Decatur Cyclists Angry About How Fatality Handled

They say the lack of prosecution in the Paul Taylor death proves something's wrong in the way police handle bicycle incidents.

Cycling safety became Dave Mathews' passion after a bad bike wreck 18 months ago, and he grew more serious on the subject after a pickup struck and killed cyclist Paul Taylor.

Mathews became downright angry after authorities announced last week nobody will be prosecuted because they don't have evidence to make a case.

"We're human beings too," said Mathews, who started a Facebook page about bike safety in Atlanta. "We're not disposable creatures."

This kind of anger and frustration has spread through the Atlanta biking community, which has long complained about lack of respect on the road. As a commenter on a Patch story said,

Let me get this straight, if I run over a cyclist at 6:20am and the 4 lane road is otherwise empty of cars so that the bike could be avoided -- I still get to kill somebody for free? I may not be an experienced investigator of traffic fatalities — but it is clear that neither are the Decatur City Police. These other police agencies can "review" all they want — if the initial investigation (by Decatur) is incomplete or flawed, it is too late.

Decatur police said they simply didn't find evidence that would allow them to prosecute Jorge Mercado-Perez, 58, of Snellville, who was driving the Ford Ranger truck that struck Taylor. Two other police agencies reviewed their findings.

DeKalb County Solicitor Sherry Boston announced Friday she would not prosecute. If she had moved ahead, the case would have been a misdemeanor.

Taylor, 53, worked at Emory at Grady. The truck hit him about 6:20 a.m. April 30 on North Decatur Road, route: {:controller=>"articles", :action=>"show", :id=>"bicyclist-killed-on-n-decatur-rd"} -->, near the intersection with Willivee Drive. Mercado-Perez

