I’ve said before that cycling is dangerous. Running is also dangerous. There are things that my friends have created to mitigate the risk to some extent, but there’s little we as athletes can do, aside from being wary and alert all the time. Sadly, that’s not always enough. News out of Colorado tells of one cyclist being run over by a car and not expected to make it, and another killed by a hit and run driver who took the bicycle. According to twitter, at least one, if not two, cyclists were hit in Boston today.
One lasting memory I have from Jacksonville is riding in the car on a weekend morning and seeing a giant crowd outside of a driveway, huddling around a body on the ground. The female runner was still alive at this point, but she ended up dying later that day from her injuries.
A little math. I weigh ~160 lbs; my bike weighs about another ~20 or so pounds. Your car probably weighs at least 10x that and is designed to protect the occupants inside from a collision with a vehicle of similar size. As a cyclist, I’m protected by a helmet and little else. As a runner, I’m protected by… staying off the road when I can. Your car is aluminum or steel or carbon fiber or plastic; I am flesh and blood and family and friends and loved ones. Should we attempt to occupy the same space… I won’t win. Everyone will lose. I’d prefer it not to happen.
I know it’s annoying to be slowed down by a cyclist… but at most it’s going to delay you a couple of minutes. That’s not worth a life. The vast majority of cyclists are trying to do the right thing. The vast majority of runners are too. And so are drivers. But we could all do a lot more to watch out for each other, to be more predictable to each other, to be better to each other.
Please please please share the road.
Update: As Laura says below in the comments, cyclists can do more too. Respecting the laws of the road goes a long way towards being more predictable for drivers and pedestrians. Also, not treating a mixed use path (e.g., the Charles River bike path) as your own personal time trial is a generally good thing to do.
Update 2: In terms of amount of damage that can be caused, it’s pretty clearly cars>bikes>>>>>>>>pedestrian. While I agree that cyclists should abide by the rules of the road, a car running into a cyclist or pedestrian is typically going to cause catastrophic damage/injury (I got lucky once, I don’t want to have to be lucky again), and a cyclist at speed running into another cyclist or pedestrian can also be catastrophic (lots of sharp and pointy bits on a bike), I think we as drivers get so complacent with our driving skills (I do this all the time, I can text and drive, I can read emails and drive, etc) because the risk of injury to ourselves is so much lower (I’m not saying that cyclists don’t do stupid/risky things (they do), but just that the risk to themselves is high as well).