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Friday, July 25, 2008

DC police side with the cars

This may not have gotten any play outside DC, but conservative columnist Robert Novak hit a pedestrian Wednesday in downtown DC. He continued driving for a block before an angry cyclist blocked his way. The police showed up and gave Novak a $50 citation. As I've seen a few people comment, this is less than most DC parking tickets.

The story is worse with a few more details. The man, who is homeless, was in a crosswalk and crossing with the light. Novak made a right turn on red, and says he wasn't aware that he hit the man. The cyclist, David Bono, who happens to be a partner at a law firm, said he does not find that plausible because the man was splayed on the windshield of the Corvette, and he feels that Novak was trying to flee. More witnesses have come forward to back up Bono's account.

One, I bet the police approached this differently because it was a homeless man who was hit. Two, this is indicative of a car-centric point of view on the part of police, who tend to assume that pedestrians or bicyclists must have been the ones doing something wrong when there's an accident. Novak hit and injured a pedestrian who had the right of way, and Novak may have been trying to flee. He received a $50 citation and was sent on his way. Does that sound right?

I was poking around the BikeWashington Google group this evening and saw that Mr. Bono is not only a member of the Washington Area Bicyclists' Association (as am I), but he is a candidate for the board. He himself posted to say the following:
I was not deserving of the honor, but got an award from WABA at tonight's members meeting related to the incident. The inscription was so precious that it demands to be quoted: "Awarded to David Bono who, potentially sacrificing life and limb, risked chasing down a driver who had struck a pedestrian. By placing his bike and body in front of the vehicle, he allowed DC police to show up and give the driver a slap on the wrist."


lj said...

Not to mention that the cops probably went extra-light due to his celebrity, too, no? (or maybe political columnist is not enough celebrity)

I've caught some Daily Show after the evening coverage of le Tour ends, and Stewart made fun of this the other day. It was entertaining to see him really go all out to say how evil he thinks Novak is.

teague said...

I was wondering if the cops recognized him. Likely, though not a sure thing. If they did, I think you're right that that also would have played into it. Celebrity (albeit a minor one) vs. homeless guy is not a recipe for evenhanded treatment.

Peter said...

Holy crap. Douchebag of Liberty indeed.