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Share the Road Meeting Recap

September 5, 2012

Last Thursday we held our first ever Share the Road meeting, here in Rochester NY. Big thanks to the faculty and administration at Fairport High School,  where Heather Boyum was a beloved science teacher, for waiving the rental fee and being on hand to help make our meeting successful. It truly was.

When faced with an impossible task, there are two choices you can make in how you respond. You can be the person who looks at the situation and only can see the impossibility of everything. Or you can be the person who looks at it in a different way. You can choose to turn obstacles into hurdles and learn how to jump them. You can choose to make it your goal to be the first person who can say……. WOW, I can’t believe we did that.

As a whole, we as a community are choosing to be that second person. What I took away from the meeting was this: we have a lot of work to do on several different levels. If we think this is a one flip of the switch is going to fix everything, or that the fix is going to happen overnight, then we have another think coming.

Each speaker we had brought to the table a different perspective, a different angle. We need a multiangle approach to all of this.

Eric Boyum.

Eric thanked the community to the outpouring of support to the Frazer -Bouym family. for the condolences and for the help and guidance as he and his children adjust to their new normal.

Eric also brought up some points that no one has spoken about throughout this tragedy. He brought up the facts on unlicensed drivers in New York State. I never even thought about this. Here are some startling facts, from a group of 278,078 drivers who were involved in 183,749 fatal crashes, there were three categories:

  • 20,596 of those drivers (7.4%) were drivers with an invalid license (i.e., a suspended, revoked, expired, or canceled/denied license)
  • 10,228 (3.7%) of those drivers were drivers with no known license
  • 7,632% (2.7%) of those drivers were  drivers with unknown license status

A great resource Eric directed us to which outlines how big of a problem this is can be found by clicking here, it’s quite an interesting read and brings attention to a problem I admit, I never thoughts about. I don’t understand how someone could or would drive without a license. I also don’t know…. how law enforcement can go about catching these people.

Just as a reminder, neither of the two individuals who killed Heather had a valid license.

Todd Sheske

Todd Sheske is Rochester Cycling in my opinion. He’s been riding these roads as a competitive cyclist for over 20 years. He is also the director of the MVP cycling team and also the founder of the Jon Decheau Foundation. Jon Dechau was killed on 5&20 in Lima 6 years ago while riding. Like Heather he was doing everything right when a distracted driver took his life. He left behind a wife and two young children.

If you check out the MVP website you will notice that they do a great deal of bike safety programs that focus on youth. They partner with the Rochester Police dept and Monroe Country Sheriff’s department in getting in front of youths and teaching them in a hands on approach…. all about bike safety. They get in front of thousands of Western New York kids annually.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel so to speak. These programs are already in place, they just need support.

Todd also reviewed a few points about bike safety that we all need to remember:

  • Wear your helmet
  • Ride as far to the right as is safe.
  • Remember the piece of the law that states we do have rights to the road.
  • Right with traffic.
  • Be visible and ride defensively.

Rachel Stockholm

This impressive young lady holds a degree in criminal justice and is a member of Rochester’s Moms in Motion. Rachel has been working hard to get the attention of our Senator…. Joe Robach and has been collecting signatures to ask for tougher penalties for DWI in New York State. As you remember the individual on the motorcycle who killed Heather had been released from jail just three weeks before he got drunk and hit her (at 7:45 on a Sunday morning). He had just completed a SHOCK program, which is a boot camp style jail program designed to rehabilitate those who drive drunk.

Everyone is always saying how these people need rehab….. clearly it was not effective. Three weeks later he’s at it again.

Rachel has been working hard to not only get tougher penalties….. but she’s been looking hard at conviction rates and sentences for those who do drive drunk.

Take a look at her petition by clicking right here. She brought hard copies of this petition to the meeting and when I paged through the 200+ signatures that she has….. I was floored. It looks different online than it does in person. Incredible.

Rachel has hit a bit of a stall with getting some of our lawmakers to communicate with her. In the beginning they were quick to jump on board and offer help. As the weeks have gone on, calls have not been returned. Emails left unanswered. What we can do as a community is keep the pressure on and lend Rachel our support. These are important pieces of the laws and if stricter punishments had been upheld….. we would not be where we are today. Visit her petition site to learn more about how you can help.

Tom DeRoller

Tom gave a very passionate talk about safety on our roads and what we can do to help make them safer. He brought up the points that we need to begin at a grassroot level and that this must begin with us. He came up with the idea of a bike alert system, through social media we can alert the public to rides that are happening in our area, and get the word out on both facebook and twitter.

And then he went ahead and started it. This is from his speech last week:

I challenged myself to come up with one thought that could be easily implemented without years of political debate and lagging legislation. My first idea is to create a ‘Bike Alert’ system. This is based on the same concept you’ve seen with televised traffic alerts, weather alerts/forecasts, and school closings. You see these types of alerts on local TV in every market, and are sponsored and funded by local businesses. The ‘bike alert’ would be a simple notification of where cyclists will be riding on a given day during a specific time span. For example, directing drivers to be on the lookout for a group of 15 cyclists riding on route 65 in the Mendon Ponds area between 6-8pm  tonight, or on a larger scale, 2500 riders riding in the Rochester area on June 2nd 2013! These alerts would go out on a TV stations web sites, social media including facebook and twitter. It would be incumbent on the cyclists to forward the information on to a central source to disperse the information. I don’t think it would be a huge challenge to find underwriters, but it might go a long way toward alerting drivers where and when cyclists are out on the local roads.

