I have had to talk a lot about bicycle accidents this year, both my own and other people’s–a lot more than I would like. I’ve written blogs, shared posts, participated in a blessing for cyclists and healed–over time–from my own accident. I’ve healed. I healed because there were people who needed me to be well, like my daughter. I also found that in the grand scheme of things, I healed fairly quickly because I wasn’t hurt that badly. Now woah…I was hurt badly right? I was hurt so badly that even standing and walking was impossible or excruciating for several weeks, biking was out of the question, and I have a scar that I can either have fixed with plastic surgery or get used to as just part of my leg now. I have an ugly knot on my left knee, the result I think, of flesh healing over asphalt and scar tissue mixed in for good measure. It still leaks on occasion
When I say I wasn’t hurt “that badly,” what I mean is I can now walk without discomfort. I am back on my bike and enjoying my rides to school as many of you have seen. I am once again able to “herd cats” through Freedom Park on Fridays (our weekly children’s ride to school).
When I say I was not hurt that badly, what I’m saying is that 1) I’m not dead like Al Gorman (killed on Parkwood and Hawthorne last month) and 2) I am no longer in pain like David Spranger.
David has been weighing heavy on my mind and heart these past few weeks even though I don’t know him very well. The main reason I knew him last year was because in the National Bike Challenge, he rode so many miles nobody could keep up with him. He rode so many miles we were all in awe. We never met him then (the folks I knew who rode bikes). He was this mysterious gentleman who commuted to work and back. He didn’t come on social rides and he didn’t make much noise. He just WAS. You know, the way some folks just ARE? Without speaking of it or bragging? Maybe without even having that many people know their names. But we all knew the name of David Spranger last year when we saw how many miles he rode, just as part of his everyday life.
David was hit by a car in March of this year, and hasn’t yet returned to riding his bike. He did a 14 mile round trip commute to work daily before that, not just for last year but for many years. It was the main way he chose to get around Charlotte. He was a safe cyclist, followed all traffic laws, used lights, wore reflective clothing and understood how to bicycle in traffic.
Someone hit him and left him in the street in March. People always ask if I was left in the street–I wasn’t, the man who hit me…whatever he was doing before the accident…stopped and gave the police his information. But as a cyclist I understand that this is the exception and not the general rule. David understands that as well. A driver hit him and left him for dead. He was in the hospital for a while and then he was home. He’s not yet able to ride a bike, even though he was hit in March. For a comparison, I was able to ride in late August, and I was hit in late July. The basic problem for David? Things are still broken, everything hurts.
That is what I mean by I was not badly injured.
David has a court date tomorrow. He has a court date to talk about his case, where he was hit by a man who was underinsured, while riding to work on an early spring morning while wearing bright clothing, while following all traffic laws, while having bright lights on his bike and making sure he was seen. In other words, doing all the things I’ve been urged to do since my own accident (my list of advice included brighter lights, reflective gear and cycling safety classes). And while I understand that the intent of this advice, of these gifts, are to make sure that I am as safe as possible; I was already doing those things. Now I have a brighter light, wear brighter gear, and as I was doing before make sure I am following traffic laws..but in the end I have to just hope that by doing these things I attract the notice and courtesy of a whole lot of distracted and impatient drivers. I saw one just this evening who accelerated to a ridiculous speed on Hawthorne to try and make the yellow light (he didn’t). That driving puts us all in danger. That driver (or others like him) and the road culture he’s created is the reason David is going to a court date tomorrow…is the reason David (a tremendous cyclist and human, a fully alive force) is still not cycling, almost nine months after his accident.
I felt like I somehow needed to mark this day. Tomorrow. Not very many people know about this day in the history of David. This day when David goes to court to just ask for what should rightfully belong to all of us, which is justice.