On a Saturday in 2002, Al Bastidas was on his way to join an Austin Tri-Cyclists group bicycle ride. A car hit him, knocking him off his bike into the air. The wreck put him in the hospital where he was in a coma. It changed his life forever. Al, who is from the great cycling nation of Colombia but has lived in Austin, Texas for many years, had to go through surgeries and a very difficult rehabilitation. You can learn more about Al’s story here. But out of his tragedy, he created an Austin-based non-profit organization, Please Be Kind to Cyclists. Today I had a conversation with PBKTC board chair Garret. Click to read more!
The group’s primary activity is Awareness, mostly through bumper stickers. (To get one or more, order stickers here.) It’s a simple but elegant idea. When a car driver puts this on her or his car, it signals other drivers that they should be more aware of and considerate toward bicyclists. The stickers are fairly common around Austin, but there can always be more. Garret believes that can and should be used nationwide around the US to promote good relations between all users of the roadways.
Since many people who ride a bike, or in Spanish bicicleta (bici for short), also drive cars, this is the natural group to use them. But anyone with a motorized vehicle can get one. Garret told me he thought that while t-shirts and stickers on bikes (also available) are helpful to spread the message, having the message on a car was the best way to promote awareness. Especially with all the distracted driving that’s still going on, even with laws restricting cell phone usage while driving, awareness is an ongoing need.
The second focus of the group has been Education. Along with the Texas Department of Transportation, they produced a video called “Drive Kind, Ride Kind”. This is hosted on a separate website, http://drivekindridekind.org. It also has some very good information about bike safety and the laws in Texas. Another way they have done education is through bus and police wraps – large stickers that go on buses and squad cars.
Source: Please Be Kind to Cyclists
In the past, PBKTC has provided Assistance to cyclists who have been injured by cars. That involved being with people bedside in the hospital and making small grants. Nowadays PBKTC is compiling a directory of helpful information, predominantly law firms that support cyclists as well as what to do if you’re hit.
Ride of Silence and Bike to Work Day
While not an official PBKTC event, some members do an annual bike ride called the Ride of Silence. It is held to honor those people on bikes who have been hurt or killed by cars. You ride quietly and don’t speak unless you have to signal for safety. It’s a powerful event, one which A Dude attended for the last two years. It’s always the third Wednesday in May, which will be May 16 leaving from the Pfluger Bridge at 7:00 pm. For more information, see: http://rideofsilence.org.
Two days later, May 18 from 6:30-9:00 am, will be Bike to Work Day. If you’re in South Austin and participate, look for Please Be Kind to Cyclists’s fueling station at Bouldin Coffee House, 1900 South First St.
Thanks to Garret for chatting about his group. And remember, get your stickers!
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