Its been one year since I started this blog, two years since my close encounter with the old lady driving a Buick. Not a lot has changed since then, but I certainly have. Today, I received a timely email from one of the groups I follow, Transportation Alternatives (based in New York City), which shared some statistics from to a poll they had conducted on transportation, in relation to their current mayoral race. New York is certainly not representative of the country, but I found it interesting that a third of NYC voters knows someone who has been seriously injured or killed in traffic. Presumably, this number includes motorists as well as bicyclists. 875 responses on a random sample is a pretty good data set on a poll like this, so when you group those who want protected bike lanes with those who want safer streets for pedestrians (total 67%), it becomes pretty clear that traffic safety is a common interest.
Physical rehab aside, it took me a little while to be comfortable on a bike after being hit by a car. I've had a few close calls since then. On the road, I have learned that my safety is my own responsibility. I have to trust the drivers around me, and they have to trust me that I will "ride in a predictable manner." I've made mistakes, and I have seen my share of drivers make mistakes, mostly out of impatience.
Still, there are others that I have encountered with open hostility towards people on bikes. They are the folks that worry me the most, more than the ones not paying attention for a moment. I've been yelled at, called names, and have had drivers intentionally cut me off and cut it close in order to try to prove a point. The point taken is that they are too foolish to know what they are risking. I've yelled back, chased people down, and even tapped on a driver's window to get their attention and tell them off. I know that just perpetuates the hostility, and it can get a rider into an unpredictable situation or altercation. So mostly I try to grin and bear it, and use the anger and adrenalin as a PED to improve my ride.
There is a bike memorial that I pass when I ride along West River Road in Minneapolis. It serves as a reminder to me of the everyday dangers, and the precautions I need to take when I am on my bike. When I see it, I remember my own crash, and how blessed I am that it wasn't worse, that I am lucky to be live and to have quickly rehabilitated. I am glad to be there for my kids, glad for the opportunity to ride with them and share this passion. I am grateful for the new perspective that seminal event has given me, and hope to maintain this as a day of rebirth. God is great!