On July 10, a friend posted a link to story about the hit and run of a Tennessee cyclist on Rob Dollar’s Facebook page with a cautionary warning:
“Be careful out there.”
The victim in Tennessee survived with injuries. A month and a half later, Rob did not. He was hit by a suspected high and drunken driver who reportedly crossed a double yellow line on Phoenix’s South Mountain. Others, tragically, came before Rob: Jenna Taylor, Highly Falkner, Michael Boulden, Marwan Maalouf, Peter Rankin, Clare Rhodes, Kenneth Vieira, Clare Kirby, Richard L. Vaughn and Michael Gray.
Many of them we know. Some we don’t. There are more. But with each one, it hits closer to home.
Rob was killed on a road so familiar to many of us – we ride it at least twice a week. We know every turn and how good it feels to get to the top, knowing the most fun is yet to come. On Pinnacle Peak Road, Michael Boulden was killed. On Pecos Road, Highly Falkner. On the Tour de Scottsdale route, Marwan Maalouf. Usery Pass, Clare Kirby. We ride these roads.
It’s easy to keep pedaling. It’s hard to think about how it could have been any one of us. But it wasn’t. Our friends, our family, our fellow riders and racers – they’re gone.
We’re still here.
Now what do we do?
Some say we can’t expect anything to change, that we’re fighting a losing battle, that those with power won’t do anything. Translation: They say we should just give up.
They say that we should ride on bike paths only – after all, it’s why we have them. They say we should take up mountain biking – it’s more fun anyway, and you won’t get hit by a car. They say distracted drivers are going to increase, and it’s better to just get off the road entirely. Translation: victim blaming.
Road cycling gives me joy. My tires gliding across the road at speed, the power under my pedals during a sprint, my heart rate skyrocketing and pumping endorphins to my brain. It’s pure freedom. It’s a big way I live life, and it’s a way of life. It’s a community, it’s fitness, it’s a life-long pursuit.
I don’t believe I have to live in fear and stop doing what I love.
Rob encouraged others always to have passion for what they did, to live life to the fullest, to be “power” and to never quit.
“In one of the last conversations I had with Rob, he mentioned he wanted to raise money to promote awareness for cyclists’ safety,” wrote Brandon Mena, who created a GoFundMe page dedicated to the cause.
Rob wanted to raise money to promote awareness. Rob wanted to do something.
I want to do something. I’m passionate about educating city leaders and officials on the differences between the various types of cyclists on the road, what we are doing out there, and what we need drivers to know. I’m passionate about awareness, and I don’t think there is enough signage out there to alert drivers to watch for cyclists or give us three feet. I want and believe we can affect change.
What are you passionate about? How can you be “power”? What is it that you want to do?
Rob is gone, but he wouldn’t want us to quit.
Now is the time to give it full gas, because we’re still here, and we can.
Here are some good places to start:
- Rob’s GoFundMe page
- Look! Save a Life
- Phoenix Spokes People
- Find your Phoenix City Council District and write your council member an email
- Find and contact your state representative
Sarah Muench is the publisher of clippedin.bike.