Saturday, July 16, 2011


A friend pointed me at this news item where a pedestrian gets struck by a bicyclist who was apparently running a red light.  The pedestrian was seriously injured and the bicyclist stayed at the scene and has a lot of regrets.

I've been seething over this.

Let's establish something first:   I'm very sorry that someone was badly hurt.  Accidents are awful.  Being badly injured as you just try and go about your life is horrible.

But next:  I am so goddamned jealous, I really am.  I wish desperately that my chances of being struck and critically injured by a car were anywhere near on par with a pedestrian's chances of being hit and seriously injured by a bicyclist.  If a bicyclist incurred anywhere near the same risk from a car as a pedestrian does from a bicyclist I'd let my seven year old ride to the next town and my 12 year old would be on her first cross-country trip.

This stuff makes the news (and if you Google for this you'll see that this case of a person being hurt by a bicyclist is all over the news) because it is incredibly rare.  Bicyclists are killed and grievously injured by automobiles so often that it barely causes a ripple on the journalism front.  And besides, hey, we probably had it coming, right?  Sometimes it even strikes on-air personalities as humorous.

It's time to tell you about TG.  TG was a few years older than myself, his parents friends with my parents.  He was one of three sons all of whom (by the usual metrics) were destined for greatness.  All three played a musical instrument.  All three excelled at school.  One brother has gone on to be a Nobel candidate in Biochemistry and the other is a senior network engineer with a well-respected company.  TG's instrument was violin and he had already decided that he would pursue a career in his favorite area of study, Physics.  But he did not "go on."  He was killed nearby to his destination, a Palo Alto High School, by a man driving a pick-up truck.  He was dead before his parents could get to the hospital.  I'm crying as I write this.

You might be interested to know that of his two surviving brothers one has bicycled the California coast solo and the other bicycles daily to his job at MIT, aka he is a year round bicyclist in Massachusetts.  You might be interested in knowing that the driver was not charged and went along with his (hopefully more sorrowful) life.  Me?  I don't think I could survive destroying someone's son with my car but that's just me.  When I was younger and stupider I asked my father if TG had been at fault in the accident.  My father said he did not know and of course he could not ask his friend, TG's mother.  My father said, kindly, that he assumed TG had been bicycling like a teenager, aka without extreme caution.

I wish my chances as a bicyclist of being seriously injured by a car were the same as a pedestrian's chances of being hit and seriously injured by a bicyclist. I wish being hit by a car was anything at all like being hit by a bicycle.  How about you?

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