Regarding the Sentencing of Dr. Christopher Thompson

Dear District Attorney Stone,

I have been a daily cyclist in LA County for more than 15 years, using my bike as my primary means of transportation.  As a result, I have experienced many instances of either reckless or malicious behavior by drivers on our streets and highways.  Teenagers “having fun” and people out to “teach me a lesson”, no doubt.  These are very serious offenses, which needlessly endanger me, and infringe upon my right to use our publicly funded infrastructure in a healthy, economical, fiscally responsible and environmentally friendly manner.

The case of Dr. Thompson is an extreme one, and I believe that he deserves the harshest penalty under the law for his violent act, which might well have ended the lives of one or more cyclists in Mandeville Canyon.  However, he is only one person, and there are many lesser and some greater offenses committed against cyclists in LA County every month, which go largely unnoticed by the media or law enforcement, or if noticed, are dealt with in a manner which does not appropriately apportion responsibility.  Drivers wield hundreds of times more power, in the literal sense, with their vehicles than cyclists do, and travel at much higher speeds, with much greater energies.  They have the ability to cause much more harm than cyclists.  This should result in greater responsibility.  “I didn’t see him”, as drivers often say after an accident involving a cyclist, is not a valid excuse; it is evidence of their dereliction of this responsibility, a responsibility that all road users have to be aware of their surroundings, and the potential consequences of their actions.

More than any particular sentence for Dr. Thompson, I would like to urge you to take less spectacularly reckless behavior by drivers more seriously.  For instance, driving while using a mobile phone, while now illegal, is not being aggressively ticketed, despite being an impairment on par with driving while under the influence of alcohol.  Drivers who do not take their responsibilities seriously, or worse, who use the power their wield with their vehicles as a means of intimidation against other more vulnerable road users, should have their drivers licenses revoked for a long period of time.  They need to be taken off the road.  Losing your license is often seen as an extreme punishment, because we have built our city, and more broadly our society, so entirely around the idea that everyone will own and drive a car on a daily basis.  But driving is not necessary, even in LA, as I can attest having never owned a car here, and I do not believe we should confer the right to operate a motor vehicle on every citizen when they turn 16.  It should be a privilege that is earned and maintained through consistently responsible actions.

Thank you for your time and attention,
Zane Selvans

Shared Links for Mar 19th

  • A New Way Forward – Grassroots banking policy? Who'd have guessed? Their plan is "Nationalize. Reorganize. Decentralize." The N-word has some bad connotations, but what they're really advocating for is an FDIC style managed bankruptcy, i.e. letting the banks fail, cleaning out the shareholders and management, and applying real anti-trust laws to the financial industry. I never thought I'd go to a banking protest. (tagged: economics bailout finance fdic activism banking policy )
  • MailStopper – Is $20/year too much to pay to avoid junk mail? Would it really work? The self-monitoring aspect is interesting too. Would be great to be able to watch your name and address as it propagates through the ocean of direct marketing databases, and credit reporting agencies. (tagged: green junkmail sustainability internet )
  • YellowPagesGoesGreen.Org – I hate the two kilograms of cellulose that the phone company insists on littering my doorstep with each year. I was a little bit drunk when they showed up last week, and threw them in the street. I don't even have a land line. Why would I want a phone book? Who uses those things anyway? Thankfully, someone else has already created an opt-out system… too bad I'll have to wait a year to see if it actually works. (tagged: environment recycling paper yellowpages mail green sustainability )
  • The Age of Stupid – A new combination sci-fi documentary on climate change… framed as a man looking back and trying to understand why we failed to act, from the year 2055. The movie was "crowd funded" – the filmmakers sold shares of the profits to individuals (and the crew) in exchange for cash (about $1 million total). The trailer looks fairly good… (tagged: climate film green environment )
  • Mistrial by iPhone – Juries’ Web Research Upends Trials – Another example (cf death of record companies, newspapers) of technology upending previously stable social and legal systems. 9/12 jury members found to be doing research on the trial they were sitting on, via their cell phones and the internet. People don't consider the meta-brain to be a separate entity any more. Certainly not for weeks of sequestration on end… (tagged: law technology internet phone jury trial )