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November 24, 2017
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  • Mike

    The lawyer Peter Wilborn says, in a trite statement of the bleeding obvious, “More time in jail won’t bring Tom back.” No sir, it won’t but it will keep this truly dreadful woman off the roads, which seems to me the best thing for society.

    • Steak

      The author here — In the context of the conversation, it didn’t seem trite. He is in favor of more jail time for Cook — his point that any time she gets out was too soon, and that there isn’t a tipping point at which justice feels whole.

  • Bob

    I think I held my breath throughout reading this, and just now exhaled. Maybe this should be compulsory reading for everyone who Cook preached to in church, might give them pause for thought.

  • Bob

    …and, IMO, this is an example of excellent journalism. Following up a story from some time ago in such detail and from several different perspectives. Heartbreaking, but excellent.

  • Alex

    Welcome to America. A minority will spend more time in jail for having a bit of drugs on him but if you run over a cyclist even while drunk the court goes “meh” and lets you off easy.

  • Eric

    Thanks for this story. Very well done.

  • Allez Rouleur

    I’ve heard about Tom before. It’s terrible. I now have a one-year old son (birthday was last Friday 4/28) and time for road riding has been limited this year. But, with a son and wife, I honestly have thought more about whether or not I should ride on open roads. I know I could die tomorrow of a heart attack, but I have found myself thinking about the risk a lot more this past year.

    I’m in central NC and last year a group of cyclists was killed by a motorist. Guy had something like 35 traffic tickets and he was let off. AWFUL. It’s so insane our laws don’t treat cyclists (and pedestrians!) with more respect.

    One block from my house is a ghost bike that my wife and I help maintain. The cyclist killed there was a seasoned rider and the driver ADMITTED to the police he saw him, but decided to pull out. And killed him. Absolutely nothing happened to the man (who is like 80 years old). I honestly can’t think of another way you can kill someone, admit to it, and be let off without any charges.

    Ugh, Cook is the type of formal religion follower who makes it easy to be cynical towards zealously religious people. Sorry, but in America the noisiest Christians are often the quite hypocritical. Says a confirmed Catholic who has chosen to leave that flock far behind.

  • George Darroch

    In almost every country the use of potentially lethal machines is not given the seriousness it deserves, and then when these are misused the consequences of doing so are light compared to the death and injury caused.

    5 people have died on the roads in Victoria this year already. This has to stop.

  • Joe Spano

    I tried to read the whole article but had to stop part way through in sadness for Tom’s family and anger at the woman’s inability to understand the responsibility one has when behind the wheel of a motorcar. This should never have happened. Tom should still be with his family. The woman does not deserve a second chance – sorry – just my opinion.

    • Rob Biddlecombe

      She did not deserve a second chance, but she got it. This is the third chance now. Prison will not bring Tom back. But it will keep this woman off the streets.

  • Jim

    Very sad, and also disturbing hypocrisy. Taking responsibility is to say “okay the penalty is 20 years, so I’ll take 20 years and provide for the family out of my own pocket and resign from my appointment” (as drunkeness I believe is supposed to preclude someone from being an elder / bishop / overseer).
    I hope the family can forgive because it would be terrible for them to live with anger and bitterness their whole lives and therefore lose 3 extra lives.

  • David Bonnett

    Thank you Peter for writing this and thank you to Cycling Tips for publishing it. It should be required reading for the lawmakers of Maryland (where I went to university) and beyond.

    There clearly appears to be a systemic bias against holding drivers fully accountable for their actions behind the wheel as well as assuming that driving is a right rather than a privilege. In addition, hit and runs do not attract a severe enough penalty to be an effective disincentive. Finally, cyclists are often treated as being partially complicit in their own deaths, regardless of the evidence, and drivers are given the benefit of the doubt when responsibility and consequences are determined.

  • velocite

    Fifty years ago community standards in Australia were different. I routinely drove while pissed. We bragged about it, in my cohort anyway. It’s only by luck that I didn’t kill anyone. Now, I believe that if I killed a cyclist with my car because I was drunk I’d plead guilty and ask to be locked up. That’s because I know that driving while drunk is dangerous and irresonsible. And of course, as a cyclist I know how vulnerable they are.

