PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) – A cyclist here in the east was hit by a vehicle yesterday – and she is questioning why the driver doesn’t have more charges.
Liza Hardy-Braz said she was riding in a single-file line with her husband and friend when she heard the car get closer to her. “It all happened so fast, and the next thing I know, I felt this impact on my left side, and I fell to the ground,” said Hardy-Braz.
The result of her bicycle collision extended beyond her broken bicycle. “It wasn’t that this driver didn’t reduce speed; it was that this driver didn’t see us on a sunny day, on a wide road, on an open road; we weren’t on curvy lanes,” said Hardy-Braz.
The driver of the car was identified by highway patrol as 36-year-old Tallula Tillman. Tillman was charged with failure to reduce speed, but Hardy-Braz felt that was not enough, and the driver failed to give them the proper four feet.
“From here to here, what do I have? Max 10 inches right? Plus the two inches away from the line, so maybe there is a foot between me and the edge of the white line, so I didn’t even get one foot,” said Hardy-Braz.
One lawyer who advocates for biking culture says most charges in these cases are minimal. “The person who maybe wasn’t paying attention made a bad choice, was distracted by their phone, just driving down the road carelessly, blind, whatever. Is subject really only to not even a misdemeanor often but an infraction,” said Bike Law Lawyer Ann Groninger.
Groninger says while a change does need to be made, she doesn’t see one coming anytime soon. “There’s going to have to be a legislative component. We’re gonna have to have stricter laws, we’re going to have to have enforcement, and I don’t see we’ll get enforcement until there’s more funding on it and more emphasis on it,” said Groninger.
I also spoke to Trooper Rico Stevens, who said that while highway patrol is not allowed to comment on pending cases, failure to reduce speed is a typical charge for anyone who hits someone from behind, which he said is what happened in this case.
Hardy-Braz has already been treated and released from the hospital yesterday with no broken bones. However, her bike was broken in several places.