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Special Statement From The Vice President 05/21/19

Friday, May 31, 2019

Fellow PPTC Cyclists,

May is a month to celebrate the bicycle. National Bike Month creates focus on a eco-friendly means of transportation, fitness, and community. I like to think that our membership celebrates Bike Month every month of the year here in our region, thanks to fairer weather and intrepid cyclists who and create and ride winter-friendly routes. This month’s nationwide celebration culminated last weekend on May 17th and 18th with Bike to Work Day and BikeDC, along with many group rides taking advantage of the beautiful, long overdue Spring weather. Volunteers from PPTC engaged thousands of cyclists at Bike to Work Day and BikeDC, speaking of the incredible riding and camaraderie our cyclists enjoy with their membership.

Unfortunately, during this weekend of celebration, a driver of a motorized vehicle on River Road in Maryland critically injured one of our own, who was returning to Riley’s Lock from a group ride. This driver harassed and menaced three cyclists who were lawfully and safely riding along- causing a serious crash and devastating harm to one of them- and fled the scene. In a way, it feels like this driver critically injured all of the good faith and trust between cyclists and motor vehicle operators we work so hard for. Legislation has been passed recently both in DC and Maryland to bolster rider safety, but the fruits of those labors have not been realized on the roads. Earlier on the day of the Maryland incident, a driver crashed into the ghost bike of Dave Salovesh on Florida Avenue in DC. VisionZero initiatives to completely stop needless cyclist injuries and deaths have a long way to go.

When I was a child, Mister Rogers taught me to look for the helpers in times of crisis. Cyclists are some of the greatest helpers I’ve ever met, and members of PPTC are no exception. Our ride leaders for the Riley’s Lock ride acted admirably during the incident and were able to reach the victim’s emergency contact because she signed into the ride. Upon hearing the news from this accident, the Maryland and DC cycling communities mobilized immediately- local riders are still sharing the news and combing through footage from onboard cameras from their recent rides. PPTC members visited the hospital to support the victim and her family, and the victim’s husband has requested we keep searching for any footage of the vehicle in the area from the weekend of the incident, and share findings with local law enforcement.  Cyclists are also responding by bringing much needed attention about rider safety to the media, legislators, and motor vehicle operators. The outpouring of love and support for a fellow cyclist in a time of undue crisis gives me hope that with enough of this collective energy in helping one of our own, we can use this momentum to change the current dialogue to help and protect this entire area’s community of cyclists.

That energy manifests every time put our helmets on and roll out. We’ll still keep doing it because we aren’t going to let one person’s malicious actions break the bonds of community and enjoyment we give and receive by riding our bikes. That said, PPTC will be implementing refreshed safety policies and rider processes, so be on the lookout for those at the start of each ride, no matter where you are in the region. These policies and procedures will ensure that we can spend a little less time worrying and more energy focusing on what this month is all about- celebrating the bicycle.

 

Be safe. Ride well.

Anne C.M. Hyman
Vice President, Special Events, PPTC

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