Yesterday was a bad day for travel in this town.
Before 9am a 21-year old cyclist was run over by the rear wheels of a water delivery truck within spitting distance of my office.
Around 4:30pm three people were killed and one seriously injured when a car crossed the median and entered oncoming traffic.
And at 6:30pm I witnessed what I assume was a bike vs car accident that has etched an unforgettable image into my soul. I didn't see it happen, but if I had been one car further ahead I would have. I heard screams through my open sunroof. I saw car doors open and people run. But it wasn't until the man in the car in front of me turned in my direction that I knew something horrible had just happened. His eyes were saucers of shock and panic. His actions were frantic as he tried to decide what he should do. He got out of the car, took a few steps, turned back toward the car maybe thinking it was better to stay out of the way, and then finally turned and ran toward the gathering crowd. Cars started to move around the congestion, eager to get past, not knowing what had just happened. I moved with traffic. And as I came around the cars abandoned by drivers who had gone to help, I saw her laying in the road. Completely motionless. And I will spare you the details. I will simply say all was not as it should be.
I thought I was going to have to pull over to throw up. And then I started to get a little clammy like I do before I pass out.
I didn't see what happened. (And oddly, I couldn't find it in the news, though the other two incidents were covered). I don't know who was at fault, if anyone. But I do know that the whole thing felt like a sock to the gut. An unequivocal reminder of how your life can be changed in an instant.
The more I hear the stories of cyclists being hit by cars (a woman in Milwaukee killed just last month, a woman on the Scenic Shore ride who ended up with a broken pelvis...), the more it seems its "not if, but when" for those who bike regularly. And I'm not blaming anyone, cyclists can cause accidents too. Its just that the cyclist usually doesn't fare too well in the fight. And whether the injured or the one who caused injury, you are not likely to walk away from something like that unaffected.
So today, I just can't find it in me to want to ride my bike. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe this weekend. But today I just don't have it in me.
Be safe out there. Drive kindly. Ride smart. Wear your seat belt. Wear a helmet. And remember that life is too short to put off chasing a few crazy dreams.