    Some progress has been made in recent years in establishing decent driving standards around cyclists, but too little by far. The establishment here, by and large, are not cyclists, which is reflected in their decision making both in law making and law enforcement. Case in point: the Victorian Government’s recent rejection of the recommendation of their own enquiry to introduce a passing clearance law. It was not just the fact of rejection but the manner of it: high-handed and with no reasoning.

    Somewhere in this Maryland case different standards apply. What sort of morality has a driver who has killed someone to plead not guilty? Answer: the hypocritical sort.

  • jules

    There’s too much focus on the right penalty to apply, after the crime.

    This person was a known alcoholic with priors for similar offences. It’s crazy that we just sit and wait for them to kill someone before springing into action. Alcoholics will drink and most will drive. Yet we take no steps to stop them, other than the threat of a penalty which is ineffective as drunks don’t reason penalties out in their decision making.

    Let her go, for all I care. But don’t let it happen again with someone else, which sadly is the exact plan last I checked.

    • Eric Blair

      Replace all mentions of “alcoholics” with “black people” in your comment and ponder it for a moment. I won’t argue that Cook deserved her driver’s license (cuz she didn’t), but I will argue that no one deserves to be judged based on their diseases. I am an alcoholic and I drive and I haven’t had a drink since the Bush administration. No need to get heavy-handed with the hasty generalizations.

      Anyway, I would also argue that penalties do matter because they assign a kind of moral value to the victim’s life. To that end, we REALLY need to stiffen the penalties for vehicular homicide, manslaughter, and reckless endangerment in America. Even here in Salt Lake City, which is bike-crazy if anywhere in America is, there are people who harass cyclists with their cars. If I were to get killed by one of them, chances are good that if they stay on the scene, they won’t face charges at all or at most they will pay a small fine. It’s like living with a bounty on your head. Or maybe this is how squirrels feel?

      • jules

        By ‘alcoholic’ I meant people who rely on being intoxicated to get through their day. I understand you are defining ‘alcoholic’ more broadly to include people who are on the wagon, but let’s not argue over semantics. All the best with your success in managing your condition.

        I don’t propose any measures for alcoholics who are effectively managing their condition. Obviously if you are able to maintain your sobriety, you aren’t a risk at this time (or ever, I hope and trust).

        But she wasn’t managing her condition, clearly. People obviously knew that and most likely knew she was driving. Yet society just says, for some unknown reason “We can’t do anything, as she’s innocent until proven guilty – let’s wait until she kills someone before judging her”.

        It’s completely nuts! I get the concept of ‘innocent until proven guilty’, but we take it way too far. Lawyers have been permitted to apply arbitrary principles of law above all common sense and reason, as some kind of holy scripture.

        PS I don’t take your point about replacing ‘alcoholic’ with ‘blacks’. One poses a clear risk intrinsically linked to their condition (when driving), the other has a loose correlation with some measures such as crime (or whatever), which is clearly unjustified in tarring them all with the same brush.

        • Eric Blair

          I understand what you mean. People who have been arrested for DUI (or OWI or whatever it’s called where you live because there are a surprising number of terms for it) do lose their license and are often required to attend substance abuse classes. Perhaps increasing the length of time before they can try to earn their license back would help to deter more drivers from drinking. Like, increase it by a lot. Instead of six months or a year, make it several years before they can try to get it back and require counseling at the driver’s expense. That way, you’re punishing the behavior instead of making an assumption about a person’s character just based on a fact of their biology (if you believe in genetic predisposition). After all, it seems that someone who isn’t an alcoholic and who is therefore not under any kind of involuntary compulsion to drink and yet still does and kills someone would be at least as culpable for their behavior as an addict and it’s all the same to the dead person. But you can’t give up on the presumption of innocence or else suddenly everything looks a lot more like “Minority Report.”

          • jules

            I’m not talking about punishment or cancelling their licence (that should happen, but it’s not enough). A large proportion of banned drivers, particularly alcoholics just keep driving. I’m talking about taking positive action to stop them from driving. Removing their driver’s licence is a ludicrously weak measure, we know it doesn’t work. “You’ll get in trou-ble!” is not effective.

            Why did she even have access to a car?! Did she own it? There are such obvious and easy measures available here, that authorities do not take. This isn’t “Minority Report”, it’s taking prudent action against someone who is a clear risk to reduce that risk.

