Maui Bicycling League to Hold Sentencing Hearing Ride

November 27, 2015, 9:42 AM HST · Updated November 27, 9:42 AM
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Karl and Robin Hagen. Photo courtesy Robin Hagen.

Karl and Robin Hagen. Photo courtesy Robin Hagen.

Maui Bicycling League invites the public to a special group bicycle ride at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 4, 2015.

MBL is a nonprofit organization formed to make Maui a safer place for bicyclists and pedestrians. The purpose of the ride is to advocate for justice in the sentencing of Michael Cattaneo, a driver charged with first-degree negligent homicide in the death of 61-year-old cyclist Karl Hagen. The sentencing hearing will begin at 9 a.m. at Courtroom 4 at the Maui County Courthouse in Wailuku. The Honorable Judge Richard T. Bissen will preside.

The ride will begin at the commuter “Park and Ride” lot on North Kīhei Road near the intersection of the Honoapi‘ilani Highway. The 5.3-mile-long ride will commence along Honoapi‘ilani Highway and end at around 8:30 a.m. in Wailuku at the courthouse.

Cyclists are invited to join the ride at any point along the route.

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T-shirts reading, “I am here for Karl, Ride For Justice” will be available at no charge to the first 40 riders who pre-register for the ride and join the ride at the start. To register, email [email protected].

Cattaneo’s pickup truck veered into the bike lane along the Pi‘ilani Highway on April 12, 2014, and struck Hagen from behind.

Karl Hagen and his daughter, Ariel. Photo courtesy Robin Hagen.

Karl Hagen and his daughter, Ariel. Photo courtesy Robin Hagen.

MBL is urging the judge to impose a substantial sentence for Cattaneo, and to invoke Hawai‘i’s DUI laws and also the state’s Vulnerable User Law (HRS 707-700, 702.5, 703, 705) which protects cyclists and pedestrians. Under the Vulnerable User Law, penalties are doubled for motorists that kill or seriously injure a vulnerable user. Vulnerable users include cyclists, pedestrians, moped riders, road workers and police officers.

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“The victim of Cattaneo’s reckless driving was an eminently experienced cyclist; he was well within a marked bicycle lane; he was obeying all the rules of the road; he was helmeted,” said MBL Chair Saman Dias. “In contrast, Mr. Cattaneo was operating a pickup truck under the influence of drugs, he was distracted, and he was driving recklessly.”

“Karl’s injuries were catastrophic, and in spite of the efforts of Maui’s first responders and paramedics, he was pronounced dead after arrival at the Maui Memorial Medical Center,” said David Kingdon, a Maui paramedic and member of the Maui Bicycling League Steering Committee.

Karl Hagen and friend Steve after a ride. Photo courtesy Robin Hagen.

Karl Hagen and friend Steve after a ride. Photo courtesy Robin Hagen.

“Successful prevention of car-bicycle accidents depends on what is known as ‘The five ‘E’s:’ Education; Engineering; Environment; Enactment; Enforcement,” noted the MBL in a letter to Judge Bissen. “If the last ‘E,’ Enforcement, is diluted, a social norm is created in which the public thinks it is ‘okay’ to drive distracted and/or inebriated.”

“Karl’s death was preventable,” said Kingdon. “In this case, there is the added fact that the offender was recklessly operating a pickup truck, whereas the victim was on his bicycle, never suspecting that he would be rear-ended inside his dedicated lane.”

By imposing a substantial sentence, the court will send a message, not only to Cattaneo, but to Hawai‘i’s driving public, of the importance of this “Vulnerable User” and DUI laws and the accountability that these laws seek to enforce, noted MBL’s letter to Judge Bissen.

“Karl Hagen was a vivacious 61 when he was killed,” the MBL letter said. “Karl was a part-year resident of Maui, and a part-year resident of Washington, where he had worked tirelessly in the business sector. Karl was an avid and accomplished athlete who loved all things outdoors. He was a gracious and generous member of two communities, whose reputation as a dedicated father, husband, friend and colleague was expansive.”

Maui drivers are reminded to allow four feet between their vehicles and a cyclist. Trucks and buses should allow six to eight feet. All vehicles are asked to slow down and switch lanes when passing cyclists. If there is no room to pass safely, reduce your speed and wait until it is safe to pass.

“Most of all, do not text and drive, and certainly do not drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” said Dias. “Please stay alert for bicycles and pedestrians at all times, especially at intersections.”

MBL was founded about one year ago, through the collective efforts of Maui residents who are using the tools of education and advocacy to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians.

To join the Maui Bicycling League, visit www.mauibicyclingleague.org.

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