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Those of you who subscribe to Motorcyclist magazine - I wonder if you noticed the "Who Knew?" article by Dexter Ford in the March 2007 issue (page 42) about the recent bike/auto fatality covered by the LA Times
http://www.latimes.com/classified/a...00395.story?coll=la-class-highway1-yourwheels.

There was a post about this fatality on this very site when the article came out. At that time, the Times had reported that Raj Boren, while riding a Suzuki at allegedly 80 mph in a 25 mph zone in Long Beach, killed Elisa Gigliotti in her Ford Escort as she was leaving work on 10/4. And most of us - myself included - thought that Boren was in the wrong.

I'm writing this blog to say that after reading Dexter Ford's talkback, I personally feel I was too hard on Boren. What I found especially interesting about Motorcyclist's talkback article in this month's issue is that, if true, it reveals just how shoddy the LA Times's fact-checking mechanisms are, as well as how biased its so-called "news reporting" organization has become.

Besides glossing over the fact that the accident occurred when Gigliotti flipped a left-hand turn in front of Boren, the LA Times article includes among its many other potential inaccuracies a statement that the rider was doing 80 mph in a 25 mph zone. Yet, upon further research of Long Beach's engineering and traffic survey, the speed limit in the area this accident occurred was actually 40 mph. Moreover, the traffic study also indicated that the so-called "85th percentile speed" (i.e., the speed below which 85 percent of drivers actually drive) is 51 mph. In other words, the typical driver in the area where this accident occurred is probably doing somewhere between 40-50 miles per hour.

OK, OK, you're probably thinking to yourself, "but Boren was still going 30-40 mph over the limit - he probably deserved it, even if Gigliotti pulled out in front of him, right? We;ll, as it turned out, other coverage of the accident indicates that one officer at the scene (Jayson Wong) originally indicated Boren was only doing about 65 mph when the accident occurred. The other offficer who estimated Boren was doing 80 (Raymond Dennison), is no longer commenting publicly about the incident.

In other words, Boren was probably riding about 15 mph faster than typical traffic in the area, when Gigliotti turned left in front of him. A bad decision - for sure. But worthy of vilification? Well, you'll have to decide that one for yourself.

Now, I'm not an advocate of speeding by any means. But, that's not the point. The Times article uses this incident to paint a picture of how an "innocent" young woman was deviously murdered by an evil biker riding one of those demonic high-performance sportbikes - regardless of whether the facts themselves supported that spin or not.

Whatever differences we may have in riding styles, I truly hope this counterpoint to the LA Times's misleading if not outright false coverage of a tragic incident in which TWO vehicle operators made a mistake that led to both their deaths serves as a wake-up call. If we don't stand together as riders to advocate our right to share the road, we will surely wind up losing that right by hook or by crook.
 
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