When Margaret Havey says, "Once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout," she's not talking about cookies. She's what she describes as "a compulsive volunteer."
"Not to shake things up, mind you," said Havey. "I'm much more interested in shaping public policy to make the world a little bit better."
Havey sees much of the world from the seat of one of her bicycles—she has a lot of them. As vice president of the Treasure Valley Cycling Alliance, she'll be a busy woman during Boise Bike Week, which begins on Saturday, May 14, so we were lucky to get her to sit still for a few minutes and talk about cycling, safety and being a bit fearless.
Another string of accidents involving bicycles and vehicles is again casting a shadow on Boise. If you were queen for a day and could prevent more of these from happening, what would you change?
For one thing, there's more conversation about calling these things "crashes" instead of "accidents." But at the top of my list would be the creation of a vulnerable road-users law. There are rarely criminal consequences in these incidents. If anything, there's usually a traffic citation.
Have you been hit while riding?
I was right-hooked by a car at the intersection of at 10th and Bannock streets. Keep in mind that it occurred after the city of Boise passed an ordinance making it illegal to turn in front of a cyclist.
And that ordinance only came after three Boise cyclists were killed in 2009. Unfortunately, too many pedestrians and cyclists have been hit and killed since then.
Thirteen-year-old Olivia Schnacker comes to mind. [She was struck by a vehicle while riding her bike on Ustick Road on Easter Sunday, 2014].
You thought of her rather quickly.
That happened along my daily commute. I put up the ghost bike for her.
Speaking of which, you organize the Ride of Silence during Bike Week.
We've done that for 11 years in Boise. It's part of an international commemoration.
Have you mapped out this year's route?
This year, we'll ride by where Max Wyatt was hit by a minivan last September on Kootenai Street. [The 5-year-old survived but spent months in the hospital and is still recuperating]. At the end of this year's Ride of Silence, we're doing something new: We'll be conducting a safety forum at the Boise State Student Union.
You're a certified cycling instructor. How can you help us ride a bit more safely?
A lot of people may have had a close call that made them uncomfortable around traffic, but there are things you can do.
Take Bannock Street for example. A lot of cyclists hug the parked cars because they're worried about the traffic, but doors opening from those parked cars are extremely dangerous.
What's the alternative?
When cyclists ride in the gutters, for example, that's actually an invitation for motorists to get even closer. I tell cyclists that they're probably too deferential to vehicles. If you move out a little more, drivers are apt to give you some more room. Say to yourself, "This is my space."
That's a fair amount of psychology.
Traffic is psychology.
What kind of bike do you ride?
I have to... Let me think.
Wait a minute. You need to think about what kind of bike you ride?
I have eight or nine. My husband has eight or nine more. His daughter has two. Plus, we have a tandem bike.
What's a long distance ride for you?
I've ridden from Portland to Portland.
Wait. Oregon to Maine? Solo?
Would you tell your daughter to do that?
Absolutely. A good part of it is street smarts.
Quite literally. You're fearless.
A bit. It's part of my identity.