This weekend, bike advocates and cycling instructors around the country are reeling from the unfathomable news that one of our own was killed.
Around noon yesterday, Bruce Rosar was struck and killed by a car while making a left turn. Within hours, cycling advocates around the country had received the news through various listserves. It was a gut-punch, leaving us all heartbroken, numb and nagged by questions, doubt and disbelief.
A number of our readers knew Bruce Rosar well. He was a long-time advocate for bicycle transportation and cyclists rights. He was a League of American Bicyclists cycling instructor who dedicated his time to teaching others to ride confidently and safely. Last year, he was elected to the Board of Directors of the League by those of us who live in Region 3.
Bruce introduced me to the concepts of Shared Space. As is mentioned in the above-linked article, he was really passionate about it. He was an encyclopedia of links to articles, videos and concept papers on the principles and applications of Shared Space. He’s posted a few of them in the comments of CommuteOrlando posts. He often articulated the belief that the drivers of cars should not be given priority over other human beings in the public space we call roads.
He was one of several thoughtful, intelligent people who helped shape my philosophies on cyclist advocacy.
I had the privilege to meet Bruce at a small gathering of like-minded league members at the National Bike Summit this past Winter. I found him to be a kind and thoughtful man. Upon introduction, he complimented our website. I am very sad that I will not have another opportunity to meet or exchange ideas with him.
We may never know
It is likely we may never know what really happened on Saturday. It doesn’t make sense. The police are still looking for more witnesses. I am sure this crash will be investigated far more thoroughly than the average bike crash. It is likely the advocacy community will insist on it. But there’s a strong possibility we’ll still be left with more questions than answers.
There is a bizarre phenomenon where the human eye/brain simply do not register information. It is rare, but by virtue of exposure, it has shown up in crash reports where car drivers pull into the path of large trucks and swear they never saw them. Of course, it’s also well known that drivers of cars miss 2-wheel vehicles in their scans.
What we do know
Life is fragile. Humans are fallible. Our brains play tricks on us. It happens in cars, on motorcycles on bicycles. It happens to pilots. It happens just generally in life. By the grace of God, I have both survived many errors of my own, and not killed someone else.
As bicyclists, we do the best we can for ourselves. We learn the skills and best practices to achieve the highest level of safety. Bruce knew those, he taught them. It is quite possible the skills he taught have saved the lives of some of his students.
It’s a sobering reminder that no matter what we do and how many precautions we take, we will never be infallible. Nor will we be invulnerable to the fallibility of others. Perhaps just remembering that, with a painful dose of reality, will bring us another layer of awareness and safety.
As we wipe the tears from our eyes, let’s take a moment to remember to find meaning, wonder and adventure in life. To be loving. And to make a difference.
Peace be upon you, Bruce, and an eternal, gentle tailwind… sail on.