(click headline for photo)
Today I joined a group ride on the northwest side of town. The weekly ride was frequently attended by a local cyclist who was recently killed by a pickup truck. The driver, who was reported to be under the influence, slammed into an entire group of cyclists. Along with the local man, a woman from New Mexico died. Others were seriously injured.
I'm not much of a road biker, I stay off the higher speed roads and have never even had a close call riding around central Tucson, but I had to attend. First it was the elimination of red light cameras, now this tragedy. Biking is an awesome activity. While it is a statistically safe activity, even after a horrific event like last Thursday's, it's important for riders to get out there in the community and demand more accountability from drivers. While it's easy to peg this on a stupid guy in a truck who was drinking, these types of fatalities usually are at the hands of a type of person that reflects 100% of drivers on the road: sometimes distracted, often in a hurry, and always operating a machine that can easily lead to the deaths of others when a mistake is made.
The turnout for the ride was high. Much higher than the 40 or so called for in the little blurb I read online. While stopping at the site of the crash, at La Canada and Hardy, I looked around and was sad for two reasons. The first is obvious: people were injured and killed by a reckless idiot. The 2nd was that as I looked around, I realized I was the only rider in the huge procession that was wearing a tshirt, regular shorts, and a backpack. I was an oddball. But back in central Tucson I'm anything but in the appearance department. While the ride was a ways out of town, I was bummed that more urban riders, or any for that matter unless they live dual lives and arrived in colorful outfits and skinny tires, didn't attend the group ride. There are tribes in the cycling world, but stuff like this cuts across all those silly boundaries.
All forms biking is great for the you, the environment, and your community. We need to protect our right to ride without unreasonable fear of being taken out by 7,000 lb pickup truck, whether you ride a feather-weight carbon racer or a heavy steel cruiser.