Honoring Seth Vidal, open-source developer and cyclist

On Monday evening, Durham resident Seth Vidal, 36, was cycling in his neighborhood when he was killed by a hit-and-run driver.

Seth was a long-time member of the Durham cycling community, and a well-respected and prominent figure in the open source community (he was the lead developer of yum).

As someone who regularly bicycle commutes to work, and as a contributor to the free and open source community, this hits too close to home. Here at DesignHammer it's been deeply upsetting to myself and my co-worker Robert), who also bikes to work.

I only met Seth once, but he made a lasting impression on me. It was about a year ago, at a local cycling shop, and we were discussing cycling safety when commuting on busy roads. He gave me some advice and at his suggestion I got a side view mirror for my bike, which has helped me bike more safely. He struck me as a friendly and thoughtful person. As one can seen from the numerous tributes being posted in various online communities, he was clearly a well-loved and respected person and will be deeply missed by those who knew him well.

There is nothing we can do to bring back Seth, or so many others who have been killed while cycling. But there are some things we can do as a community to make the roads safer for all of us.

If you are reading this, and are troubled this senseless loss of life, here are some simple suggestions:

  • Do you talk on the phone while you drive? Please make a change. Whether it's "hands free" or not, it's dangerous to yourself and to others on the road.
  • Do you know others who talk on their phone while driving? Ask them to stop. As a society we don't tolerate drunk driving, so why should we accept driving while impaired when a smartphone or cellphone is in use?
  • If someone calls you while driving, tell them to call you back when they are no longer driving. Your phone call is not more important than someone else's life.
  • Slow down. Give cyclists plenty of space. And then slow down some more.

For those in the Triangle, there is a memorial ride on Sunday morning at 10 A.M. that starts at Seven Stars Cycles. While I'm finding it difficult to get back on my bike after someone in the community has lost their life, it's important that we continue to put bicycles on the streets and assert our right to safe access to road.

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