Sitting in Solidarity…
This past week, many cyclists sat in solidarity with the parents of Sylvia Bingham during the trial of Herschel Roberts, the truck driver who was ultimately found guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide in the death of Ms. Bingham. Over the past two years, we have come to know Francoise Blusseau and Stephen Bingham and have been touched by their kindness and earnestness in wishing to make Cleveland’s roads a safer place so that others would not have to know their pain. We only knew Sylvia for a short while, but certainly from her parents’ example and the stories they shared of her, we wish we had more time with Sylvia. We wish we had taken better care of her.
Francoise and Stephen established the Sylvia Bingham Fund in order to contribute to the organizations that were touched by Sylvia or that reflect her ideals. We encourage all of you to give in her name.
Throughout the trial, there were so many reasons to think “if only.” If only Mr. Roberts was more aware of his surroundings, including Sylvia on her bicycle… If only our roads were better cared for so that cyclists wouldn’t have to put themselves in danger while avoiding hazards… If only motorists were aware of and respected the laws that give cyclists equal consideration on our roads… If only we had more bike lanes and sharrows and calmer roads and all the things that would help motorists and cyclists coexist safely in our cities… If only.
Francoise and Stephen: we cannot bring Sylvia back, but we can work to make Northeast Ohio a safer place for cyclists and pedestrians. We can push for new laws and for the enforcement of existing laws that protect cyclists. We can educate cyclists and motorists to regard and respect one another. We must do these things.
Judge Daniel Gaul: thank you for taking the time and care to recognize that Sylvia was operating her bicycle lawfully and that Mr. Roberts did act recklessly and without regard for his surroundings. Thank you for stating clearly what state law maintains: that bicycles are vehicles with full rights to the road. Thank you for your empathy.
Mr. Herschel Roberts: like you, we wish that you had not struck Sylvia. We wish that you had looked in your mirrors, used your turn signals, refrained from drug use, or remembered that Sylvia was sharing the road with you as you passed her just a few moments before ending her life. Because Judge Gaul saw fit to take away your driving privileges for life, when you return from prison, you will be among the many Clevelanders without access to a car. You may rely on public transportation, walking, and perhaps even cycling to travel. We will advocate for you, too.