Paper’s coverage blamed the victim
I was deeply disturbed by the Star Tribune’s coverage of the terrible hit-and-run of a bicyclist at Lake Street and Cedar Avenue last weekend. It is very unfortunate that the victim was blamed so severely, both for her legal shortcoming (not having lights) and for failing to use a helmet.
It’s great to talk about prevention, but why limit it to the ways in which the victim could prevent the crime? The article might also have mentioned that motorists should not drive drunk, should not flee the scene of an accident, and should be mindful of pedestrians and cyclists at night, especially in an urban area on a weekend.
Similar statements have been made regarding sexual assault: Perhaps the victim was walking alone at night, drinking underage, or wearing revealing clothing. Statements like this have been rightly chastised.
Sean Hayford Oleary, Minneapolis
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The writer of the April 2 Letter of the Day (“Bikers, be safe …”) hit the nail on the head. The money spent on bike lanes and trails is a gift.
We have a wonderful bike trail through Deephaven, but too many bikers use the main road that parallels it. Gov. Mark Dayton wants more revenues. Perhaps charging license fees to bikers could supplement the gas tax that pays for our roadways and maintenance.
Janet H. Holmgren, Deephaven
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My deepest condolences to those who knew Elyse Stern. In the discussion of who was at fault — the driver (suspected alcohol) or the biker (no helmet, no lights) — how about more blame to the police departments that allow both scenarios to remain prevalent?
The police should be outside a different group of bars every night at closing, arresting those who wobble out and get behind the wheel. And they must start enforcing the lights-at-night law for bicyclists. Lights are not optional. A helmet is optional, though not wearing one is a very bad personal choice.
Bikes have a right to be on the road, and cars have a deep responsibility to share that road safely. But if I should, by no fault of my own, injure or kill a bicyclist who was not obeying common-sense laws, I myself would be injured for life, and that’s not fair. So while the police should be arresting drunks before they turn the key, they should also be handing out tickets and warnings to bicyclists who put themselves and others at risk.
Bob Friedman, Minneapolis
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For those of you who are tempted to write about bike safety at a time when Elyse Stern’s family and friends are mourning her tragic death, may I please offer an alternative message: Support your local artists — musicians, performance artists and visual artists. Live in a way that sustains the Earth — grow your own food when you can or buy from CSAs; ride your bike or walk; shop at thrift stores. Take care of your friends and family lovingly. Tip generously when you are waited on. Travel and enjoy adventures. Be yourself. And when you are driving, please be wary of bicyclists and pedestrians.
Sue Kerr, Edina
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.