Madison Municipal Judge Dan Koval did not dismiss the $10 ticket Linda Willsey got after being hit by a car door while riding her bike ("Cops Ticket Biker Hit by Car Door," 8/15/08).
"I was dumbfounded," says Willsey. "I thought the whole thing was so absurd that it would be dismissed."
Willsey went to the emergency room with a fractured vertebra after being doored on Henry Street this summer. At the hospital, a Madison police officer cited her for violating a little-known state law that requires bicyclists to maintain three feet of distance between themselves and cars. The motorist who hit Willsey was not ticketed.
At Willsey's court hearing last week, she was told she could avoid the fine by attending bike safety school. "That was not an acceptable option," she says. "Going to bike safety school says I did something wrong."
Mike Rewey, a board member of the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, says the group may lobby for a change in the state law. Rewey wants a provision that would make it illegal for anyone to open a car door into any mode of transportation, including pedestrians. "I can just imagine a jogger getting doored," he says.
Willsey is now consulting an attorney, before her next court appearance on Sept. 22. If Koval does not dismiss the ticket at that time, Willsey may appeal his decision and could end up before a jury. She sees little alternative.
"I am not guilty," she says. "I ride my bike safely."