You may have already seen the video below. If you haven’t, please watch.
On Tuesday, August 24th just before 7PM, Jeff McCord and approximately 20 other cyclists were stopped at the intersection of Karl Daly and Grants Mill Road in Irondale, Alabama, a town outside the city of Birmingham. As McCord waited for an ambulance to pass, almost finished with his weekly Tuesday evening group ride, Jeff wasn’t expecting to experience a potentially deadly punishment pass that would precipitate shock and community outrage amongst cyclists and non-cyclists alike. As an avid cyclist who believes in Bike Law’s mission and seeks to “legitimize and encourage the use of cycling as transportation,” Jeff rides every day; both for himself and the promotion of safe and sustainable bike culture in a climate that oftentimes fails people on bikes.
As Jeff and his group waited at the stop sign for their turn to advance through the intersection, he heard startling commotion that caused him to look to his right just in time to dodge the GLS Supply company pick up truck being driven by Philip Alan Sudderth (son of company owner, George Sudderth). Sudderth accelerated onto the shoulder of Grants Mill Road, steered his wheel to the left, and plowed through Jeff’s group, barely missing several of the riders. The truck’s squealing tires echoing through the air. Had one of the cyclists in the group (who was on a recumbent bicycle) been closer to McCord and not first in line to travel through the intersection, Sudderth would not have seen him and the outcome could very possibly have been a tragic fatality instead of a terrifying but teachable moment.
McCord rides with Cycliq Fly 6 and FLY 12 video camera lights on his bicycle. Thought of as a luxury to some, these recording light devices are responsible for creating a bedrock for law enforcement and Bike Law’s legal advocates on which irrefutable evidence of reckless and negligent behavior by motorists can be leveraged to achieve cycling justice. Cycliq’s high definition video (in which plate numbers and speed of travel can be documented) provides those responsible for enforcing the law and penalizing those who violate the rules of the road with an important tool. For us at Bike Law, we see immeasurable value in video evidence. Demanding that irresponsible drivers whose vehicles become 2000 lb death weapons be held accountable for their dangerous behavior is a significant part of what we do.
The Irondale Police Department was both diligent in their investigation and successful in identifying the driver of the pick up truck that almost struck McCord and his fellow cyclists. This, however, is not always the case. Far too frequently we learn of crashes and close calls that result in nothing that even closely resembles justice. Picked out of a line up by McCord and another rider, Philip Alan Sudderth was arrested by Irondale PD, charged with two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment, released after posting bond, and now awaits his day in court on September 20th where, if found guilty, could be fined and sentenced to time in jail.
We cannot expect to see the changes we need without consistently exercising our rights. Have an experience like Jeff’s? Report it to your local law enforcement. Demand that they follow through with a proper investigation and appropriate disciplinary action. If you can, invest in Cycliq’s Fly 6 and Fly 12 camera lights and arm yourself with technology that can prevent you from finding yourself in a position where little or nothing can be done to address the dangers that irresponsible motorists pose to us while sharing the road.
Cultivating better, safer biking conditions for all who ride begins with acknowledging the obstacles we face and identifying multifaceted solutions that encourage change. If you are in the Birmingham area, please consider attending the Irondale Police Department’s Cycling Summit tomorrow evening from 6-8PM at the substation across from the old Sam’s Club. (5415 Beacon Drive, Suite 123 Irondale, AL 35210). Danny Feldman (Bike Law Alabama), Jeff McCord, members of the Birmingham community (cyclists and non-cyclists) and media, other guest speakers, and officers from Irondale PD will be hosting a constructive conversation addressing all concerns related to biking in Irondale, Alabama’s bike laws, cyclists’ rights, and ideas about how we, collectively, can engender a culture of better, safer biking for all.
We’re in this together. And together, we ride safe, happy, often, and proud.