Traumatic Injury Inspires Action for These Two Bicyclists

Damian Kevitt and Kevin Korenthal turned pain into positivity through their safe streets advocacy.

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SAFE streets advocacy organization

Damian Kevitt, centre, with friends at a 2015 Finish the Ride event. Photo courtesy of SAFE.

Hit-and-runs weren’t something Damian Kevitt gave much thought to. Like most people, he was occupied by myriad other issues demanding attention in a day, and traffic injuries simply fell outside of the realm of what he usually thought about. Then one day, he was rather abruptly forced to consider the issue. “It became a very intimate problem as soon as I was cruising down the freeway underneath a car at fifty miles an hour,” he recalls.

Barely surviving the incident and losing his leg in the process, Kevitt was determined to get back on his bike. As he recovered, he launched an event called Finish the Ride to draw attention to traffic injuries, and the event drew such widespread support that Kevitt was encouraged to keep going. He soon founded Streets Are For Everyone (SAFE), a non-profit organization to draw attention to the epidemic of traffic crashes in hopes of instigating real change at the policy level. Starting out in Los Angeles, SAFE has since grown to a nationwide, volunteer-based organization. They run events, awareness campaigns, and grassroots initiatives aimed at making streets safe places for all people in all modes.

Though Kevitt admits the change is slow, it is happening. Through the work of SAFE and other similar organizations, cities around the country are adopting Vision Zero policies and politicians are listening to the growing multitude of voices calling for safe streets. This spring, SAFE hosted the third annual Finish the Ride in Los Angeles, but the event is no longer just for cyclists, it’s open to all human-powered modes who are hoping to walk, run, and roll towards people-friendly streets.

To learn more about SAFE, Finish the Ride and the movement for safer streets visit streetsare4everyone.org


Kevin Korenthal was out cycling when he was struck head-on by a teenage driver. Suffering numerous traumatic injuries including the eventual amputation of his leg below the knee, his life was knocked dramatically off balance. Not one to sit back and feel sorry for himself, Korenthal threw himself into his recovery with a positive attitude, not only re-learning to walk, but eventually getting right back on his bicycle.

Throughout his healing, he noticed a trend in his own and other’s rehabilitation that led to a successful recovery, and his observations inspired him to found the Forged by Fire Foundation (FbFF). FbFF offers support to individuals and families affected by traumatic injury or debilitating disease, connecting them with the philosophies and resources necessary to have the fullest recovery possible and enjoy an active lifestyle going forward. They promote activities such as cycling, which with the use of recumbents can be adapted to suit varying abilities, as a means to introduce or reintroduce activity into people’s lives, post-injury.

The Forged by Fire Foundation also partners with Finish the Ride and SAFE to promote safe streets in California and beyond.

To learn more about the organization, visit fordgedbyfirefoundation.com

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