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Donna David Memorial Bike Ride Participants Urge Attentive Driving

Donna David, age 52, died tragically on July 13, 2015 after being struck by a vehicle while bicycling near Marshfield. Friends and family are keeping her memory alive, while educating drivers and cyclists on the importance of vigilance, through the Donna David Memorial Ride taking place this weekend.

“The ride is family friendly,” said Leisa Breuch, organizer. “It’s an 11-mile, scenic ride on paved and dirt trails that starts at Steve J Miller Park in Marshfield and winds through the countryside of Hewitt. There are no hills, so it’s very relaxing and enjoyable.”

Following the ride will be a picnic, with brats and hot dogs provided. Everyone attending is asked to bring a dish to pass.

“Donna loved to bike ride. This is our way of keeping her memory alive, along with encouraging people to not text while they are driving,” said Breuch, adding that funds raised at the event will be donated towards a scholarship.

Donna David, photo from Legacy.com

“Donna worked in the research lab at Marshfield Clinic and loved science. A STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) Scouts scholarship fund has been set up in Donna’s name,” she said. “Money raised from the sale of t-shirts for the ride, and donations, are put into the scholarship fund to offer scholarships to students in Marshfield who may need financial assistance with the STEM Scout fee.”

Donna occasionally participated in weekly group rides that took off from The Sports Den in Marshfield and was a regular customer to the store for years.

“While many people in our community may not have known Donna directly, everyone knows someone who rides a bike,” said Breanna VanDeHey, manager at The Sports Den. “Unfortunately what happened to Donna could have happened to any cyclist that was on the road that fateful day and could have easily been prevented. By participating in this ride you are voicing your concern for bicycle safety and bicycle advocacy.”

Both women stress the importance of putting the phone down and staying vigilant while driving.

“There is no message that important that can’t wait until you park your vehicle. It only takes a split second for a tragedy to happen,” said Breuch. “An accident doesn’t just affect the victim. It affects their families, friends, co-workers and communities. Nobody should have to suffer due to an accident that could be prevented.”

“Put your phones down, better yet, put them completely out of reach when you are behind the wheel,” said VanDeHey. “This is a very simple solution that all drivers can implement.”

On that tragic day in July 2015, Donna was wearing a helmet and even had a tail light on her bike. She was riding on the correct side of the road, on the shoulder.

“She was doing everything she could to be safe while on the road,” said VanDeHey. “Bicyclists have rights to the road and motorists have the responsibility to stay attentive and ensure the safety of all users of the road.”

“We also realize that all of our cyclists are also drivers- the two roles are not necessarily mutually exclusive,” she added. “By participating in this ride, people can make the commitment to put their phones down, ignore text messages or Facebook notifications, and minimize some of the distractions that can pull your eyes away from the road, even for just a second. No text is worth someone’s life.”

The memorial ride is open to the public. The bike ride will depart from the SJ Miller Recreation Area parking lot at 12:00 noon. A picnic will take place after the ride from approximately 2-4pm at the SJ Miller Park shelter (501 W. 4th St, Marshfield, WI 54449).

“We send our continued support, prayers, and condolences to the family and friends of Donna David. They could have decided to hang up their bikes and never ride again but instead they have embraced cycling, an activity that meant so much to Donna,” said VanDeHey.

More information can be found here.

Bicycle Safety

There are a few things riders can do to further increase their visibility to motorists.

“For riders, I HIGHLY recommend investing in a DAYLIGHT visible taillight. Like running headlights on your car, these lights increase your visibility to motorists during the day, when most cyclists are out and about,” said VanDeHey.

Bontrager Flare R Tail Light

The Sports Den has several options available, including one from Bontrager called the Flare R, which is a rechargeable tail light that is visible during the day from nearly 1.5 km away.

“The theory is that the sooner motorists detect a cyclists presence on the road, the sooner they can maneuver away from them,” explained VanDeHey. “Many of our group riders now ride with this light on and have told us that motorists have spoken with them at stop signs, thanking them for having the lights on their bike! While helmets can help in case of an accident, a daylight visible tail light may very well prevent the accident from happening in the first place.”

VanDeHey also shared the ABC’s of bike safety.

A – Always on.
This pertains to having daylight visible lights on your bike and always have them on, day or night.

B- Biomotion.
This involves highlighting the moving parts that make you recognizable as human—your feet and legs—with fluorescent apparel during daylight and reflective material at night creates a visual impact. Stand out with shoes, socks, and warmers that highlight your moving parts. After daytime running lights, biomotion is your next step toward detectability.

C- Contrast.
On-road detectability relies on contrast. During daylight, fluorescent apparel helps us stand out because it contrasts with the environment. At night, only reflective creates contrast. After daytime running lights and biomotion accessories, choosing the right fluorescent or reflective apparel is the key third step to standing out.

As VanDeHey further explained, driving has been described as one of the most mentally difficult tasks that humans engage in on a daily basis, requiring input from nearly all senses at all times, scanning the road, mirrors, cars’ gauges; listening for noises (sirens, horns, horse shoes clomping, children laughing outside, railroad crossings, and car engine noises to name a few), feeling the handling of the road surface and much, much more.

“Because of this, driving requires your full attention. While it isn’t always possible to remove all distractions from driving (I have kids and know how a yelling toddler can strain any driver), it is possible to remove some of them,” said VanDeHey. “First and foremost is to put your phone away when you are behind the wheel. Secondly would be to stop trying to multitask when driving (drinking coffee, eating a bagel for breakfast, reaching in the back seat to hand your toddler their beloved stuffed animal which they dropped for the 100th time).

“In the grand scheme of things, none of those tasks are worth the risk. No one wakes up in the morning and thinks…hmmm today is the day I am not going to pay attention and cause an accident. No one plans on it, accidents happen. However, we can all make a daily and concerted effort to minimize the risks that often lead to accidents caused by inattentive driving.”

Sharing the Road

Though both cyclists and drivers have rights to the road, this topic has been known to become a heated one on various online forums and discussions. However, sharing the road is something both drivers and cyclists need to understand and accept to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Bikes operating on the ROADWAY have all the rights and responsibilities of a motor vehicle – They need to obey all traffic signs and signals,” said VanDeHey. “Bikes being operated on the SIDEWALK are considered pedestrians and are held to the rights and responsibilities of pedestrians – such as obeying walk/don’t walk signals, not suddenly moving into traffic, and having the right of way in crosswalks if they entered it safely.”

She added that cyclists also have the responsibility to ride safely when on the road.

“This pertains to using hand signals when turning, obeying stop signs and riding no more than two abreast on the road,” she said. “Here is the exact verbiage from state statute: ‘(a) Persons riding bicycles or electric personal assistive mobility devices upon a roadway may ride 2 abreast if such operation does not impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic. Bicycle or electric personal assistive mobility device operators riding 2 abreast on a 2-lane or more roadway shall ride within a single lane (346.80).’ State statute also requires motorists to give cyclists and other users a minimum of 3 feet clearance when passing.”

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