I came very close to going to prison. Not because I had done anything wrong by cycling on U.S. 27, but because the system is flawed. It works for those who have the money to buy the right connections.
Purvi Patel and I were in the same boat but for different reasons. Her story could have very easily been my story. I’d had two late term abortions due to severe fetal anomalies. Even writing the last part of that sentence sits wrong with me. I shouldn’t have to include my private medical information so that you’d feel empathy for me instead of disgust. But there we have it. Rape culture and victim blaming.
I can’t speak for Purvi Patel’s legal council or the laws that were used to charge her. I’m not familiar with either. What I can speak about with confidence is the mixed reactions people had when her story broke. Some people felt empathy, while others wanted to crucify her. I recall trying to raise awareness about her story and a woman wrote to me saying that “she dumped the body in a dumpster!” as though that should seal her fate. It reminded me of the pseudo cycling advocates who say “She’s cycling on the road!” as though that was all the evidence they needed that I was doing something wrong.
I’ve worked in a hospital before as hospital staff. My first experience with hospital waste came from my first summer job I had before college. I was working for the college laundry and we serviced the hospitals dirty linens. The stuff you find in there is shocking. The stuff you see in a hospital is shocking. But it’s only shocking to the people who live in suburban and urban bubbles. People whose closest foray into the medical world is watching edited for T.V. medical dramas don’t understand. Real life is much messier and less black and white.
So they judged her without knowing her and they prosecuted her with barely a peep from Civil Liberties giants like the ACLU.
Recently I saw an article declaring high speed internet in rural locations as our next civil liberties crisis. I thought, wow! What a crock of shit! Huffington post highlighted a story about a man who was struggling to earn enough through his online business to support his family. This has the ACLU galloping to fight for “justice.” Internet is important and it’s a great tool for learning but there are other avenues and no one is having their freedoms destroyed because they can’t connect at speeds greater than 25mbps.
Meanwhile Purvi Patel might very well languish in prison for 20 years because she felt conflicted about a pregnancy, shared those feeling via text msg, and had a miscarriage that was probably more of a relief for her than it was a loss. Then she put the already dead fetus in the trash. Much the same way that your local hospital does. Though most have their medical waste incinerated to prevent biohazards from getting into the environment. It’s all very regulated.
My first late term abortion I opted to have my pregnancy induced. It was just a matter of time and time wasn’t on my side. The baby had at this point died in utero and I was becoming sick. Every woman is different and every woman’s body handles a dead fetus differently. Maybe Nicholas was alive right up until the birth and they told me they couldn’t find a heartbeat to help me feel better. I don’t know. What I do know is that he was dead when he came out and I got to hold a 25 week old fetus in my arms. They are fragile as spun glass. Very tiny too. In fact the anti-choice posters they wave at Planned Parenthood don’t look like 6-12 week old fetus’. They look more like my son Nicholas at 25 weeks. Which is to say that those people are lying to you. They are lying to you when they tell you that Purvi Patel’s baby was born alive. They will feed you half lies and tell you that they are semi truths while denying that a half truth is a whole lie.
Much like this picture of me here.
The picture is carefully taken to show you what looks like a nice wide shoulder. Looks pretty smooth too. But it’s not and the broken white line you see to my right is the beginning of a turn only lane. The same turn only lane that I used to illegally cycle forward through and almost got killed on one occasion. So I stopped and tried riding further right only to find that the motorists were taking the right turn at such high speeds that they didn’t see me and I almost got killed again. So I said fuck it and started riding in the lane. Where it was legal and safe. Besides broken glass, rumble strips, pot holes, right turning motorists (at high speeds), and intersections. I still had to deal with people rolling coal on me and throwing things at me. One person even tried to run me over while I was attempting to merge onto the shoulder. They passed me on the shoulder and almost struck me. So I said fuck it! I’m not breaking any laws by staying in the right hand lane and that’s where I’m safe, so that’s where I rode.
If you didn’t know all that just looking at the picture would make you question my “morality,” which is an absurd thing to do but it’s what humans do and we as a species are absurd.
