By Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer
Originally posted on Cleveland.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio — As someone who was passionate and city living and the environment, Sylvia Bingham’s preferred way of getting around Cleveland was on her bicycle.
While riding her bike to work about a month ago, the 22-year-old died when she was hit by a truck near East 21st Street and Prospect Avenue.
On Saturday, Bingham’s family and friends gathered for memorial bike rides — here in Cleveland and others in her home state of California — to remember the way she lived and to promote safer roads.
“It makes all of us involved in organizing it feel like something positive came out of her accident — even if it’s just all of us being together,” said Alex Nosse, 25, who was Bingham’s boyfriend.
Nosse was among about 30 people who arrived on Saturday morning at Edgewater Park, the starting point of the memorial bike ride here. Bingham, who lived in Tremont, liked to swim at the beach at Edgewater, Nosse said.
From there, the bikers planned to split up into groups and head to different destinations: Clark Fields in the Tremont neighborhood for a bike education event; the Morgana Run trail in Slavic Village to paint a mural Bingham helped design; and an East Side urban garden that supplies produce to local markets.
After the bike ride, everyone planned to meet at Edgewater to pick up some of the litter nearby — a tribute to Bingham’s concern for the environment.
“I just want to keep thinking about Sylvia and things she wanted to do,” said Jill Collins, Bingham’s best friend, who lives in Ohio City.
Bingham’s parents, meanwhile, organized a separate set of bike rides in California to honor their daughter, who grew up in San Rafael, Calif.
Bingham arrived in Cleveland not long after graduating from Yale University in May. She had friends here and found a job at the Hard Hatted Women office, where she helped women working in the building trades become mentors to other women.
Stephen Bingham, her father, said he wants to prevent similar deaths. He said his daughter was almost certainly in the truck driver’s blind spot when she was hit. She was not wearing a helmet, he said, but it would not have prevented her death because the truck struck her in the midsection.
The driver faces possible criminal charges, police said.
Stephen Bingham said he is dedicated to making sure trucks, within the next five years, are required to have technology to alert them when somebody is in their blind spot.
“If there’s something we can do so that her death means that a whole bunch of other young people may not die, then we can get some meaning out of this horrible thing,” he said by telephone Saturday.
Nosse, Bingham’s boyfriend, said drivers on the road need to be more aware of bicyclists and their right to the road. Nosse said he has been car-free for six years. Instead, he relies on his bike and public transportation — a philosophy Bingham held as well.
“She and I both thought biking was a healthier way to live,” he said.
As he got ready to begin riding, Nosse fixed a helmet on his head — a requirement for Saturday’s ride in Cleveland.