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Tragic Bike Crash in Kalamazoo Reminds Us of Our Humanity

by Bruce Hagen

A ghost bike is displayed (Photo Credit - Tom Brenner | MLive)

A ghost bike is displayed (Photo Credit – Tom Brenner | MLive)

While we don’t yet know the reason for the horrible tragedy in Michigan that occurred recently, we can be sure of a few things: multiple lives were ended, many more were forever changed, and still more will have to endure untold physical and emotional pain – all due to the reckless and seemingly criminal actions of a careless driver. As a society, we cannot tolerate this kind of behavior.

Just for a minute, when you read the story of what happened here, when you see the word “Bicyclist”, change it in your mind to any of the following words:  Husband, Wife, Father, Mother, Uncle, Aunt, Grandfather, Grandmother, Neighbor, Friend, Co-Worker, Youth Sports Coach, Pastor, Shop Owner, or any other word you can use to describe the people that you have in your life. The people who were killed and injured in this senseless tragedy were exactly that, people. They were human beings, not things. Let’s not diminish their impact on the world by simply reducing them to a label such as bicyclist. It’s dehumanizing which is especially awful in the context of the loss of human life.

Additionally, let’s not allow this to be another example of a tragedy that we simply tolerate without a meaningful call for change. What can be done to help prevent the chances of this happening again, not just in Kalamazoo, but anywhere? What steps can we take now to help shape the world that we want to exist, one where people can leave their homes to go on a weeknight ride and not have their loved ones worry about whether or not they’ll return?

Would better infrastructure make a difference? Absolutely.

Are we doing enough to insist that our local and state governments do more to provide a better infrastructure? Absolutely not.

Locally in Georgia, please support groups like Georgia Bikes (https://www.georgiabikes.org) and Atlanta Bicycle Coalition (http://www.atlantabike.org/) which work every day to help make Georgia a safer place for people to ride bikes.  Nationally, the League of American Bicyclists (http://www.bikeleague.org/) is a great advocate for safer cycling. Please do your part by volunteering and donating, whatever you can do – every little bit helps.

Beyond that, all of us can do our part by being attentive and patient drivers, being mindful that motorists are not the only people on the road. Take a deep breath, be calm when you drive and stay off the phone.

Meanwhile, let’s all say a prayer for the victims of this massacre in Michigan and keep the victims and their families in our thoughts.

For additional updates and information, please read the latest blog post by Bryan Waldman on bikelaw.com.

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