This brought back some bad memories for me, from when I was hit by an uninsured driver in Austin 20 years ago. I wasn’t as injured as Andrew Berstein, but I still bear emotional scars that haven’t ever fully healed. I have an everlasting hatred to insurance companies, the criminal justice system, and much of our car culture. Don’t get me wrong, cars are useful, but they are incredibly dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists. We never win when hit, we can only lose, the question being by how much.
I’m fortunate in that I physically recovered. Andrew doesn’t have that luxury.
Pass this link on to any and all that you can think that need it.
I think I’ve told you about my cousin, who was one of the top road racers in her age group until last year when a distracted driver (looking at their phone), cut a corner and hit my cousin and her boyfriend, now fiance, when they were stopped and waiting in a left turn lane. She’s still not back to racing and has vision and headache issues. The driver got next to nothing. Apparently Ohio’s laws concerning distracted driving are toothless.
As a former EMS provider I can anecdotally confirm my hatred for most drivers. People drive waaayy to fast. Nowadays, no one is actually driving. They’re all texting. I’d rather someone was DUI but driving paranoid than some arrogant tea-totaller blasting obliviously across lanes or through intersections
I’ve made the mistake of discovering “Idiots in Cars” on You Tube. It’s everything you say it is. Speed has to be the primary cause of at least half of what shows up on there. Just blowing lights, often also at high speed, is second.
Although not anywhere near the extremes of what he went through - my bike accident last year has me recognizing what he has. After countless attempts at treatments for my resulting issues the conclusion from the doctors was just kind of, “Yeah this is your life sentence… and it is going to get worse…” Except they said it, “This is your life now…”
It has completely altered my life - after biking nearly every day without ice or snow (and sometimes even with it) for… 20 years of my life I’ve hung up the bike. It’ll always be my love but I came to the realization that what I deal with now just isn’t worth it… and had I been going my typical speed in that section it is hard to imagine me being alive and if not that, definitely paralyzed from it.
I feel for you guys. One of the volunteers in the wilderness sawyer work I do was hit full on by a Dodge Ram pickup. He was hit so hard, on his way to work, his body dented the hood of this massive pick up. The RMS guy felt the need to go into the emergency room to show the doctor a photo he took of the damage to the truck his body caused as a way to say, yes this man is busted up. He was in the hospital for months, a dozen operations. He could no longer work really for the USFS, in this early 60s. This summer finally after three years of recovery and physical therapy, he can hike with us again, in some pain. In many ways, his recovery is a miracle.
I ceased road riding in the mid-1970s. I used to ride my bike everyday to the U, to work. One day riding west bound on 21st South (I think) a driver forced me into the curb where roadwork was underway. I crashed into a mess of broken concrete, barricades, and piles of gravel. I was not seriously hurt, bruised yes, scraped up, but completely shaken. My life literally flashed before my eyes. The driver never stopped. My bike was worse for wear. I’ve never ridden a highway since.
I love to ride my mountain bike. I’m careful and somewhat skilled in the technical parts of rocky ledges or sand. But I am powerfully aware of the damage those rocks can do to me. But it’s nothing compared to what an inattentive driver can do to you.
In Bend a few years ago I was featured in the local news on a new law that made it illegal to hold your phone while driving. I was asked why. I said that driving is actually a privilege not a right. And that privilege carries a heavy responsibility, to do no harm, to ourselves or others with which we share the road. If folks don’t respect that privilege, injure someone or even themselves, they take the actual rights of the innocent injured to life, liberty and their pursuit of happiness. They aired that.
I still ride a road bike most days, only for exercise now, and only OFF busy streets and during the middle of the day. I ride a lot in City Creek Canyon which is largely closed to traffic, and a lot in the Avenues, which is not too busy, but is still very dangerous, as there are a lot of inattentive, aggressive drivers, even in an otherwise quiet neighborhood like that.
I have a mirror on my helmet, I’m obsessive about paying attention to the road in every direction, I always have a background thread running in my brain identifying the next escape path - AND I STILL have some kind of a near miss every 3rd or 4th ride.
I’m not riding much now with the snow the last couple of days - hoping for some good XC skiing soon, but I’m almost ready to give up the road bike and switch to mountain biking, which I enjoy, but not as much as the road. I’ve been riding a road bike since I was 12, and it feels like a part of my being.
Every year, as we get older, we ride on the road less and less. When we ride on the road , it’s on a mountain bike; which, albeit slower, has tires and suspension to deal with sudden conditions better than a skinny-■■■ tired road bike with a rider’s position already way forward.
