When the Justice System Failed Alan Deane, It Failed Us All
The music in this time-lapse video by William Campbell captures the solemn mood of the bike community following Deane’s death. This ride was completed on September 27, 2011. Five days after Deane’s death.
On September 22, 2011 Alan Deane was riding his bicycle on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena, perhaps on his way to the Crawford Family Forum for a public event. While crossing Terrace Drive, Siddhartha Misra struck Deane with his car. Deane was rushed to the hospital where he died form injuries sustained in the crash. Deane had turned 61 that day.
On Tuesday, after pleading guilty to reckless driving, Mirsa received his sentence. Judge Steven Monette sentenced Mirsa to 10 days of community labor, 400 hours of community service and $4000 in restitution and other fines. At Biking In L.A., Ted Rogers referred to the judgement as a “gentle caress on wrist.”
Cyclists and safe street advocates were outraged, not just at Mirsa who appeared by all accounts genuinely contrite; but by a system that treats driving as a right and not a privilege The Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition’s Colin Bogart, who shared the Streetsblog 2011 advocate of the year award, was quoted in the Pasadena Star News, KPCC and other outlets giving a variation of a statement that said that the punnishment for killing a person through negligence should at least include loss of driver’s license.
There have been a lot of eulogies for Deane, a man who chose to eschew most personal possessions, played music, rode his bike and participated in civic life. But it’s not just his life and personality that make this a tragedy, but that the justice system and society as a whole too often look the other way when it comes to the carnage that occurs on our streets.
As Streetsblog worked on this euology, our inbox has been active. One reader writes asking how many tickets and reckless driving infractions is it going to take before Justin Bieber has his toys taken away. Another reader sends a “Roadshow” column that appeared in the Daily News featuring both a traffic columnist and a letter from an insurance investigator who blame cyclists, especially children, for crashes when a car driver can’t be bothered to look both ways before running them down while exiting their driveway.
On Tuesday, Mirsa apologized to Deane’s friends and families. But after the sentence was handed down, apologies were also needed from Monette and society itself.