A collision between a bike commuter and motorist raises questions about whether we’re too lenient toward those who drink and drive.
"The norm in the Chicago area is driving recklessly and speeding," says Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance. "Too many people are traveling in a reckless, dangerous way, whether it’s driving a car or riding a bike. Of course, when you’re a person on foot or a bike, you’re nowhere near as dangerous as a person in a 3,000- pound car."
San Hamel has pleaded not guilty to the seven felony counts—including reckless homicide and aggravated DUI—for which he faces a sentence of up to 54 years. No trial date has been set, and he remains free on a $100,000 bond. He is prohibited from drinking alcohol or driving as a condition of bond.
In Illinois, fewer than a third of DUI arrests ended in conviction in 2011, the most recent year reported. Most cases end up under court supervision, an option unique to Illinois. If an offender successfully completes the court supervision period, the case is dismissed and the charges dropped.
"People don’t realize how broken the system is," says Cathy Stanley, court watch director for the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. "It really needs scrutiny and needs to be tightened up."
In Stanley’s mind, the biggest loophole is the routine thwarting of supposedly mandatory license suspensions for those who are charged with DUI or who refuse to take a Breathalyzer.
It seems one key to getting off easy is being arrested in the suburbs. “A lot of times, the village attorneys are just out to make money for the village.”
Bobby Cann introduced his girlfriend, Catherine Bullard (top), to his aunt (bottom), uncle, and mother shortly before he died.
The intersection where the collision occurred.
On October 25, around 100 people gathered at the crash site for a ceremony designating the Clybourn-Larrabee intersection Honorary Bobby Cann Way. Dozens of Cann’s former coworkers from Groupon and REI were there. Cann’s family flew in from the east coast.
Before unveiling the honorary street sign, Alderman Walter Burnett Jr. announced that Clybourn would be the first IDOT route with protected bike lanes. An IDOT spokeswoman confirmed the plan, but did not provide a timeline for the installation.
"Bobby told me that biking was very safe," Cann’s mother, Maria, said to a TV news crew. She was surprised but glad that they had come. "But no infrastructure change can make it safe to share the road with intoxicated drivers."
read more: chicagoreader, 30.10.13.