            • Eric Blair

              It’s been a minute since I bought a car so my memory about the process isn’t great, but I believe that you do need a license in order to be able to register and therefore legally drive the car. If that’s the case, then for most people just revoking their license will prevent them from driving. Certainly not everyone, but that would be the case even if we weren’t talking about alcoholics. I work at a bike shop and most of our ebike customers are people who’ve lost their license for exactly this reason and so no longer drive.

              I think that the reason that I’m taking you to task for this argument is that you’re arguing that based on a fact of someone’s biology or personal life that might not rise to the point of doing anything illegal, they shouldn’t be allowed to purchase a car to begin with. Alcoholics seem to be the target here because they lack rationality because of their drinking. But how would you judge whether someone is too irrational to drive? Are we talking only people with recorded DUI’s, which could be anyone, or are we talking anyone with mental disorders that affect their decision-making? How long would they be banned from owning a car? Would I not be allowed to drive because I used to drink, even though I was never arrested for DUI? And it’s not only alcoholics who drive without licenses; I read somewhere that a 12 y.o. had been pulled over after driving 100 miles across Australia. How compromised does someone’s decision-making have to be and for how long to justify taking “positive measures” against them? There’s no non-intrusive/creepy way to implement something like what you’re suggesting.

              Part of the solution, though, could be changing the way that we see cars and crashes. We would need to reorganize transit in the U.S. so that not being able to drive doesn’t mean being sentenced to poverty in many areas. In many areas of the country, if you don’t have a car, you are completely screwed. Adding destitution to their woes will not help alcoholics become successful, rhetorically suave people like yours truly. We also need to treat crashes as catastrophes instead of the current rhetoric of “accidents,” which makes it sound like someone just pooed their pants instead of killed someone. We need to treat cars as the really big, dangerous, complicated machines that they are, instead of toys you give you to your kids just for having lived for fourteen consecutive years.

              *Edited to add that all this adds up to stiffened penalties for misusing those big, dangerous, complicated machines.

              • jules

                I don’t have the exact answer of how to stop people who shouldn’t be driving from driving, but what I’m saying is that currently – no real efforts are made – other than the threat of punishment if caught. My logic is that someone whose licence is suspended or cancelled has no business owning or having access to a car. I agree that what it means to remove their access is tricky – but we haven’t even explored those options. Suspending their registration is meaningless – you don’t respond to someone who is willing to ignore a law (driving while banned) by making it (more) illegal. That’s just beating your head against a wall.

                Yes, I do think alcoholics should be denied access to driving a car. I don’t care how good character you may have, if you’re unable to control your drinking (and you know I exclude reformed alcoholics here), you are a risk if you have access to a car. It’s not intrusive. When an alcoholic says having their access to a car is intrusive, my question is – how is that intrusive? I don’t buy some of these nebulus, civil liberties arguments. If you’re worried about having your access to a car removed, but also not supposed to be operating a car and agreeing that you won’t – my alarm bells are going off all over the place. You’re probably lying.

                • Eric Blair

                  It seems like we agree on the first part: that people who don’t have licenses shouldn’t have access to cars (leaving aside whether family members owning cars counts as having access).

                  The second part is where we part ways. People ignore laws all the time while driving: they haven’t been banned but are abusing a privilege that they currently have. No one proscribes their having a car, which happens once they are caught abusing the privilege. What you are arguing for sounds like a ban on car ownership until the person has control over their drinking, which is already a thing: requiring the successful completion of substance abuse counseling (which most of it is a joke, btw, but that has more to do with funding than anything else). I don’t have any problem with that line of reasoning as long as the requirement is based on the person’s having been caught violating their privilege to drive. If someone were a private alcoholic but, like a paranoid swimmer, always waited for their BAC to sink below the legal limit before jumping in the car, then I would have no problem with their having a license. They aren’t doing anything wrong. They might be suffering tremendous personal grief for their addiction but they aren’t violating the law. I don’t think that there’s any way to detect and then intervene into the life of the person that I’ve just described without violating their civil liberties and also opening up others’ rights to the same violations. How do you detect someone’s alcoholism if they drink alone and aren’t drunk behind the wheel without some form of surveillance-type intrusion into their life?

                  My question then is how stiffening penalties for all driving related offenses and making the possibility of earning back the license contingent on treatment and management of their condition don’t resolve the problems? One other possibility is making car ownership a one-strike sort of deal, where a single major offense loses you your driving privileges forever. But in order for that to work, Americans would need more options to get around (I’m from Iowa and if you don’t have a car or the fitness to ride a bike there, you’re just hosed, because most of Iowa is built with cars in mind and no public transportation available).