Bob H September 20, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I am a cyclist as well and I have to agree with some of the sentiment here. I'll be honest, around Decatur I see more cyclists giving us a bad name than those not. I have let some of them know it too and usually they are jerks. It worries me because some drivers get angry about it and some of them react by "fighting back". There really does seem to be a profile that cyclists are in large part guilty of propogating. I've actually started wearing mountain bike pants and street shirts so I look like a commuter and avoid some of the "spandex wearing jerk" profile that some many cyclists have created. Sorry, that's how I see it.
Eric September 20, 2012 at 04:57 PM
I have started commuting by bike. It has been a Godsend for health and well being. I have a perspective on both sides. That being said, for quite a while now I have been amazed at the behavior of cyclists around here. One time two were side by side going at about 10 mph and I was blocked. They obviously thought that was just something I had to deal with since they have all the rights as vehicles. I have had cyclists slam their hands on my car for some crime I committed that I was not even aware of, darting next to me, through red lights, etc. This is the first time in a forum that I have read other cyclists acknowledge this fact. So I commend you for speaking up and noting the problem. I do not have any solutions only that I as a driver I have to be extremely careful around here. I never can be sure what that cyclist is going to do.
ardnamor September 20, 2012 at 05:23 PM
All of the laws that are needed, and probably a bunch that are not or outdated, already exist. It is just a question of consistent enforcement. So, there is no call for more laws. Civility and responsibility are what is needed.
ardnamor September 20, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Upon looking over the posts I am not seeing anything that resembles whining. I am seeing, however, a good conversation between aggravated and angry motorists and civil bicyclists who are upset about the killing of a cyclist lawfully on the road, albeit on a very dangerous road. So sorry for the family's loss.
ardnamor September 20, 2012 at 05:47 PM
I just received an email from Georgia Bikes that states that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) just approved a Complete Streets design policy ( http://georgiabikes.org/images/stories/docs/press_rel/gdot_complete_streets_press_rel.pdf ) So, the good news is that there is change afoot, so to speak.
Ralph Ellis September 20, 2012 at 05:52 PM
I think this is a great conversation. Please keep it going.
Ed September 20, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I have been hit broadside by a driver making an illegal left. I have been hit by a Marta Bus passing too close to me. I have be brushed by an older driver, driving too close. I have also run stop signs, darted between cars and run red lights. I have fallen by my own doing in the middle of Piedmont Road due to the ridges in the median. I am 54, and I am an avid cyclist. All riders assume risk everytime they ride. Just as we are required to take a motorcycle class (which I have, and have had motorcycles) a cycling safety course fashioned after a motorcycle course will safe needless injury and death. If you are an intown rider, attempting a training ride on crowded roads always leads to frustration on both the riders side and the motorists he/she are trying to pass or turn in front of. Save your training rides for Silk Sheets, the Bud Plant, Silver Comet etc.. Intown riding, use it for recovery rides or long distance. Or find neighborhoods with great hills and do repeats, then take it easy going home. Motorists are for the most part very courteous and patient, especially inside the perimeter. However if your group feels the need to exceed the 3' from the curb limit you are being selfish and very foolish. Even I will give groups who ride two, three and four abreast a hard time. It makes the rest of us look bad, its stupid and its against the law. Save the competition for the appropriate venues. Learn to live safely with motorists. Most of us do.
ardnamor September 20, 2012 at 09:49 PM
Here is a link regarding testing for blood alcohol level after an accident http://savannahnow.com/stories/021204/LOC_jonesalcohol.shtml .
ardnamor September 20, 2012 at 10:23 PM
And, here is a link to sunrise and weather conditions 30 APR 2011 http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KPDK/2011/4/30/DailyHistory.html?req_city=NA&req_state=NA&req_statename=NA
R++ One of the Famous Dacula Crew September 21, 2012 at 04:50 AM
As a rider myself I'll ask the rider population reading here to consider, Where are your rear view mirrors? I won't ride without one but I SURE am in the minority... Those ghost frame purchases would buy a lot of safety on the road. Where are the bike lights? even motorcycles ride lit up. Lastly, please consider pulling off the road and let faster traffic pass. I know you want to develop endurance and range, but the build up leads to antsy operators and its just not worth the chance. Follow rules of the road, stop at lights and DON'T blow through, when you run the red you could be surprised how fast it can be filled in the direction of the green, Motorcycles FLY too.
DDAWG September 21, 2012 at 11:11 AM
If Cyclist have the same rights and the same laws as motorist on the road, then I think they should be licensed. That also applies to scooters. I think the roads and speed limits were originally designed for motor vehicles driving a lot faster with bright headlights, tail lights, turn signals and horns. You drive up on a cyclist which is very small, very small tail light, if any. Some ride in the middle of the road. Some ride in the wrong direction. Anybody can go get on a bike with no tail light and no head light and ride on the street with motorist driving 50 miles an hour. The motor vehicle license is way too easy. That's why they hit other cars, cyclist, people and motorcycles. In aviation it's the same thing. If you fly a light sport, you don't have to have a certificate. They fly in the same airspace as other planes which do have to have a certificate. I don't understand. Hopefully we can learn and make things safer from this accident. My prayers go out to the Taylor family.
