Letters to the Editor

From the week of January 26, 2006

A Wild Ride

Concrete cowboys: Regarding Luke Turf's "Road Rage," in the January 19 issue:

I can only agree that some "people drive like frickin' idiots here." How else can I explain the statistical fact that auto insurance here is at least twice (!) as high as when we lived in the "dangerous" city of Chicago?

Some drivers here clearly think of themselves as cowboys on pavement. They drive much faster than the speed limit. They cut across multiple lanes, rarely signaling, and then wait for me at the next traffic light. They are among those who fought the Denver radar speeding-ticket system -- reasoning, evidently, that since no cop saw them (only we potential victims), they deserve no ticket. Since the radar went, idiotic speeders have come back, and as I observe driving across the city, they are rarely stopped.

Only when the police are enabled to systematically go after serious offenders will we begin to lower the rate of serious accidents and road deaths. Until then, we will continue to pay the insurance and tragic human costs of our "wild West."

P.S. It should also be noted that these pavement cowboys (who should be admonished by us all!) are wasting a lot of gas. At a time when we are at war, at least partly because of all the oil in the Middle East, we should be working to save gas, not waste it. But then again, we have not really been called upon to sacrifice at all as citizens, only to "support the troops." That helps me understand why some people are driving "as though there is no tomorrow."

Ron Vander Kooi

Walk, don't ride: I love bikes, and I love bikers. And as the mother of two boys, my heart cries for Chris LaFore and MervEllen Ashby -- these two mothers are living my worst nightmare.

However, I feel compelled to write about what I see as a disturbing trend: the inability or refusal to take responsibility and admit that riding a motorcycle is, inherently, an extremely dangerous activity. Hurling your body through space at 30, 40, 50 miles per hour, just inches from unforgiving asphalt? That is pretty fucking risky, even before you consider such outside factors as two-ton cars, inattentive drivers, potholes, stray dogs, errant basketballs, etc. To take a death-defying ride to buy some toothpaste was reckless (I disagree with "senseless," because the whole situation makes perfect sense to me). If Jason LaFore and Eli Ashby had been using any other mode of transportation, whether walking/running, driving a car, riding a bus, light rail, etc., they'd probably still be here today.

When considering punishment for careless drivers, such as William Groseclose or Gregory Nester, one must consider that Eli and Jason put themselves at a major disadvantage. Why should Groseclose and Nester get jail terms? If they'd made the same mistake on a day when Eli and Jason had chosen to drive cars, Groseclose and Nester would've gotten away with a four-point traffic ticket. But because of Jason's and Eli's chosen modes of transportation, one driver's glance (or lack thereof) meant death.

Lois Tochtrop's admission that she is riding her Harley less frequently is a sign that at least one rider is coming to her senses; the sensational feeling that you get when riding a motorcycle isn't worth the tragic mishap that will almost inevitably occur.

Name withheld on request

A real lifesaver: I had heard that Eli Ashby wasn't wearing a helmet; maybe it wasn't properly fastened if it came off. I am a biker and always wear a helmet, but I totally approve of the Operation Save a Life campaign. I think it should be mandatory for all drivers before they are licensed.

Clissy Anderson

The sorrow and the pity: I am Sheron Groseclose, daughter-in-law to Bill Groseclose. A careful driver with an expired license is making a left turn into a parking lot. An inexperienced, unlicensed motorcycle rider comes up Wadsworth. Perhaps he did not expect the car to still be in the intersection and was unable to make the corrections necessary to avoid crashing into it. While oncoming traffic always has the right of way, the result is permanent. Eli Ashby is dead, and Bill Groseclose is a shattered man.

The headline and captions in Westword last week paint a violent and irresponsible picture. This is not "Road Rage." This is not being run down like a dog. What this is is a tragedy. Bill did renew his license a week after the collision. He had a perfect driving record. Several weeks after the collision, he was required to take a driving test, which is mandatory after accidents involving death. He passed the test and earned his license. I regret that Diane Reimer, spokesperson for the DMV, did not have that information available when Luke Turf spoke with her. That might have changed the tone of the article a little bit.

My thanks to Luke for the consideration with which he interviewed my father-in-law, and for showing him as the sorrowful and sensitive man he is. My family sorrows for the Ashbys' loss and for the devastation this has brought to Bill's life.

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