In my May Letter, I focused on the story of “Michael”, a Lincoln Middle School student who was riding his bike to school for the first time and was hit by a car and ended up with an ER visit and a traffic citation to show for it.
In my letter I focused on areas where I believe all of us, from law enforcement, to bike advocates, to our Safe Routes program, to planners, and not least, the parents in our community, can and must continue to work together, towards the goal of safer streets for all users in Northern Colorado.
Nowhere is this more critical and more apparent than in the disparity between kid-safe bike/ped routes to school and the city’s lofty mode shift goals for students. Questions of legal fault linger in Michael’s case. But I feel as strongly as ever that our collective failure to absolutely prioritize safe, convenient, comprehensive low stress routes to school is an impediment to promoting alternate modes of transportation. Additionally, when a young boy is cited based solely on the statement given by the driver, without talking to the boy at all, it is made clear that our priorities, even as they slowly shift, are still implicitly biased towards car volume and convenience over human safety and accessibility. We can and must do more to shift priorities, defaults and assumptions when we build and regulate our streets.
On the flip side of that, a number of promising pieces came together in the aftermath of Michael’s crash that I’m hopeful will develop into a smarter response to this sort of violence.
Nancy Nichols, the city’s Safe Routes to School (SRTS) coordinator, received word of the crash from the FCPD Community Service Officer on the scene almost immediately, which mobilized a chain of events that included:
- SRTS reached out to Michael and his family to offer intensive, culturally sensitive support and information about bike safety and safe routes, (and a helmet);
- Bike Fort Collins reached out to the municipal prosecutor’s office to ask that the ticket be dismissed in consideration of Michael’s effort and success in the SRTS program, and together we identified a new referral process for youths who receive traffic citations;
- Vida Sana (a health equity coalition serving Fort Collins’ Latino population) found Michael a replacement bike (his was destroyed in the crash).
The photo at the top of this post is of Michael receiving his new bike and helmet after his ticket was dismissed. Because of the hard work of the SRTS team, and the strength of our local transportation and health equity partnerships, another young Fort Collins resident is empowered to contribute to our goal of a safer, smarter city that puts people first.
more bikes, safe streets, one voice.
It’s June so there’s a ton of stuff going on this month: our Bike Art Show, Open Streets, Bike Month, Bike to Work Day, YGR Live. We could especially use your help with volunteer support for Ride the Rockies. This year we are the non-profit partner for the Fort Collins finish on June 17th, and we need a whole bunch of volunteers. It’s a great way to be an ambassador and the first smiling face that thousands of cyclists see when they descend into Fort Collins at the end of a long week. And BFC benefits financially from your support. Sign up here
Thanks for your continued support and stay tuned,
Chris J Johnson
Bike Fort Collins