Glad to be alive…

This is an excerpt of a comment I sent to the local newspaper a few weeks ago. The story I submitted was shorter as there is a maximum of words allowed but since this is something that has been bothering me for a while I decided to post all of it in my blog. It probably won’t change anything, but at least I am able to get it off my chest!

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Glad to be alive…

To the gentlemen in the dark red colored sedan this morning at Piskadera, just a hundred feet away from the spot were another reckless driver took the life of three innocent people just a few years back, I would just like to let you know that we are all okay.

Even though you almost ran us over, or pretended to run us over, screeching inches past us at high speed without stopping or even slowing down to see if we were all right, I would like to inform you that we were able to pull up to the side of the road in time and brace ourselves for the impact that luckily never came.

It doesn’t matter that we were on road-bikes and not mountain-bikes which makes it more dangerous to swerve of the road since the tires are not made for uneven terrain. Or that there might have been a raised curb making it impossible to veer to the side unless we recklessly tried to jump it. But no worries, there was no raised curbside, no surprise potholes and no punctured tires, just the heart stopping sound of your ill-attempt at breaking, the fast approaching and nerve wrecking steadily growing beam of your headlights and the sense of seeing our lives flash before our eyes.

If you did it on purpose, I hope you enjoyed yourself watching us hurtling ourselves to safety and if you really did lose control of the car, I hope you realized, even if belatedly, that three cyclists had to jump out of the way for you, that they might have gotten hurt in the process and that, perhaps, you should have at least slowed down and checked your rearview mirror to see if nobody had a bad fall because of your recklessness.

It gives me some sort of solace to think that just maybe those three souls were looking after all of us this morning, safeguarding us from you and protecting you from yourself. I am, in any case, extremely grateful to still be here for another day…maybe we will run into each other again tomorrow morning…

A honk and wave will do just fine, thank you very much!

As a side note to what happened to us that morning I would like to add the following: We make it a point to wake up at the ungodly hour of four AM to avoid congested traffic, angry honks, lewd hand gestures and hateful remarks of drivers only to be accosted by early morning motorists, who have the entire road, except for maybe a sliver of asphalt less than two feet wide, available to them.

Cyclists shouldn’t have to fear for their lives whenever they venture out on their bike. When you see a group of cyclists packed together on the road, they don’t do this just to annoy you, or to make you five minutes late getting home. They do it for their own safety because; there is safety in numbers.

Drivers are much less likely to speed past cyclists, their side mirrors just inches from the riders’ heads when they are in a tight formation. They are also less inclined to pass and jump in front of a cyclist, only to make a sharp right hand turn just a few meters up the road.

No one in their right mind would jump in front of oncoming traffic; cars usually whizz past at a minimum of 40 km per hour. And yet, drivers do just that if the oncoming traffic happens to be someone on a bike. I am, by far, not the fastest cyclist around, but I can tell you that even I sometimes reach 40 km per hour (Okay, going downhill, but that’s not the point!) and if a car jumps in front of me, all I can do is guess how many broken bones I’m going to end up with if I survive the crash, while the car will probably only end up with a bloodied smear on their bumper like a squished mosquito.

Cycling is supposed to be a healthy sport and it is, until careless drivers turn it into a game of Russian Roulette. ‘Will I get run over today?’ ‘Should I quit riding my bike?’ These are questions I ask myself every time I head out. But I refuse to let these fears get in the way of me doing something I not only love to do, but that is healthy too!

Not so interested in my health? I can understand that…but now let’s look at it from a financial perspective…cyclists could actually save you money! How, do you ask? Well, I think we can all agree that cyclists are in good shape, right? So, this would mean less visits to the doctor, less cases of diabetes, heart disease and whatever other diseases that are common in out of shape and overweight people. Now, just for a second, imagine the impact on our healthcare system if our population where avid bikers…It would probably lower healthcare premiums by half!

Now, in a different scenario, imagine the situation as it is right now, drivers seriously dislike cyclists and openly demonstrate this with careless and even reckless behavior aimed towards the cyclist, their actions sometimes causing bad spills and grave injuries to cyclists. You get a few of these cases per month and suddenly we not only have seriously injured people, but huge medical bills as well.

Which means that, basically, as a driver, you are not only responsible for the life of a cyclist but also for the entire healthcare system!

So, next time you run across a cyclist on your way home, give him a friendly honk and wave while passing at a safe distance and once you get home, get your own bike out of the garage, dust it off and take it for a spin…can’t wait to see you out there!

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