Weapon of Destruction

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009
By Yokota Fritz


Behold, the death dealing MINI Cooper!

Mini Cooper


Steven Culbertson of Lakeport, CA took his own life as well as the life of a family of four when he ran a red light in his Mini Cooper at 100 MPH over the Thanksgiving weekend near Novato, CA.

Culbertson, who was not wearing a helmet, struck a Honda stopped at the light before smashing into a minivan where Lakeville Highway crosses Highway 37 in Sonoma County. The occupants of the minivan -- John Maloney, his wife Susan, and their children Aiden (age 8) and Grace (age 5) -- were declared dead at the scene.

If motorists want the right to use the road, they should follow the rules of the road. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration surveys show that motorists obey the law at about the same rate that cyclists do. Red light running by motorists seems to be on the rise. Motorists roll through stop signs and fail to yield the right of way as blatantly as anybody else.

In other news, the Philadelphia city council introduced a bill for a $1000 fine for cyclists who ride brakeless.

Murph also weighs in on the MINI Cooper wreck as the City of Brotherly Love ponders confiscating brakeless bikes and wonders why vehicles capable of breaking the speed law in the entire nation are even allowed on the public roads? How often are cars confiscated because of a broken headlight or missing bumper? Dan Connelly left a comment reminding us that California law already mandates speed limits on electric motor bicycles.


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Comments:
Wow, what an insane and totally avoidable tragedy. I don't get the mentality that allows people to ignore basic traffic laws that are there to ensure our safety. This guy murdered four people with his car and for what? The story scares the heck out of me because I am (and you are too) a family of four.
 
jackass already had a suspended license for DUI.
 
did anybody else catch the phrase "Culbertson, who was not wearing a helmet" amusing to point this out. I'll with hold on the general remarks about journalism on bicycle accidents the use of helmets.

Is this article real?
 
Russ, yes this really happened.

The helmet was my own editorial addition.
 
a ha.... point made.
 
and it is a bummer that it happened.
 
Your title could have been "Weapon of Mass Destruction," considering how many car collisions causing death and injury there are.
 
In the late 1970s a loose cannon kid who lived in my neighborhood took out himself, his girlfriend and most of a family of five, running a stop sign at 80+ mph on his way to his grandfather's funeral.

A product of divorce, this young man had been adopted by those grandparents after neither of his parents could be bothered to care for him. He descended into drugs and had become basically subhuman by the time he died. Seriously, he could no longer form coherent sentences much of the time, because he was high on whatever he could get his hands on. But he could drive!
 
The repeated references to cars as weapons of destruction and so forth are divisive and tiresome.

The "us against them" mentality doesn't really do much to advance cyclists' agenda.

I ride my bike to work every day and have for over 5 years, by the way.
 
@Spirit, I appreciate what you write, but note that myself and most of the commenters here also own autos. The divisiveness arises from numerous people who claim bikes are a menace in need of more regulation just like cars and drivers, but they fail to realize the reason licensing and vehicle regulation came up in the first place -- because even a small car like the MINI Cooper can wreak significant damage in the hands of a careless individual like the late Mr Culbertson.
 
I once had a mother with her daughter in her front seat (and not in a car seat I might add) yell at me on West Cliff to get my bike on the sidewalk where I belonged. I almost crashed because I was laughing at her too hard.
 
As a bike commuter for decades (since 1979) and a motorist when that's more efficient, I refer to cars and trucks as sensory deprivation tanks and acknowledge how my own perceptiveness and sensitivity can erode if I fall into the flow of only motor travel for too long. It is insidious. If you've never used a bike for transportation, think how alien and intrusive it seems.

Criminally negligent and homicidal driving is another order of magnitude beyond mere carelessness, of course. And there are motorist zealots who take pride in intimidating cyclists. Cyclists are hardly equipped to return that aggression in kind. So sometimes we get a little shrill and dramatic.
 
...just to add to this unfortunate story, it was revealed that thieves broke into the deceased family's house in the early morning hours of tuesday night, ransacking the house & stealing numerous items including a nissan 350gt...
 
Salt in the wounds - I saw on the crawl on KTVU this AM that some ruffians figured out that since this family had been killed, nobody would be home - and ransacked their house.
 



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