I asked John Allen if I could write an introduction to my accident report for a few reasons. One is to sing his praises. He did an amazing job (with my help one chilly Sunday morning, earlier than I would have liked) reconstructing the accident, over and over and over, to provide the backbone for his calculations.
Another reason is to let people know that I’m a real person, not “the plaintiff.” I have a name, a phone number, and an email address, and I’m happy to speak with anyone about my case or John’s work. I was very involved in acquiring information from the police (not surprisingly, it was not volunteered) and doing as much legwork as I could because I wanted to know what happened to me. I didn't remember anything during or after the accident, but I was pretty darn sure that I did not steer my bicycle into the path of a Chevy Blazer, as the driver claimed. Yet initially I thought I had no way to prove this!
Perhaps the driving force in my battle was the insensitivity of the police officer who was in charge of writing up the accident report. When I spoke with him on the phone after returning home from a two-day hospital stay and asked him why, when I clearly had the right of way (I was going straight through a green light and the driver was turning left across my path), the driver was not cited for failure to yield right of way, the officer was very defensive and somewhat combative. And he asked me, “Why didn’t you swerve out of the way?” I was incredulous, and replied, “You'd never have asked me something like that if I’d been driving a car.” It was then that I truly realized how bicyclists are frequently disrespected and dismissed. Too many times, people riding bikes have been hit, their bikes damaged or totaled, their bodies injured, and they do nothing because either they don’t know their rights or they think they don’t have a case. On the other hand, the drivers realize that cars rule supreme and feel little or no obligation to cyclists. This issue is the one that most inspires me to write, to urge cyclists to not let cars and biased cops rule their lives. Know your rights and use them!
I didn’t sue to get rich; I sued to find some sense of justice. Thanks to my wonderful cycling/cyclist lawyer Andrew Fischer, to crack investigator John Allen, to my tenacity, and to some degree of luck, we were victorious. And I must also thank MassBike (the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition) for its efforts on behalf of cyclists. We continue to have more and more rights because the people who make up that mostly volunteer organization tirelessly donate their time and energy for the rest of us.
© 2000 Diane Daniel | September 2000
Contents (except introduction, police photos and diagram)
© 1999, 2000 John S. Allen
Last revised 31 December 2000