I’m going to write an entry about my experience on TOSRV, but first I wanted to relate this bit of tragic news I learned mid-ride while leaving Waverly (the first stop) on Sunday morning in the rain. A car driven by what I assumed to be people from the town slowed as I was pedaling and told me that a cyclist had been killed on Route 23. This was probably at about 10:30am as Michael and I had stayed at the Waverly stop to wait out the light thunderstorm that was rumbling through the area. The accident occurred at approximately 7:45am, so the news was a bit delayed and it was weird to me, in retrospect, that the driver of the vehicle was so frantic about me getting ahold of someone from TOSRV to let them know what had happened.
Having no way to inform anyone and figuring out that someone on the tour had contacted the correct authorities, I just continued on my way. However, I was a bit shaken by this news. This kind of incident reminds me that cycling can be dangerous. Throughout my ride on TOSRV, I could not help but notice there are three kinds of drivers: those who give cyclist ample berth, those who give cyclists way more berth than necessary, and those who don’t give cyclists any berth. There seems to be an on-going war in all communities between cyclists and those people who feel we have no right to be on the road. What has this society come to when every one is in such a damn hurry to get places that they can’t take a few seconds to move around a person on a bicycle?
Anyway, this event is still under investigation. The driver of the car who hit the cyclist (who was, I should mention, not on the proper TOSRV route) did a hit-skip, leaving the scene of the accident and, according to the article in Columbus Dispatch, returned a half hour later, claiming that she thought she hit a sign (!!). Whether it turns out the cyclist was in the wrong (it was not illegal to be on Route 23) and not “properly” dressed in bright gear (I was wearing a black rain coat, so I was not in proper bright attire myself), I will always contend that hit-skipping is the worst crime ever. No matter how scared you are for something you’ve done wrong, you should never just leave the scene of an accident like that. I know I would never do such a thing, ever. I would be too overwhelmed with guilt to just leave someone like that. Admit your guilt–whether accident or fault–and accept your punishment like an adult.
I’m seriously thinking of doing the Ride of Silence in Cleveland. Not for this guy necessarily, but to remind myself that what happened on TOSRV could happen to anyone, no matter how properly equipped you are on a bike. We all go into moments of tired concentration while trying to keep ourselves pedaling; I know I’ve made my share of mistakes while riding (forgetting to look before crossing an intersection, which I admittedly did once on TOSRV while following another rider). I know there have been times while driving where I’ve zoned out, worrying about work or a fight I had with someone or talking on my cell phone. Sometimes one bad decision you make can cost your life or the life of others. I would hope this somber message serves as a reminder to everyone that we should be more aware of the world around us when we’re on the road in any of our vehicles–whether they are motorized or not. And especially if they are not motorized because there is a lot of motorist rage out there against cyclists. (I was enlightened just outside of Columbus while crossing an intersection on green by a stopped motorist’s unsolicited rage against cyclists, which he shouted out his window with lots of explatives.)
The roads are for all types of vehicles. When driving, remember to share the road. If cyclists were forced to stay on bike paths, cycling would be a very boring occupation for those of us who enjoy challenging routes, long rides, and the ability to venture to alternate locations. I can’t tell you how exhilerating it is to see the world by bicycle (see previous blog entries). We tend to try to create our routes on the least trafficky roads possible, as we prefer to not mingle amongst busy motorist traffic, but sometimes you just can’t avoid a nasty stretch of busy road. We have a right to be there, so please respect our space.