Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Sylvia Bingham Foundation

The Sylvia Bingham Foundation will help Americans demand the ability to walk or cycle safely to work, school, church or shops. The Foundation will promote safety for cyclists and pedestrians by educating drivers about sharing the road with cyclists and pedestrians and educating cyclists on defensive personal safety techniques. The Foundation will also work with others to encourage state and federal transportation agencies, city and county planners, legislators and policy makers to provide for cyclist safe zones and other engineering controls in areas of high traffic to reduce the risk of injury.

Follow the Cleveland Blog To Honor Sylvia

Follow the blog from friends in Cleveland put together to continue to honor Sylvia’s memory and help build momentum for better biking conditions.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I RIDE FOR SYLVIA tee shirts

Two riders, Jacob and his friend, at Sylvia's house before the memorial ride on Tuesday, September 22 in Cleveland.

Alex Nosse holding up a freshly-printed "I Ride For Sylvia" Tee Shirt.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Donations to BACLF "In Sylvia Bingham's Honor"

BACLF, a foundation in northern California, has agreed to accept checks for the future Sylvia Bingham Foundation. Checks should be made out to "BACLF." On the memo line put "In Sylvia Bingham's Honor," NOT Sylvia Bingham Foundation, as there are some technical problems with transfer of money if the future foundation is named.

If people prefer, they can also donate to Hard-Hatted Women where Sylvia had just begun working. She loved her new job.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Memorial Bike Ride in Cleveland, 9/22/2009

from: Steve Bingham
date: Tue, Sep 22, 2009 at 9:17 AM
subject: Fw: 'Sept. 22: Memorial Bike Ride Held In Memory Of Woman Killed - Photos - WEWS Cleveland'

Please forward this widely.

these are cleveland channel 5 pictures from the memorial bike ride there this morning. over 70 people participated. in the foreground of the first picture is Sylvia's closest friend Jill, the reason Sylvia wanted to live in Cleveland. Jill's boyfriend David is holding her. (Alex, Sylvia's new boyfriend, is David's brother). In the second picture is Sylvia's bike, painted white. Wikipedia has a good piece on the history of white "ghost bikes." At the memorial ride in the bay area, we will place Sylvia's San Rafael ghost bike at a dangerous street corner. In the last slide, the bike is attached to a pole at the corner of 21st and Prospect where the accident happened. Though not visible in the slides, the T-shirts were printed with "I ride for Sylvia."

Thank you everyone for all the warm, wonderful emails and calls. They have meant so much to us. At some point we'll try to reply to you. If you haven't yet written, please don't feel you need to. We feel your support.

Steve and Francoise.

ps later today there will certainly be posted the video clips from Channel 5's coverage. This has turned into a big story in Cleveland about street safety

----- Original Message ----- From:
Sent: Tuesday, September 22, 2009 8:51 AM
Subject: From A Friend: 'Sept. 22: Memorial Bike Ride Held In Memory Of Woman Killed - Photos - WEWS Cleveland' has sent you a link: "Sept. 22: Memorial Bike Ride Held In Memory Of Woman Killed - Photos - WEWS Cleveland"

The link:

Message from bike ride pix

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Comments from Paul Harris

Sylvia and Nash

Messages from Hard Hatted Women

Our colleague Sylvia Bingham (left) with Calli Frehmeyer, immediate past HHW Board president.

The staff, board, volunteers, and AmeriCorps VISTA members of Hard Hatted Women are devastated at the loss of our colleague, Sylvia Bingham. We extend our condolences to her family and friends here in Cleveland and in California.

Sylvia was a shining example of the best in America’s young adults. She was intelligent, well-traveled, and optimistic. She could have excelled in any of several careers with notable firms, yet she chose to dedicate a year of her life to helping others through national service in AmeriCorps VISTA (volunteers in service to America). She volunteered to move across the country to work for Hard Hatted Women so that women might raise themselves up through skilled, good-paying jobs. In her brief time with us she brought insight, passion and energy to our work. We will miss her.

For More Information, contact:
Terri Sandu, Executive Director
216-861-6500 x14
216-502-0587 (cell)
This article appears in

Cleveland Photos

Comments from Francoise Blusseau and Steve Bingham

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Comments from Friends

Comments from Peter Haberfeld

Subject: RE: absolutely horrible news
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2009 16:45:07 +0000

Very very sadly, it is true. Understandably a lot of grief and suffering on the part of Francoise and Steve.

They left last night for Cleveland. They do not know how long they will stay, perhaps three weeks. They plan to have a memorial in the East: perhaps one for her friends from college and perhaps another one at the family. property. They are talking about a get together here in the Bay Area when they return.

Our feeling is that a short contact by email or phone is appreciated, perhaps needed to assure them that others share their pain and that they are part of a community of people whose love will help them get through the initial part of the tragedy.

I have, as Steve's cell number, 415 302 9440.

Because it is unclear what to say at a time like this, let me tell you briefly what Steve talked about yesterday.

Steve asked what my favorite memory was about Sylvia and I talked about the piece she wrote for the journal that was issued at the Dinner honoring his life and contribution.

