public service announcement

A couple weeks ago, I was putting the finishing touches on supper, supervising homework, breaking up little boy battles, and wishing my husband would hurry the heck up and get home so he could share a bit of the load. So, you know, a pretty typical evening. The phone rings. Great, I think. That’s J calling to tell me he’s going to be late.

Yup. It was J. Calling me to tell me he was going to be late. Because he’d had a collision.

My husband commutes to work by bicycle. There are no minor fender benders when cars and bikes collide.

Jesse had been coming down a hill near his workplace. There is  no bike lane on this stretch, so he took his proper positioning in the traffic lane. He was being predictable. He was wearing a bright yellow jacket. He was doing everything right.

Someone was sitting in the turning lane, wanting to turn into a shopping center. This person saw and waited for a passing car, then made his maneuver. He wasn’t being a jerk. He wasn’t trying to gun it and clear the intersection before J got there. He simply didn’t see him. He wasn’t looking for a bicycle, and therefore he didn’t see one.

J hit the brakes, but the crash was inevitable. He and his bike flew over the hood of the car and landed on the other side. The first part of J’s body to hit the ground? His head. Thankfully he was wearing, as always on these commutes, his helmet. That helmet is now rubbish. I don’t just mean the whole if you’ve been in  an accident, you shouldn’t reuse a helmet, even if it looks okay bitI mean it’s rubbish. The foam is cracked through, and the right front portion is crumpled.

If he hadn’t been wearing his helmet,… I don’t even want to complete that sentence. You can draw the obvious conclusions. J has a broken clavicle. He has three broken ribs. His right shoulder and right hip looked like raw meat when he first came home. But he came home. With all his mental faculties. It was a bad crash. But it could have been so much worse.

People. Please. Wear your helmets. PLEASE. They’re not just for mountain bikers. They’re not just for road racers.  They’re not just for kids. I don’t care if you only bike for short distances. J had been on his bike for all of three minutes when this happened. I don’t care if there are hardly any cars where you cycle. It only takes one.

My second plea: when you’re driving, look for cyclists. Look for pedestrians. Cars aren’t the only road users. Thank you.

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  • LissaJoy

    I am soooooo glad he came home. How incredibly scary for all of you. I’m ashamed to say that we never wear helmets while biking. :(

    • Karena @ Traveling Well

      :( I used to NOT wear a helmet. For rides on country lanes here, quick trips to the store, etc. Most people DON’T wear them over here and wearing it always earns me funny looks and occasionally comments. Now I wear one all the time. You should too.

  • Ann Flanders Gregory

    So glad those are the only bones he broke and he is on his way to healing. We do wear our helmets, its the law here!! Buy those kids and yourself a Helmet, LissA!!

    • Karena @ Traveling Well

      Glad to hear it, Ann!

  • Jesse Ohlsson

    Last year, I got car-doored a block from home. It put me to the ground, along with my head. Not hard enough to do damage, but that was dumb luck. The point is, I could do nothing to stop my head from bouncing off of the pavement. That was when I decided that my daily commute exposed me to enough risk, over time, to warrant regular helmet use.

    That judgment was sound.

    The first thing that hit the ground in that crash above was my head. Hard.

    Get one, use one. Being dead from something so easy to protect from is the acme of stupid reasons to be dead.

    • shrinkingjeans

      I’m so glad you’re okay! Thanks so much to you, and your lovely (smart, talented, and beautiful) wife for sharing your experiences with all of us. I know it will encourage people to reconsider their decision to forgo bicycle helmets.

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