                • slartiblartfast

                  There is the interlock device which when fitted means that the driver must blow a zero alcohol breath test before the car will start. This is part of sentencing for high range and repeat DUI offenders in NSW after a period of suspension from driving. It is also an option for a conditional driving licence for people required to have a medical review for their driving licence which in NSW includes everyone over the age of 75 and people with certain medical conditions. It isn’t foolproof because if a person on the interlock program is determined to drive while intoxicated they could always use someone else’s car or get a sober accomplice to blow into the device, but it is arguably more effective than attempting to enforce a long term driving disqualification.

  • Steve

    Just makes me sad reading about tragic events like this and the massive psycho social impact on family and the broader community. I just want to touch on one statement early on in the article about not stopping and rendering aid. My Dad was driving back in the 60’s when a intoxicated person stepped out in front of his car and he hit the person and that person was killed. My father was found to be not at fault however despite the obvious tragic loss for the family involved from our perspective our family have experienced the effects of PTSD that have extended for decades. Rarely speaking about it; he did however say that when he hit the person the physiological reaction of ‘Flight or fight’ is so overwhelming that Flight seemed the best course of action; however it took all his strength to overcome this and stay at the scene. It is testament to his character. I can’t comment on this case because there are so many factors however I just wanted to share that insight into what my father experienced

  • MattF

    Outstanding article Peter. Very sad on many levels.

  • Mikey

    Of course the lawyer isn’t going to say that the sentence was BS. He has to kowtow to his judge buddy again someday soon, and we surely would not want to offend sensibilities or upset the legal quid pro quo.

  • Meg Lowe

    I pray for Tom’s family….
    I am also a victim of a “hit and run”, left on the road w/a broken neck, shattered jaws, crushed cheek bone and eye socket!.
    This article brings chills. The joy of riding is amazing, telling your legs to “shut up”, as you get out of the saddle to reach the top of the climb. As riders, we all know the risks….it’s crazy, the overwhelming disregard for cyclists on the road!
    This alcoholic women needs to stay in jail.
    There is NO evidence that she has faced her own demons and won’t ever have her lips come near an alcoholic beverage.
    For the safety of others, pls….

  • Gary Miller

    Eighteen months for drunk, drugged and texting. Nothing for killing a beautiful person. A crime by a hypocrite who should have a full fixed sentence and never be allowed to drive again. The law needs to change in many countries. A cyclist is not just a low grade hit, they are humans and need the full porotection of proper laws.

  • CR

    Excellent writing. Thank you.

  • biliruben

    I think the key here is to get her and others with her disease off the road. If, through actions, you demonstrate irresponsibility behind the wheel, you lose your license for an extended period of time, maybe 5 years. During that time, you are randomly tested, at your cost. If anyone lends you their car, they get to share a cell next to you. If you steal a car and drive, life without parole.

    We have a behind-the-windshield mentality in our country, which gives almost all of us feelings of empathy; we all drive inattentively from time to time, and we can imagine ourselves in this woman’s position, if not perhaps a shot or two from death. Because of this, our laws and our judges give violent offenses behind the wheel far more leniency than violence using other deadly weapons. It’s got to stop.

    The key in the long-term is to provide protected facilities, which get a more diverse, less hard-core group of riders on the roads. This would create a beneficial spiral where people would think less in terms of behind-the-windshield and more in terms of over-the-handlebars. And laws, perceptions and driving improve.

  • Bicyclists Baltimore

    Our interview with Chris Bishop soon after Tom’s death, including an image of his last bicycle: http://bicyclistsofbaltimore.com/post/122910418472/bicyclist-chris-bishop-everything-is-sculpted-i

    • Steak

      That is so F—king cool. Can you give permission for the image to be used here? (I’m the author of the story here.)

      • Bicyclists Baltimore

        Sure. With credit: Andy Dahl/Marissa O’Guinn :)

  • badhombrebigdo

    So they’re thinking of releasing a cult leader (that’s all she is) back into society after she’s proven to be reckless and an endangerment to innocent people and seems parlay remorseless? Makes sense… smh…

    She can spend the rest of her worthless ass life in the clink far as I care… she’s awful and like most religious nutters; a complete hypocrite when away from the rubes that are engulfed in her fairytales.

