This cyclist lost his leg in a crash…now he dedicates his work to making streets safer

Jun 27, 2022


Damian Kevitt grew up cycling. His parents used to take him on mini-cycling tours as a kid, riding 20-30 miles as a family. They would cycle down the coast of Southern California…he loved it. Even after Daman got a car at 17, he would still ride his bike. He cycled because he enjoyed it and it was a mode of transportation.

In February 2013, he and his wife were cycling and headed to Griffith Park for a picnic at Los Angeles Zoo. He was only a few hundred feet from his destination when he was struck by a car, pinned and dragged for nearly a quarter mile on the streets, onto and down I-5 are freeway speeds. His right leg was ripped off. He survived…the driver never stopped and was never caught.

During his time in the hospital, he learned about how deadly the streets of Los Angeles are—not just for cyclists, but everyone including pedestrians, kids, the elderly, drivers, and motorcyclists. More importantly, he found out that L.A. is the hit and run capital of the U.S. An estimated 48% of all collisions in L.A. are hit and runs.

He had a story to tell…so he launched a cycling event called Finish The Ride to tackle the epidemic of hit and runs in Los Angeles. That event and the actions before and after it helped to drop hit and run crimes by 16% in a single year. More importantly, that event became his organization Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE-he is the executive director), a non-profit with the mission of making streets safer for all road users. They have a free support service for victims of traffic violence, and Damian is very proud of the lives they touch.

ADVICE FROM DAMIAN

“If I had any advice to tell others, it would be around safety. Cycling is wonderful, but you always have to assume that the cars around you don’t have any idea you’re there. They will do some of the craziest things, thinking it’s safe to do so. Most (not all) drivers are not ill-intentioned, but most drivers are not fully aware of what’s happening around them. A cyclist has to always cycle with a defensive viewpoint because in a fight between a car and a cyclist, guess who will always lose? The cyclist.

It might be odd for some when I say this, but cycling nearly killed me, and at the same time, it brought me life. More importantly, I’ve been able to save others lives as a result of what the team at Streets Are For Everyone does.”

THREE TIPS THAT MADE MY CYCLING JOURNEY A SUCCESS

1. Do what you’re comfortable doing: 

Not every type of cycling is right for everyone. Touring, racing, mountain biking, commuting, family rides, etc.—pick what you want to do and enjoy it! Understanding this has been even more important for me as I’ve dealt with challenges of cycling after losing my right leg.

2. When riding in traffic, always assume others don’t see you

You can be 100% in the right about your actions, but if you incorrectly assume cars, trucks, any automobile sees you and they don’t, you’ll always end up on the losing side of the equation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve avoided potentially disastrous consequences by being willing to slow down a bit and wait to make sure the person in front or beside me actually sees me.

3. Ride with others when you can

This is for safety purposes, but also riding with someone else can help push you to go faster or farther than you might do by yourself.


Related Posts