Some of the strongest memories I have from my childhood are the ones where I marched in Take Back the Night rallies and took part in Bang On Pans For Peace. You see my mom felt it was important to have her voice heard and this trait thankfully was passed on to me. During a time where violence against women in the streets of Minneapolis was common and we all lived in fear of atomic war, my mom harnessed her personal anger and fear and spoke out to initiate change. I, of course, was often standing by her side...watching and learning.
While I sit here, still licking my wounds from a hit and run incident while biking almost three weeks ago, I realize that if it were not for her teachings I could easily have become much more of a victim. Yes, I still consider myself a "victim" since I was injured because of a reckless driver but I am choosing not to be "victimized".
Because of the nature of the incident, I was not able to collect the driver's license information. That of course means he got away scott free. There are, however, some good things that came out of all this. First, I realized (if I hadn't known this already) how important cycling is to me...I rode to work two days after the crash. Second, the bike community proved to be like an extended family and they came together to wish me well. Third, changes will hopefully be made on the stretch of the road where I was hit thanks to the work of several city staff. In the past few weeks I have had fantastic conversations with the DA's staff, police officers and aldermen. My goal now is to prevent this from happening to another rider.
During all of this commotion, a rather serendipitous event occurred. The UW research team of Maggie Grabow, Jonathon Patz and other colleagues released a study stating that by making 50% of short trips (2.5 miles or less) by bike, approximately 1,100 deaths per year would be prevented in the upper Midwest. This, they say, is due to lowered health issues such as obesity and cardiac arrest as well as improving air quality saving us roughly 7 billion dollars in health care costs annually. Since I'm a numbers girl, this study speaks volumes. I know that cycling has improved my life and health immensely but now this proves that it affects us all.
I spoke with Jonathan Patz just before this study was released. He was aware of my incident and jokingly said that he may have to revise the study seeing that he felt I was harmed while cycling (of course my route to work is just over 3 miles so the study doesn't pertain to me). As I stated before, I'm a numbers girl. This was only the third serious crash I've had during the 31 years I've been road riding. Not too bad. Of course I would like that number to be lower and that's where my voice comes in and can hopefully make a difference.
I am determined to keep pushing the aldermen, mayor, governor and president to take the necessary steps in making the city, state, country more bike and pedestrian friendly. I do this not only by talking with the leaders but by also volunteering with the bicycle federation and becoming a leader myself. There is a saying by Victor Frankl "Suffering ceases to be suffering in some way at the moment it finds meaning" and I have found meaning.