Mika Torkkola depends on his bike to get to work every day, and safety is always a concern.
“You can hit someone at 25 miles per hour, and that would be enough to kill them,” explained Torkkola.
Torkkola said when he hears one of his fellow bicyclists have been hurt or killed, it’s tough.
“There’s rage. There’s frustration, but probably, the saddest thing is there’s some level of acceptance, that we become used to it,” Torkkola admitted. “It’s really sad that it isn’t as big of a deal as it should be when someone is hit or killed.”
That’s why this legislative session, Torkkola and thousands of other bicyclists in the capital area are supporting Senate Bill 171.
“So, what the bill is doing, it’s allowing the victims, police and the prosecuters to make sure the people that choose to drive dangerously and potential hurt or kill people walking or biking are taken to justice,” said Torkkola.
The bill would make sure distracted or dangerous drivers who hit or kill a pedestrian face tougher penalties. The driver could get his or her license suspended, five years in prison, and a fine for up to $5,000, if the accident is fatal.
“The people that choose to drive in that way, and they know the penalties are severe for it, they might choose to not do that,” said Torkkola.
Torkkola is part of the organization Bike Baton Rouge. The group plans to hold an awareness bike ride at the Capitol on Monday evening at 6:00. The bill will be presented to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.