Women, Freedom, and Bicycles.

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.

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*That’s me. Before I learned lane control. I was getting a lot of close in the lane passes. 

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.

 

 

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Irresponsible ads are contributing to child mortality rates.

As a person who commutes solely by bicycle, I am shocked by the inundation of auto ads on T.V. and in my social media news feed.

Maybe it is because I live a auto free life that I notice the frequency of the ads?

I’ve spent a great deal of time educating myself on safety and laws which govern our use of public space. I even have some nifty certifications to show for all that time spent.

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People are being injured and killed at an alarming rate. Traffic fatalities fall in 2014, but early estimates show 2015 trending higher.

Though this isn’t anything new, since the inception of the automobile the death toll has been catastrophic. Americans have recognized the dangers of high auto speeds. It’s a universal knowledge that speed kills. Yet it is often the last reason cited in traffic collision reports. There was a time when people tried to mandate the use of governors to effectively reduce the operating speeds of motor vehicles. Auto manufacturers were understandably alarmed.
Higher awareness about the inherent dangers of speed meant less product sold. Or maybe it was that fewer people would crash and destroy their auto thus requiring the purchase of a new auto?
Either way a slick propaganda campaign was implemented and people were convinced that this was an end to their personal freedom. Never mind the freedom of everyone else.

Companies, such as AAA, which today are known for their emphasis on safety were behind the push to force pedestrians and bicycles off the road.

AAA and other auto clubs turned first to the younger generation, financing safety education programs in the public schools that were designed to teach children that streets are for cars, not for kids. “The Invention of Jaywalking.”

The product, and the financial gains to be had from it, were the driving force behind the movement to all but eliminate the competition.

Once the landscape had been cleared of obstacles, figuratively and literally, the motor manufacturers were free to irresponsibly sell product.
The advertisements were focused on economy, durability, and reliance.
They emphasised the manliness of auto owners and their ability to “Wow” the ladies. One advert emphasised their auto as being so easy “Women and children can safely use it.”, another calls their auto the “Boss of the Road” and “So simple that a boy of 15 can run it.”

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Motor ads were not responsible in the advertisement of their products. They had one mission in mind, to sell as many autos as possible. No matter the cost to human lives.
That cost was excessive. Upto 55,000 people were killed per year by autos. That’s an epidemic!

When faced with a health crisis of these proportions, we take action. Yet we have largely overlooked the consummate dangers to public health by turning a blind eye to auto ads.

We banned ads for cigarettes, as public awareness grew over the dangers of smoking to the public. Big tobacco companies were pushing their product on unsuspecting consumers.

By banning ads for cigarettes public health interests, like W.H.O., have effectively reduced the incidence of smoking. This is an important beginning step to eliminating an expensive and destructive bad habit. The costs of which affect the user individually and the public as a whole. We acknowledged the health risks to the users of tobacco products as well as to those who were subjected to secondhand smoke.

The auto isn’t any different.

The auto is the most dangerous form of transportation available in modern day.

The health impacts are mind boggling. Pollution, cancer causing agents, socio economic suffering, legal systems which punish the poor through a pay to play ticket scheme, the death of our children outside and inside autos, and increased health risks through lack of exercise. It’s all too much to put into one story.

Not too much more can be said, which has not already been said, about the history and nature of the auto.

The automobile is a weapon or a tool. It mainly depends on the ability and intent of the user.

There was a time when the auto filled a need as a personal mobility device. With the expanding use of public transportation and alternate means of travel it is a product whose time has come and gone.

With denser urban areas becoming the norm, revivals in public transit, and auto for hire schemes such as Lyft and Uber; there really isn’t a need for personal autos. Not even for long distance trips. Rent a car and be done with it.

One would think that we’d be over the car kick by now. Except we aren’t.

Part of the reason, I believe, is because of persuasive auto ads. These ads are designed to create a sense of urgent need and a feeling of superiority when on the road.

I really love driving distracted
You know how people are warned about the dangers of distracted driving by Public Service Announcements? Well none of that matters in Auto Ads.

