We had a well-attended ride this year, thanks again to Marin Cyclists Club. As always, we did a slow ride from Piper Park in Larkspur to downtown San Anselmo where we stopped briefly to hand out flyers about the meaning of our Ride of Silence and the urgent need for Marin County and its several cities to adopt Vision Zero strategies to hasten street safety work. The Marin Cyclists group then continued on to West Marin for a much longer ride, stopping at several places where cyclists have been killed. The rest of us returned to Piper Park. There were 228 other Rides of Silence in 40 States and 16 Countries. See https://www.rideofsilence.org/main.php to see where those rides occurred.
2015 Ride of Silence May 23. Our annual Marin County Ride of Silence took seven of us once again around the Tiburon Peninsula on a gorgeous Saturday. We chose to ride on Saturday rather than the regular RoS Wednesday in hopes of increasing the number of riders and also because past participants have generally been relatively inexperienced and uncomfortable with riding in the evening when there’s little light at the end of the ride. Sylvia Bingham’s parents organized the ride and were pleased to have one of Sylvia’s friends and her dad join the ride. We once again read the names of all those we know of who have been killed biking on Marin’s streets. The ride was publicized in the newsletter of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition. We still hope to get MCBC to sponsor future RoS rides, as this would ensure greater participation.
What is the Ride of Silence? A slow and somber ride to honor the lives of bicyclists who have been killed or injured while cycling and to raise the awareness of motorists, police, city officials, and the general public of the need to share the road safely with cyclists who have a legal right to use the public roadways. Our Marin ride will NOT be on May 20, the official international date of the ride, but on the following Saturday. This because we have been unable to interest more than a handful of the Marin cycling community in coming to a 7 pm mid-week ride.
Ride of Silence Website
The Ride of Silence website lists hundreds of people including Sylvia who have been killed while riding their bikes. See http://www.rideofsilence.org/memoriam.php
Celebrate Sylvia’s 28th Birthday and Support the Sylvia Bingham Fund
Share memories, sing songs and learn about SBF’s work
Sunday, April 26, 2-6 p.m. – RSVP to [email protected] for address and directions
Quiche, dessert pies and beverages will be served – This is not a potluck but feel free to bring a home-made dish if you love to cook.
If you’re not able to come, please visit the SBF website and consider a donation so SBF can continue supporting organizations working to make biking safer or whose work Sylvia would love.
To see grants awarded by SBF, click here.
If you knew Sylvia, remember her on her birthday – Earth Day April 22
Cyclists report “BIKELASH” around Cleveland as numbers of bike riders increase and motorists must share roads.
Channel 3 in Cleveland (WKYC) did an excellent story in October, 2014 on the dangerous phenomenon of “bikelash”. It begins: “Today’s cyclists still fear for their lives. The number of Cleveland area cyclists commuting on 2 wheels has increased 285% since 2010. As Cleveland grows into a cycling city, it is not without growing pains. Imagine a morning commute with profanities screamed at you, objects thrown your way and drivers intent on running you off the road. Cyclists tell Channel 3, this is what they go through too often….”
Steve represented SBF in a jointly sponsored bike ride November 12 to promote safety and especially California’s new law prohibiting vehicles from passing bikes with less than 3 feet clearance. The other sponsors were Trips for Kids, Alcohol Justice and WheelEscape, whose director, Kathy McLeod, a bike instructor certified by the League of American Bicyclists, gave a short safety lesson before the ride to the 15-20 kids and adults on the new 3-foot law and bike safety in general. The ride was held in the low-income Canal District of San Rafael, in an effort to reach a population little-served by the more traditional cycling organizations.
This is a great interview with an extraordinary bike activist, who headed the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for 12 years, and is now leaving for a fellowship to study Vision Zero in Europe, a commitment by public entities to eliminate bicycle and pedestrian deaths altogether.
Melissa Balmer, Director of Women on Bikes California/ PedalLove.org, talks with Leah Shahum, who after 12 years is stepping down as Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
Melissa Balmer: After 12 very successful years as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition you are stepping down to go on an exciting new adventure on a German Marshall Fund Fellowship to research the effects of Vision Zero. Please share with us what the Vision Zero concept is and why you wanted to participate in this fellowship.
