The Only Advertisement You Will Ever See On This Site!

Jackson's Computer Services

Let The Wife Take Care Of Your Computer Needs







June 10, 2007


A weblog about the politics and affairs of the old and glorious City of Albany, New York, USA. Articles written and disseminated from Albany's beautiful and historic South End by Daniel Van Riper. If you wish to make a response, have anything to add or would like to make an empty threat, please contact me.

NEW! Albanyweblog now has RSS!
Click on this link to add this site to your RSS feed.

**UPDATE** An inquiry sent to the paper reveals how technology is used to discriminate against bicyclists . . . and encourage more accidents.

June 10 , 2007

Who Killed Diva de Loayza?

A bicyclist run down on Western Avenue pays the
ultimate price for bad traffic planning

A speeding minivan tore across two lanes of Western Avenue and slammed into Diva de Loayza, who was riding her bicycle. The oblivious idiot behind the wheel of the death van literally splattered her body and her bike up a side street called University Place.

She hung on to life for days at Albany Med, her body broken and her head shattered. She finally expired this past Thursday.

University Place, showing the location of the body and the bike.  Note the bouquet.
University Place, showing the location of the body and the bike. Note the bouquet.

Look at the above photo. The minivan started from where the blue sedan is stopped on Western Avenue, at the top. Considering the distance, and the force of the impact which threw the body and the bike up the road, the minivan must have been going wild and fast, in a big hurry.

Ms. de Loayza was a successful business woman who owned four retail outlets across the state, including one in Troy. She was well known by many as a fashion designer, and she had light skin. Therefore, the corporate media amplified her death, mourning it as a great loss.

Last August, when a fellow named Jose Perez was run down and killed on his bicycle by a speeding SUV on Broadway in downtown Albany, the corporate media barely noticed. Mr. Perez, after all, was lower class, hispanic and dark skinned.

The difference in social status did not matter. The deaths of both Ms. de Loayza and Mr. Perez were treated the same way by the authorities.

In both cases, the Albany Police did not ticket the lunatic drivers of the speeding vehicles, and refused to release the names of either killer. And the corporate media colluded with the police, making no effort to reveal the perpetrators. They put the blame squarely upon the victims.

In other words, it was their own damn fault that they were riding bicycles on City streets. In the minds of the authorities, they deserved to die.

This is a wonder to me. Compare this to maritime law. As everyone knows, the larger boat always yields the right of way to the smaller craft. The reason is not hard to figure. Your yacht is bigger, faster and more deadly than my kayak. If you ram me you’re using deadly force, thus you need to use restraint when I cross your path.

That’s not necessarily true on the roadways. According to New York State vehicle code:

Section 1146. Drivers to exercise due care. Notwithstanding the provisions of any other law to the contrary, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any bicyclist, pedestrian or domestic animal upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary.

What the hell does “due care” mean? As far as I can tell it doesn’t mean a damn thing. This provision of the traffic code is so indistinct, it amounts to a license to kill bicyclists and pedestrians. That is, as long as you use an automobile instead of another weapon, like, say, a handgun.

I’d like to see section 1146 updated and clarified to read something like: “Whoever operates a gas guzzling fume spewing motorized vehicle shall take “due care” not to cause physical harm or death to any bicyclist or pedestrian. Any motorist who violates this directive will be subject to penalties similar to any other clown who commits assault or murder.”

There’s nothing at all absurd about this. Take a visit to a place like Burlington, Vermont. Note how the cars always yield to bicycles, and screech to halt every time a pedestrian steps into the street. The laws about this are strict, and the local police enforce them vigorously.

I don’t know the details of Mr. Perez’s death last August, perhaps his killing by SUV was unavoidable. We’ll probably never know for sure. But the anonymous killer of Ms. de Loayza, while morally responsible for her death, can claim mitigating circumstances. He/she did not act alone.

The three-way intersection where Ms. de Loayza and her bicycle hit the pavement has staggered traffic signals. Here’s how they work:

1) The lights turn red in both directions on Western Avenue, traveling east and west. All traffic comes to a stop.