Gas prices are dropping and Auto Ads are increasing. Along with these increases are deaths. Your loved ones are being destroyed by auto culture and you’re ok with it. Not because you’re ok with your loved one being killed, but because you are brainwashed by auto ads to believe you need that product which is killing your loved ones.

Remember cigarette ads on T.V.?

Neither do I. Yet there was a time when they were sold via television ads. So many ads telling people how sexy smoking was, how invigorating, how tasty! Smoking was increasing and so were the illnesses associated with it.

Through the efforts of activists who genuinely cared about the well being of the American people, over the profits of cigarette manufacturers, a ban on television ads were put into place.

In 1964, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) agreed that advertisers had a responsibility to warn the public of the health hazards of cigarette smoking. In 1969, after the surgeon general of the United States released an official report linking cigarette smoking to low birth weight, Congress yielded to pressure from the public health sector and signed the Cigarette Smoking Act. Via History Channel

This is exactly what we need for auto ads.

We need a full out ban on ads which promote products rated by the CDC as the number one killer of our children.

  • Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 33,000 people died from motor vehicle crashes in 2013 alone.1   Via CDC

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They call it “Unintentional Injuries” but Motor Vehicle collisions are what the majority of them are. When you drive distracted, drowsy, buzzed, high, or like you own the road. It isn’t unintentional.

Driving is not a passive act. It is hard work and you are required to keep your wits about you while you are doing it.

With the huge flux of auto ads telling us that driving is fun, easy, desirable, sleek, sexy, and your ticket to freedom. Is it any wonder that people “feel” like they “need” to drive?

These are all catch phrases that were used to push cigarette ads and yet we were able to fight “the man” and have them kicked off of television and radio.

So why aren’t we doing that for auto ads?

#BanAutoAds

So the next time you see an auto ad pop up in your news feed, be sure and let them know what you find disturbing about it and add the hashtag #BanAutoAds. Your children’s lives depend on it.

You have options on how to get to work and people are fighting to make those options easier and more accessible to you. Help them.

Don’t wait around for special infra as some people will tell you to do. Take an education course such as Cycling Savvy and learn what real freedom actually feels like.

You can safely travel by walking, cycling, public transport, and auto rentals to get you where you need to go.

All that space removed from auto’s gives us more space to build business’, shops, schools, and cultural activities.

#BanAutoAds

Auto companies are gathering slick advertisers to promote their dangerous product to children using cartoons.

Bernie Sanders and Bicycles

Ask me why I want Bernie for President. I’m a woman, pro-choice, and I ride a bicycle for transportation.

Let me start by saying that I am perpetually shocked by cyclists who maintain a conservative view of women and their bodily rights.
Rights aren’t for a privileged few. Rights are for everyone. Yet, it appears the greater majority view personal rights as a privileged status.

You have rights if you can buy them.
You have rights if you can fight for them.
You have rights if you can defend them.

If you don’t fall into any of those categories? Oh well!

Bicycling as transportation; effectively destroying the stranglehold that the wealthy have over the poor.

I don’t mean people like “Make America Great Again,” (hereafter referred to as MAGA) I mean people who make up agencies such as your local DOT and Auto Manufacturers. Though it also includes those who make up MAGA as well as the after mentioned DOT ruling class.

Bernie Sanders understands these institutions do not MAGA and will never and have never MAGA’d. He also understands political lobbying and why institutions like DOT, FHWA (Federal Highway Administration), and the Auto Manufacturers, which breathe life into them, use your tax dollars to effectively lobby politicians to pass legislation against your best interests.

I’ve spoken to transportation employee’s and heard them refer to cycling advocacy groups as “special interest” groups. These people are completely unaware that the very departments they work for are Government sanctioned “special interest” groups. And they lobby for laws which effectively restrict any of your tax dollars being spent on infrastructure which is not auto centric, I’m talking about sidewalks and public transportation.

Tennessee is currently trying to pass legislation which prevents your tax dollars from being spent on any infrastructure that doesn’t benefit autos. Click here to read about it.

