Public service announcement to all my friends and family that bike and/or drive a vehicle: Bikers, do not ever get on your bike without a helmet. There is no excuse. It doesn’t matter if you’ll be on the sidewalk most of the ride, or it’s only a couple minutes away, or you don’t want to mess up your hair, WEAR IT. We are all guilty of making excuses, I’ve done it many times.
This past Monday I was riding my bike on the way to a sand volleyball game. Sebastian lovingly reminded me to put on my helmet before I left, I obliged. After riding 95% of the way on either sidewalks or back roads, I looked both ways and decided it was safe to bike in the road the last 20 feet to my destination. After riding for another ten seconds, I heard a vehicle accelerating behind me, but thought nothing of it because there was an entire other lane for them to pass me. Next, I woke up in an ambulance. I had been struck from behind and tossed on and over a car going roughly 35 mph. The police informed my parents that they were amazed I was still alive based on the damage to the vehicle. I spent 24 hours in the hospital getting CAT scans, X-rays, stitches, having the gravel washed out of my wounds, etc.
I am alive, and my injuries will heal in time. I was extremely lucky, and I owe my life to a helmet. It is cracked on the back right and pretty well scraped up, but my head is in one piece. I can’t emphasize enough to all of the people I love to please wear a helmet and tell everyone you know to do the same.
As for you drivers out there, I know that after driving for many years we all tend to forget the incredible responsibility that comes with this mundane task. However, every single time you get in that car you are taking responsibility for your life and the lives of everyone else you will come in contact with, please do not take this lightly. I know people get frustrated with Bikers because they’re too slow, or they might not follow all the rules, maybe you just don’t believe they belong on the road. Try to put yourselves in their shoes for a moment. We all bike for different reasons: it’s good exercise, good for the environment, you save money, it’s incredibly fun, whatever it may be. These fellow humans are trusting complete strangers with their lives, believe me when I say we are extremely aware of this fact.
I’ve recently been encouraging my family to bike more and I made sure to tell them all “act as though no one sees you, even if you make eye contact, always remain defensive.” The sad truth is, as a biker you could do everything right and still end up dead. I wore a reflective helmet, had a rear red flashing light on (even though it was still light out), and was wearing a bright yellow shirt. Somehow the person that hit me claims he never even saw me. This blows my mind, but it makes you realize how distracted people are when driving. Whether it’s texting, eating, driving tipsy, or whatever excuse you tell yourself, please take a moment next time you get behind the wheel to understand the gravity of what you are about to do. We can all improve and make our roads a safer place for everyone.