02

Blog

The Tragedy In Kalamazoo

Since early this morning, my phone has been blowing up with calls, text messages, and e-mails from cyclists concerned, outraged, and simply wanting more information about the recent tragedy in Kalamazoo.  It’s hard for me to think about this tragic collision, but at the same time, it is impossible to escape.

Here is just one of the e-mails I received:

Hello Bryan –

I’m a bicyclist in New Orleans, and read this morning about the deaths in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  Is Bike Law involved?  And if so, how can those of us who live far from Michigan support cyclists?

I apologize that I have not been responsive to all those looking for answers.  However, I regret that I don’t have all the answers, and it is simply too difficult for me to continue rehashing this tragedy with everyone who has reached out to me.  For this reason, I have decided to write a short summary of what I know at this time:

  • Last night, a group of cyclists were riding northbound on the 5500 block of North Westnedge Avenue, near Kalamazoo, at approximately 6:30 p.m., when they were struck by a blue pickup truck.
  • As a result of the collision, 5 adult cyclists are dead, and 4 adult cyclists sustained serious injuries.
  • The driver of the pickup truck attempted to flee the scene. He was unable to drive away, due to the fact the truck was disabled from the damage it received in the crash.  For this reason, he attempted to flee on foot, but was arrested a short distance from the scene.
  • The driver of the truck was a 50-year-old male.
  • Approximately 30 minutes prior to the crash, the Kalamazoo Township Police Department, Kalamazoo Public Safety, and Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Department all received calls indicating a blue pickup truck was driving erratically.
  • Multiple police agencies appear to have been involved in investigating the collision, and reconstruction work is being performed by the Michigan State Police.
  • Media outlets continue to refer to this tragedy as an “accident.” However, this was not an accident.  This is a tragedy caused by a person who had a complete disregard for human life.
  • This incident is a reminder of how vulnerable cyclists, pedestrians, motorcyclists, wheelchair users, and others when they are lawfully on roadways. Cycling groups have repeatedly advocated for a safe passing law, and a vulnerable roadway user law.  In fact, Michigan is 1 of only 7 states that does not have a safe passing law for cyclists.  Most recently, in late 2015, bills were introduced in the Michigan House, in an effort to codify a safe passing law and vulnerable roadway user law.  Unfortunately, the safe passing bill is held up in the House Transportation Committee and the vulnerable roadway user bill is similarly frozen in the House Criminal Justice Committee.  Neither has even received a hearing.
  • This incident is a reminder of the disproportionate number of motorists involved in collisions with pedestrians and cyclists who attempt to flee the scene of the collision. In fact, this incident occurred less than one year after a hit-and-run driver struck and killed Susan Cummings, miles after she set out on the One Day Ride Across Michigan (ODRAM).  Nine days later, an attorney contacted local authorities and indicated that his client, Ronnie Jo Claflin, had information that would help authorities confirm the driver of the truck that struck and killed Susan Cummings.  Evidence gathered by the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office confirms that there can be little doubt that Ronnie Jo Claflin was the one who killed Susan Cummings.  Claflin’s criminal trial is scheduled to begin on June 28, 2016.
  • Kalamazoo Strong has set up a fund to help the families of the victims deal with the financial burdens that will result from the tragedy. Contributions can be made at kalamazoostrongorganization.org.
  • A ride of silence, to commemorate the lives of the cyclists, is being held in Kalamazoo at 6:00 p.m. tonight. It will leave from the Arcadia Brewing Co., 701 East Michigan Avenue, Kalamazoo, Michigan.  More information can be found on the “Tribute Ride of Silence for Kalamazoo Bicycle Tragedy” Facebook page.
  • A ride of silence is being held in Ann Arbor on Wednesday, June 15, at 6:00 p.m. the organizers are hoping to make this a statewide event, with multiple rides of silence occurring at the same time, at various locations.

I will try to provide additional updates as information becomes available. If you have information you would like to share, feel free to email me at [email protected]

Comments

Atlanta Slow Roll
Bruce Hagen Apr 18, 2019

Bike Law Ambassador Niklas Volmer and Bike Law Georgia client Jordan Streiff have had enough of the City of Atlanta’s lip service and hypocrisy when it comes to building out meaningful bike infrastructure and decided it was time to do something about it. For some context, the City of Atlanta has promised to invest $250,000,000 […]

Read More
Danny Feldman Apr 17, 2019

ALABAMA BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Alabama. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Danny Feldman directly. Right to […]

Read More
Rick Bernardi Apr 16, 2019

From the beginning, the Bike Law Network has had a singular focus—helping cyclists who have been injured find justice. Well, what’s so special about that? Lots of lawyers take bicycle accident cases. But the Bike Law Network is different—the lawyers in the network are cyclists themselves, and they’re passionately committed to protecting the rights of […]

Read More
Bike Walk Macon, Georgia
Bruce Hagen Apr 11, 2019

Rachel Hollar is the energetic spark behind the success of Bike Walk Macon, the leading advocacy group in the Macon-Bibb County area.   I recently had a chance to catch up with Rachel to discuss how cycling culture has changed in the Macon area since Rachel founded Bike Walk Macon in 2015.    Back in 2015, […]

Read More
Charlie Thomas Apr 11, 2019

LOUISIANA BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Louisiana. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Charlie Thomas directly. Right to […]

Read More
Amy Benner Johnson Apr 10, 2019

TENNESSEE  BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Tennessee. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Amy Johnson directly. Right to […]

Read More
Ann Groninger Apr 10, 2019

NORTH CAROLINA BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in North Carolina. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Ann Groninger directly. […]

Read More
Brian Weiss Apr 10, 2019

COLORADO BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Colorado. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Brian Weiss directly. Right to […]

Read More
Bruce Hagen Apr 10, 2019

GEORGIA  BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Georgia. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Bruce Hagen directly. Right to […]

Read More
Bryan Waldman Apr 10, 2019

MICHIGAN BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Michigan. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Bryan Waldman directly. Right to […]

Read More
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Apr 10, 2019

MAINE BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Maine. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Lauri Boxer-Macomber directly. Right to […]

Read More
Joe Piscitello Apr 05, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA BICYCLE LAWS It’s important to know your legal rights (and duties) when bicycling in Pennsylvania. It is especially important after a bicycle accident (we call them bicycle “crashes” and explain why here). For any questions about the State’s bike laws, or about your rights to the road, contact attorney Joey Piscitello directly. Right to […]

Read More
Load More