Richmond cyclist Robyn Hightman was killed on Monday, June 24th by a delivery truck in Manhattan, NY.
Hightman was struck on Sixth Avenue near 24th Street just after 10 a.m. Hightman was given CPR at the scene and rushed to Bellevue Hospital where the 20-year-old was pronounced dead.
Robyn Hightman was working as a bike messenger that day, something she had been doing for years in Richmond, Va. as seen in the photo above by Grant Fanning. Hightman operated a well-known bicycle courier service call Quickness RVA in Richmond, Va.
According to a post by REI, Hightman was a well-known and beloved member of the Richmond cycling community. In January, Hightman was named an ambassador for the Hagens Berman Supermint Pro Cycling Team, an organization that advocates for women cyclists. The cycling team remembered Hightman as a “strong, beautiful, gutsy rider” in a Facebook post on Monday afternoon.
“Robyn’s application to our program was the most passionate, in-depth one we’ve received out of hundreds of applications. She wrote about the impact cycling had on her life,” the post read. Here is an excerpt from Hightman’s application:
“As a homeless youth deeply entrenched in the trappings of poverty and parental abuse and neglect, my first bicycle offered a way to seek respite from the horrors of my surroundings and human experience, if only for a few glorious minutes. My bicycle established a sense of independence, strengthened my ability to be self sufficient, and provided me with the confidence necessary to advocate for myself, my rights, and my needs in public space. My bicycle enabled me to leave our encampment every day to access education, seek out food, and fulfill my basic needs. Eventually, my bicycle allowed me to provide for myself when I began working a full time job at the age of fourteen. My bicycle provided me with the socioeconomic mobility necessary to escape. My bicycle saved my life.”Robyn Hightman describes their deep love for cycling in their application to Hagens Berman Supermint Pro Cycling Team.
“Today we received devastating insight into a terrible reality of cycling,” the post said. “The roads are not a safe place for us and we all must work harder to change that.”
The driver of the truck, witnesses say, appeared to take off but returned a short time later after he was flagged down by another driver. According to PIX11 the driver was unaware they had hit a person.
Police determined the cyclist was not in a bike lane and was traveling between vehicles when struck. The truck driver was questioned by police but was only cited for violations pertaining to the vehicle’s rig not being up to code says PIX11.
Hightman is one of 12 cyclists to be killed in New York City so far in 2019.
Members of the biking community in RVA are coming together to grieve.
The Hagens Berman team says they hope others will join them in remembering Highman’s life and spirit. The Richmond biking community also held a group bike ride through town honoring their lost family member.
The pain is not only felt in NYC or RVA, but throughout all biking communities. It is important to not let tragic incidences like this scare us out of biking. Instead, we must learn from them and educate each other. REI offers these important bike safety rules:
Rules of Road Biking
- Always wear a helmet, no matter how long or short a ride
- Use your arm signals: left turn, right turn, slowing/stopping
- When biking in a group, use your voice signals to other group members: Slowing! Stopping! Clear! Car back! Car up! Hiker up!
- Obey the rules of the road. Stop at stop signs and lights.
- Wear bright, highly visible clothing: reflector tape/ reflectors are a plus!
- Never ride in low-light or dark conditions without front and rear bike lights and reflectors. (You can be ticketed and fined for biking without lights!)
- Ride with the flow of traffic, not against it.
- Ride in control at all times. Proceed at a safe speed that permits you to react quickly to unexpected circumstances.
- Yield to pedestrians and other vehicles.
- Keep a safe distance between yourself and other riders or vehicles. What qualifies as safe? Enough space to allow you to react to something unexpected. In general, aim for 1 bike length (or more) per each 5 miles per hour you’re traveling. Keep at least 4 feet between you and a vehicle.
- Don’t hug the curb too closely. Maintain a comfortable distance from the pavement edge.
- Ride in single file. This is required by law in most states. (Note: Some states allow cyclists to travel 2 abreast. Do this only on less-traveled roads that are free of traffic. Riding 3 abreast is usually illegal.)
- Don’t ride on sidewalks unless no other safe option exists. Motorists at intersections or when leaving or entering driveways often do not see swift-moving cyclists traveling on sidewalks.
- Likewise, watch for cars coming out of alleys. They may not see you.
- Don’t pass other cyclists on the right.
- When needed, make noise—use a horn, a bell, whistle or just yell.
- In heavy, slow-moving traffic, it’s often safer to ride in the middle of a traffic lane so that everyone can see you and cars won’t try to squeeze around you.
- On busy streets, don’t swerve back and forth around parked cars or other obstacles. Maintain a straight course and watch out for opening car doors.
- Be ready to brake. Keep your hands on or near the brake levers so you can stop quickly.
- Pedal strongly when going through intersections.
- If 5 or more cars are behind you, pull over and let them pass.
- Be predictable.
- Stay alert to changes in your surroundings at all times.
- Communicate your intentions to drivers and other cyclists as much as possible. Use hand signals whenever you turn or stop, but assume that those signals might not be understood by every driver. Watch our video on using hand signals.