By Bill Plock
The senseless murder of Gwen Inglis at the hands of person with a history of impaired driving enrages most anyone, cyclists or not. As cyclists we are outraged and we want more protection and stronger punishments. But it’s not easy, it’s not simple. And while it may be obvious what needs to change, it takes time, it takes advocates, it takes patience and it takes understanding and empathy. Yes empathy. Empathy for the process of change, for those involved in making laws, approving budgets, setting priorities and taking the time to understand our wishes and desires as cyclist.
And it take us, doing the right things, obeying laws as well, winning over those who don’t understand our desires to ride on roads, or avoid bike paths because those can be dangerous. We have to educate those who don’t ride bikes, yet make vital decision that have huge impacts on our safety and decision making process. We need to help them understand why we might choose a bike lane instead of a bike path for instance.
I remember one time having a long discussion with a waitress at a motorcycle bar in Indian Hills after a ride. It was friendly and we hugged afterwards because she finally understood why we ride bikes up the road from 285 to connect to Bear Creek. Her view was why do we need to “exercise” on “her road” when lottery money was being spent on “on all those bike paths”. She didn’t understand why we would choose to almost get hit on those blind corners, and shared it annoys and frankly scares the heck out of her to see a cyclist and try to move around them safely. I get it. But I listened, I explained the connectivity of that road to so many others in that area. I explained the beauty of riding in the mountains, just like her other customers feel, but on different bikes. I explained the relative danger to staying on highway 285 and weighing the risks. I explained how bike paths are often dangerous too and how sometimes they just end and we are left to merge on to the road–sometimes not too safely. She listened. She then bought me a beer. She smiled. She understood. But I learned a lot. There are a lot of people like her that don’t understand, but sometimes its not their fault, we need to advocate, but we need to hear them too. We need to understand their point of view.
In Gwen’s case, there was no excuse, she did everything right. A very strong focus needs to be on the punishment and the why that this person was even driving with such a poor record. The stretch of road where she was murdered is fast for sure, but it does have a wide shoulder and actually has a bike path parallel to where she rode. The problem is that bike path goes nowhere and is seen more like a path for walkers and maybe kids on bikes. It needs connectivity and maybe someday it will connect better to other paths and routes.
So to all of the links and stories below–this is advocacy. This is a lot of work by many people orchestrated beautifully by Megan Hottman. Efforts like hers need supported, continuously, by all of us if we expect change.
In the first link below there is a letter written by superstar Lakewood bicycle advocate Gary Harty who is also part of Bike Jeffco. You can take this template, add your name and send it to Lakewood City council. In it he cites examples of improvements needed and a reminder of city’s commitment to becoming a silver star bike community in 2018. This letter demonstrates a great example of how safer infrastructure can be achieved.
But it takes time and it takes all of us. And know that there are people on the other side equally advocating for more auto friendly infrastructure to help their businesses, or to develop new homes or reduce traffic congestion. I think we need to not look at this like a fight, but rather an enlightenment–a change of paradigm that has long lasting good that impacts everyone and their quality of life.
The pie of bicycle advocacy is gargantuan. It has lots of flavors and slices so pick your favorite one, savor it, make it your own and fight like hell to keep it and share it with others and we all win.
Thank you Megan Hottman, Gary Harty and all who advocate….
Instagram Posts & Associated Links
Links related to Gwen Inglis:
Gary Harty’s letter: CLICK HERE FOR LETTER TEMPLATE
5/24/21 CALL TO ACTION- send your letter to Lakewood CO City Council & City Manager -Template at Right in WORD —->
City Manager – Kathy Hodgson firstname.lastname@example.org
Replay of Saturday’s memorial service HERE.
hashtag: #belikeGWEN ✝️ #GiftofGWEN
Send your thoughts to the Jeffco DA about how you’d like this driver prosecuted HERE
PHOTOS: by Natalie Starr from the ghost bike ceremony HERE
DONATIONS: lieu of flowers Mike Inglis has asked that donations be made in Gwen’s name HERE
VeloNews is compiling remembrances -If you would like to add to this, please email email@example.com.
CRIMINAL CASE VS RYAN MONTOYA UPDATES:
—Next hearing (prelim hearing) June 15. We will post webex online login links, as well as more info, as it gets closer.
— He is still in Jeffco jail on a $50k bond.
5/13/21: Law Week Colorado, When Remote Work Goes Fully Remote HERE
5/6/21: Outside Online: Driver Who Killed Two Cyclists Sentenced HERE
2/12/21: Trial Guides webinar HERE
2/6/21: Cycling Tips article HERE
11/5/20: White Rim in a day: a bike adventure HERE
10/23/20: Champion System Store Order Link (closes Nov 1): click HERE
9/23/20: Bike To Work Day/ Bike to Wherever Week — info on tax commuter benefit… link HERE.
9/16/20: Interview with the Settlement Nation Podcast, listen in HERE.
9/8/20: Interview with the Bike Ride Podcast talking about the thread of bikes in my life. Listen HERE.
9/3/20: 9News Sentencing coverage of the Chuck Vogel case- click HERE
8/26/20: Sentencing hearing login information for Friday 8/28/20 sentencing hearing :
8/11/20: Bicycling Magazine: How to Avoid Drivers With Road Rage — click HERE
8/5/20: GoFarm Harvest Dinner — click HERE
8/5/20: DA offices are not using the new VRU law — click HERE
7/28/20: Golden US 6 & Heritage Interchange Design meeting and planning — click HERE
7/27/20: WSJ, Mental Resilience Can Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic — click HERE
7/4/20: Bicycle Industry Employers Assoc (BIEA) — click HERE
6/26/20: Bicycle Magazine, It’s Time to Support These Cycling Orgs Pushing for More Racial Diversity — click HERE