Tell us a little about why you’re a bicycle-supporting business and a little about your business CyclistLaw, in general.
In 2006, a few years following my own interest in road and mountain biking, I had the fortunate opportunity to represent a homeless youth who had been hit on a rented bicycle from Blazing Saddles on the Embarcadero in San Francisco. My client was barely 18, out of his 22nd foster care home and released to the public. He had a healthy and robust petty crime rap sheet starting and he had also started down a very clean path of addiction recovery and leading a new life. He had connected with a group of religious folks who helped him through his recovery. In turn, he himself started to help others and preach the word to other youth addicts living on the street. This young man lived at the center where he worked, and had very few needs or wants of his own. After managing to save a few dollars, he decided to rent a bike. He was riding in the bike lane on Embarcadero when a full-bird retired US Colonel hit him and fled the scene. An experienced lycra-clad, quads of steel caught up with that Colonel and held him accountable and called the police. Because my client was homeless, I connected with him through a volunteer effort I was part of at the time (Project Homeless Connect). I donated my time and fees back to the project. For my client, who never had two pennies to rub together, the greatest gift was truly being able to help him and advocate for him. We helped him by advocating for proper health care. His surgery was done improperly; the screws they inserted into his hand were too large and had to later be removed. For someone without insurance, that can be difficult. We ensured that he got the care he needed. Then we got him a settlement that put $139,000 in his pocket. Our client did not care about money at all and asked that the money be secured in an investment vehicle. I personally took him to the bank and made sure all of his wishes were put in order. I met with him two years later. Over dinner we discussed the changes in our lives. My client was still living the gospel and had been looking for love. He was leaving the money be until one day he would offer it like a dowry to his future wife. The change in my life had so much to do with him and I was happy to tell him, I had shifted my practice to only working with only vulnerable road users. Since 2000, I have been practicing law. The first six years I practiced personal injury, swimming pool construction defect, and represented medical marijuana dispensaries and edibles manufacturers. Since 2006 our practice has focused 99% on bike, motorcycle, and pedestrian crashes.
Why did you decide to become a Bike Austin small business member?
I joined Bike Austin in 2008, a few years before moving to Austin in 2012. I knew it was a young organization and Austin had needs for infrastructure that were not being addressed, but there were a few committed folks in three different groups trying to achieve change. I joined Bike Austin, Bike Texas and the Austin Cycling Association and learned as much as I could about who was doing what to start making that change happen. I learned about the efforts of folks like Hill Abell, a very successful businessperson who could turn a blind eye, sell bikes, and keep on doing his thing and not caring. Instead, he was an advocate. I learned about the efforts of families like the Truxillos—husband and wife duo that are very committed to the cycling community and the Armadillo Ride. People like Keith Byrd, Russell Pickavance (then with Yellow Bike Project), and (back then blogger) Jason Abels were all very inspiring. I knew an organization like Bike Austin (especially if all the organizations could get together and work as one organization with a large membership) could make a huge difference. (I love saying this; I was right!)
What benefits or positive outcomes do you hope to enjoy as a Bike Austin small business member? Why do you think Bike Austin is important to the Austin cycling community?
I benefit from being a small business member because I am active and engaged in what this organization is doing to make the City I live in and the City I bike in and the cycling community I love and deeply care about safer. Even if that were the only benefit, that would be enough. But there is more. Bike Austin brings folks together through events, activities, and advocacy. Bike Austin is a community.
Why/how do you think donations are important to Bike Austin’s Advocacy Fund and education programs?
Without education we will not effectuate change. Education is what makes change smart.
Anything personalized or fun about your experience as cyclists/small business owners and why Bike Austin has made this more possible, empowering, safe, groovy, etc. ?
We do fun things together. We ride, hand out tacos on Bike to Work Day and to happy commuters in the morning. We host round table discussions with the police. We have educational seminars with folks in the community who have expressed an interest in learning more about sharing the road. We show up at early (super early) morning bike rides and help folks get out and be safe on their rides. We celebrate new wins with Vision Zero ATX, Bicycle Advocacy Committee, The Pedestrian Advisory Committe, and all the other folks working hard to make our City more walkable, rideable, and fres-air-in-our-hair enjoyable. We have snacks with the Mayor and help spur him on his quest to effect positive change and disrupt what has been the status quo and make bike riding a viable means of transportation.