“The Benton County District Attorney’s Office has decided not to file criminal charges against the motorist involved in the death of Corvallis cyclist Eric Austin.” (Gazette-Times online Nov. 2). In a Friday afternoon special, our district attorney informed us that killing a bicyclist-pedestrian who was following the law and behaving responsibly in a signed crosswalk is perfectly acceptable, as long as you’re driving a car. That’s right: as long as you’re in a car, you will be cited for “speeding” or “careless driving,” but never murder.
Let’s be perfectly clear: Corvallis streets belong to all citizens, and there are defined rules of the road that say so. Being in a hurry while moving a ton of steel around does not give you special privileges. You are entirely responsible for everything that happens while you are behind that wheel.
That’s not how things work in Corvallis. Our leaders talk a good line about supporting “alternative transportation” (which only enshrines cars as the norm) while bending over backward to accommodate car drivers. Car drivers injuring and killing pedestrians and cyclists has happened before. Too many times. The district attorney can hide behind the grand jury, but he really calls the shots.
This situation is unacceptable. Why is it, that in a democratic society, district attorney elections typically have only one candidate? Are our elected leaders willing to draw a line on where responsibility lies, and on who has a right to occupy public spaces without risk of being killed, by someone who wasn’t “paying attention?”
Corvallis (Nov. 2)