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Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Salute to Saluto

We lost one last week. When I saw the news story I thought he looked familiar but I didn't know him name to face. I knew I'd seen him riding Critical Mass.

He was riding along, minding his own business when a car crossed two lanes into the wrong side of the road and killed him. There's a lot of victim blaming when it comes to cycling fatalities—it's a popular notion that we bring death and dismemberment on ourselves for being on the road in the first place. The first question when someone dies like this is often, 'was he wearing a helmet?'

Which is kind of like asking if a rape victim was dressed modestly. Watch the surveillance video if you have a strong stomach, there's no helmet that will save you in this situation.

For the record, I believe in and wear a helmet when I ride. It keeps small mishaps small, it doesn't save you from a charging Lexus going fast enough to shatter a telephone pole a block later.

Anyway, we had a memorial ride for Anthony Saluto, starting at the Westport Scumfresh, appropriate enough since that's where Critical Mass starts.

It was good we got some media out. TV5 had a camera guy, I talked to a KCUR reporter (and I'm sure I sounded like God's perfect idiot so I can't wait to hear myself on air if I made the cut), and Fox 4 sent Katie Banks and a camera guy and they actually shadowed us the whole way to the death scene where we locked up the ghost bike.

The Fox 4 story is actually pretty huge because the typical news coverage in Kansas City when a cyclist is killed by a motorist is a brief news piece describing the cyclist wrongly as a 'pedestrian' and the incident as an 'accident' (check your AP style manual, that implies exoneration of the driver).

They haven't filed charges, which I hope is a sign that the prosecutors are doing their homework and making sure they file charges that will stick. It'd suck to rush to a charge the driver will just walk on because of a technicality. A person's life ended, this isn't a situation you can just say 'my bad, sorry!' and go on with the rest of your plans.

I want to extend a thank you and credit to Jason Heath for making the ghost bike. If you see a white bicycle like this chained up somewhere, it's a memorial, similar to when you see a cross and flowers by the highway. Someone's life ended there (or maybe not exactly there, the light pole we would have locked Anthony's ghost bike to was shattered by his killer).

Jason didn't even know Anthony, at least no better than I did, seen him at Critical Mass, but he did a bang up ghost bike and towed it on a trailer behind his own bike for umpteen miles.

I'd also like to thank Peter Quick who spearheaded this whole ride even though he has a dislocated shoulder and had to do it on a granny trike. Peter lives up to his surname, even on a granny trike he's faster than me.

At the wake I got the sense that there were a lot of mourners who had no idea about the cycling thing, the subculture or community or whatever you want to call it. Well, I think they knew but they didn't translate it into, uh, us.

After we locked the bike up there was a bonfire at a mountain bike course, a fitting end I'm sure. As we got to the park where we had the fire, there was a car following us super slow. Turned out it was Anthony's father, he wanted to thank us for the memorial. I'm so sorry we couldn't just bring him back instead.

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