sadness and joy

**Update: for those interested, StreetsBlog has posted a very nice tribute to James.

This afternoon, I received, via email, this sad news concerning the son of a former co-worker.

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great sympathy and deep regret that I announce Linda Langergaard’s oldest son, James, was killed on Friday night in a bicycle accident on a busy street in Queens. He was 38.

I didn’t know Linda, much less her son. But learning that he was a cyclist and that he died on his bicycle gave me pause. It was encouraging to see listed among the two organizations identified for donations in his honor Transportation Alternatives, an advocate group for bicycling, walking, and public transit. James had been a member of TA for many years and volunteered for many of their events.

[The loss of a son is a bitter, painful, wretched tragedy now too familiar to an avid cyclist and close friend of many in the Adrian, MI community. Here’s a moment of silence for Tommy and his family.]

Mom on the Bike Path (08.09) In happier news, my mom has started riding her bike again, and she’s doing spectacularly. She and my dad recently moved within spitting distance of a bike path. The last time I visited, she asked me to give the bike a once-over to be sure it was safe to ride. A few days later, she began going out for short solo rides. Soon, she was riding every day, and going a little further each time she went out. Now she’s averaging 5-10 miles every outing, and she’s roped my dad, her brother-in-law, and two close friends into joining her on various occasions.

And for all you cycle-chic folks out there, she’s doing it in jeans, a tie-dye t-shirt, and sans helmet. Don’t anyone else give her any grief about it!

Dear Colleagues,

It is with great sympathy and deep regret that I announce Linda Langergaard’s oldest son, James, was killed on Friday night in a bicycle accident on a busy street in Queens. He was 38.

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3 responses to “sadness and joy

  1. Sad news about your coworker’s son.

    On the joy side, I think your mom looks great! She shouldn’t change a thing.

  2. It was very upsetting to learn of James’s death. I’ve worked with his mother for years, but knew nothing of her personal life. Watching the video I could see much of the mother in the son. I can only imagine the pain she is feeling.

    James’s cyclist friend notes without shame or judgment that James ran a red light, causing the accident that took his life. There’s no point of speculating why he set aside the safe-cycling practices he advocated. But as someone who lived in Queens for years, I can testify that Queens Blvd. is an especially treacherous route. Locals “affectionately” refer to it as the “Boulevard of Death.” Besides 6 inner lanes, it has parallel service roads on both sides. As a pedestrian and cyclist, I was often impatient with the lights, confused drivers, crazy taxis, vision-blocking buses, and obdurate double-parkers. QB is impossible to cross if you don’t take a risk now and then. Everyone who’s navigated this street on a regular basis has taken a risk now and then. Some of the responsibility needs to fall on the shoulders of the city, which has known about this problem for years but continues to fail to find creative solutions. I also wonder if James’s peripheral vision wasn’t somewhat obscured by his helmet. That’s my one gripe about helmets.

    • Thanks, Charles. It’s nice to read some local perspective on this. I was taken aback, initially, to read that he wasn’t wearing his helmet. But I was also glad that his friend didn’t try to hide that, given that there will be lots of folks who will, implicitly or not-so-implicitly, attempt to blame the outcome on that fact, so as to dodge the larger issues presented by a street that has altogether choked out pedestrians, constantly putting them at tremendous risk.