Being the change we wish to see on our roadsAugust 7, 2012
Assuming I am going to heaven….. and you know what they say about those who assume…. I have some questions I’d like the big man to answer. I am still in that proverbial purgatory of having faith yet feeling faithless. Wondering about karma. Trying to make some sense out of something that makes so sense at all. I listened to the reports yesterday of the …. I can’t even call him a man…. the individual who killed Heather and I really begin to wonder. Where does God come into all of this? I don’t know if God himself could come down here and offer an explanation. Because right now I just wouldn’t believe it.
I have not given up on faith….. I am just walking with a raised eyebrow and a skeptical feeling in my heart. Keep having faith, keep believing in the good of the world…… oh I am. I am. It’s just going to take some time.
On Saturday I rode 70 of the most difficult miles of my life, at the Ride 4 Royston. 70 miles are not physically difficult for me. I have done that a thousand times in my life. They were emotionally difficult. I didn’t know my heart could feel that heavy.
We got to the site of the crash and I lost it. Completely lost it. Three of us could have laid next to each other on that shoulder and still have been safe. The road was straight. You had to have been a special level of drunk to not have seen Heather and her friend riding. And an entirely new level of stupid.
The memorial was beautiful, heartbreaking, and terrifying at the same time.
I rode back from the site alone for the most part. I don’t do a whole lot of group riding thee days, for obvious reasons. I also just needed to ride alone. I came back to Bristol Mountain with 45 text messages from my son asking if I was all right. Did I crash? Was I coming home?
It was too soon for me and for him. I won’t ride inside forever but he’s watched this whole thing unfold and he’s not ready. Therefore neither am I. It will be back to the spinning bike for a while.
Lots has gone through my head the past nine days. What happened to Heather was the culmination of the lowest form of human life being an absolute assh*le. We will be pressing to fight against DWI sentencing and more along that theme. One woman told me that these people don’t need jail time, they need rehab. Yes. rehab. Like a SHOCK program that is so effective mere weeks from graduating (barely THREE) they are out there doing it all over again? I am okay with never allowing them to see the light of day again. But that’s me.
While addressing the clearly ineffective DWI sentences, I very strongly feel that bike safety and awareness is something we have to focus on.
Through the past week I have thought a lot about it. If we want to truly share these roads….. I believe we have to literally meet motorists half way. We want respect….. let’s act like we want it. Heather was doing EVERYTHING she was supposed to be doing. EVERYTHING. This killing was not an issue of bike safety. It was an issue of a low life piece of trash being released into a world he clearly…. as demonstrated by his record….. has no ability to function in.
We can start the change with ourselves. What’s that saying….. be the change you wish to see in this world. Before we even get to a meeting….. we start with how we act and operate as human beings.
1. Don’t drink and drive. I can not believe we are still fighting this battle. Have an intolerance for this for both yourself and anyone else. Drinking and driving kills. We have yet another case proving that to be true. Don’t do it. Period.
2. Be a responsible cyclist. This is a big one. I can’t tell you how much unsafe riding I have seen by cyclists. Both roadies and triathletes. Here are just a few of the points I have on this….
- Ride in the shoulder to the right of the white line when it is safe to. Do not ride in the middle of the lane
- Ride with traffic, not against.
- Wear a helmet.
- DON’T WEAR HEADPHONES. I saw a woman riding yesterday with headphones and no helmet.
- Ride single file. Many of our roads are big enough to ride two abreast. Even so…. ride single file. If you need to talk to your friend go have coffee. Too many times riding two abreast puts one cyclist into the lane, and it decreases your attention to the road.
- If you are riding in aerobars….. don’t ride two abreast in your aero bars.
- If you are riding in a group, pass on the LEFT and call out the pass. “On your left”
- Ride so that cars know what you are doing. Use turn signals, obey traffic laws.
3. Be a responsible motorist: That includes us when we do drive our cars.
- Give cyclists 3 feet.
- Slow down when passing them.
- Put the phone down. I now ride with my phone in the way back. The call and the text can wait.
- Always….. always….. always check the right lane before you make a right hand turn.
- Pay attention.
One of my friends was out riding in Syracuse Sunday, and a motorist was ticketed for driving too close to him. That made me feel great, law enforcement is watching. On that same note I think we as cyclists should be subject to being ticketed for traffic violations as well. It’s a literal two-way street. We share the road, we don’t own the road.
If we have learned anything from this horrible event, it’s that things can happen in an instant. These are not things that can be fixed or taken back. In an instant life is changed forever. Today two children’s life just became….. My mother was killed by two drunk drivers while she was riding her bike. And they will be saying that forever. To their friends in high school, to their own children someday.
This is permanent. And it was 100% preventable.
If we want to see change, it must begin with us.