Waterloo Police apologize for calling cyclists "silly" after cyclist death

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Earlier this week, a cyclist died on a rural Waterloo road. He was hit from behind while riding with lights and a reflective vest.

The police response made a very upsetting story even worse. As said by Bill Bean on Take The Lane:

The other thing I'm wound up about is acting Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sgt. Sue Kenny, who is quoted as warning against cycling on wintry roads, saying "Riding a bike with weather conditions like this, it seems kind of silly.... It's common sense." Clearly, this person has never met anyone who chooses a bicycle over a car.

After Bill Bean at The Record wrote about the story, a number of people wrote to the Waterloo Regional Police in "disbelief, disappointment and outrage".

The Waterloo Regional Police have since issued an apology.

"The comments of the officer in the Record’s December 5th article, 'Cyclist killed in collision' are regrettable and do not reflect the opinions and values of the Waterloo Regional Police Service...."

See the story on Take The Lane for the full comment from the police.

As this is being written, no charges have been laid, even though he was hit from behind.

If you wish to contact to the Waterloo Regional Police, you can get their contact information here. The provincial Minister of Transportation is Jim Bradley, who can be contacted through the ministry site.

Comments

I'm glad the police issued an apology, it was a ridiculous and insensitive comment.
Too often they believe they are judge and jury, I don't know why the media assists them in this delusion by asking them for opinions and giving them unconditional respect.

This is sad.. that is one messed up road I went to university in waterloo and would often ride out there but not on that specific road near picards peanuts but the roads around it usually to elmira about 3 hrs total ..if I remember that road its pretty fast and highway like. I miss the country roads but the cars go too fast in that area.

Considering the comments of Waterloo Regional Police Staff Sgt. Sue Kenny and that this was a fatality the result of being struck from behind, I would think there is cause to demand an independant investigation into this matter. If the deceased had been driving a motor vehicle rather than riding a bicycle one would expect automatic charges against the pickup truck driver. Why is this not the case when the victim is a bicyclist?
This officer, by her comments expressed a prejudice in this case that has nothing to do with events. As such the outcome of the investigation is suspect.

Waterloo Region: Do the right thing. Bring in an independant investigator capable of performing without bias. Also consider investigating the officer's actions with consideration of disciplinary action against her. An officer of this rank voicing this level of prejudice is unforgiveable. Someone paid for professional work should be expected to perform professional work rather than spout prejudice.

We shouldn't be surprised that cultural biases and misconceptions extend to those invested with upholding the law. I mean, they're a part of, not apart from, the culture that's such fertile ground for sprouting such idiotisms as that blurted by officer Kenney.

Perhaps you wouldn't be Geoff, but others may be surprised at how illogical are some of the attitudes of cops as to what constitutes a chargeable (driving/motorized vehicle) offence. As evidence, I offer a comment of mine submitted to torontocranks.com in the wake the Eglinton Ave. dooring fatality (in May). Consider that the officers I was conversing with were bicycle cops.

When police misconceptions impede justice though, it's no longer simply a stupidity one can shrug off. Whether that's a factor in the case of the Waterloo victim, I can't say. What's most troubling here is that a driver, after ploughing into and killing a cyclist who was attired with lights and reflective clothing AND riding on a bare, dry road, has not been charged. WTF!

I am very sorry for Melvin Martin's death. It is going to be hard on a family with four children aged one to six.

I agree that Sgt. Sue Kenny's comments were wrong and insensitive, but I am sad to say that many Police Officers will agree with her. Years ago I got a door prize. The officer attending wouldn't even write it up. He said he was sure the driver felt sorry. I called afriend who was a police officer. He laughed and told me as a friend that as far as the police were concerned I was a loser. If I wasn't, I'd be driving a car. He told me as a firend, he knew never to say it publicly. In the police world, Sgt Kenny's real crime was making her comments out loud.

Waterloo Police have issued an aplogy. It is because of the bad public image. Has any disciplinary action happened to Sgt. Kenny? Will she even be forced to make an apology? Of course not.

The real problem is not an officer saying something like this, but how it translates into action. I see this bias whenever a police car drives by a car parked in the bike lane and not issue a ticket. On one occasion, it was a police car parked in the bike lane. The officer wanted a cup of coffee. It happens when they don't take bicyclists complaints, when a $110 fine is good enough for killing a cyclist, or a statement is issued that the dead cyclist was or was not wearing a helmet as if it makes a difference when hit by a pickup truck.

Sgt. Kenny only confirmed in my mind how far we have to go to be taken seriously as a transportation alternative. Nobody could make this statement on any other form of transportation. Only cycling.

You're right, Luke. In fact, not only are the police part of the culture and society, they are, on average, a considerably more pigheaded and closed-minded erm... conservative part of it. If a bicycle revolution is coming (which I can only hope for), the cops are going to be among the last to accept it.

"Kenny?" I'm not really sure, but I think the answer is yes