HB 1650 (with a companion in the Senate), as originally introduced and intended, would entirely ban the use of state gas tax revenue for building any sidewalks (even as part of a larger road project), bike lanes and trails, or other similarly cost-effective and popular projects to help make traveling on foot or by bike safer and more convenient.

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Sidewalks would be useful here on Nolensville Rd, a state highway that’s also a local street through Nolensville, TN southeast of Nashville. A new Tennessee law could prevent state gas tax dollars from being used to add them.  Photo and Caption by: Stephen Lee Davis

Want to know something really scary?

Your state already has legislation like this and it’s most likely written into your state’s constitution. Lobbied for by special interest groups and paid for with your tax dollars.

You need to understand that these people are serious about taking your rights away. Look at what they did to women in Tennessee.
Tennessee amended their state constitution to guarantee a woman does not have any legal rights to abortion. Click here.

Tennessee voters reversed that decision last fall by adding language to the state constitution that denies abortion rights protections.

Wouldn’t it be amazingly powerful if we could get all people who respect Civil Liberties of Women and all people who respect Civil Liberties of Pedestrians and Cyclists to come together and promote the election of a President who will fight for all of our Civil Liberties?

Minorities have the most to gain from a President who defends everyone’s Civil Liberties.

You don’t have to be a cyclist to respect cyclists and you don’t have to be a woman to respect women. But you do have to be a decent human being who values others Civil Liberties so that your own Civil Liberties aren’t taken away.

Bernie Sanders understands the bigger picture.

Have you read any articles about how auto owners spend 30% of their income on transportation?

Imagine if you could break up with your auto. Yes, “break up” because it really is that emotionally fraught for some people.

By dumping the auto, you would effectively increase your income by up to 30%. That is 30% which becomes flexible income.  You would have money to spend on your dreams, your family, a hobby, and really anything which tickled your fancy.

That is the real difference between those who have and those who have not. Those issues have consistently been highlighted by Bernie Sanders.

The ability to spend money on items which produce happiness and have money to spend on those things which bring us joy is empowering. If you aren’t enjoying living are you really living? I suspect not.

Bicycles have been the great social equalizer. Historically providing women the means to travel outside their narrow confines, elevating the poor to independent, and giving minorities a chance long before it was “cool” to do so. Though not without the threats from racists in the organization. Read about Major Taylor.

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And that is what I want to highlight now.

Cycling is a great equalizer, and yet! There are those within who would exclude and ridicule anyone who is different from their perceived notion of cycling. Just as there are women who will harass and ridicule women seeking abortion care. I’ve volunteered as a clinic escort and the vitriol which comes from women is shockingly disturbing.
So again, I emphasize that you must respect others Civil Liberties so that your own may be protected.
I personally believe that if Major Taylor had been fully and unconditionally accepted more minorities would have given the cycling community the oomph they so desperately needed to fight back the destructive “special interest” auto lobbyists.

Your auto isn’t freedom, if you are poor and middle class. It is the illusion of freedom.

Bernie Sanders has promised to give power back to the American people, that is a Republican value, and why I, as a Republican, will be voting for Bernie Sanders.

Read: “Why we drive” by Andy Singer

If we should fail to elect Bernie Sanders in the primaries then I would ask you to consider the following.

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Before I leave you, I want you to consider this, I’m writing this article as someone who has spent a great deal of time reading and studying this issue. If you disagree with something, first ask  yourself “what does she see that I’m not seeing?”

Being arrested for legally and safely cycling on a public road tends to give you 20/20 vision on a lot of social issues surrounding car culture. It is this knowledge that I am trying to impart to you. Without you having to first experience the drama of being arrested and having tea party libertarians assault you for safely and legally cycling. The Republican party has greatly sidestepped their original values. Values which first inspired me to join the Republican party back when I was in middle school.

Living in a town which is the epitome of tea party libertarian agenda, I have first hand experience and can confidently tell you that their idea of liberty doesn’t include yours.

With a Democratic establishment we can hold off the impending apocalypse but we won’t fix it. Which is why my first choice is Bernie Sanders and I hope yours will be too.