Editor’s note: This story was updated at 8:35 p.m. Aug. 29, 2022, to include the amount of donations received.
Before heading to her sons’ new elementary school on her bicycle last Thursday, Sarah Langenkamp used her cellphone to plan her ride, which included the Capital Crescent Trail and designated bike routes through neighborhoods near her Bethesda home.
But those precautions were for naught when Sarah, 42, was struck and killed by a flatbed truck driver around 4 p.m. while riding home from the school, according to county police. The mother of two was riding in a bike lane in the 5200 block of River Road at the time.
Angered by his wife’s senseless death, Daniel Langenkamp started a Go Fund Me page Sunday with the goal of raising $50,000 to help organizations that are working on bike safety and increase advocacy for safer bike routes. As of Tuesday morning, the fund has raised more than $95,000 in donations.
“If cities truly wish to make themselves walkable and bikeable to attract workers and talent, they need to do more than paint lines and bike symbols on roads,” he wrote on the page.
“Such bike lanes — lacking proper barriers, truck/auto driver education, laws, and law enforcement — are only death traps, luring innocent victims like Sarah toward them. They result in tragic deaths that leave children without parents and the world without its most talented and committed individuals.”
Daniel said in his post he and Sarah had made biking a part of their lifestyle as a way of “living a life that is healthy, humble and green” in each place they’ve lived during their careers with the State Department. The Langenkamps regularly biked overseas, including in Ukraine and Cote d’Ivoire.
“Sarah did not need to show the world she was a successful professional, diplomat, leader, and role model,” he wrote. “Her grace, intelligence, kindness, and deep commitment to promoting U.S. interests around the world was shown in her work and actions. To carry out this important mission, Sarah rode a bike — almost every day.”
Sarah, a diplomat with the State Department for 17 years, had recently moved to Bethesda with her family after being evacuated from Ukraine during its ongoing war with Russia, Daniel said.
“There, she had been in charge of programs to help the country’s anti-corruption institutions and shepherd millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to police, border guards, and other non-military security institutions,” he wrote.
Daniel Langenkamp said he is using the anger he feels over his wife’s death to bolster his efforts in raising awareness of bike safety. He wrote that he hopes the advocacy efforts lead to improvements such as more legal assistance and better driver education. Other solutions could include mobile applications that rate the safety of bike routes or provide information about where past crashes have occurred.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 1,000 bicyclists are killed and more than 130,000 are injured on roads across the country every year. There have been three fatal bicycle crashes so far this year in Montgomery County, according to data from Vision Zero – the county’s initiative to end fatal and serious crashes on county roadways by 2030.
“Cities should not boast of having ‘bike lanes’ when bikers are needlessly and repeatedly killed on them, as they have been this year,” he wrote.
Daniel Langenkamp could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
The State Department released a statement to Bethesda Beat on Monday saying it “extends its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of Ms. Langenkamp.” A spokesperson did not provide additional information, due to “privacy law enforcement sensitivity considerations.”
Dan Schere can be reached at email@example.com