Who among us hasn’t experienced a close call with a car while riding our beloved bikes in the pursuit of our chosen sport? Worse still, how many of us suffer the consequences of an actual crash? For the vast majority of Americans (and Canadians, Mexicans, Europeans, South Americans, etc…let’s be inclusive, here), the most dangerous thing we do every day is interact with a car, whether as a cyclist or as a driver ourselves. The temptation always beckons: give up the road rocket or TT rig, grab that gravel grinder or mountain bike and drop out of the situation: hit the trails, do Xterra, and kiss the coal-rolling, finger-lifting, abuse-hurling, cell-enslaved motorists goodbye.
For RachaelManey, Director of Advocacy and Outreach at Bike Law, who could fault a possible retirement from the road? The Washington, DC native suffered the injuries and indignities of being hit by a car in 2015, but instead of taking her ball and going home, Maney came back vowing to make the roads (local and global) safer for cyclists. The crash was no small matter, either: on a two-lane road with no shoulder, a driver gunned her engine to pass her, instead side-swiping her and dragging her by the side view mirror for more than 30 yards. Her injuries weren't life threatening, but she spent seven months in physical therapy, trying to get back up to speed, and of course things could have been much worse. She went to work for Bike Law (unsurprisingly) not long after, committing herself to the motto “We ride safe, happy, often, and proud.” Bike Law, if you like, is a microcosm of effective activism in today’s polarized political climate. The attraction of retreating into tribal camps, car versus cyclist, is powerful. It allows us all of the benefits of tribalism: making some other entity or group an “other,” and refusing to engage with them on that belief. Bike Law rejects that approach, working with state, local, and federal governments to find compromise and shared values, increasing the number of recreational riders on the road, making those riders safer, all while reaching out to motorists and law enforcement agencies in building trust, empathy, and recognition.
Bike Law isn’t just an educational and advocacy group, though. It is a powerful resource if you do find yourself involved in a crash. We’re excited, today, to announce a partnership between Wattie Ink. and Bike Law because, simply, we care deeply about the people in our organization that ride every day at the professional, recreational, and commuter levels. Have a question about how the law pertains to you on a bike in your state? You can find that here. Been involved in a crash and not sure what to do next? There is a resource for that, too. Bike Law is a network of independent bicycle crash attorneys and advocates committed to protecting cyclists, and has been for 20 years. Started riding recently and not sure how to ride in a group? You can learn how to be a better group rider on their website. "Partnering with an exciting and innovative and bold brand like Wattie Ink is kismet at its best,” says Bob Mionske, attorney and member of the Bike Law Network (and two-time Olympian, and US Cycling National Champion, in case you’re digging for some ethos). "We share a common vigor and spirit for sport coupled with insistence of decency and justice for all athletes of every level.”
But you don’t have to take our word for it—take HJ’s! A few days after Oceanside, Heather, Rachael, and Bob hit the roads around San Diego (an area heavy with both cyclists and motorists) to shoot the video, below, which captures perfectly our reasons for partnering with Bike Law. "I'm out on the roads, riding my bike every single day, training to race against the best triathletes in the world," says HJ. "This is my livelihood. It's my job, and yet every day I'm putting my life at risk. I've had close calls with distracted drivers, and have numerous close friends who have also had close calls or actually been hit by a car. When I found out about Bike Law, and all the work they're doing for athletes who have been hit, advocate for legal changes, provide support to victims, and generally increase awareness around all the issues between motorists and cyclists I was totally on board." We are happy to join Bike Law in saying “Yes” to road riding, and look forward to helping them communicate their mission to riders and drivers everywhere. Maney perfectly summarizes Bike Law’s reasons for partnership, saying “we believe that partnering with a brand which prioritizes its leadership role in global and sport communities is a significant way to advance social change. Wattie Ink.’s highest quality, made-in-the-USA craftsmanship, unparalleled function and comfort, and dedication to safe and sustainable bike culture means there isn’t another brand that I would wear when training or racing. Heather and Wattie have always been representative of the fun, beauty, hard work, and humanity in sport, and it’s an honor to be partnering with them as we continue to work towards changing the world; one pedal stroke at a time."
Buy a Limited Edition Bike Law Kit today, and help make the world safer for those of us who choose two wheels.
A portion of the proceeds will go to support the family of Cristobal Heitmann, an incredible human being and much-loved member of our cycling and triathlon communities, who was killed in a crash only last week.