Carrying on Kim Lamphier's Mission for Maryland Safe Passing and VRU Laws
David Whitaker is a musician, retired Land Use and Transportation Planning Consultant, active Bike Advocate, and Kim Lamphier’s biggest supporter. He is also her husband and her best friend. With Kim’s continued and unrelenting encouragement, he is finally preparing for a very special bike ride from their home in Maryland to Key West, Florida. This is a ride they planned to do together- every mile pedaled with great love.
Kim’s role in the Maryland bicycle community isn’t defined by her courage and tenacity while she was Director of Bike Maryland’s advocacy efforts, nor is it limited to the countless number of miles she rode. She was an advocate for every underdog. She was a champion for our whole planet, dedicated to justice and improving our quality of life, and her success in making a difference makes her “Power of One” a gift she selflessly gave to us all.
Kim passed away on August 30, 2019 from a yearlong battle with soft-tissue sarcoma. The impact of her loss has been and continues to be as geometric as the impact she made while alive. When I caught up with David at this year’s Bike Maryland Symposium in Annapolis, he had many beautiful stories to share and we had hardly enough time to cover a fraction of them. But I wanted to keep listening and I wanted to keep learning more about this incredible woman I knew for far too short a short period of time. The take away from our chat – David’s and mine- was that Kim continues to be a strong driving and motivating force within Maryland’s bicycle community and her presence is felt just as strongly today as always. And I think that’s what defines her greatness: she is missed and needed as much as she is loved and honoring her by continuing the work she started and that of which she was such an important part ensures that Kim will always have her seat at the head of the table, planning and pushing for necessary change.
Her leadership and her light are stronger than ever.
The agenda for Bike Maryland’s 2020 Symposium has evolved over the last couple of years into a comprehensive approach to changing bike culture, legislation, and safety for Maryland’s cycling community. Through the open and dynamic conversations and initiatives set forth by Josh Feldmark, Bike Maryland’s Executive Director and dear friend of Bike Law’s, Maryland’s cyclists (and others who choose human powered transportation) have lots to which they can look forward. And all of this, of course, is happening with Kim in mind.
This year’s Symposium provided a productive forum to have difficult conversations about things like compulsory helmet usage; inclusive infrastructure and how to get the funding needed for its implementation; the truth about our bike community’s demographics as a whole; cycling injustice; ways to overcome separated land usage and poor engineering; the need for greater education for cyclists and motorists alike, including our children and the elderly; advocacy, overcoming false narratives and divisiveness amongst ourselves, in the media, and in our communities; how to be better to one another and work more effectively for one another; inclusiveness, diversity, and mitigating solutions to eradicate victim blaming; supporting and cultivating positive relationships with law enforcement; and of course, lobbying and legislation.
For the last few years the fights for a VRU (Vulnerable Road User) and Safe Passing law have been front and center on Bike Maryland’s legislative agenda. This year, the momentum and support within our legislature is strong and encouraging. The passing of Senate Bill 512 and Senate Bill 199 (which just successfully passed the Senate and is moving through the House as I write this blog post) would be giant leaps toward cycling justice. Kim continued working on these things during her most difficult and last days before her passing in lieu of resting comfortably in bed.
Bike Law is completely invested in its continued support of Kim, Josh, Bike Maryland, and all of the hard working and passionate people that make Maryland’s cycling community so special. As a native Baltimorian, I have a unique attachment to the idea that riding a bike in Maryland can be one of life’s finest experiences. And when people like David, Kim, and Josh (and advocates like Nigel Samaroo and Jon Korin) offer an opportunity to participate in affecting change, you take it- no questions asked. I was honored to be included and I continue to be inspired by the people leading the charge and the many in attendance. It was really nice to see so many familiar faces, too. Their work will undoubtedly make the future of cycling in Maryland better and safer. (Maybe the unbearable parking crisis in Annapolis during legislative sessions will end up existing only in our rear view mirrors with greater accessibility for those who choose two wheels over four. I look forward to attending THAT Symposium!)
People rarely call us on their best days. In fact, almost all of the time, folks reach out because they have suffered a tragic loss or grave injustice. And while Bike Law Maryland is always available to help as bike accident attorneys, some of the most fulfilling work we do is in a supportive role for those who devote their lives to all of the things our community needs to effectively prevent and respond to the crash epidemic suffered by cyclists everywhere.
Keep the rubber side down, and RIDE PROUD.