2) The lights on Western then turn green traveling east only. The lights for vehicles traveling west remain red. Eastbound traffic proceeds, while westbound traffic remains stopped.

3) After about ten seconds, the west facing light turns green, and the westbound traffic proceeds.

Left turn onto University Place in front of stopped traffic.
Left turn onto University Place in front of stopped traffic.

So basically, this is most certainly what must have happened. The minivan careened across Western Avenue as this red sedan is doing in the photo above. Note the red light on the signal, which is green facing away from the viewer.

Ms. de Loayza, riding her bicycle west, saw the red light and the stopped traffic on Western Avenue. We can safely assume that she noticed that no traffic was coming toward her from the side street on her right, University Place.

Seeing the red light and the stopped westbound traffic on her left, she made the fatal assumption that if the auto traffic is stopped in one direction, it must also be stopped in the other direction. Thus, she must have decided as a practical matter that it was safe for her to proceed through the red signal. Right?

Wrong. Whoever designed this intersection wanted to give auto traffic an extra chance to turn left. But the traffic planner didn’t think about bicyclists and pedestrians. There are no crossing signs, no indication whatsoever that the signal lights are staggered for left turning automobiles. There’s not even a crosswalk. Nothing.

Where's the crosswalks?
Where's the crosswalks?

The police and the corporate media made much of how Ms. de Loayza ran a red light. Somehow this made her culpable and absolved the actual killer and the traffic planner from all responsibility. But is this fair?

Consider that the traffic signals and indeed the layouts of the intersections along Western Avenue are designed solely for the use of motorized traffic. There is a decidedly suburban feel to this part of Western. Despite the presence of sidewalks, bicyclists and pedestrians along this strip are treated as little more than intruders at the petroleum consumption orgy in the automobile slum.

It is because these intersections are designed for autos that they appear absurd to bicyclists. Moving a bicycle takes physical effort, thus every unnecessary stop is a tiring strain on the bicyclist. The stops don’t matter to auto drivers, it doesn’t take much energy to push levers with one’s feet.

Thus, bicyclists routinely and characteristically break traffic laws designed to regulate motorized traffic. They do so out of necessity. On many occasions I’ve watched Albany Bicycle Police on patrol break traffic laws, such as running red lights, riding on the sidewalk and even riding against the traffic.

Diva de Loayza & Morsel
Diva de Loayza & Morsel

To hold the late Ms. de Loayza to these sorts of technicalities is absurd and specious. The simple fact is that the driver of the minivan should have stayed alert, and he/she should not have smashed sideways into her bicycle and sent her sprawling to her death.

Much was also made of how Ms. de Loayza did not wear a helmet at the time of her slaughter. In this state, no one above the age of fourteen is required to wear one. Certainly, she should have worn one.

But this was presented by the police and the corporate media as more evidence of her neglect and culpability. It’s her fault that a minivan hit her. It’s her fault that the intersection was designed to kill her. She should have worn her helmet.

I am thoroughly sick and tired of this crap. Decent, upstanding human beings of all varieties routinely die on our roadways, run down by automobiles, punished because they are riding bicycles. By all appearances, the authorities approve of this situation.

Compared to bicyclists and pedestrians, automobile operators have a disproportionate share of rights and privileges. It is high time to reign them in. When will it begin? How many more people need to die for no discernible reason before common sense prevails?

And I’m sick of the corporate media finding fault exclusively with the bicyclists who die, absolving the motorized killers of all blame. It’s time for those people to grow up and start thinking past their suburban agenda. Enough with the auto propaganda. They don’t even make the damn vehicles in America anymore.

In my opinion, the driver of the minivan who killed Diva de Loayza should be charged with manslaughter. The traffic planner who designed the intersection that killed her should be charged with criminal negligence.

This kind of behavior is no longer acceptable.

Prior Post * * * Next Post

This site maintained by Lynne Jackson of Jackson's Computer Services.