Yesterday really showed me a lot about the people I ride with. Peggy Piagentini, one of my ride level teammates went over her handlebars on Shannon Road. If you're not familiar with that road, it's hilly and curvy. I was ahead of her and rode back after being told there was a crash. I saw her lying face down on the pavement. Blood was pooling on the pavement near her head. Scary stuff. I'm no good with injuries. I only know not to touch someone when they're flat out on the ground like that. The police came, the fire department and an ambulance came and did what they do so well. She was taken to a local hospital where she's still under observation. Luckily she only broke her jaw and her elbow. It could have been much worse.
I can't wait till Peggy can ride again with us. But that accident really drove home something I notice on the road. I'm struck by how careless people driving cars can be. Peggy was spooked by a guy in a white miata driving fast through the corners. He scared me, too.
The irony is that I was once on the "cyclists need to stay off the road" group, too. I still catch myself being numb to whatever is in my way while I drive my car. It's like I want to get somewhere fast and forget the humanity in between. I don't think it's just me who feels that way. I once thought that cyclists were jerks who took up too much of the road and were arrogant and dangerous...until I got on a bike again after twenty years.
I'm 44. I consider myself responsible. But I know that those cars driving past me too close for comfort and speeding around corners are no different than I am. I, too, forget while in my car that the bicycle on the side of the road has a person on it. It's not an obstacle. It's not a pylon. Regardless of what you think, you can't know the attitude of the man or woman pedaling down the street.
I do know this, though. That bike is no match for your car. It's much slower, much less stable and far too fragile to be competing for space with a two thousand pound piece of steel and plastic. Maybe next time you feel like unwinding that big motor or seeing how well your car can take those turns remember there's likely to be a bicyclist or pedestrian walking or running or riding on that street. And while you can't sense how close you really are to them as you pass in either direction know that they're way more terrified of you than you can ever be of them. So kinda close is way too close. Also know that there is someone waiting at home for them, expecting them to come through that door at the end of the ride or run or walk. Do you want to be the reason why they never came home? I'm much more careful when I drive now that I cycle than before. Maybe you should be, too.