I had an odd experience the other night. I'd just been to a presentation at DVRPC where I gave the standard presentation about all of the work we are doing to make Indego bike share a representative and socially equitable program in which the race and income of our users mirrors that of Philadelphia as a whole. I was on a panel with a guy from Rutgers, Charles Brown, (no joke, generally goes by Charlie) who presented his team's research on the disparate impacts that crashes have on people of color. The upshot: if you are poor or black or brown or poor AND black or brown, your odds of being hit or killed in a car crash are dramatically higher than if you're white and middle income or higher. In places like New Jersey and the Philadelphia Metro, the maps of crashes can often look like the maps of 'communities of concern' as they've been dubbed.
I was impressed by the work, and particularly by Charlie's presentation. I work hard on making sure that when I give a presentation I'm engaging and that I use whatever media I've got at my disposal to the best of my ability. Over the years, I've gotten pretty good, and I'm generally to the point where I think that I'm one of the better presenters on any given panel that I do. I did a passable job last week, but Charles' absolutely rocked. Clear, compelling and well supported by the graphics in his powerpoint. I was in presentation envy and following our meeting, was pleased to find that he'd sent me a connection request through LinkedIn. I'm not much for social media, but I do dabble enough to understand that it could be useful to cultivate this connection, so I clicked on the link. Charlie and I were now connected, and since I was in the portal where one accepts pending invitations, I started clicking through the requests. Several were from people who I'd never heard of, several from some who I didn't want to hear from again and then I found one waiting in my inbox from Wade Frank. He'd sent the request some months ago and I'd never really bothered to respond. No particular snub there, I hadn't responded to 10 or 15 other people who'd been patiently waiting in my inbox. I hadn't seen Wade since he'd moved back to Des Moines from Ames where he worked for my dad while he was finishing, or generally not finishing, his dissertation at ISU. I'd always liked Wade and I'll always think about him now in my work. Not because of our connection on LinkedIn, but because I think that I'll always be thinking about how to encourage more people to ride bicycles and to help more people stay safe on the roads. It's a strange coincidence that my reminder of him was the result of a poignant talk about road safety. Cheers to you Wade, and goodbye.