Thoughts On Jim Swarzman and Bicycles vs. Cars

A year ago, I stood in the parking lot of the Santa Clarita Hilton Garden Inn. I was a staff volunteer for AdventureCORP’s Furnace Creek 508, and I was one of two officials inspecting cars. Parked near the entrance of the parking lot was Gyrfalcon’s van. Trust me, you’d recognize it if you saw it. It was “vintage.” And they were having some difficulties with a fuze or a tail light, and I had a few minutes to talk with Jim Swarzman about his training, the upcoming race, and the whole process. It wasn’t a long conversation. He was distracted, obviously. I spoke with his crew and enjoyed the fact that they were one of the few vehicles parked in the shade.

It was all very brief.

I doubt they would have remembered the interaction.

In all honesty, I hadn’t really thought about until earlier this year, when I read the news that Jim Swarzman was killed by a hit-and-run driver. Today, that driver was “sentenced” for his crimes. It’s a travesty. Here is the story: http://www.cbs8.com/story/15441987/hit-and-run-driver-who-struck-bicyclist-in-encinitas-sentenced.

As a cyclist who has been hit by a vehicle driven by an inattentive driver, I’m outraged. Simply as a bicyclist, I’m outraged. As a taxpayer, I’m outraged. As a motorist, I’m outraged. As a human being, I’m outraged. How is a man allowed to murder another, flee the scene, and be eligible for parole in under a year?

I am amazed at Mr. Swarzman’s ability to forgive his son’s murderer. I’ll try to follow his example. But I don’t have much forgiveness for The Court, the judge, or a legal system that says a life is not as valuable simply because it rides a bicycle.

I didn’t know Jim Swarzman prior to that one brief interaction. I don’t know his family or his fiancée. I hope she is at the start of this years Furnace Creek 508. I hope we honor her as much as we honor Jim. I hope we remember not only Jim and his life, but all cyclists killed needlessly by automobiles. I didn’t need to know Jim to be impacted by his senseless death. All who ride are impacted by it, and by the terrible message sent today by the courts.

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