—-Yet another cyclist was hit by a car and killed this week. Here is a letter written by a Troy bike advocate to the author of a Times Union story on the matter. What do you think?—-
    I just read your article on the cyclist who was killed near I-87. This is disturbing enough news on its own, but I’m reaching out to express disgust with the words you chose to include.
    You must be able to assume I am a cyclist, which is of course true. I am also an advocate and transportation planner. I understand what creates conflicts between bicyclists and drivers, and why cyclists die when there are crashes. It’s not from a missing helmet, a lack of reflective clothing, or not using the crosswalk (cyclists are not even meant to ride in crosswalks, anyway).
    What killed this cyclist, and virtually every cyclist who ends up in newspapers like the TU, is a driver and the vehicle they’re in. What is disturbing to me and thousands of other cyclists around the region (not to mention our families and friends), is the way these stories are consistently written. 
    I’m not dense enough to claim a light couldn’t have been helpful here. Upon seeing some clouds this morning, I affixed my blinking rear light to my seatpost, to give myself extra visibility on the roads. I have no issue with a detail like this- the absence of something a rider should have- being noted. The issue lies in how you’ve portrayed the cyclist to be at fault, as if they died because they forgot their reflective vest. They died because they were hit by a car. Most likely, by a car moving over 30 mph (it’s around this speed we see a jump in fatal crashes), but upon reading the article we really cannot tell why the crash happened at all. There are so many important details missing. What’s the speed limit on this stretch of roadway? Is there a bike lane? Was the driver texting? Drunk? Speeding? Were there other roadway conditions that led to the crash, like street lights out, rain, construction?
    These are examples of some meaningful details left out of stories like this one all too often. Instead, most authors choose to include details like the ones you did, naming some arbitrary things the cyclist didn’t have, as if they would’ve been okay if they had some brighter clothes on. The article you linked on Deborah Carpenter, who was left on the side of the road to die despite her reflective vest.
    Stories like yours give readers a clear person to blame: the cyclist. While people like me, who deal with dangerous drivers everyday, are left with frustration and so many more questions on what actually happened. These articles reaffirm the lack of responsibility we have when we get behind the wheel of these powerful machines each day, by suggesting someone who is hit (if they’re not in a car too) is to blame. This is a plea, hoping you can listen, empathize, and change the way you cover stories like this in the future, because it has a significant impact on those who read it.
Thank you,
James Rath

Hamilton Hill Ramble

Join Cycle Schenectady for a casual, slow-paced, family-friendly bike ride around the Hamilton Hill neighborhood on Saturday, September 11th (rain date Sunday).
Here’s a chance to meet and ride with your neighbors, and those from other neighborhoods, while visiting historic and other significant sites and learning more about Hamilton Hill.
Meet at the Electric City Barn, 400 Craig St., at 3 p.m.
Helmets required. Minor adjustments and repairs available starting 30 minutes before the ride. Children under 13 must be accompanied by an adult.