Wednesday morning, while out gallivanting about on my Top Secret Mission, I spotted a prominent member of our Louisville cycling community, Ian Ritchie, riding his soup-train bike up a hill on his way (I presume) to his 'home base' at Saint Andrew's Episcopal, my church.
Shortly thereafter, as Ian waited for a light to change, a woman in a silver sedan plowed right into the rear-end of his trailer. She then tried to leave the scene, though Ian got her license plate number. I imagine that her excuse will be that she 'just didn't see him' — but if she really just didn't see a sixteen-foot long train of bicycle and soup wagon with its driver clad in a neon-yellow safety vest, she probably shouldn't be driving.
Our local newspaper reports that Ian's doctors project he'll be back in action in about a week, but for someone who makes his living making delicious soup and delivering it by bike, that's a lot of time out of work, and a bit hit to the bottom line — and that's not even counting any damage to Ian's carefully-crafted soup schlepper.
Early this morning, another cyclist was struck on Hurstborne Parkway just a mile or so south of Shelbyville Road. The cyclist was killed.
Part of me can't help but note that were it not for the fact that my road bike is awaiting a new set of pedals, I would have been out riding at the same time one of my comrades-on-wheels was killed. No further details have been released, so I don't know if there were any factors like missing lights or alcohol involved. Regardless, it's sobering to think about.
Note that this doesn't mean I'm going to stop riding my bike. Far from it: I think the only way we cyclists are ever going to gain a fair measure of respect is, first, to obey the rules of the road, and second, to become such a common sight on the roadways that drivers become accustomed to looking for us just as they look for mopeds, scooters, motorcycles, and even semis.
Does this mean I'm going to judge anyone who decides to hang up his or her cycling shoes or opts only to ride off-road for a while, though?
It does mean that I'm going to try to make sure that every time I'm out on the roads, I check in with DD when I get where I'm going. It does mean I'm going to try to be a little less of a proselytist with my friends who are afraid to ride on the roads. It does mean I'm going to strap about fifty more lights to poor, long-suffering Quicksilver, and one on my helmet for good measure (if anyone asks, I'll just say they're for Christmas).
I still believe that Louisville has actually made some very real strides towards becoming a bike-friendly 'berg. However, that being said, it's weeks like this one that remind me exactly how far we have to go.
The strife isn't over; the battle's not won. We've got a lot more work to do before the United States is a country where every life really counts — even those lives that ride on two wheels instead of four.