On July 15, a a San Francisco cyclist ran a red light at Mission Street and The Embarcadero and struck a 68-year old tourist from Washington, D.C. named Dionette Cherney. The collision killed Cherney and the cyclist at fault, 23-year old Randolph Ang, was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. He recently pleaded guilty but will avoid jail time by instead being sentenced to three years’ probation and 500 hours of community service. Part of Ang’s community service will involve helping an organization promote bicycle safety.
The organization hasn’t yet been determined, but in addition to community service and probation, Ang must pay Cherney’s family over $15,000 in restitution. The victim’s husband felt that community service is a better punishment than jail time because it will help educate the public about bike safety and awareness. Ang said he had run the red light on his way to work and struck Cherney, who had been walking across the street with her husband. The collision resulted in a head injury from which Cherney was unable to recover.
Obviously running late for work is no excuse to run red lights and cycle recklessly. Just because you’re on a bicycle that can maneuver through tight spaces more quickly and efficiently than a car doesn’t mean it’s a good or smart idea. In Ang’s case, his rushing led to poor decision-making that resulted in someone getting killed. It’s unfortunate that something as important as promoting bicycle safety had to come from such a tragic accident, but hopefully Californians will learn some valuable tips and information about how to cycle safely and alertly through densely populated cities.
The state of California recognizes a bicycle as a vehicle and subjects cyclists to all the duties applicable to the drivers of motor vehicles; hence Ang’s charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. Cyclists must obey traffic laws and be aware of their surroundings in the same manner that drivers are required. This organization that Ang will volunteer with can certainly do a lot to educate cyclists and bring awareness to proper safety guidelines so that everyone can still enjoy riding their bikes while understanding traffic and safety laws.