Leah Shahum: Vision Zero is a simple yet profound concept that we can prevent traffic fatalities and serious injuries if we change our mindset to no longer accept these tragedies as inevitable. If our communities truly prioritize safety – that means elevating safety in every decision made by City officials regarding how we design our streets, how police enforce, and how policies and funding decisions are made – we could eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. Communities in Europe have made that choice and are seeing tremendous success. For example, Sweden, the birthplace of Vision Zero, has seen a 30 percent decrease in traffic fatalities since 1997, when it committed to Vision Zero.
I’m proud that our advocacy at the SF Bicycle Coalition, along with partners including Walk SF and neighborhood groups, moved Vision Zero onto the forefront of San Francisco’s political forefront in the past year, with commitments from the Mayor, Police Chief, and other city leaders. But now we need to figure out how to actually implement this bold, yet achievable, vision of eliminating traffic deaths on SF’s streets by 2024. And I believe San Francisco, along with New York City, can succeed and serve as models for other US cities.
This Fellowship will give me the chance to visit cities that are successfully implementing Vision Zero for safer streets and increased biking and walking – including Stockholm, Rotterdam, and Berlin – and find out how these communities have made the tough choices and moved their communities from ones that considered traffic violence inevitable to stoppable. I believe Vision Zero is the next major strategy for American cities to move the needle toward safe, healthy, accessible transportation systems that will keep our communities thriving.
Steve and Francoise participated in a ride in Cleveland to remember Sylvia on the 5th anniversary of her death. The ride left from Tremont where Sylvia lived and ended at 21st and Prospect Streets, arriving in time to remember Sylvia at the moment she was killed, 8:48 a.m.
Channel 19’s story is here and the Channel 5’s uncut video is here. Those in the videos include Sylvia’s then-boyfriend Alex, her closest friend Jill, Jim Sheehan playing guitar, head of Ohio City Bicycle Coalition, and Jacob, head of BikeCleveland.
The SF Bike Coalition is now giving trainings to the drivers of garbage trucks. Check it out >>
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance on Feb. 24, 2014 to expand the City’s program to reuse unclaimed bikes. It’s hard to underestimate how dramatically a bicycle can transform the life of a young person. Over the past year, community groups have been working with the Human Services Agency and Police Department to take recovered bikes from the SFPD property room and make them available to low-income youth.
Here’s how these “bike convivios,” or community bike builds work:
- The City makes available recovered bikes that have not been claimed by their original owner.
- The Bike Coalition arranges for mechanics from great organizations like the SF Yellow Bike Project, Pedal Revolution and the Bike Kitchen to fix up the bikes.
- Community groups like PODER, POWER, and the Chinatown Community Development Center recruit low-income youth who need bicycles to participate.
- At the bike convivios, the youth are shown how to ride safety and do basic maintenance, and then given a bike with lights, a helmet, and a lock.
The new ordinance will ensure that unclaimed bikes continue to be made available for these programs. The ordinance will also expand the program so that larger bikes can be made available to transit-dependent adults, with the goal of providing bikes to entire families. Here are two great videos on the program:
- Video on PODER’s bike convivios
- Board of Supervisors hearing on the ordinance (Jump to 12:30 for compelling public comment from people who participated in the bike builds.)
Panel Investigation and prosecution of bicycle crashes: Problems and solutions at the statewide Summit of the California Bicycle Coalition 11/9/13 in Oakland.
