Last week I saw a news story about Dennis Taylor. He is a 12 year old boy who lives on the Northwest side of Milwaukee and was riding his bike on his quiet neighborhood street when a stolen SUV came speeding from behind and hit him from then crashed into a tree. The drivers of the stolen got out and ran leaving the vehicle and leaving Dennis there to fend for himself. Luckily Dennis only suffered a broken arm, bruised pelvis, and a minor concussion.
When I saw the video I thought a few things. One, Dennis has such a positive attitude towards the situation. He wasn’t as mad as I’d be at the jerks who did this then fled. Two, I was also hit by a car that ran away after destroying my bike back about 10 years ago. I was crossing Oakland Ave. on a green light heading to a class at UW-Milwaukee, and a car tried to catch the yellow light by speeding up, didn’t make it, and T-boned me. They sped off and were never found.
I healed up and I’m lucky enough to have a Mom who was able to buy me a new bike, a fixed gear from Cory the Bike Fixer, and that bike propelled me into becoming what I am today. It started me on Bike Polo, meeting tons of awesome people in the city, and towards my job I have now with the Wisconsin Bike Fed. I didn’t know what Dennis’s family situation or financial situation was but I knew I had to do something so that he, when all healed up, could get back on the bike and not let this terrible random situation keep him off a bike the rest of his life.
I contacted the reporter at CBS 58 who did the initial story to get Dennis and his grandmother’s phone number to offer them to replace the bike, and include a helmet, U-lock, and lights as well courtesy of our Valid Bike Shop. Apparently others had called Angela, Dennis’ grandmother who he lives with, to offer a new bike, but when I told her my personal connection to the story she felt it was right to connect Dennis and I to make things in the world a little more right.
I am just as glad as I think they are that I was able to help out Dennis and his Grandmother. By the time I had gotten to their house Friday morning they had already started a campaign and had over 100 signatures to get speed bumps and a 4-way stops and contacted their alderman, Ashanti Hamilton. Since Speed bumps are not part of the city budget to install they a have started a crowd funding campaign to fund them.
I will also be working with the City’s Bike & Pedestrian coordinator to see if there’s more we can do or a more bike friendly option. Dennis and Angela, his grandmother, are already bike advocates in the making! Dennis is such an inspiring child. His outlook and postive attitude and abiltiy to look for the good in the situation has inspired me and hopefulyl it inspires more folks. Dennis wanted to improve the street for others so that something like this never happens to them.
I wish Dennis a speedy recovery, and when he is ready to get back on a bike I want to take a ride with him. I also nominate him for bike safety advocate of the year!