Friday, March 18, 2011

"We're standing in the place That you have left us And it's freezing"

Bicyclists don't get allocated a lot of road.

Sometimes we have a narrow bike lane.  Sometimes we have a path that we share with dogs, toddlers, and the occasional homeless person pushing a shopping cart overloaded with cans and old blankets.  Sometimes we have a sign that says "Share The Road" which is almost a guarantee that no one will do that.  Share.  The.  Road.  Often there is nothing at all.  We ride in the places that are left to us.

Wednesday I was privileged to meet M, a bicycle safety advocate.  M was run over a few years past shortly before Christmas.  Her injuries were huge, suffice to say that the surgeons who worked to save her had to re-attach her foot.  M was biking up the bike lane, during the day, in a bike lane.  She was hit by a person driving a pick-up truck who was drunk.

At her earliest opportunity, still covered in bandages, she was in a bike shop looking for a bicycle to replace her destroyed road bike.  Now, a few years later, she is again a person who races her bicycle.  Maybe you think that's crazy.  I'll come back to that.

For our bike safety meeting a few of us demo'd to kindergarteners and 1st graders how to ride in a straight line, signal, why it's good to stop at stop signs and red lights, and please wear a helmet.  Yes I know some people doubt that a helmet is much help but when you're hanging around with a bicyclist whose jaw was nearly torn off by an accident and who believes that her helmet kept her brain from being torn off, well, you may find your position shifting to the "helmet is good idea" spot.

Two best parts.

1.  The people who volunteered were all bicyclists of different stripes.  It was a gathering of our tribe and I like our tribe.  Moms who bike to the library.  Older women on high end road bikes tricked out in their racing kit.  Commuters like me.  And yes, the Contraption Captain came and the kids all sucked in their breath and then ooo'd and clapped when they saw his huge red recumbent roll out.

2.  M herself.  M is who people threaten me with.  M who was terribly hurt.  But the real M is beautiful and bouncy and very athletic and the real M loves to bicycle.  I said "what made you go back to it?" even though I know everyone asks this.  She said, and I am crying as I write this:

I love to bicycle.  I couldn't let someone rob me of something that makes me so happy.

M's bike safety work is much wider than "wear a helmet" She is working to improve bike routes and bike lanes.

Thanks for everything M.  We appreciate you.

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