On Wednesday, a Philadelphia judge dismissed the case against a professional driver who killed 24-year-old Emily Fredricks while she rode her bicycle on Spruce Street in November 2017.
Today, the Bicycle Coalition is calling upon the District Attorney’s office to appeal the judge’s decision and vigorously seek justice for Emily, her family, and Philadelphia’s cycling community.
“As your office concluded through video evidence, the driver was wearing earbuds at the time of the incident, and was fumbling with papers, clearly distracted and acting recklessly,” wrote Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart in a letter to District Attorney Larry Krasner. “This decision is a devastating blow not only to Emily Fredricks’ family and friends, but the entire bicycling community.”
As the Bicycle Coalition and Families For Safe Streets Greater Philadelphia concluded in a study released in February 2019, only about 16 percent of motorists who kill bicyclists and pedestrians are ever charged with a crime.
None of the drivers who’ve killed 11 cyclists in Philadelphia over the past three years have been charged.
That’s why this case was so important to Philadelphia’s cycling community. It was the first high-profile case in recent memory in which the District Attorney was actually pressing charges against a reckless driver who killed a vulnerable road user on Philadelphia’s streets.
There is a constant bias against cyclists and pedestrians after a violent traffic incident like this occurs, in which the first question is often whether the deceased cyclist was breaking the law or wearing a helmet, or whether the pedestrian was crossing the street against a red light.
Yesterday’s dismissal, unfortunately, tells us that such bias exists not only throughout our society, but in at least one interpretation of the rule of law.
It’s for all these reasons the District Attorney absolutely must appeal this case and get justice for Emily.
Read Sarah Clark Stuart’s entire letter to District Attorney Larry Krasner below. We are organizing an action for all of Philadelphia’s cyclists to be involved in tomorrow and will provide more details on that later today.
Krasner Letter BCGP.docx by Bicycle Coalition of Greate… on Scribd
I am not in Philly for the next couple of weeks and therefore unable to participate in any in-person action. What can I do remotely to add a voice or energy to the cause?
As I read Sarah’s letter it seems to me that motorists who are at fault and injure pedestrians and bicyclists must receive punishment that serves as a deterrent to others. She is right–we must change the culture of impunity for violent vehicular crimes.
And… driver education is needed. It is conspicuous by its absence. One should not be able to get a license, without the most basic knowledge of traffic regulations that relate to bicycles. In my opinion.
Hi Stephen: Write a letter asking the DA’s office appeal this decision, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will deliver it to the District Attorney. Thank you!
Distracted drivers in ANY situation should be accountable
You may well be making a profound point here, Sarah. The fact that the driver was wearing earbuds and not paying full attention to what he was doing, driving in a city with both motor vehicles and bikes on the same street, may mean you have a case. But, what was Ms. Fredericks doing? Perhaps nothing wrong. But, the other side of this is that asking what the bicyclist or pedestrian was doing is always relevant, too, and at times may actually be more relevant. Writing of motorists “who kill” pedestrians or cyclists may be a proper description in some cases, but likely is not in all of them, and may just be incendiary. It makes sense to want all of us, including those driving, to be sensible, aware, and cautious. If someone crosses at a red light while walking, or a cyclist blows a stop sign and shows up completely unexpectedly in the middle of a lane where a motor vehicle clearly has the right of way, then they are primarily responsible for the crash from a legal perspective, and from any practical, reasonable perspective, too. While it is, indeed, valuable to have a preventable perspective in these situations–i.e. drivers need to try to prevent such crashes even when they are not primarily guilty from a legal perspective, softening the legal standard and, in effect, blaming the motorist for simply driving a car or truck, also brings profound risks. We all need to be conscious of safety and aware that we can cause our own demise or serious injuries to ourselves if we don’t act prudently and safely. We’ll never get to zero crashes unless we all take responsibility.
yeah taking an unpopular viewpoint but was it ever considered the driver only had one earpiece in not both which is legal, and that he checked his mirrors prior to starting the turn. Was it also considered that only after starting the turn and being in a position where Emily would be in his blindspot and not visible to him anyway did he look down at his paperwork. Perhaps she started to gain him after he slowed and started his turn and was not in a position to see her in the coffin corner as she began to undertake him. But hey everyone loves a good murder trial and capital punishment case. Are we truly seeking justice here or petty revenge. Trying the truck driver and convicting him to life in prison or the death penalty won’t bring justice for Emily but it will satiate a senseless need for “blood for blood” many have. Asking the DA to appeal and go for blood is a sad litmus test for where the bicycle coalition stands it will be an even sadder litmus test for the DA should he cave to such pressure. It is sad the DA has failed the litmus test. I don’t expect anyone to be happy with this comment perhaps I will even be accused of victim blaming. For those that haven’t stopped reading yet I present the following link about large trucks and what cyclists need to know about navigating around large trucks.