It’s my biggest fear
I may not have many, but the fear of encountering an impaired or texting motorist – especially one approaching from behind – while road biking ranks right up there with inadvertently bearing witness to a neighbor taking advantage of World Naked Gardening Day.
It’s a particularly terrifying notion because there’s not a damn thing you can do about it but pray that your helmet does its job.
And that fear hit quite close to home yesterday as my good friend and Director of the Kane County Division of Transportation, Carl Schoedel, was picked off that Route 64 shoulder by an errant motorist yesterday morning.
For those of you who don’t know Carl, he regularly racks up 2,000 plus annual biking miles primarily by riding between his Geneva home and the KDOT building at Burlington and Empire Roads in Campton Hills. And he generally perseveres in that effort regardless of the weather conditions.
Had it been spring, summer, or fall, Carl would’ve taken the Great Western Trail west, but our wonderfully wet winter weather has rendered that option impassable. So, the accident occurred as he was heading west on that eminently wide Route 64 shoulder, something so safe that I’ve successfully navigated it many times myself.
According to eyewitnesses, an impaired driver swerved onto the shoulder, hitting Carl from behind. He stopped for a few seconds only to speed off in the wrong lane until he finally hit a tree at which point the Sheriff’s deputies caught up with him.
Thankfully, a number of beyond distraught motorists, including a Turano Bread truck driver, immediately pulled over and Carl was whisked away to Delnor Hospital where he spent most of the day in the ER.
Miraculously, because his helmet did its job, Carl’s wounds amounted to a potentially broken nose, a set of stitches across the bridge of his nose, and another series above his left eye. The deputies took his helmet as evidence and Carl has yet to retrieve his bike from the Wasco Fire Department.
Hopefully, it’s a simple replacing the rear wheel.
As you might imagine, Carl is pretty shaken up, he has little memory of the accident, and he’s reconsidering whether he wants to continue his daily commute. But if I know my fellow cyclist as well as I think I do, he’ll be back on the road as soon as he recovers.
Meanwhile, I advised him to buy a lottery ticket today.
Cyclists! This is why we wear helmets. There’s simply too much beyond our control to make any other choice. And I’m convinced Carl’s still with us because he did!
Can’t we all just get along?
Though all bets are off when it comes to folks driving under the influence, with cycling season rapidly approaching, let’s see if we can start it off on the right foot!
- Ride as reasonably close to the right side of the road as you can
- Wear the kind of clothing that makes you eminently more visible
- Wear a helmet
- Don’t use earbuds while riding
- Do your best to obey stop signs and traffic signals
- Don’t make motorists pass you twice, wait in line at red lights
- Unless it’s a large group ride, don’t ride two abreast
- We may have the right to ride on any road, but that doesn’t mean we should
- Most motorists respect cyclists, so let’s treat them with the same respect
- Cyclist have the right to ride on any road
- Bike paths are not safe for real cyclists as my formerly shattered wright wrist will attest
- Illinois law mandates a minimum a three-foot buffer when passing a cyclist
- Most of us behave while riding because we know we’ll come out on the losing end of a confrontation with a ton of rolling steel
- We want to get you on your way as quickly as possible
- Please don’t let a minority of rogue road bikers define the rest of us
- Remember, a cyclist means one less car on the road and they don’t damage them, either
Now, wasn’t that easy!