Safe Cycling Scholarship Winners

The attorneys at Felix Gonzalez Law Firm have a shared passion for cycling. As part of being personal injury lawyers, we value road safety, especially for bicyclists. This scholarship was created to promote education around the dangers of cycling, and if more could be done to ensure the safety of cyclists. Please join us in congratulating our winners! To learn more about this scholarship and how to apply, visit our Safe Cycling Scholarship!

2020 Scholarship Winner: Grace Schuler

Safe Cycling Scholarship Winner Grace SchulerCongratulations to Grace Schuler for being named our 2020 Safe Cycling Scholarship Winner! We are honored to award Grace $1,000 to go towards pursuing her degree. She is a current sophomore at Drexel University where she studies hospitality management. Her goal is to graduate with a Bachelor’s in Science and a focus in event planning. In addition to her studies, Grace is active in part of campus life. She participates in school clubs and volunteer work. She also enjoys singing, spending time with friends and family, and exploring Philadelphia to find the best foods

“Thank you so much for awarding me with your scholarship! You have helped lighten my financial burden, which allows me to focus more on the most important aspect of school – learning. I am grateful for the time your scholarship will give me to focus on learning and continuing with my volunteer efforts. It is also a relief to have some academic financial support as the pandemic has hit the hospitality industry, and my event planning position, especially hard. Although I have been working since I was 14, and will continue to do so throughout college, it will be scholarships such as this one that will allow me to complete my education. Once again, thank you for the vote of confidence and the scholarship!

Thank you again for this scholarship and for helping me further my education—it means more than you know.”

Below is Grace Schuler’s Award-Winning Essay to promote Bicycle Safety:

“April 11, 2017. I started the day off great with a college visit and ended it watching my older brother get wheeled into the operating room about to undergo neurosurgery for a traumatic brain injury received when he was hit by a car while riding his bicycle home from baseball practice. A college-recruited athlete, he was a month away from graduating high school and had a 50% chance of survival. And while he did make it, it has come at a great cost to himself and our family over the past three years.

My brother’s accident is why I am applying for this scholarship. Much of his three years of physical, occupational, and speech therapy weren’t covered by insurance, however, my family and I believe it was essential to getting him to where he is today. Unfortunately, the additional treatment cost the money my parents saved for our college education, so although I’ve been working since I was 14, and will continue to do so, it will be scholarships such as this one that will allow me to complete my education.

Bicyclists face many problems each day including, but not limited to: safe passing, vulnerable roads, where to ride, dooring, and so on. However, as my brother learned, the biggest problem bicyclists face on the road today is distracted drivers – specifically those who text while driving.

Since 2009, the state of Maryland has banned texting while driving. All drivers are prohibited from writing or sending text messages while operating a motor vehicle. Maryland recently passed a law that there is a $500 maximum fine and one point on the offender’s driving record for anyone who texts while driving. If the offender is under age 18, their license is also suspended for three months.

In 2017, 3,166 people in the U.S. were killed in motor vehicle accidents blamed on distracted drivers according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Of that total, 599 were pedestrians or bicyclists. Over the last five years in my Maryland county alone (Montgomery), five teenagers have been killed and at least 292 teen pedestrians/bicyclists have been hit by cars due to the drivers texting or being otherwise distracted. In April of 2018, the county instituted the “Stay Alert. Stay Alive” campaign directed at both distracted drivers and pedestrians and bicyclists to try to combat the problem.

I think the Maryland laws regarding the main topics as outlined by the League of American Bicyclists (i.e.: distracted driving, safe passing, helmets, vulnerable roads, dooring, etc.) are appropriate and would not say that they need to be changed, so long as they are being upheld.

As far as improving awareness of bicyclists and road safety, I have an idea:

How about an invention to help lower the temptation to drive while distracted. I believe installing a device similar to the ignition interlock breathalyzer that would prevent your car from starting until you listened to/viewed the following checklist could be helpful.

While I am not sure that a specific invention or device can make someone take more personal responsibility regarding keeping bicyclists safe, I do believe being acutely aware of the causes of distracted driving and paying the price for not following the rules are keys to stopping the problem.

To learn more about my brother’s story, check out this reading of an essay he wrote to honor his principal who helped him during his year of acute rehab due to the injuries suffered from a distracted driver: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5hR40cqJFSA

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