  • yoslate

    Just before reading this powerful and artfully written piece, I read of someone in Louisiana who had his eighteen-year sentence for possession of eighteen grams of pot upheld by that state’s supreme court. I’ve ridden an awful lot over the past thirty-five years, and have heard far too many stories exactly like Tom Palermo’s. Exactly. And it never fails to mystify me how the cyclist’s life, somehow simply by virtue of being a cyclist, has a bizarre presumptive devaluation, a devaluation which is almost without fail endorsed by the justice system.

  • Geds

    A “beyond horrible” story written with great empathy and dignity, thank you.

  • Dale Hanks

    This was a great subject, and it was written well, and for that I thank you. The only thing that I would ask is that you get someone else to read your copy before you publish it. There are several sentences that are confusing because of either too many words or not enough. As a professional writer I am surprised that you are okay with that.

    I am sorry that Tom is gone, he seems like he was a great guy, a superior father, and a great husband. As a driver I don’t understand why bicycle riders are allowed on roads. Where I live, Denver, there are literally hundred of miles of bike trails, and I am going to venture that the same exists in Maryland. Why good riders insist on riding in traffic boggles my mind. If I hit another car at 30mph we both live. If I hit a cyclist who ran a stop sign they die and I get to live with the guilt, and I see it all of the time. Get off the roads.

    • Steak

      Hi Dale — this is the author. Thanks for the feedback. Curious to hear which sentences were confusing because they had too many words or not enough.

      • Dale Hanks

        ?Hi Peter,

        First, I am not trolling you, my name is Dale Hanks, and I reside in the Denver area. I found your article sometimes hard to read, and my point is that maybe having another person, or an editor, go through it first, before publishing, might have made it even better. Below I have copied some of your prose to show you specifically what I am talking about. I know that this is not The New Yorker, or Harper’s Bazaar, but utilizing the grammar rules makes it easier for everyone to read what you wrote. I don’t know you but you are a much better writer than I am. I would like to offer my help the next time you write something this lengthy as a second set of eyes.
        “The climb up Lake Avenue to gently rises for about a mile, but the grade kicks up in earnest when you turn southbound on Roland.”

        “She said that she and kids missed Tom terribly. But she wanted me to know how much Tom loved working on my frame.”

        “I reread that note many times and thought hard about it.”

        “The muscles in my shoulders cord up as I type that.”

        ““More time in prison won’t bring Tom back. That’s why as a lawyer I want define victory beforehand and discuss that with the family.”

        ““And on days like Christmas and Valentines Day and especially Father’s Day I get choked up.””

        ” She described how she and Tom met each other in 2002 as coworkers at REI.”
        “After that call from Rachel, Bishop went over the house.”?

        Thank you,
        Dale Hanks

        • MMAster

          At no point reading this article did I have any issues reading or comprehending the authors words & thoughts… Your critique does not belong here, rather, I suggest you should have direct messaged the author.

          • Dale Hanks

            How would I do that, message him directly? I am happy that you are used to lazy writing and had no problem with reading this. You are not part of the conversation. He responded to me, on this forum. Thank you.

            • Will Dooley

              Please get a life Dale Hanks.

              • Dale Hanks


              • Steak

                Give the guy a break. He actually caught a couple of typos that needed fixing.

                • Will Dooley

                  Typos happen. That’s what editors are for. I currently have an 80,000 word manuscript with one. I’ve had several readers and have even read the entire work out loud. Even then, some escape. As I recall (since your friend Dale has taken down both his detailed autopsy of your work and his unfortunate reply affirming the need in my comment) only one of the faults he found met that standard.
                  It’s a shame that someone would take after your wonderful piece.

                  Oh. And stay off Dale’s lawn.

            • Yossarian

              Dale, how do I tell you this? I’m a writer as well and you are a w*anker. Cyclists have an equal right to ride on the road. Telling us that they should get off the road is supercilious arrogance. There are many articles that one could pick up for grammatical errors and the like but this article doesn’t seek to attain those lofty heights that you espouse. It’s the spirit of this article that is important. To use your words, loosely translated, get off this site and go and comment on something else, more attuned to your puritanical sensitivities.

