Price for hitting bicyclists drops

You may recall the case of Mary Rehm, the woman who tried to run over a couple of bicyclists in downtown Naperville. She succeeded in hitting one of the bikes and dragging it under her car for several blocks (the biker jumped off when he heard her gun the engine and wasn’t hurt). She was sentenced to 42 days, although it was expected that she’d actually serve just 21, nonconsecutively, in a series of seven 3-day stints.

Yesterday, my wife showed me Barbara Brotman’s column in the Chicago Tribune, which starts out like this:

Early on a quiet Sunday morning last May, David Silvis had just begun a 100-mile training ride on a residential street in Brookfield when he heard a car behind him.

Then he heard the car accelerate. And then the car hit him.

He fell sideways and slid some 30 feet toward a curb. And as he watched the car slowly drive off, a shocking thought came to him. This was no accident; the driver had hit him on purpose.

As it turned out, he had. The two young men in the car had been playing a real-life version of a video game: Hit a cyclist, get points. A prosecutor would later describe the young men laughing as they switched places so they could each hit a bicyclist. A few blocks later, the second driver struck a 34-year-old Brookfield man.

What enraged the bicycling community most about the case was its recent conclusion. Both men pleaded guilty to felonies: Erik Fabian, 20, to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and leaving the scene of an accident; Armando Reza, 18, to aggravated battery with a deadly weapon and driving under the influence of alcohol.

The sentences handed down by Cook County Judge Carol Kipperman: For Fabian, two years of intensive probation; for Reza, 10 days in jail followed by two years of intensive probation.

So we’ve gone from 21 days for one driver hitting one bicyclist down to 10 days for two drivers hitting two bicyclists. Even Wal-Mart doesn’t do price drops that steep.

OK, Fabian and Reza are getting “intensive probation,” and they apparently weren’t interested in hurting their victims—they were just too stupid to realize that knocking someone off a bike could lead to injuries. Rehm, on the other hand, was enraged and, to all appearances, trying to kill her victim. So there is some logic behind the difference in sentences. But still, it doesn’t make you feel good to be out on a bike in the Chicago area.

Other stories about Fabian and Reza’s sentencing are here, here, and here.

One odd thing about these stories is that there’s no mention of the drivers losing their licenses. All three have deliberately attacked bikers but are still allowed to operate their weapons. Oh, I know how hard it is to live in the US of A without being able to drive, and even people convicted of aggravated battery need to get back and forth to work, but real justice would be served if they were forced to get from place to place by bus or on foot. And poetic justice would be served if they were forced to ride bikes.