Not a Great Start to Bike Commuting Month

Today was the first day of Bike Commute month sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club.  I had a an early meeting, so I elected to bring in the bike on the back of my wife’s car so I could bike home.  Glad I did, the temp was 32 at my house this morning.

While in my all day meeting, I may have perused the internet from time to time.  Therefore I found out that a cyclist from West Seattle was killed that morning while on his way to work.    He somehow got tangled up with a semi truck while crossing the road.  Evidently witnesses aren’t sure whether he hit the front or the back of the truck.  (This happens in accidents, trust me I used to investigate them for the insurance company I work for.  3 witnesses to the same accident will report 3 different things! )

Many thoughts go through my head when things like this happen.  First I wonder, especially given that many people were commuting by bike for the first time ever today, whether he was an experienced or new biker.  I am not sure which would be the better answer.

I’d hate to think he was a new biker, someone who finally said “I’m going to bike to work!” for the first time, just to have this happen.  He will never get the chance to enjoy all the sights and sounds you get from commuting, or appreciate the benefits of them.  Plus, others who are on the fence might decide it’s too dangerous and not take the plunge.  They will miss out on all the fun plus a prime opportunity to save money and get healthier.

On the other hand, I’d hate to think he was experienced.  I pride myself in knowing how to be careful, and watch out for things that can hurt me whether walking, driving a car or on a bike.  If this person was experienced, and it happened to him, it just makes it scarier.

I also hope it was not his fault.  Just like there are bad car drivers, there are terrible cyclists.  They dart in and out of traffic, don’t care about safety at all, and give the rest of us bad names.  This matters to me because my mom already worries when I ride, (I am the reason for her gray hair (or at least more so than my 4 siblings)) so someone getting injured or killed makes her worry more.  (She once called me when she saw someone was lost on Mt.  Rainier.  I answered the phone and she asked “Is that you they are looking for?”  “Nope, I’m at home talking to my mom on the phone!”  Love ya Mom!)  (gotta be good, she is feeding the 15-year-old and I tonight!)  If the guy who died was a damn fool and was at fault for this, she will end up worrying more for nothing.

Then I think about the public reaction.  Many will be sad, but if you look at the comments from the news story (OK, OK I know, many who post comments are not smart enough to hang a roll of toilet paper without instructions, but I still read them…) it will be full of people saying “Bikes got no reason to be on the rode (typo on purpose) its fer cars!!”  Yep, I’ve even seen comments that the bike rider deserved it for being on the road.

I also feel terrible for the cyclists who were first on the scene and tried to do CPR and keep the guy alive.  They were simply on their way to work, and now their lives will never be the same!  I can only hope they don’t let it bug them so much they stop commuting in the future.

I am no fool.  I know that on any given day, whether I am walking downtown, driving to work or riding my bike, I could end up biting it.  But like Bon Jovi says

It’s my life

It’s now or never

I aint going to live forever,

I just want to live while I’m alive!

I know for a fact that riding and staying in shape will result in me living a longer and healthier life.  There are risks, but a vigilant and careful rider can avoid most of them.

My ride home today was excellent, a bit of a tail wind, great whether, the perfect commute home.  As much as I enjoyed it, especially since its my last ride till my Century on Sunday, I feel a bit guilty having so much fun.

Yep, not a great start to bike commuting month, let’s hope tomorrow is better!

If’n there is a hereafter, lets hope he can ride like the wind wherever he ended up!

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