              • Dale Hanks


                • Yossarian

                  You sent me an email. You told me I’m using the Yossarian user name incorrectly. How? The spelling is correct. You need to explain yourself better, clearly, a skill you have shown you do not have. You really are an arrogant bottom feeding dilettante. I’m assuming you’ve read Catch 22. Did you find all sort of grammatical errors in that as well? Let’s get this straight sunshine, motorists DO NOT pay for the building and maintenance of our roads, taxpayers, of which bike riders are a part, do. Ergo, cyclists are just as entitled to use the road as motorists. All I’ve heard from you is criticism of others, I haven’t seen any examples of your supposedly fine work. Have you written any positively reviewed books? Do you have any examples you can send me? Probably not.

                  • Dale Hanks

                    I did not send you email, I responded to a response you made on a public forum. You are using the name Yossarian incorrectly, did you read the book? Yossarian is the observer, you are not observing, you are inserting yourself into the argument. I don’t need to explain myself more clearly, and I am being completely open about who I am, you have not. “Sunshine” should be capitalized, dummy. Gas taxes pay for roads…dummy. Cyclists, in buying their bikes and parts, do not pay for roads, they pay sales taxes, not road taxes, dummy.

                    I simply showed the author of this article which sentences were poorly constructed, you are attacking me without having been attacked, seeming to take umbrage by proxy. I also told the author that he is a much better writer than I am, as I am a much better writer than you are.


                    • Yossarian

                      You’re a waste of space. The Yossarian moniker is irrelevant. You’re making it an issue, as if you’re a failed university professor. Trying to analyse Yossarian, his motive, his point of view, is completely irrelevant. Yes, I have read Catch 22. Sunshine? you’re an intellectual gnat, straining at gnats and swallowing camels. You appear to insecure, going to great pains to tell me how much better you are than me, when your grasp of the facts is so tenuous as to make any argument you proffer ludicrously indefensible. You have absolutely no idea how roads are paid for, gas/petrol taxes make up less than 20% of the cost of building and maintaining roads in this country. The rest comes out of consolidated revenue. There is no poetry in your writing, but then, you must be a much better writer than me because you’ve said so, trying so hard to prop up your insecurity. The reviews of my writing in other forums must be misguided then. Have you ever been published in Cycling Tips? Anywhere?

                    • Dale Hanks

                      Hi Yosserian,

                      Why would I be published anywhere else in Cycling Tips? I am not a cyclist, I run. I found this story through ESPN, and I commented that it was a great story but had poor grammar.

                      Are you from outside the United States? Analyse is spelled analyze in the United States. Ah, “petrol”, you are not from the United States. You use a forum name from an American book that you don’t understand.

                      I do know exactly how roads are paid for in my country, my profession dictates it.

                      The only thing that I have said is that I am a better writer than you are, and I am. You are a troll, looking for fights that you won’t win, and can’t lose.

                      I stand by my grammar corrections.


                    • bicycleutopia

                      Dale Hanks makes the kind of comments about bicycles and transportation that hits the bullseye of arrogant stupidity. He has no idea what a defensible and sustainable and efficient transportation system looks like: to say that he has the windshield perspective is an understatement. Does he read? Does he study the topics on which he offers his commentary? He’s an imbecile when it comes to bicycles and transportation and car supremacy: “As a driver I don’t understand why bicycle riders are allowed on roads. Where I live, Denver, there are literally hundred of miles of bike trails, and I am going to venture that the same exists in Maryland. Why good riders insist on riding in traffic boggles my mind. If I hit a cyclist who ran a stop sign they die and I get to live with the guilt, and I see it all of the time. Get off the roads.” Wow. These statements are moronic — BUT THEY REPRESENT THE BACKWARDNESS OF THE USA and need to be taken seriously. For starters read: One Less Car by Furness; Suburban Nation by Duaney et al; Geography of Nowhere by Kunstler; Republic of Drivers by Seiler.

                      The stupified views expressed by Dale Hanks will lead to many more bicyclists being killed, and that’s the deep ongoing tragedy here in the Palermo story, one that Tom would appreciate.

                    • jules

                      “Gas taxes pay for roads…dummy. ”

                      BZZZZZZT. nice try! it’s been good having you on the show Dale, and you were so close. you don’t go away empty handed though. here’s some reading material.

                      “Today, general taxes paid by all taxpayers cover nearly as much of the cost of building and maintaining highways as the gas tax and other fees paid by drivers. The purchasing power of gasoline taxes has declined as a result of inflation, improved vehicle fuel economy, and the recent stagnation in driving. As a result, so-called “user fees” cover a shrinking share of transportation costs.”

