I had just finished an easy ride yesterday when I heard Amy Dombroski had been struck and killed by a truck while training in Belgium. To be frank my first thought was Fuck, the next several thoughts revolved around her family and friends, how they must be feeling, and then what it must be like to find out the way I found out – in a tweet.
I had already planned on taking the bus to work yesterday and I was glad that I had because its always hard to get out for a ride after news like this. Not just when a pro is killed while training, but when anyone’s life is scrubbed out while riding.
The rest of the day I thought about all the close calls I’ve had, all the close calls my friend – who is a courier – and all the close calls he’s had. All the close calls we’ve all had.
It would be impossible for me to calculate the number of times I’ve been grazed, or turned into, or run into the curb by someone trying to get that parking spot.
I thought about the times I’ve been the one to make a mistake that almost took me out. Like the time I was listening to my headphones full blast and ran a stop sign with a blind corner. I banked so hard that my pedal hit the ground, skipped my work bike with enough force to pop the tire off the bead. But those incidents where it was my fault are small compared to the number of times it’s been cut close due to negligence (or in some cases intention) by the driver.
I often have customers claim that they want the brightest jacket they can find so that drivers will see them. I’m willing to sell them that jacket, but I also explain to them that a bright jacket is no guarantee. “They aren’t going to see you if they aren’t looking for you.” I say. I also tell them that they have to ride like no one can see them. Something I learned from my Father, whose exhaust pipes can literally be heard over a block away.
Another thought I had after reading the about Dombroski’s death was This shit happens everyday.” It’s hard to not get angry to the point of militancy. I’ve already been down that road, and it doesn’t change behavior, it just makes the driver hate cyclist even more. It’s hard to not fall down that hole when those at fault suffer no consequences.
Everytime I leave for a ride Signe tells me to “be careful”. I do my best to be as careful as I can and ride with in my abilities without pushing it too far out. But anyone who rides on the street really needs to hope that all the drivers out there are trying to “be careful” as well. That’s probably more important since they’re the ones piloting the heavy and fast vehicles.