If you are on Twitter you can alert followers of a group ride happening. In fact when I saw this tweet from Tom it alerted me that while I was driving through Mendon I needed to have a head’s up for a group of cyclists.

All you have to do is #bikerideralert and toss in #rochester and maybe the news station as he did. I think this is a great and easy way to put it out there. Social media gives us a voice. Let’s use it. If we all contribute, things like this grow from a grassroot level.

Bonnie Venton.

Bonnie spoke on behalf of the Rochester Moms in Motion about some of the fundraising efforts she and the MIM’s have been working on. Their aim is to raise money for the Heather Boyum Education Fund, which raises money for Heather’s two children (who are 7 years old and 4 years old). This fund is designed to help offset their college expenses.

No amount of money will replace them losing their mother, but this can help them get a head start in life at a time when they need it.

Memorial T Shirts are going to be sold, there will be a memorial run on October 14th, and many of us are going to be heading up some projects that will raise the money we need to make sure these kids get what they need in life.

What you can do…. LIKE the Rochester Moms in Motion Facebook page clicking here should take you there. Also pay attention to the Rochester Moms in Motion website. As I get information I will also pass it along and put those links up on my site here.

Scott MacCrae and Jon Shull

Scott and Jon from the Rochester Cycling Alliance gave a fascinating presentation about what they are involved in as they aim to create a safer cycling environment in Rochester. Scott pointed out that in Portland Oregon…. two cycling fatalities within one month inspired an initiative that helped make Portland one of the safest cities to ride your bike in. It took 12 years but it happened. It’s an Ironman, not a 5K when it comes to this kind of chance.

Did you know that we have organizations in place that are already working on this? We have Bike Walk Rochester in Brighton among one of the many things that have already begun. Check that out right here.

The Rochester Cycling Alliance also already has systems in place to continue and bring together the efforts of people like Bike Walk Rochester. They have the plans in place, they have the educational piece going. This is what I mean when I say we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. It’s already in place. We just need to add some meat to it.

Not only do you need to check out their website here, but check out the below video. This is what Scott watched happen in Portand, and this is what they would like to see happen here over the next several years.

Sheriff O’Flynn

Sheriff O’Flynn and two of his officers were on hand to answer questions pre submitted and asked at the meeting. Questions asked had to dow ith distracted driving, bike laws, and how we as cyclists can protect ourselves.

I understand that a lot of people like to throw pitchforks at the Sheriff, and I have to be honest…. I find that tiring and unnecessary. I am not a conspiracy theorist, hints have been thrown at me that these guys are hiding something, evading questions, etc. We have found them to be nothing but forthright and let me be real honest……. I don’t have time for that kind of behavior. We need to be part of the solution and not create another problem.

The officers told us that if we do get run off the road, get them a description, they will do their best to find them. They let us know that if you do see someone on a cell phone and you do report them…. that person will get a letter in the mail. They did tell us that if we did ride with helmet cams that we could not use them as evidence if something should happen…… however I would disagree with that.

I think that if you rode with a helmet cam and caught someone hitting you, running you off the road…. you might not be able to use that in court (has anyone ever tried I think is the bigger question)….. you can do something with that. Social media gives us a voice.

They did say that if New York State did have something like a “Three foot” law that it would be difficult to convict. It’s not like people drive around with a ruler to measure. However what we agreed as a community is that having a three-foot law would at the very least raise awareness. Awareness is part of this equation.

I think the take away is that we as cyclists don’t have a lot of rights on the roads. I disagree with that. We have rights, we just have to know what they are and again, raise the awareness for others. The Sheriff can only do so much. It begins with us.

Again I found the Sheriff and his crew to be nothing less than honest. When they didn’t know something, they admitted it. I think they do their best.

The take away from this is that we need to begin the petition to get ourselves a Three Foot Law. I am looking for the person who would be willing to head that up. Let me know if you are interested.

In summary….. as I said before this is a multipronged effort. It’s not just Todd Sheske and the education, It’s not just the Rochester Cycling Alliance, it’s not just the Sheriff’s office. We all have a role here, we all play a part.

So what do we do now? Here is what I would like to suggest:

1. Join Tom DeRoller’s efforts over on Twitter to create the bike alert system ona  grassroots level.

2. Check out MVP’s site and get involved in a rodeo and educate YOURSELF.

3. Join the Rochester cycling Alliance. Attend a meeting, get involved.

4. Keep your eyes peeled for fundraising from the Moms in Motion

5. Support Rache’s petition and help her keep the ear of our legislators.

6. Be safe out there. Be responsible.

As we move forward I would love to do another meeting in the November timeframe, before the holidays hit. I’d like to hear from all of the above speakers and have them let us know where they are at in their efforts, let us know if our support has been helpful and let us know where they can use us.

A big big big thanks to everyone who spoke, who attended and who has contributed to this effort.

Like I said in the beginning, we have two choices. We can look at the impossibility of this task. Or we can do what each of our speakers above has already done. We can look at what we can do. We can look at the piece we can change. We can commit to being in this for the long haul. And we can someday look for the day where we sit back and say…. wow. I can’t believe that we did it.

Because Heather and those who have gone before her….. are worth it.

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