Toward Zero Deaths

When I first heard about the goal to get to zero traffic fatalities, I thought it was an unrealistic goal. But over the years, my perspective has shifted.

It began the last time I was in Seattle, in 2006, to start a cross-country bicycle trip from Seattle to Washington, D.C.

Three days into that ride, on a clear, beautiful day on a wide, flat road, one of the riders was struck from behind and killed. The driver was looking at her baby and didn't see the cyclist, she said.

I rode to Spokane that day, subdued and slow. I rode all the way to D.C., past the fearsome logging trucks in Montana, and past the crash that took out two additional riders (both alive, thankfully) in Indiana.

After that trip, at my work at the League of American Bicyclists, I started to see that we can make a difference with a goal of Zero Traffic Deaths. I launched a program, titled Every Bicyclist Counts, and personally tried to track the death of every cyclist in the country. It was heartbreaking work.

And tonight, I type this from my dad's hospital room in Houston, Texas. Just seven months ago, he was attacked on his bike, and the kids who took his beloved Gunnar also broke three of his ribs and his collarbone. Now he’s in the hospital again.

This week, he was back on his bike, starting to train for STP, when he was struck by a car. He sustained six broken ribs, a cracked vertebrae and a broken thumb. But: He's alive, and for that I am endlessly grateful.

Enough is enough.

I know this isn't just about my dad or my stories -- all cyclists, all pedestrians, even most drivers have stories about calls that are way too close, crashes that missed by a hair, or worse, loved ones who did not survive.

I'm committed to Zero Traffic Deaths. I'm committed to safer streets for cars, bikes, buses and pedestrians. I'm committed to slower speeds, and an end to distracted driving.

As Cascade works on our strategic plan this month, we're talking about road safety and what we can do about it.

What do you want us to do about it? Send me your ideas at elizabeth.kiker@cascadebicycleclub.org.

Elizabeth Kiker
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