Bike crash, part II

Thanks so much for all of your comments about my crash. Between all the internet support and calls/texts/facebook messsages/flowers, etc, from friends, I feel so loved today.

I sat down last night and wrote all about the crash. I couldn't sleep and wanted to write about the experience while the memory was fresh, so I can return to it if I want over the next few weeks or months (?) as I try to process what happened. I realized before I posted it that it's kind of graphic and scary, so I am just going to keep it private for a while.

The aftermath: 

  • I learned from the police offer who wrote the crash report that the driver didn't receive a ticket or citation.
  • I learned that the driver claimed I was also turning on to the same road as he was, and I swerved in to him -- WRONG.
  • I was denied the chance to give my own statement about what happened, even though the officer took written statements from the driver and witnesses.

A few of my lawyer friends urged me to call a lawyer and talk about what happened. 

I had hoped I could start to put this behind me, get back to celebrating my NYCM weekend, and try to make sense of the existential questions, like what this crash -- and the fact that I walked away from it -- means for my life. Now, there's a layer of bureaucracy I have to deal with, inconveniently timed with when I feel my most emotionally fragile (I started crying on the phone with the police officer). Plus, my bike is damaged, my helmet is cracked, and the layers that protected me from the worst of the road rash are shredded, so even if I felt brave enough to ride to work I don't even have the necessary equipment. 

I am trying to give the driver who hit me the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he was upset, or in shock, which is why he didn't come over to me and apologize. Maybe he cried that night at home. But all I know is that he 1) lied to the police and 2) didn't bother identifying himself to the person trapped under his truck, let alone apologize to me or ask me if I was okay.

 

Mostly, I'm incredibly frustrated that I'm not even allowed to have my voice heard through an official channel. I know this happens all the time -- BikeSnob, Streetsblog, Active Transportation Alliance (in Chicago), and Transportation Alternatives (in NYC) all work to push laws that would hold motorists accountable for collisions with cyclists. It's not uncommon at all for a motorist to kill a cyclist and not receive a ticket at all. I find this absolutely infuriating and a symptom of other things I think are wrong with our justice system and America. 

As for my cycling future, I am still committed to bike commuting, though I admit I'm afraid to get on my bike again. It feels important to do it, though, if only to make a statement to myself about living my values despite fear and risk. I think the world should be more accommodating, supportive, and respectful toward bike commuters, who are trying to reduce their carbon footprints and do something good for the earth. 

I'm especially nervous to ride on the street where it happened (which I will have to take in order to get to work). Instead of giving in to the fear, I'm going to do my best to get back on my bike (when I'm ready) and channel the energy generated from this event into bike advocacy. Before the marathon, I promised my best friend I'd bring my bike up to New York and ride the NYC Century with her in September, and I definitely still plan to do that.

FYI for those who happen to be in my area of North Carolina: this brand-new group is assembling on 11/18.