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Brecksville Awareness Rally Recap

FullSizeRender (1) (1)Last Saturday (March 12th) we had the privilege of hosting over 200 local cyclists in Brecksville for a public awareness rally revolving around cyclist’s right to the road and our safety concerns.

The event was in response to the recent acquittal of Timothy Wolf who killed two people on bikes last September when he made an illegal left turn into them. The trial, and subsequent “not guilty” verdict had sparked outrage with many area cyclists as the victims were within their rights of the law and had the right of way when they were struck. Wolf initiated a left turn into oncoming traffic when he claimed he couldn’t see and had an outgoing text message at the moment of impact.

IMG_4978The families of Matt Billings and Jim Lambert (the two victims who lost their lives) spoke at the rally, and called for motorists to take more care and pay more attention while operating a potentially lethal machine. “As a result of Mr. Wolf’s recklessness, my daughter and I have been sentenced to a lifetime without a father and husband. The legal system may not hold Mr. Wolf accountable for crashing into my husband and killing him, but I do,” said Rebecca Billings, Matt’s wife.

Messages about being good ambassadors and setting a positive example as cyclists were also discussed. “We deserve respect, but we need to make sure we give it back,” said Rob Thompson of Bike Cleveland; while local riders Matthew Weeks and Kathy Armada shared their stories, and reminded us that we have a responsibility to the rest of the cycling community to show ourselves in the best possible light by following the law and not escalating bad situations.

IMG_4987Mostly, however, it was a time for people to come together and demand better from the motoring public. “Just because you are bigger and faster when you drive a car does not give you more of a right to the road,” said Jacob VanSickle, Executive Director of Bike Cleveland. “You have a responsibility to respect all road users, and recognize that you are capable of hurting and killing people from behind the wheel. Slow down, calm down, and you can save a life.” VanSickle concluded.

Take Action

There is a state wide 3-foot passing bill that has already cleared House Committee, and we managed to collect nearly 150 signatures at the rally in support of a vote on this bill. See below for an electronic version of this petition you can add your name to.

Additionally, if you have a story you would like to share about an incident of mistreatment or a crash, Rob Thompson is creating an ongoing campaign designed to share these stories with the public at large in an effort to make people realize there is a problem that needs to be addressed. If you have a story, tell us about it.

Finally, Bike Cleveland is embarking on a campaign to take elected officials, traffic engineers, police officers, and prosecutors on educational bike rides. We believe that when the people tasked with protecting us can feel what it is like out on the road with cars, that they will take the issue more seriously. It is easy to discount and dismiss the concerns of cyclists when you are insulated by a car, and never actually feel what we feel every time we ride. If you would like to help with this effort by inviting your local officials and/or participating in these rides, please fill out this form.

Ohio 3-Foot Passing Law (House Bill 154)

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