Heather Barnett is lucky to be alive. As a bicyclist, she knows and understands the dangers of riding, but last year she nearly died on the road. She was biking to the University of Washington when a driver ignored a stop sign and drove into the young woman. The outcome was not good, but could have been much worse. Barnett broke her wrists and shattered her lower leg, making recovery difficult and painful. She wasn’t even able to walk for over a month.
Barnett isn’t concerned about just her accident, however. She is worried that the same thing could happen to any of her fellow bikers and their cases could be treated just as poorly as hers was. There is currently a punishment for negligent drivers who hit bicyclists: a license suspension for a period of 90 days as well as a $5,000 fine come standard, in addition to other punishments issued. It is called the Vulnerable User Law. However, this law did not protect Barnett like it was supposed to. The officers who dealt with her accident did not know about it, so it wasn’t addressed.
That didn’t keep Barnett from wanting to push forward, however. She knows her wounds will heal but laws and their implementations won’t fix themselves. All bicyclists deserve safe riding conditions and treatment if they are hit, and that’s what Barnett is advocating for.