question is particularly bad for cyclists. As far as anyone can tell, the cyclists were waiting by the side of the road for a legal chance to cross.
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