Metro: Bicycle rally following hospitalized cyclist and legislation

At left, victim Rachel Fletcher after being struck by a motorist on Thanksgiving Day. At right, her working as a bicycle messenger. Both photos were provided to me by Fletcher.
At left, victim Rachel Fletcher after being struck by a motorist on Thanksgiving Day. At right, her working as a bicycle messenger. Both photos were provided to me by Fletcher.

Another ugly chapter in the ongoing battle for the road between motorists, cyclists, pedestrians and the law was the focus of a story I wrote for Metro yesterday.

A few days after one of their own suffered serious facial injuries in a hit-and-run crash, city bicycle messengers upset with what one courier describes as “rising anti-cycling sentiment” are rallying at LOVE Park this evening. Read the rest here.

Staff writer Brian X. McCrone contributed to my reporting and helped pen the final product. Below I share how I got the story and a lot of other reading in this increasingly heated fight.


Metro’s Web site isn’t built for real interactivity. The international paper is much more interested in its free print product, so I very rarely see comments on the stories I do for them.

Yet, this story has already garnered nine meaty reader responses, including someone claiming to have witnessed that the bicyclist was drunk and many others testifying to seeing more bad motorist behavior than bicyclists. All those cases make me wonder why newspapers aren’t leveraging the contact information they can collect via comments. As a freelancer, I don’t have access to who those commenters are, but editors could.

One commenter left a link to a YouTube video that showed how few drivers entirely stopped at a stop sign near Rittenhouse Square Park in Center City, suggesting that increasing police enforcement of bicyclists obeying such street codes was unfair. See that video below.

For disclosure’s sake, I avidly use my bicycle to commute in Philadelphia, though I also love a good walk and have been known to use an automobile or two in Center City. Still, it’s perhpas important to note that I’ve expressed my frustration with increased bicycle enforcement.

The story, as it ran on Page Two of the Nov. 30, 2009 issue of Metro-Philadelphia. Click to enlarge.
The story, as it ran on Page Two of the Nov. 30, 2009 issue of Metro-Philadelphia. Click to enlarge.

Here’s some interesting reading on this fight in Philadelphia:

In a trend that I hope continues, I was tipped late Saturday night to the storyas posted on Web forum Philadelphia Speaks. After garnering the interest of my editor, I first put a public call out on Twitter for sources. I got a primary contact that way and was sure to offer thanks for it — and then promote the story later.

“We just want to give the perspective of being a cyclist in this city,” said Jorge Brito, who was friendly with the victim and organized yesterday’s rally. “That’s not happening now.”