The courts didn’t have a legal leg to stand on but with an inept conservative Republican, who is also a Lexington KY road cyclist, for an attorney. One who specialized in contract law and had never conducted a courtroom trial, I was screwed and I knew it. People ask me why I didn’t ask for a continuance when the ASSistant C.A. Eric Wright introduced a new charge at my trial. Mostly I wanted my relationship with my attorney to be over but also because I felt bad for the people who had paid air fare to come out and defend me. I really just wanted the whole thing to be over. I knew my attorney wasn’t prepared to represent me and I knew I was going to lose on those first three tickets. I wanted to win. I wanted to win so bad I could taste it. But the odds were stacked against me and I knew it. Filing an appeal was my next option but the new attorney I hired, thanks to all of your generous donations, advised against it. As did Ohio bike lawyer Steve M. He knew that the case was poorly represented and Steve had given it his best but there was only so much Steve could do with the local attorney who sat through the whole trial like a bump on a log. The guy who filmed my news segment, the one from which the picture is taken and my local attorney are tight. Both cyclists. Both men. They are not bad people. What they are is really out of touch people. People who think Trump is going to make America Great again or that Hillary Clinton has a fighting chance against Trump. They are really out of touch with working class Americans.
My new attorney said we had two options, file a mistrial due to incompetent legal counsel. Which I didn’t want to drag Steve’s name into. Or accept a plea agreement. The plea agreement was only accepted by me because I did not admit to any guilt. That was my one stipulation above all else. Jude Booth had already ruled my cycling on the road was legal. The City of Nicholasville agreed to drop all charges, have the first three tickets expunged from my record and the fines waived (taxpayer dollars down the drain), and all I had to do was agree to not cycle on U.S. 27 for two years. We threw in that the police had probable cause to pull me over. But I didn’t give a shit about that because the U.S. Supreme court later ruled that cops can pull you over if they “think” you’re breaking a law but you’re not actually breaking a law. Meaning that the cop could think you’ve broken a law or he can make up a law and that would count as probable cause. Like I said the whole system is fucked up. So I gave them probable cause and agreed to not cycle on U.S. 27 for two years. Since U.S. 27 runs directly through downtown and I knew that the county attorney and his crew were as corrupt as fuck. I had no choice but to move away. I couldn’t go to my bank or the grocery store without using U.S. 27 and you know they’d throw my ass in jail for breaking the plea agreement if I said or did anything they didn’t like. Even though I wasn’t cycling on the main road to Lexington it was still U.S. 27 and I didn’t trust those fuckers.
But I would have fought and continued fighting if I wasn’t pressured into moving to Louisville. I really did want to fight but at the same time I didn’t because I was so overwhelmed and tired. Having someone constantly telling me to move and even going so far as to tell us to stay with them was enough to influence my decision.
I think Purvi’s legal team really didn’t have a clue as to how to defend her but I do know they put more effort into it than my local attorney did.
I also know that the same type of people who think I’m against bicycle infrastructure are the same type of people who think that Purvi Patel threw a live infant in the trash. Ignorant, out of touch, privileged, mostly male but some women too, and they are all assholes.
The environment that we are currently living in is so geared away from freedom and the people who live in it are so apathetic that they can’t even get 100k signatures to free Purvi Patel BUT! they get over 100k signatures to ask for the freedom of a man who strangled and killed a woman.
He might very well be innocent or he may be guilty as hell! But the fact that the New York Times wrote an extensive article showing that Purvi Patel did NOT kill her baby and that it WAS dead before it ever came out of her vagina is still not enough to garner enough interest to reach more than 18k signatures.
As a woman who was getting a lot of hate from the Mountain Biking community, male auto drivers, and an unwarranted amount of hate from the “progressive” male dominated Democrats of Lexington KY; I knew my pooch was screwed. That and I was fucking tired. Tired of the hate, tired of the controversy (where none need exist), and above all else tired of the attention and people hanging on my every word.
I fought Nicholasville KY because I wanted to keep my home and my kids. I wasn’t looking to be the face of cycling. It wasn’t a stunt to bring attention to cycling or even VC cycling. The VC cyclists were the only group that said “Fuck yea! You have the right to cycle anywhere the hell you want!” That and that alone is what attracted me to them.
As I got to know some of them I realized that the group was comprised of assholes too. Just a different kind of asshole. So I dropped out of the group. No one got a hold of me or brainwashed me into Cycling Savvy. I approached it from logic, the law, and personal experience.
I fantasized about a bikeway that had bike lights and riding on a trail with no fucking self entitled motorists.
I hate bike lanes. Not because I hate bike lanes but because the overwhelming majority of them are crap. Pure fucking crap. I cycle less here in Oregon because of them. I still only cycle for transportation. But If I can take the bus, I so will. I still get harassed for lane control. Even though it is specifically legal to control a lane here in Oregon.
Sometimes I see the bike lobby much the same way I see the “right to life” lobbyists. Always crying about life and how precious it is until the life that matters isn’t one they are particularly interested in.
Abortion without apology and Cycling without apology. They are both our civil rights.
Self autonomy and freedom!
Vote Bernie Sanders!
*Before I learned about lane control I cycled on the right third of the lane.