Digital Lumens is a biking company and has been since the beginning. Over a dozen of our team commutes daily to work – even in the dead of winter. The conference rooms in our new office are named after biking components (Crank, Derailleur, Cassette). And when we were lucky enough to be named one of the Best Places to Work by Boston Business Journal, our founder’s intentionally brief and somewhat obtuse acceptance speech was simply, “Obviously we’re hiring. We ride bikes.” Beyond the bike commuters, there are still more of our team who are avid recreational cyclists.
But recent events in my town, as well as other experiences, make me worry about the safety of our biking team members. Sadly, last week, a cyclist, Alex Motsenigos, was killed in a tragic hit-and-run incident in broad daylight. While the particulars of the accident are as-yet unknown, the news shook me, my fellow cyclists, and family to the core. As I shared the information, responses included my brother’s relieved, “Thank God, it wasn’t you,” to my cycling group’s chorus of, “I am here. Ride safe. Regrets and thoughts to the family.” Most striking to me was the response from my teenager daughter, whom I had almost convinced to race cyclocross with me this fall, who said, “Dad, I think I don’t want to ride with you.”
This incident and the related conversation brought to mind a recent exchange I had had early one morning as I was on a piano (easy) ride with a good friend. We talked about how the relationship between drivers and cyclists was getting out of hand. All of us cyclists recognize drivers by type — from the menacing landscaper in the pickup, to the oblivious parent talking on the cell phone while toting kids to school, to the randomly aggressive driver. And we are always vigilant – aware of the potential danger in any driver/cyclist encounter – because simple physics favor the driver of the car over the cyclist in all situations.
Just as there are inconsiderate drivers, there are inconsiderate cyclists. But as someone who transitions from an early morning cyclist into a rush-hour commuter, I am critically aware of the cyclists on the road and the fact that they are increasingly common. The rapid and widespread adoption of Hubway in Boston, for example, has expanded the ranks of casual riders, and further increased the need for greater awareness and consideration on the part of drivers. Bikers are here to stay, and should not have to be the only vigilant ones. Everyone should be.
What happened to Alex does not need to happen again. Heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.