To hop back on my soap box for cycling safety

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.

The driver who hit me got two years in prison. But I got a life sentence. - VeloNews.com

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 far as I can tell, those laws are pretty toothless across the nation. Even in cycling friendly Europe, more riders are hit by distracted drivers. Drivers there seem to have few repercussions too.

I do follow Bike Law, but not as closely as I should, for issues like this. Hopefully there will be some serious repercussions for bad drivers.

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

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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.

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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.

So I get it.

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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.

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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.

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