We just came back from Colorado and rode a whole bunch of gravel roads. We bumped into a couple who have literally biked in 30 diffwrent countries and they said that nowhere is it more dangerous to ride a bike on public roads and the United States both due to the aggressive driving and overall hostility. They said they basically gave up road riding and they also said that being in Asia amongst millions of people on pedestrian bicycles and many various types of mobile vehicles, isn’t nearly as dangerous as riding around in the states. They said “in this country, no one cares about bikes or are acting aggresively towards bikers.”
Since my accident I’ve quit riding but a few observations on riding in the states.
First, over the 20 plus years I rode on the road people are way more distracted today than they used to be. Cell phones have made the roads so dangerous. I had more accidental close calls in my last year of riding than in maybe my first 5 years combined.
I’ve observed that people tend to be aggressive when you ride where cyclists normally don’t ride. If you ride where lots of other cyclists ride most people tend to give lots of space, and understand what you are doing. If you are on a country road where nobody rides expect a face full of smoke from a diesel pickup truck who is going to get as close as possible.
So a lot of it is just people being accustomed to cyclists. That’s why in Asian countries or like Netherlands people are totally good with cyclists (and because they are likely one themselves).
So when I did ride I tried to stick to road routes that typically had cyclists. These roads also tended to have ample shoulders or lanes or whatever, but the aggressiveness went down dramatically there.
As you know there are thousands upon thousands of bikes that line the streets of Amsterdam. It’s like a constant game of chicken between bikes, cars, scooters and pedestrians. Sometimes feels like an intersection in India.
Yesterday my wife and I returned from Europe after two weeks, six days of which involved a bike tour from near Prague to near Vienna. (Some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever cycled through. I highly recommend this trip for someone who wants a cycling vacation.). As a general rule, drivers in both CZ and AU gave us plenty of space, the only exception being in the town of Cesky Krumlov where we did have to get out of town on some roads with no real space to be had, and that did result in my wife having a minor fall and scraped knee. Drivers may go by fairly fast out on the country roads, but would be at least six feet away when they did it. We detected none of the antagonistic attitude you feel from them in the states.
By far the most impressive thing I saw related to cycling, however, was during our three days in Vienna. I have never seen such a cycling friendly city. There are dedicated bike lanes all over with their own traffic signal systems that include a light to let you know it’s about to turn green for you. These are kept separate from both walking paths and vehicle traffic on the main roads. The paths along the Danube River and Danube Canal, which run along both sides of both waterways, are shared with pedestrians but so wide as to not have any real conflicts between the two groups. Greater Vienna has a population about twice that of SL County, but a combined vehicle, tram/subway, walking path, and cycling system that’s orders of magnitude better than what we have here.
My left arm is currently in a sling from supermanning off of my MTB and down a steep slope onto rocks and cactus. Luckily I just tore the dickens out of my shoulder and bicep. I’ll probably only lose a little range of motion. I have been commuting by bike off and on but it’s so anxiety-inducing that I’m no longer sure it’s worth it.
I love mountain biking as well and do so often. I prefer road riding, even though it is getting more dangerous all the time. I have always been super careful in very technical terrain and anywhere close to steep sidehills particularly in rocky terrain.
Truth be told, I know a lot more people who have had significant injuries from mountain bike riding than road riders. I seems to me to be a more dangerous activity, on a minute by minute basis. That said, a road accident, usually involves a car, so there are probably a lot more deaths on the road.
It’s probably all what you are used to and comfortable with. I’ll continue to stick to roads and paved trails, (although I am doing more gravel riding lately), but I am growing dramatically more selective of what roads I ride. (there is nothing like the mirror lake highway, after the snow starts to melt, but before the road has been opened).
I hear you as I actually prefer climbing to downhill (not much of a daredevil) and I stick to greens and blues nearly always. I can safely road bike long distances in SLC now thanks to an expanded bike trail system that’s scenic and more extensive. The problem with my commute is that I either have to go far out of my way to use said trails, or ride some of the worst streets in SL. I keep trying alternate routes, but I inevitably end up with at least a 4 block stretch that’s harrowing due to the traffic patterns and our inept drivers or the state of the road or both.
As a lifelong resident of Salt Lake City (proper) I can personally attest that SLC roads have never been worse (at least since the late 50’s). You’d have to ride a mountain bike for a comfortable ride on many/most city streets, and I don’t have a Lincoln Town Car so automobile outings are no more comfortable.