May 2016 01

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Why Yours Shoud Too …..

 

Yes, Central Kentucky has lost another life that was struck and killed while riding his bicycle. On the road. Where bikes belong. Where we definitely belong. The Kentucky state legislature just had another opportunity to pass into effect a law that would help make our roadways safer for all to use, however the Senate Bill 80 that passed easily in the Senate, died in transportation committee in the House, probably because of a legislator with some power that didn’t want it passed. Shame on KY lawmakers, however, there is no cycling blood on their hands …

 

Every time a human is hit and/or ran over while riding a bicycle on the road, it is an accident that is typically caused by someone making a mistake, either the driver or the cyclist. We shouldn’t need laws to tell us to share the road and pass another person safely. We already have laws that tell us not to exceed a given speed and not to engage in cell phone media (or any other activity that distracts driving attention), and not to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol … all while driving. And we all know how well these laws are obeyed. What I hope to convey to people is to please quit making this an issue of cars versus bikes; and who belongs on the road and who doesn’t. Let’s please begin to get to the root of the real problem. It’s not about a car killing a cyclist, it’s specifically about a human getting killed while they happen to be on a bicycle. And until we change the mindset of non-bicycle riders that we are actual human lives on the bike, “they” will continue to see us as crazy cyclists. That part could have been helped by our legislators, in my opinion.

 

Our most recent nearby cycling fatalities just happen to involve very common community citizens. As cyclists, we see ourselves as fully allowed to ride in the roads no matter what the non-cyclist general public think about us (and we are correct). The non-cyclist general public sees us cyclists as crazy, tree-hugging, hippies that ride on the roads wherever we want and are putting ourselves at risk of death every time we ride (and part of that is correct too). This stereotype was actually one that I envisioned of cyclists before I became one myself 10 years ago this summer. While it’s very unfortunate to lose any cyclist life on the roads, two of our most recent fatalities have involved citizens that totally rebuke that stereotypical way of thinking. On our roadways, in less than a year, we’ve managed to kill a lawyer and a doctor within about a 20 mile radius and both just north of Lexington … and they weren’t doing anything wrong (or illegal). They were simply riding their bicycles.

 

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Ironically, both Mark Hinkel and Dr. David Cassidy were members of a local cycling group that call themselves the “Zombie Zone Cycling Club.” I’m not very familiar with their club, however from what I’ve read about them over the past year, they sound exactly like the kind of folks I cycle with most. I enjoy riding in a public group with the Bluegrass Cycling Club on occasion, but I’m more fond of cycling in a smaller group of closer friends more often, and probably half or more of my rides are solo style … just the bicycle, my thoughts, beautiful scenery, and me! The news of Hinkel’s death last year on the Horsey Hundred (an annual charity ride hosted by the Bluegrass Cycling Club in Georgetown) sent me into a dark place, second-guessing my decision to be a road cyclist, and I found myself considering stopping. The location of his death was right out my front door, and it came shortly after I had witnessed a mangled bicycle in a roadway near the beach in Jacksonville, FL while I was on vacation (I don’t know how that one turned out but the scene didn’t look good).

 

On the same beautiful, peaceful Sunday that Dr. Cassidy was killed riding his bicycle, I later heard the news that one of my best friends’ wife had also been hit while riding her bicycle in Columbia, KY and she and a friend had both been flown to U of L hospital in Louisville for treatment. After communicating with my close friend Schmidty, I have learned the details of their accident and fortunately both girls will live, though not without some suffering. His wife Becca and her cycling friend were struck by a driver who turned out to be under the influence of drugs and probably speeding. Sounds kinda familiar, huh? They are both lucky to be alive! I hope you can enjoy the awesome sport of cycling again someday Becca.

 

The primary message I hope to get across to all cyclists, wether you ride for exercise, recreation, or transportation is to Keep On Rolling!! A hard learned lesson I learned last year in dealing with my fear of riding, brought me back to the promise that we are NOT in control. We think we are, and yes we can make calculated decisions that seem to us that we are minimizing our risks by not riding at certain times or not riding on certain roads, or whatever … and yes, statistically speaking some risks are more prevalent at certain times, and on certain roads. But we will never be in total control, no matter when or where we ride, and no matter what we do. You can stop and think about all the times in a day that you are at risk of some form of accident and the fact is, there’s some risk of some type of accident that could injure or even kill us 24/7/365! But we never truly know what, when, and where it could or will happen. I made a strong decision last year that if it was my time to go, I’d rather it happen while I was doing something I love, rather than dying while avoiding an activity I love due to fear of risk.

 

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That decision still holds strong today, and I’d be willing to bet I have some cyclist friends struggling right now with the very same fears I fought last year. As unfortunate as it is to lose any life, it’s a risk we take every time we saddle up and go riding. And as unfortunate as it is to lose well known citizens like Mark and David, the community is starting to see us as humans, instead of just bikes. Yes losing people like lawyers and doctors tends to make a little more noise in the public than losing someone like a plumber, or the stereotypical hippie cyclist, but the message must resonate loudly: WE CAN DO BETTER!! I ask and urge our state lawmakers to make decisions that result in better roadways that are safer for ALL to use, I ask and urge our non-cycling citizens to see us as a human life aboard the bicycle you are about to pass (who knows, maybe we happen to be YOUR lawyer, Doctor, or even your spouse or child), and I ask and urge all cyclists (no matter when, why, and where you ride) to keep the wheels of your bicycle rolling!

 

One final message or request that I have, is for our lawmakers, law enforcement, and persons in our justice system as a whole, to PLEASE start holding the person responsible for killing others accountable for their actions, even when it involves a person riding a bicycle on the road!

Enjoy the ride … @KPtheMasher

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