Will fatal hit-and-run case affect city biking culture?

Posted at 11:35 PM, Feb 14, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-15 09:48:39-05

RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) -- The expansion of Carytown Bicycles is somewhat symbolic of the growing interest in biking in the River City.

“A lot more people are riding and going to the grocery store and to work,” says Carytown Bicycles owner Tim Mullins.

He says customers don't just leave his store with a bike, but also a safety lesson.

“They'll come from behind. They throw change at you. They throw drinks at you,” Mullins says, who has had his own frightening car versus bike experiences.

That safety lesson comes with a reminder for everyone-- in the form of a bumper sticker. It has a picture of 24-year old Lanie Kruszewski, who was fatally struck by Elias Webb while riding her bike at night along River Road.

“I think it's sad for him. I think it's sad for her family,” says Mullins.

Mullins has been watching the case very closely, as are other bike enthusiasts, some who are surprised by the jury’s recommended 3-year sentence for Webb.

“I was expecting it to be a little heavier,” says Amy George, an avid cyclist and member of Ride Richmond and the Mayor’s Commission on Pedestrians, Bicycles, and Trails.

CBS 6 also spoke with bike riders who say the number of years Webb serves behind bars isn’t vital.

“He was found guilty. That's what matters,” says bicyclist Michael Gilbert, co-founder, Ride Richmond.

Mullins agrees, saying this case sends a strong message to drivers, especially after the General Assembly failed to protect bicyclists with a bill that would have fined drivers who open their car doors--called dooring-- in front of bikers.

“There's going to be a heightened awareness. So, to the regular driver, when they see a cyclist, they'll give them more room,” says Mullins.