I recently became a Bike Law Foundation Ambassador and although I thought I knew a lot; my mind has been shocked over and over with statistics. I know I’ve had close calls… not just on my bike but while walking and running too.
Did you know that the number one cause of death amongst American teens and the greatest threat posed to Vulnerable Road Users; to people on bikes, is distracted driving?
I’ve literally placed my hand on the hood of a car because I thought I could stop it! I had to tell my coach that morning that when he saw the heart rate sky rocket it was because someone was on their phone, making a right, while I had the right away. I was over half way in front of that vehicle and I’m pretty sure when my hand hit her hood, I had her attention.
I’ve had close calls on my bike too. Some of them due to ignorant drivers who think it’s cool to scare someone on a bike. Some due to a distraction I’m sure… and I wasn’t the distraction, I promise that.
I had a friend, at one time, who I later found out I was their last call or text before hitting someone head on. There was a father in the other vehicle, he did not make it. I remember that like it was yesterday. A week after the crash, I was the one people were asking if I knew anything. Let that sink in. It took me a long time to realize I didn’t make that choice. It took me a long time to realize the impacts distracted driving has, not only on the person making the choice, but those impacted; the families, friends, those working the scenes.
While I know I talk a lot about my triathlon adventures, not all close calls are with vulnerable humans. Fact is, I’m sure all of you have had some close call due to a distracted driver. Or maybe, you know of someone who died at the hands of a distracted driver.
Would you admit to driving distracted? Probably not. I know as I get older, I realize that I need to pay more attention to the road… that’s what my Dad always said to me when I was 16. And when I was 16, I only had the radio as a distraction. No phone. No DVR player. But you probably don’t think about the radio being a distraction… or the hands free mobile device your using… guess what, it is.
Living in a touristy town, we get visitors all the time. And guess what, there’s a ton of people on bikes down here and we need to do our best to protect those coming to enjoy our city. To rent our bikes. To run on our seawall. And yes, I know, people get frustrated when people are going the wrong way on the road with their bikes and yes, we need to educate those people. And yes, I know people get frustrated because they have to go a little slower however, we can start by putting our phones away. Enjoy the moments of solitude while paying attention to the road. Let them enjoy what we get to enjoy everyday here in Galveston, Texas.
I want to ask you to do one small thing not just for me, but for your community. For that neighborhood kid (or maybe it’s your kid) who loves to ride their bike around. For your family member who likes to visit areas and take it in by renting a bike or a nice long run. Or even your friend who enjoys cycling to get outside. Pledge to #ArriveAlive by stating you will not drive distracted. We need to do this. We need to take accountability. Only we can create change and the time to create that change is NOW!
Sign the pledge here: https://goo.gl/forms/Xk1vjKa8TcIx8kJ72