Bike New York Honors Megan Charlop
It is with shock and dismay that Bike New York staff learned of the sudden passing of Megan Charlop in a bike crash yesterday. Megan had been working closely with Bike New York’s Education Program to bring bike safety education to several Bronx elementary schools. She was also an instructor for Learn to Ride classes in Bronx parks and schools, as well as a neighbor of one of our staff.
Our hearts ache for her husband Richard; their four children; her colleagues at Montefiore School Health Program, who will miss her vision and leadership as Director of the Community Health Division; and all the New Yorkers who stood to benefit from her work.
Megan recognized the crisis posed by poor diet and physical inactivity, and she had identified this as her next major health education campaign. Thus, we at Bike New York want to draw attention to the lessons Megan wanted to convey.
Rather than using her death as an example of the dangers of cycling, or a reason not to ride, Megan would want us to live with the anticipation that something good will happen - which is far more likely when one leads an active life, as Megan did. As a health care professional, Megan knew that the number of people who die or live very difficult lives as a result of physical inactivity vastly exceeds the number who suffer due to injuries caused by physical activity. Staying passive and inside, out of fear of something bad happening - like a bike crash - leads to something else far more likely, and equally undesirable: lives cut short by heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments that can be prevented with a more active lifestyle. Bike New York suggests that the best way to celebrate Megan’s life is by being active and optimistic - riding our bikes, walking, skateboarding, jogging, or something else - and to keep spreading the word that being passive is actually more dangerous than using active, human transportation.
How can cyclists and motorists prevent such a tragedy from happening in the future?
Motorists: Check your mirrors and your blind spot before opening your vehicle door, and remind your passengers to do the same. It is illegal under New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law §1214 and New York City law 34 RCNY § 4-12(c) to open a vehicle door into someone else’s right of way.
Motorists: Slow down, and give cyclists space. Things can happen in a split second in traffic; slower speeds give motorists time to react, and giving cyclists more space allows them to maneuver. State law requires that motorists exercise due care to avoid colliding with bicyclists (§1146) and pass other traffic, including cyclists, at a safe distance (§1122).
Cyclists: Ride at least 4 feet from parked cars, even if it means "taking the lane." State traffic law gives cyclists the right to do this to avoid hazards (§1234). Riding in the center of the lane makes cyclists more visible to traffic coming up from behind, and to people at driveways and intersections, and it practically eliminates the risk of being hit by opening door. Taking the lane also prevents motorists from passing too closely or dangerously.
Please visit here for more tips and resources for riding safely in traffic.