Safe Streets Social – Slow ride to honor the fallen and support each other (9/24)

Date: September 24
Time: Meet at 3, ride at 4
Place: South Lake Union Park (Moving Planet will be wrapping up)
Route: We will ride to the memorials created for Mike Wang, Brian Fairbrother and Robert Townsend.

The number of people killed while biking in Seattle and around the region this summer has been devastating. The mayor responded by calling for a road safety summit, Cascade Bicycle Club held a press conference and every big media outlet in town has run stories and editorials calling for a solution.

But perched on bike saddles all around the city, residents of Seattle are feeling a mix of fear, anger, sadness, hope and everything in between. Friends and family of those injured or killed on the streets of Seattle are coming to terms with their forever-changed lives.

Seattle, we need to get together, honor those who have lost their lives in traffic and support each other. We need to work for change. There is no better way to do this than to ride together.

So with the help of Davey Oil (of Bike Works fame, though he is helping plan in his free time) and Adonia Lugo (one of the founding forces behind LA’s CicLAvia events and author of Urban Adonia), we are organizing a ride that will visit the memorials of Mike Wang, Brian Fairbrother and Robert Townsend while providing an opportunity to come together as a community in favor of safer streets.

Even seasoned bikers, such as Anne-Marije Rook at the Ballard News Tribune, have felt their confidence on the road shaken:

Others have written to this blog to express the emotions that have been stirred up by the recent events. Del Rey, a fantastic local musician who recently created an awesome song and video about biking around town, emailed to say how reading all the sad news on the blog has affected her:

I love reading your blog, but lately it’s been having a bad effect on me. The reports of death after death are filling my head with fear. It’s not keeping me off my bike (I’ve been car-free since 1998) but it’s exacerbating a weird little tickle of paranoia everytime I pull out into the traffic maelstrom…

We wrote last week that we have reached a turning point in our city’s bicycle safety history. Biking is safer than ever, and the number of people choosing to bike is going through the roof. But the demand for safer streets is moving faster than the city’s safe streets improvements.

But safe streets are not just about riding bicycles. Nobody should die on the streets of Seattle, whether they are on foot, on a bike or in a car.

We encourage anyone whose life has been affected by injury or death on the roadways to join us September 24 for a slow bicycle ride. If you are not usually a bicycle rider, find a bike to borrow. We will ride slowly and nobody will be left behind.

The ride starts directly after Moving Planet, a day-long sustainability festival taking place at South Lake Union Park. If you show up by 3 p.m., you can help be in a large aerial photo for 350.org.

We look forward to seeing you all on the streets!

If you would like to help distribute or print flyers, click here to download a pdf version. Also check out the Facebook event page and share it with your friends and family.

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16 Responses to Safe Streets Social – Slow ride to honor the fallen and support each other (9/24)

  1. merlin says:

    There were 459 traffic deaths in Washington State in 2010 (http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/NR/rdonlyres/BFB0C36A-DC7E-4BF5-B283-9864C36A7B9C/0/GrayNotebookJun11.pdf). WSDOT is proud of this number – the lowest since 1954. This is reported in WSDOT’s “Gray Notebook,” a quarterly summary of progress on transportation goals. The Gray Notebook does not mention bicycle or pedestrian fatalities. I can’t find any information about how many automobile drivers and passengers have died on Seattle streets this year. Those deaths are invisible and unmourned by the public, the assumed cost of our modern, efficient transportation system. No “ghost cars” festooned with flowers by the side of the road.
    Car drivers don’t have to experience that “weird little tickle of paranoia” when they pull out into traffic – not because they’re safe, but because they rarely have to hear about the everyday tragedies of automobile deaths.

    • Melinda says:

      You know what? I think we should hear more about it. We’ve accepted this just as the cost of getting around, but it’s awful that anyone dies just trying to get where they’re going. Everyone knows someone who has died in a car accident.

      • Jeremy says:

        Simple, fly the flags at half mast for a day for every life culled by car drivers. Visible reminder of the shocking brutality of the American transportation system (why are the death rates 60% higher than in other modern industrialized nations?), and we’ll know progress is being made when the flag gets back to full height for any period.

      • eldan says:

        Jeremy, I like that suggestion. Even if we just did it for a limited time – a month of flags at half mast every time someone died on the road yesterday – it would really bring this home to people.

    • Al Dimond says:

      I’ve seen lots of roadside memorials in rural areas, and it’s likely that most are for motorists killed on the road.

      It’s not the public at large that mourns the deaths of people on bikes, it’s the bike community. There’s a lot of camaraderie in our community, and a lot of it doesn’t and can’t extend to people in cars. A lot of people on bikes are seriously injured or killed by people in cars, who rarely face justice; the reverse is almost never true. It’s that feeling of being attacked from the outside that provokes a lot of our emotions, from sadness to fear and anger, surrounding cyclist injuries and deaths.

  2. Pingback: Mature response to rash of bicycling deaths in Seattle area; Memorial bike ride on Saturday | Bike Monkey Magazine

  3. Paula Lowe says:

    My son was riding his bicycle in the U District on Sept. 14 and a woman driving a white BMW T-boned him. He had the right-of-way. She knocked him off his bike. He was badly hurt and his bike was destroyed. She didn’t even stop. Luckily he had a friend nearby who picked him up. They didn’t get her license plate info. No one else stopped. I would like to know who she is so I can send her an invoice for his medical bills and his bike, plus make sure she got the appropriate tickets from the cops. I hope she reads this.

  4. JT K says:

    A friend of mine just posted this fitting photo from Sao Paulo, Brazil. I guess they’re suffering through the same trials there.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/babileta/6160785112/

  5. Gear Grinder says:

    So are you people planning to do this on the street and block traffic, a la the Critical Massholes?

    • Orangefloss says:

      To be honest, my decision to attend hangs on the answer to this question. Respectful riding–I’m in. Blocking traffic and being a nuisance–I’m out. It’s important that we come together as a community and show that we want to share the roads and make them safer for all users.

    • Tom Fucoloro says:

      It’s a memorial ride. It will be slow, welcoming and respectful. All are encouraged to join us, whether you’re a seasoned biker or haven’t touched a bike in years.

      The ride is about respecting and protecting life on our roads.

    • Al Dimond says:

      Every day lots of people drive really slow across the 520 bridge. I know for sure they’re all in motor vehicles, because it’s illegal to cross without one.

      The vast majority of delays faced by motor vehicles are caused by other motor vehicles. The traffic delays caused by a slow bike ride are not much compared to the traffic delays caused by, say, a Mariners game. No offense to the Ms, but we have a lot more to play for than they do.

  6. Pingback: Rides to Moving Planet will start from all over the city Saturday | Seattle Bike Blog

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