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The Importance of Cycling Community

Bike Law Amy spreads the gospel in Knoxville and throughout Tennessee

The past few weeks have been a steady stream of activity for me as Bike Law Tennessee.  I have new cases and investigations where the rights of cyclists can be zealously advocated for, and motorists can continue to be educated. I’ve joined forces with the Memphis Hightailers to assert the rights of cyclists in western Tennessee.  I’m scheduled to speak at the Tennessee Lifesavers Conference in Murfreesboro in September.  I had a very productive trip to Charlotte, North Carolina to meet Bike Law Ann and her amazing staff.  I’ve spoken with Bike Law Mississippi, Charlie Thomas, about joining up with the Memphis Hightailers as well.

All exciting and inspirational work, that is furthering the message of Bike Law, and is geared toward getting the word out amongst the cycling community, that a like-minded network of attorneys exists to take on tough bicycle accident cases.  Meanwhile, the past several days have shown me that I must also continue to be present, and focus on is what’s going on in my backyard here in Knoxville. I’ve viewed cycling in Knoxville through rose-colored lenses the past month or two, basking in how far we have come, rather than looking to what needs to be done.  When I was the president of Bike Walk Knoxville in 2013, I focused my outreach and efforts towards the casual bike rider and the around-town commuter. I was plugged into the pulse of downtown Knoxville.  Since June, I’ve been training for an Olympic distance triathlon in August, so I’ve been logging miles on my road bike this summer, and have been feeling pretty plugged into the more competitive cycling community.  It is a challenge to stay plugged into both groups. I think that we have to bridge that gap and develop a cycling community where casual commuters are connected with hard core group riders, and here is why:

On Saturday afternoon, July 19, I gave a Bike Law clinic at Cycology Bicycle Shop in Maryville, Tennessee.  The discussion was lively, and the questions from attendees were well-thought out.  I think everyone in attendance took away something that they didn’t previously know.  I was struck in particular by one attendee who asked several questions.  As she and I were having a dialogue in front of the group, it came to light that she is not plugged into a cycling community.  She is not on a listserv, nor is she a member of a cycling club.  She doesn’t have access to the resources to get her the help she needs should the worst occur.  Strength comes in numbers; humans are built to be in community. My friend from Saturday does not like the idea of putting her bike on a rack and driving thirty miles to take the bike off the rack and bike thirty miles.  I get it. She is old school and didn’t seem to like the idea of a listserv.  She attends the weekly Saturday group ride and accompanying women’s cycling clinic that Cycology hosts. She has promised to email me, and let me help her get connected.  I hope she follows through. This resonated so strongly with me, that my parting words to the group were:

Make sure you have a community!

This thought was further cemented yesterday evening, when I was mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, waiting for water to boil.  A colleague from the criminal defense bar posted a message about a cyclist collision they observed from three cars back, that occurred here in Knoxville yesterday, with serious injuries.  This was the first I’d heard of it.  No one from the commuter-centric advocacy groups has made mention of it.  No one from the shop rides has sent out a message that one of their members has been seriously hurt.  I hope this victim is plugged into a community.  I hope she knows she is not alone. The silence in the cycling community in the hours after this collision makes me worried that she is not.  We must all be in community with one another.  Not because our end game is the same (a commuter and a racer may not have that much in common) but because when these incidents occur, we need our community to spring to action and look out for one another.

Knoxville is hosting the 4th annual Tennessee Bicycle Summit in 2015.  Maybe this is the opportunity to bridge the gap here in Knoxville.

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