A well-known issue in creating safer streets is ensuring fair law enforcement and thorough investigations of crashes involving vulnerable users. This panel was organized by Steve Bingham, lawyer and father of Sylvia Bingham, killed in a truck/bicycle in 2009. Joining him as panelists were Miles Cooper, personal injury lawyer; Lois Heaney, President, National Jury Project; Leah Shahum, Exec.Director, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition; Ken Theisen, paralegal at Bay Area Legal Aid. For CBC’s summary of this panel, see Summary
Steve’s motivation to organize this panel arose from the tragic death of Amelie Le Moullac on Folsom St. in San Francisco in August 2013. She was killed in the same way as Sylvia, a right hook by a commercial box truck. The police conducted no serious investigation and concluded there were no security video cameras in the area. Amelie was immediately blamed by police for her own death. Nearly a week later, a SF Bicycle Coalition member found a video tape in ten minutes that conclusively showed the truck driver was to blame. (The video images would have been recorded over and lost the next day). The driver was then prosecuted. For information about the entire two-day CBC Summit, see http://www.calbike.org/ca-by-bike-2013-program-and-presentations-wrap-up
(Adapted from California Bicycle Coalition website)
Since 1993, cities in California have been free to lower the fines given to bike riders. This past October, the City of Davis became one of the few cities to take advantage of that power. Now, bicycle advocates are watching Davis closely to see how cheaper fines will affect how police officers and people who ride bikes interact — and if that will impact ridership.
Davis has recently chosen to reduce the fines given to bicyclists from $202 to $50 for the first offense, $100 for the second, and $250 for any subsequent tickets. As flat fines, there are no associated court costs.
Some expect that these fines will compel bicyclists to better comply with traffic laws. According to the Davis police department, officers have been hesitant to slap bicyclists with California’s high traffic fines, “fearing a significant level of animosity from the public because of the perception that the fines are excessive.” Many local judges will also dismiss bicycle-related fines for the same reason. Considering the fact that a car crash is so much more destructive than a bicycle crash, penalizing the two activities differently makes sense.
If police officers use these fines sparingly, by penalizing bicyclists who are putting themselves or others at risk, it could increase safety while not decreasing ridership. The way that people ride their bikes is generally different than how they drive a car, because of how bikes are less destructive, more agile, and more dependent on momentum. Police officers won’t be able to change this, but they may be able to decrease the most dangerous behaviors, like riding on the sidewalk and riding in the wrong direction. With that said, police officers need to be educated about which types of bicycling are dangerous.
As Davis’ mayor Joe Krovoza said, “The goal is education and promotion of cycling. Overly onerous penalties don’t meet that goal.” We’ll see if these penalties will.
A wonderful memorial ride took place in Cleveland on 9/22/2013, a week after the 4th anniversary of Sylvia’s death. Around 40 people participated. Click here to view event photos. The ride left from the Sculpture Center, whose exhibit on Mourning included the bike Sylvia was riding when she was killed. In conjunction with the Cleveland ride, Jim Sheehan of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op where Sylvia bought her bike, wrote this commentary about Sylvia and the origin of the “I Ride for ____” T-shirts.
Pre-Event Announcement for Memorial Bicyle Ride on 9/22/2013
This Sunday, September 22nd, at 5pm in Cleveland, there will be a silent memorial bicycle ride in mourning and memory of Sylvia’s Bingham’s death as the result of a collision with a truck while riding her bicycle to work on the morning of Tuesday, Sept. 15 2009. This will be the fifth ride held in her honor.
The ride will begin at The Sculpture Center, where, as part of a new exhibit called Made in Mourning, a ghost bike made in Sylvia’s honor will be displayed outside the gallery on Euclid Avenue from the exhibit’s opening on the evening of Thursday, September 19th until the the ride on Sunday, when it will be re-installed at the site of her death, at East 21st St and Prospect Avenue.
Sylvia’s ghost bike outside the gallery will be juxtaposed with the bike she was riding when she was killed, displayed inside as part of the exhibit, with spoke cards on which gallery patrons and ride participants will be invited to complete the phrase, “I ride for _______.” These spoke cards will then be affixed to Sylvia’s ghost bike when it is left at 21st and Prospect, near a sidewalk plaque her parents commissioned and had installed there in 2012.
These cards will echo the slogan that her friends printed on t-shirts for the first ride in her honor shortly after her death — “I ride for Sylvia” — inspired by the fact that, during her brief life in Cleveland, Sylvia used to joke that she needed an erasable T-shirt that said, “I RIDE FOR _______ .” so she could just fill in the blank with a different reason every day, because her co-workers would invariably ask her, “Why do you always ride your bike to work?” and she had so many answers to choose from.