Sylvia graduated from Yale in May. She went to Cleveland because her best friend from High School was there.

Steve believes that Sylvia's work and her thesis says a lot about who she was. The thesis was written in her field, Urban Planning. She interviewed residents of low income projects and concluded, contrary to popular wisdom, that residents do not report low level crime like tagging because they know those responsible and do not want to sacrifice the community they have by calling in the police. Steve talks admiringly about her courage, both going to an area that is unfamiliar and creating respectful relationships that enabled the people she interviewed to be candid with her.

She began working for an organization called Hard Headed Women, a group that secured unconventional jobs for women, such as working with the fire department. Sylvia did things her own way, according to her parents, bringing creativity and insight to everything she did.

The email address is


Comments from Hannah Jewell

With news of your death,
The world feels a little less
Secure under my feet
A little less
And a little less
To sort itself out.

I spent the day rummaging through my room looking for everything to do with you. There was a lot. I'm glad this photo from junior prom '04 is small and blurry. Everyone looked hilariously terrible in it. You looked cute though, as usual. You got that dress for $12 somewhere. We didn't have fun, so Barry stole forks to make up for the price of the tickets.

The last time I saw you, you made dinner for our families and it was delicious,
of course. Chilled soup, pizza and pie.

Sylvia: you were a role model and an inspiration to me. And you are the only
writer good enough to put into words how wonderful you were.

At graduation, you challenged your classmates
To make change, everyone just a little.

You challenge us again
With your passing
To fill a tiny part
Of the terrible void
You leave behind you
(Though we will never fill
The hole in our hearts)
By trying
All together
To help the world as much
As you could have done on your own

Hannah Jewell, 9/19/2009

News Stories

Bingham ’09 dies in accident
Ilana Seager Staff Reporter

Published Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Sylvia Bingham ’09, a Yale graduate who was passionate about social justice and the environment, died Tuesday morning. She was 22.

Bingham was en route to her job in Cleveland shortly before 9 a.m. when a truck collided with her bicycle. She passed away at St. Vincent Charity Hospital soon after. The truck driver did not stop, but police located him that afternoon using information provided by witnesses. No charges had been filed as of Tuesday afternoon.

A California native, Bingham moved to Cleveland after graduating to work at the organization Hard Hatted Women, which helps to lift women out of poverty. She described herself on LinkedIn, a networking Web site, as being passionate about eliminating urban poverty and creating job opportunities in the skilled trades.

“Eventually I’d like to see urban, sustainable agriculture generate high-wage, high-skilled green jobs in our cities,” she wrote.

It was this passion that flowed out of Bingham in all aspects of her life. Spending long hours working at the Yale Farm, pursuing a double major in French and sociology, or cooking for her friends, Bingham was an inspiration to those around her. As her friend Tommy Crawford ’09 described, she “rallied others around her to service” and encouraged them to “look at the community they live in and see how they can help or get involved.”

“Being with Sylvia, being near her, was a privilege, a gift, an event,” Adam Gardner ’09 wrote in an e-mail. “For some reason, she chose to come into our lives, and we will never forget her spirit, her beauty, and the generosity that inspired her to share herself so completely with us.”

As a student, Bingham exhibited a deep commitment to her curricular and extra-curricular pursuits. For her senior project about public housing on Dixwell Avenue and New Urbanist planning, she conducted extensive original research. Professor Hannah Brueckner, the director of undergraduate studies for sociology who got to know Bingham during her senior year, described her as a “fearless intellectual, a skilled field worker, and a committed activist.”

Bingham believed that people could make a difference in the world and devoted her life to social justice and environmental issues, her college roommate Lucia Diaz-Martin ’09 said.

She was described as kind-hearted and effervescent, someone who cared deeply for her friends and family. Bingham would drop anything for her friends, Anna Parks ’09 said.

“She showed up on my birthday with a box of dainty little madeleines that she had baked for me,” Parks said. “I think that cookie and that act represent her persona perfectly: she was bursting with creativity and was a teeny, quirky fashionista.”

Another college roommate, Molly Fischer ’09, said Bingham made their apartment at 67 Edgewood Ave “the coziest little home in the world” last year. A talented chef with a colorful palette, Bingham enjoyed throwing dinner parties for her friends.

“We had the best house meals and dinner parties, and Sylvia was the one who was behind all that, lurking in the kitchen,” Fischer said. “You couldn’t ask for someone better to live with than Sylvia.”

To all those who crossed her path, Bingham took time to get to know the people around her and could connect with all types of people. “Sylvia was a beautifully unique girl with an accepting heart and open mind,” Josh Helmrich ’09 wrote in an e-mail. “She was at ease in any crowd, and could get along with anyone (while being loved by everyone).”

Timothy Dwight College Dean John Loge, Bingham’s dean, said Bingham was a memorable student and will be sorely missed. “I remember Sylvia very well,” he said. “She is the kind of person one remembers: spirited, independent, lively, sassy, intelligent. She was really the light of life itself.”

Danika Fears contributed reporting.