Wanted: Cowardly hit and run drivers

By Richard Peace | Wednesday, February 6, 2008 2.25pm

Cyclists in St Louis, Missouri, USA are fighting back against hit and run drivers by offering a reward for information that brings the perpetrators to justice, according to the St Louis Post-Dispatch.

Tired of riders being the victims of such cowardly action they have banded together to create the Hit and Run Justice Fund, administered by local cycling organization the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation.

Initially it offered $1000 reward to anyone providing information leading to the arrest and conviction of an SUV driver who struck and hospitalised a mountain bike rider in downtown St. Louis on Monday January 28th. On learning of another incident in nearby Chesterfield two days earlier, in which a horse trailer clipped and hospitalised two cyclists, the federation extended the offer to this incident as well and has since made it a general 'Hit & Run Justice Fund' covering any future cycling victims of hit and run in the area.

The response in terms of donations has been very impressive. Russ Willis, chair of the Bike Fed's committee on policy and advocacy said in a press release, "We had hundreds of dollars in pledges even before we made the fund official." St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay added $500 to the reward.

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Police and prosecution authorities will be the final arbiters of whether information provided is of material help in leading to an arrest or conviction.

The St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation is a membership organization working to make the St. Louis region more friendly, safe, and accessible to people on bicycles through educational outreach, advocacy, and improved facilities. You can donate to the fund online or you can send the donation to the St. Louis Regional Bicycle Federation, Hit and Run Justice Fund, P.O. Box 23086, St. Louis, MO 63156.

In the UK, hit and run incidents have been seen as a particular problem in the past. A 2006 BBC News Magazine report highlighted concerns that, as a proportion of all traffic incidents, hit and runs were markedly increasing, with a doubling of them in London, from 8% of all accidents to 16% in less than a decade.

Possible factors cited for the increase were a rise in the number of drivers without MOT, tax or insurance and the replacement of traffic police with speed cameras, leading to an attitude amongst some drivers that 'if there’s no camera there’s no way of getting caught.'

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