In honor of Sylvia’s life, The Sculpture Center is sponsoring a free Traffic Skills Seminar from 2-5pm on Sunday Sept. 22, immediately before the memorial ride. This brief discussion and short ride examining how bicycle crashes happen, and how to avoid them, is free and open to anyone over 16, but registration (here) is appreciated. The exhibit will be open at 1pm on Sunday, before the class, and before the 5pm memorial ride as well.
The ride, which will be held in silence, will stop at East 21st St and Prospect Avenue for a period of reflection, after which participants may either return to The Sculpture Center with a group, or continue on with some of Sylvia’s friends to Edgewater Beach, one of her favorite places in Cleveland, and make their way home or back to the start on their own. Participants are encouraged to wear white shirts.
Our condolences are extended to Sylvia’s family and friends, and our commitment to making cycling safer for all has been sadly strengthened by the tragedy of her death. Donations in her honor can be made to the Sylvia Bingham Fund, which promotes bicycle safety and environmental concerns.
For bike lovers in Cleveland, the irony is probably sweet.
A mean-spirited comment about cyclists last year by WTAM 1100 talk show host Mike Trivisonno helped generate support from Clear Channel for a citywide bike safety campaign launched on Friday by Bike Cleveland, the city’s largest, non-profit bike advocacy organization.
During a program last September Trivisonno, who has been critical of cyclists who ride on city streets, said he “wouldn’t feel bad” if he ran over and killed a bicyclist who accidentally fell off a bike in front of his car.
Sam Goff, a graduating senior at Terra Linda High School where Sylvia graduated in 2005, was the first recipient of the “Sylvia Bingham Memorial Advocate for Justice Award” at his graduation ceremony in June, 2013 and given $750.
This award goes to an intellectually curious student who has worked creatively for economic or social justice on or off campus and who is not afraid to confront authority but always does so with a sense of fair play and fun, confident that small steps can make the world a better place and always trying, in the words of Gandhi, to be the change s/he wants to see in the world.
Trips for Kids received the first SBF grant in 2013 to create an informational display that will educate customers and youth participants of the importance of bicycle safety. The display installation was completed in February and is located at TFK’s Re-Cyclery Bike Thrift Shop, 610 4th Street and at the Re-Cyclery Training Center, 125 Larkspur, both in San Rafael. All items are for sale. The Sylvia Bingham Fund will subsidize some items for low-income buyers.
The Bicycle Safety Display features safety equipment such as reflective vests and lights that increase rider visibility as well as some newly developed products. One is the innovative Finnish “swing wing” sold by Cantitoe Road, a creative and simple way to remind cars to leave three feet when passing, as required by a new California law.
See Marin County Bicycle Coalition website post with TFK press release and a photo of the safety wing.
SBF provided initial seed funds for a new police training project that grew out of the death of Amelie Le Moullac and botched police investigation (see November 2013 entry). This SFBC asked San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim, in whose district Amelie was killed, to hold a hearing on police practices when bicycles are involved in crashes. Many bike riders involved in crashes told the Supervisors they had been blamed for crashes that clearly weren’t their fault. The SFBC project will train police officers in how to enforce vehicle code provisions and conduct investigations when bicycles are involved.
A memorial bike ride was held in Cleveland on September 15, 2012, the 3rd anniversary of Sylvia’s death. Around 100 riders participated, all wearing white T-shirts, many with “I Ride for Sylvia” on the back. The ride paused at 21st and Prospect to dedicate this bronze plaque embedded in the sidewalk. The ride ended at the former address of Hard-Hatted Women where Sylvia was headed for work the day she was killed. Bike Cleveland helped promote the ride with help from the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op. Here’s some links related to the ride: newsnet5; facebook.
A fundraising event was held at Steve and Francoise’s house on Sylvia’s birthday, April 22, 2012. Francoise baked many desserts that Sylvia liked. Over $1000 dollars were raised for the Sylvia Bingham Fund.
2012 Ride of Silence Events Report >>
Under “State” choose 2012 and California, then scroll down to Marin County on the results page.