Friday, October 1, 2010

A Daughter Bears Witness: Selena Remembers Mom Tonight After The Memorial Bike Ride

She carried a candle, the flame illuminating the night and the sidewalk at the Seminole Heights Garden Club along Central Avenue tonight.

Selena came to be a witness for the Honor the Fallen Bike Ride tonight because her bicyclist mom was gone -- lost forever because she was biking to work this morning and was killed when a car driver ran a red light at Himes Avenue and Spruce Street in Tampa. Selena's mom, Diane Vega, was killed while waiting to cross the road.

I, along with some 65 other bicyclists, just returned from an emotional 15-mile memorial bike ride from Seminole Heights through downtown Tampa and Ybor City and back up to Seminole Heights. We left 7:10 PM and arrived back at 8:50 PM.

And there to greet us when we returned was Selena, a petite 21-year-old clutching a candle with her best friend Davis.

Selena said her mom would have been at tonight's memorial bike ride to remember the five other bicyclists killed since July 29. Earlier this morning, Diane Vega made it six.

Diane loved bicycling and biked everywhere, Selena told me. She was not a roadie but an everyday cyclist who biked to work and biked to Starbucks and biked to just about any place she wanted to, her daughter said.

I was supposed to talk live about bicycle safety with FOX-TV at 10:05. But after meeting Selena, I told FOX News reporter Kristen Wright that Selena should be on camera with me.

So, when the TV camera went live, Selena told the world how amazing her mom was, how inconsiderate so many driversn are.

Selena hopes to be around next week to attend county commission and city council meetings to speak for her mom and demand road improvements for bicyclists.

* * *

It was an emotional night. Before we biked, I read the names of Diane and five other bicyclists killed while pedaling since July 29.

Ed Collins then talked about the loss of his dad, LeRoy, and his frustration that the driver who killed his dad was never cited.

And state Rep. Janet Cruz also came to express her support for bicycling.

Then we started pedaling and it was amazing to see the long line of bicyclists biking down Central Avenue.

A beautiful scene.

* * *

Then there's bicyclist Lou Acevedo.

Lou lost some 40 pounds from cycling and is hooked.

He was with tonight's group, but he wasn't pedaling a two-wheeler.

He was driving his work truck and beeping his horn in a friendly way in the lane next to us along Tampa Street as we approach downtown.

Thanks Lou for your support -- you might have been a work truck but you were an honorary bicyclist tonight.

* * *

The bicyclists came in all sizes and ages, pedaling road bikes and mountain bikes and hybrids and even a recumbent tadpole.

A sad night in many ways, but a beautiful night, too, in the way bicyclists came together united.


Nick said...

I was glad to be part of the memorial Alan. I do this every day and hope my daughter doesn't hear about my last ride on the news.

Ellen said...

Alan, Thanks for all your hard work trying to make cycling safer. God bless all the families and friends who lost a loved one. Ellen