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Bieter: Bike Deaths Won't be in Vain

300 rally for respect, legal protection for cyclists

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Boise Mayor Dave Bieter vowed Monday to a group of some 300 cyclists—including family members of three cyclists killed this summer—that the city would do something about bike safety.

"The deaths of your loved ones will not be in vain," said Bieter, himself a frequent bike commuter.

The ride and rally for bike safety left at 5:30 p.m. from Hill Road and Smith Avenue, where cyclist Kevin Pavlis was killed on June 11. The riders, many from area cycling clubs, replete with jerseys and bright orange safety vests, rode in silence to City Hall for a rally.

Pavlis' widow, Elisa Pavlis, delivered an emotional memorial, recalling all of Kevin's near misses with cars and his increasing bicycle activism in the weeks before his death, during which two other cyclists had been killed.

Kevin Pavlis had considered wearing a helmet camera to document the abuses of cars and wanted to develop public service announcements teaching defensive riding skills, Elisa said.

"Please help make the changes necessary to make our city safe to ride in," Elisa Pavlis said.

Since his death, a PSA has been filmed starring Olympic cyclist Kristin Armstrong, and bikers are pressing for a three-feet to pass law, like the one recently signed in Louisiana.

The daughters of Kevin Chu, killed May 19, and a nephew of Tom Bettger, killed May 21, also addressed the crowd from the steps of City Hall. Kurt Holzer of the Southwest Idaho Cycling Association organized the rally.

Bieter announced the formation of a bicycle response team that will work for the next two months on a plan to boost bike safety. Sgt. Clair Walker, who leads the Boise Police Department's five-man bike patrol unit, said that cyclists need to set an example for motorists and for other cyclists as well.

Then a pair of Boise bike activists—dudes despite their Spandex—delivered speeches aimed first at cyclists and then at cars.

"I wonder if we could dedicate ENTIRE STREETS as bike-pedestrian corridors SOMEDAY. I mean we all pay taxes for our roadways. Why not devote at least one lane on a minor street in strategic locations to pedestrian commuters. Then we could have people riding bikes, skateboards, scooters, roller-blading and whatever else into town," crooned Steve Stuebner, author of Mountain Biking in Boise.

Stuebner urged cyclists to:

  • Stop
  • Look
  • Pause
  • Look again
  • And Go

Then Dave Fotsch, avid bike commuter and spokesman for the Central District Health Department, stood to challenge cars.

"R-E-S-P-E-C-T," Fotsch shouted. "Can I get a little respect? On my ride yesterday I was almost hit by a little old lady on her way to church."

"Get used to it," Fotsch continued. "There are more of us than ever."