                      See more at: http://www.frontiergroup.org/reports/fg/who-pays-roads#sthash.JOInysbD.dpuf

  • Christopher

    I bookmarked it, and I am sharing it on Facebook.

  • satch7

    the laws are weak because the judges,lawyers,middle and upper class folks drink and drive.if it was only the poor from inner city areas doing this, you better believe it would be a heavy penalty attached

  • Chris Hawkes

    Peter, would you mind sharing details of how to contact the parole board, or any one else that you believe can influence the decision of the parole board. Your article moved me as I am sure it has many others (I also shared it on Facebook). I feel the parole board should hear what the general public think of this case. Alternatively I’d be happy to sign a petition calling for Heather Cook to serve her full time if you could point us at that.

    18 months for killing someone is unacceptable, she should at a minimum serve the full 7 years of her sentence (too little IMHO), otherwise the message is being sent that if you’re on a bike you’re life is somehow worth less…

    • Steak

      Hey Chris. The only way to express your feelings is to write the parole board. I’ll paste the address here. They probably won’t get it until after this week’s hearing but I hope they’ll be considering the matter for months or years to come. Best, Peter

      Maryland Parole Commission
      6776 Reisterstown Road, Suite 307,
      Baltimore, MD 21215.

      • Chris Hawkes

        Thanks Peter, much appreciated

  • Simon Wile

    One of the “best” articles I’ve read on Cyclingtips. Hit me right in the feelings. I do sometimes wonder if it is worth the risk of riding on the road these days where killing a person seems to have little consequence. Sad state of the world :( Thank you for this article.

  • I read this with tears in my eyes. I don’t understand any of these technical details about building bikes, but I am a cyclist, and I’m only too well aware of how vulnerable I am when I’m out on my bike. This woman deserves to rot in prison.

  • bicycleutopia

    Thank you Peter Flax for writing this. Very well done. The event is tragic on many levels. Tom Palermo’s death has broader ramifications for a culture whose quality of life is precipitously declining on every measure used to gauge it. Transportation and the legal system are just two aspects of this disaster and decline.

  • thriftydiaries

    So much more to this story…. The only thing that can bring
    her past her ego is to be bathed in the blood of Christ. To think she pleaded
    not guilty ate me every time I spoke to her. It was not until she said she would
    admit her guilt that I could even see how God was trying to knock down those
    walls. I am disturbed that this plea might have been used to manipulate the
    system for a better sentence, and how much money was involved to keep her out
    of jail before trial. She was given a choice to be humble before God and yet she seems to have taken it
    to continue to puff herself up even while in jail. This beyond disheartening. Sometimes even
    emotional realizations still are not enough to humble someone. To think you
    are able to minister when you cannot even humble yourself before God,
    is a sin. This sentence is not for her ministry it is for God’s ministry to

  • S. Erik Hermo

    Excellent article. And it gives some insight into an imperfect justice system.

  • M W

    This country goes far too easy, not just on people who commit vehicular homicide, but on anyone who drives drunk or uses their cell phone while driving.
    IMO, Heather Cook deserves the death penalty. Undoubtedly, some people will think that’s too harsh, but she left the man to die on the road. It’s unlikely she could have done anything to save him, but she didn’t know that at the time. She was reckless, in multiple ways, then when she had a chance to show some compassion, a chance to at least try to save the life of someone she harmed, she ran. People with that mindset have, IMO, resigned from humanity. Heather Cook is no longer a person. She’s a monster.

  • Tyler Bronder

    Peter, thank you.

    As a Washington, DC resident I followed Tom’s tragic death and the aftermath closely, but this piece brings depth that I could never have imagined. It’s also a bit personal, as I have fond memories of getting some friendly encouragement from Maile Neel during my first 200km brevet (on a 90 ºF day) way back in 2008. The DC / Baltimore area has some incredible people in its bike community–as I’m sure most others do–but the amount of tragedies they’ve faced on the roads are sickening.

    I’ll be joining the Veloclub now, as this piece illustrates why Cyclingtips has become the best site for coverage of cycling that goes well beyond the pros and the latest gear. Please keep features like these coming.

    • Steak

      Thanks Tyler. Appreciate the kind words and your support.

  • Jack Carroll

    Young gal, 20 years old just got hit by a tanker truck and died. Tanker truck driver said he did not see her. Happened yesterday in Wilmington NC


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