Monday, March 4, 2019

“Sometimes I feel like poetry in motion”: #RIPAurilla

images of aurilla from her fb page and memorial, as well as trackordienyc. 

“Biking taught me that you should have no hesitation when it comes to believing in your movements. Sometimes I feel like poetry in motion”
-          Aurilla Lawrence.

I did not know Aurilla.
But I know she should not be dead. 

I met  a lot of her friends yesterday riding through  the city during a memorial ride that  began in Harlem, careened downtown, stopping at Union Square, before making  its way over the bridge to Williamsburg, in a people power communion between the living and the dead.
Her death struck a chord.

trackordienyc wrote on instagram

It comes with a heavy heart to say our friend @aurillagorilla was a victim of a hit and run in Brooklyn last night. Unfortunately Aurilla did not survive the accident. Aurilla was the type of person who comes along maybe once in your lifetime.
I met her many years ago in the Bronx when she was shy, quiet With no tattoos and an adorable innocence. I watched her evolve into Aurilla Gorilla over the years and find her place in this crazy world.
We worked, drank and rode bikes together. Her dead end alley cat was her contribution to this community to try and bring us all together. I can honestly say, Aurilla was my most photographed female cyclist.
Her energy was unlike anyone else’s in this bike community and her ig stories had me cracking up many nights. I remember her going away bbq in Randall’s island where we drank beers, shot photos and said what we thought would be our goodbyes just for her to come back a month later like she never left. Unfortunately this time she didn’t get to say goodbye. I’m dead ass going to miss you. If you have a memory with Aurilla or want to share some kind words, feel free to leave a comment.
Ride in Peace
Aurilla Lawrence

Many had a similar reaction.

“Gonna go sit on the east side and smoke a blunt and drink a beer for our lil sister we ain’t speak in a while but never would I ever imagine having to remember good times and wild ass nights or weeks should i say #standbyboys and girl making summer jump since 2015 #sbbfirstlady

I could barely  keep up with the ride, zigging and zagging through traffic.
The cyclists were pissed off, in an the kind  of  I  don’t give a fuck defiance that comes when one of their friends, our  friends has been run down in cold blood, years before her time was supposed to come, letting the cars know this was not the day to cut off a cyclist.

Over  the Williamsburg bridge we  ride,
Looking  at  the  city, 
Aurilla flying.

The others cyclists made  it up in a flash.
I felt the burn in my legs.

You can do it, one of the cyclists cheered  us,
Riding ahead.

Riding  back down,
Babs and I chatted about things.
Making  our way to the site where
Aurilla was killed on Marcy Ave and  the BQE.

As the Daily News reported.

Riding to Marcy, police blocked the road, as more and more people joined the ride.
Several hundred cyclists were there, alleycat racers, bike messengers, vision zero activists,
Veterans of the critical mass bike wars of years past.
We’ve all seen this many many too times.
A car that fails to look out for anyone but themselves,
Careening into a cyclist, who dies, after which the police fail to investigate, deeming ‘no criminality suspected’ in the death of the cyclist.

Standing at the makeshift memorial, people were crying.
A woman wrote a goodbye note.
Red eyes.

A man stood up to speak.
They are killing us out there.
He screamed.
And everyone knows, the best way to take someone out in nyc is to hit them with a car, as the police will never investigate the crime. 

Gradually people rode away from the scene.
The I don’t give a fuck attitude only compounded,
 Palpable anger.
“Asshole,” a man screamed at a driver trying to get in the way,
Pushing back at the car.
Some kids popped wheelies as we rode, swerving between cars.
“This might not a day to push cyclists,” I said to Barbara.
“They just lost someone,” Peter told another cyclist grumbling about pushy cyclists.
If ever I was going to be bike riot, this was it.
We rode to the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge, where some people skated,
Several other stood up to memorialize Aurilla.

“Pour a beer on the sidewalk for her everyone,” noted one man, pouring his can.
“She was the funniest person I ever met.
A bunch of us were schrooming.
She didn’t take any.
She just told jokes for hours.
I’ve never laughed so much.
My stomach ached she made us laugh  so much.”

If we could all have someone remember as someone who made us laugh,
We’d be fortunate people.

Instead, we’re all left with the despair,
That the city let her die.
The police, the Department of Transportation, the drivers, the planners,
The apologists for suburbanites,
Who  drive into the  city,
 who blame the down and out. 

Henry James puts it:
“Life is, in fact, a battle.
Evil is insolent and strong;
Beauty enchanting but rare;
Goodness very apt to be weak;
folly very apt to be defiant;
wickedness to carry the day;
imbeciles to be in great places,
people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy.
But  the world as it stands is no illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of a night…”

But there is happiness out there.
“Biking taught me that you should have no hesitation when it comes to believing in your movements. Sometimes I feel like poetry in motion.”

Hopefully we all live like this before death comes.

Afterall Mary Oliver reminds us:
“When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
--Mary Oliver”

And Aurielle certain did not.

Austin Horse
We have a mayor who travels daily from UES to Park Slope in a 3 SUV convoy to work out. This same mayor has said that it is not worth enforcing the law in bike lanes. Much like his predecessor, BDB has shown that he will give the police free reign to enforce only the traffic laws they see fit. Just as Speaker Corey Johnson has proposed separating MTA control from the state, we need to get the NYPD out of the business of traffic law. They don't care about busways, they don't care about bike lanes. It's a systemic problem motivated by a pervasive windshield mentality. Check out #placardabuse; these activists deserve props for confronting police and governmental parking abuses. This mundane corruption exposes the lie that is those agencies' purported #visionzero priorities.
On the state level your reps can push for speed and red light camera implementation, disassociating this harmful behavior from PBA card 'courtesy' and general neglect. Locally, we need to support our council members who are showing leadership here and demand them to toe the line with the developer interests that only acquiesce to community board demands when it comes to free parking.
Carlos Menchaca, Margaret Chin, Antonio Reynoso, Ydanis Rodriguez, Rafael Espinal, Carlina Rivera have all impressed me by standing up for working and practical cyclists. Give them props and please shout out other effective electeds.
At Monday's press conference, Reynoso committed to making it his district's number one vision zero priority to put bike infrastructure on Broadway, no matter what parking interests on CB1 have to say about it. For those interested in realizing #justiceforAurilla in the form of a protected two way bike lane the length of Broadway, the next community board meeting is on this coming Tuesday the 12th and I invite you to join me.

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