An Open Letter to the Cycling Community
Thanksgiving Day is only a week away and already I have been contemplating the many things I have to be thankful for. Earlier this year, on January 6th, I was involved in a hit-and-run while cycling to work. As I was being strapped to a stretcher and taken to Good Samaritan Hospital, I was unaware that the events of the morning were being shared rapidly through Twitter, email, phone calls, and later that day through blogs. Thanks to these communications my wife and family were able to meet me at the hospital well before I would have been able to contact them myself.
When I arrived home from the hospital and began the process of healing both physically and emotionally I had various cyclists who had been involved in hit-and-runs reach out to me and share their experience and offer words of encouragement and support. I received kind words and well wishes from many people. Thank you all.
When the hit-and-run initially was not going to be charged and pursued, many local blogs and groups reported and brought attention to the issue including Streetsblog LA, Citywatch LA, BikingInLA, Bikeside LA, LA County Bicycle Coalition, LAist, MidnightRidazz Forums, East Hollywood Neighborhood Council and several others. Not only did the blogs bring awareness to the issues, they also were a place where many people left supportive comments and voiced their disappointment. Collectively these writings were very validating to me as they made clear that hit-and-runs are not ok and should not be accepted. I appreciated the writings that made a clear distinction between an “accident” vs a crash vs fleeing the scene. Words do matter. Thank you for your words.
When the City Council Transportation Committee met, the LA County Bicycle Coalition and others helped organize a Ride for Justice to speak out against hit-and-runs. Thank you all for joining this ride, for filling out speaker cards and sharing before the committee, city attorney, and the LAPD including Chief Beck. It made a difference! As a result of this meeting as well as the other emails and phone calls made to various City officials I received a call from the City Attorney and they took another look at the case.
When a sentencing hearing was set, another Ride for Justice was organized and then another the following week. As I took the stand to testify, I had a whole support group present there which was so encouraging during a difficult time and also a reminder that these issues affect all of us who ride the streets of Los Angeles.
There have certainly been difficult times this year that have really affected me and my family. Being hit and then left in the road like debris is a very dehumanizing experience. However, I have so much to be thankful for. I am grateful to be alive and healing. The many acts of kindness you have shown to me in direct and indirect ways have reintroduced a sense of humanity to this situation.
Among the many people who have helped me along the way I would like to specifically thank Ross Hirsch and Michael Schwartz. Ross was at the scene of the incident as the paramedics were taking me away. He took pictures, notified others via Twitter, and called my employer. I am very blessed to have had him pass by at just the right time. Since then he has been an excellent adviser and a tremendous help every step of the way. I thank the City Attorney’s office for assigning Michael Schwartz to this case. He did an outstanding job and really went the extra mile making sure every detail was considered.
May you all have a lovely Thanksgiving holiday next week. There is indeed much to be thankful for.