Message From MCBC Executive Director I Want a Safe Ride
At MCBC, we teach tens of thousands of kids and adults how to ride safely and lawfully. We deliver pathways and trails separated from cars. We improve many miles of roadways for safe cycling. We celebrate the joy and utility of bicycling.
Despite those safety efforts, cyclists are currently subject to an atmosphere of impatience and frustration on our public roads. And while that prevailing mood is unpleasant for all road users, it can translate into tragedy for people on bikes.
As I sat with Spencer Fast – one of four victims of last October’s hit-and-run crime – and his family in the Courtroom on the afternoon of July 2, waiting for Aaron Paff to be delivered from the Marin County Jail, I recalled arriving at the scene of the crime which forever changed the lives of four families.
I remember trying to exercise good judgment and offer measured comments that day, while managing an overwhelming sense of horror, sadness and anger.
Those emotions surfaced again as I listened to Spencer share with the court how he and his family had been dramatically, and permanently, impacted by the events of that fateful day. Forceful in stating that he refused to view himself as a “victim” in life, he nevertheless acknowledged that the obvious scar on his forehead would forever remind him of the traumatic experience and symbolize the serious injuries to his brain and eye.
This crime has served as an act of terror for many, discouraging some from riding their bikes. And that continues to upset me.
For decades, I’ve proudly called myself a cyclist. I’ve ridden for transportation, for health and fitness, to compete, to unwind and think through my day, and to witness beauty. I have every right to ride my bike for whatever reason I choose, and I fully expect to do so without being harassed or threatened.
While laws can’t fix all problems, they should at least reflect our values as a civilized society. The simple fact is that if Aaron Paff had pulled over after plowing into those four cyclists, he would have been subject to a traffic ticket. That’s it.
Now is the time for stronger laws designed to protect us as bicycle riders, particularly from intentional harm or harassment. MCBC doesn’t normally focus its efforts in Sacramento, but state-level leadership is what we need now.
The path to better legal protection is steep. But MCBC is reaching out to, and will work with, lawmakers who commit to protecting our safety as cyclists.
Spencer Fast intends to ride the Jensie Gran Fondo again this year, but this time finishing the event. As bicyclists, we have every right to the road, and like Spencer, I will continue to exercise my right to do what I love – ride my bike.
MCBC’s staff and Board of Directors pledge to fight for your right to a safe ride.
See you on the road,