I am writing to the SOB bicycle club that is a member of the League of American Bicyclists.

Earlier this week, we were all horrified at the news that five bicyclists were killed and four seriously injured when a driver plowed into them on a club ride in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The League of Michigan Bicyclists and the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club made a joint statement following the crash.

“Our hearts are broken that five cyclists lost their lives and four others were seriously injured due to this preventable tragedy,” said Renee Mitchell, President of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims during this difficult time. We extend our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of those impacted by this senseless act. Our thoughts are also with the injured cyclists. We wish them a quick and full recovery. There is no way to measure the grief we feel at the loss to the Michigan bicycling community.”

“We are grateful that the driver was quickly apprehended after fleeing the scene,” said John Lindemayer, Executive Director of the League of Michigan Bicyclists. “The released details regarding the circumstances surrounding the incident suggest a willful and wanton disregard for human life. We urge local and state police to conduct a comprehensive investigation that will support swift prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.”

Tragedies like this can spur us to take action. When clubs and advocacy groups join forces, like they just did in Michigan, we are a stronger force for change. This crash demonstrates the need for vulnerable road user protection for bicyclists and pedestrians. Does your state have a law protecting vulnerable road users? Check our Bicycle Friendly State report cards to find out.

If your club wants to advocate for safer streets and doesn’t know what steps to take next, I would be happy to introduce you to a nearby advocacy group.

This crash also emphasizes the need for a plan to respond to an emergency. Does your club have a protocol for responding to crashes? Please share it with me – we are collecting examples to share with other clubs.

One simple action to take is to make a donation to the victims of this horrific crash. Please help publicize the fund that has been set up at www.kalamazoostrongorganization.org.

This crash is an extreme example showing how we must take stronger steps to make our roads safer for everyone. But “average” crashes take a huge toll as well — over 600 people are killed by car crashes during an average week in the United States. In partnership with over 400 local advocacy groups across the country, the League is sending the message that 35,000 car crash fatalities a year is not an acceptable average.

Be safe!

Alex Doty
Executive Director
League of American Bicyclists
1612 K Street NW Suite 308
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 621-5448

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