Racer X September 21, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I have several friends who are cyclists and we have had several friendly discussions about it because I give a damn about them. A cyclist has every right to the road. Similarly, a 16-year old girl has the right to walk down a dark ally alone at 2:00am. Is exercising either one of these rights a good idea? Er....I say no.
Racer X September 21, 2012 at 12:36 PM
Well said....Ed.
wle atlanta II September 21, 2012 at 12:56 PM
your license needs to be taken away you obviously don;t care about driving laws or people wle
wle atlanta II September 21, 2012 at 01:01 PM
ed he probably wasn;t on n decatur for long you have to be on it right there, to get ANYWHERE, unless you want to go 6 miles to avoid it he may have been intending to turn off at the first opportunity which would make it REALLY bad luck wle
wle atlanta II September 21, 2012 at 01:02 PM
cjm you're just too angry wle
Dude September 21, 2012 at 01:33 PM
It is sad that this has turned into such a bitter debate between cyclists and those that are not cyclists. The facts here are that person who has been charged now 3 times in 4 years for DUI was not found at fault for literally running over a large man and his bike. Clearly this man does not choose to obey traffic laws as is evidence by his frequent moving violoations and DUI's. Those that have criticized the cycslist for making a poor choice for riding on such a busy rode - if it is so busy then why are there no witnesses to the accident? If this had been a pedestrian hit, would there be the same debate? Obviously this cyclist had fallen or had been hit by another car - it is absurd to think that he was intentionally kneeling in the road. If the driver of the car was able to see him and register that he was kneeling in the road as was reported on the accident report, then he should have been able to stop - of course if he were traveling the speed limit that is. There is a very clear line of sight coming up from Superior heading East on North Decatur. In a 35 mph zone you would have plenty of time to stop.
ardnamor September 21, 2012 at 02:24 PM
This conversation must not be hijacked by hate radio culture behavior. Motorists have very valid grievances towards cyclists hot dogging and cyclists have to contend with the degeneration of driving skills and etiquette (turn signals anyone?). To cap it off, the main roads are very hazardous and surface speeds are usually beyond the limit. This leads to a general lack of respect for the fact that using our roads is a social event that requires everyone to know and play by the rules so that we get where we want to go without anyone getting hurt. We are, truly, all in this together.
Ralph Ellis September 21, 2012 at 02:35 PM
A new question, readers. How should traffic laws be changed?
AJM September 21, 2012 at 02:44 PM
Ralph, like the question. How about these changes: 1) Heavy fines for parking/stopping in the middle of traffic (UPS/FedEx/etc.) 2) Put cones in areas where drivers frequently cross double yellow lines These two things cause problems for both cars and bikes. The violators are selfish drivers who inconvenience everyone.
Ralph Ellis September 21, 2012 at 03:03 PM
Good ideas. How about strong enforcement of stop sign laws for cyclists and the 3-foot rule for auto drivers?
AJM September 21, 2012 at 04:30 PM
Ralph, I would agree, but the 3-foot rule isn't always realistic. For example, look at North Highland. There are lots of cars parked on a pretty narrow road. The rule would probably place opposing cars closer to each other than a car+bike. Also, that's probably a very resource-intensive rule to enforce (as would be rolling stops for bikes). Cops are more likely to spend time on violations with big fines/fewer big violators. In my view, the big problem is some selfish drivers causing a cascade of problems when they impede traffic flow. This forces both cars & drivers into opposing lanes and reduces road capacity. By the way, I totally acknowledge that some some bikes (especially large groups in a cluster) can cause problems. But the bike riders are more putting themselves at risk when they misbehave.
Ralph Ellis September 21, 2012 at 04:47 PM
AJM, I had not thought about that. I've heard of police ticketing bicyclists for running stop signs but I've never heard of a ticket for breaking the three-foot rule. Have you?
wle atlanta II September 21, 2012 at 10:15 PM
north highland - no it would not be a problem bikes should take the lane get out of the 'door lane' to the far right if cars have to wait half a minute, they can calm down does anyone on north highland expect that to be a high speed route? no same thing in downtown atl lots of lights, crosswalks, buses, carriages, double parkers, why take it out on 2 or 3 bikes? there are plenty of other things to slow you down chillit wle
wle atlanta II September 21, 2012 at 10:16 PM
no no one ever tickets for a 3 foot rule i think it is just something to charge a motorist with after a cyclist is killed obviously if there is a collision, the space was 0 feet wle
GES September 22, 2012 at 04:46 PM
This was a case of a cyclist making the poor choice to ride on such a dangerous road. I live a block away from the crash site an will not even walk down that part of N Decatur Road. It is just a bad road and was a bad decision that day.
Scott Simpson September 23, 2012 at 02:52 PM
Americans were completely brainwashed by the auto industry long ago. What other 'product' alienates you from people, destroys the planet, destroys your health, causes wars (for oil)? Only the automobile.
Racer X September 23, 2012 at 03:22 PM
How do cars alienate you from people when several people can ride together? Some of the best times my daughter and I have are on long drives. You kind of sound like the "car hater" in that Speed Racer episode about the guy on the horse that hated cars. Luckily Speed straightened him out :-)
ardnamor September 24, 2012 at 07:28 PM
Here is a link to an interesting article about bicycles and motorists http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2012/09/cyclists_are_annoying_why_you_think_they_re_a_menace_on_two_wheels_.html
Judy October 25, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Great comment, just me. Thats exactly what lots of them do.; And they look at you with the deer in the headlights look...eventually thats what they will be is the deer!


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