Sorry to a gloomy doom sayer, but this story put my paternal–and self-preservation–instincts into overdrive. In September I chastised (Don’t Be Stupid) the many students who bicycle without helmets. Yesterday’s Boston Globe Magazine article by Bella English will chill any cyclist, helmeted and not, save maybe early-twenty-somethings who believe bad shit only happens to others. Four months ago, riding home on a route she’s ridden “at least 100 times,” a route whose “hills and curves [she knows] by heart,” English apparently hit a pothole while keeping an eye out for cars. She hit the asphalt hard, hitting her head below the helmet line. Her injuries include “a fractured skull, bruising and bleeding of the brain, a broken left clavicle, a broken shoulder blade, two broken ribs, a fractured pelvis.” She’s been rehabbing since the accident and is still on medical leave from her job as a Boston Globe reporter. She recounts her post-accident life and offers this wisdom:
I’ve been cycling for a decade, and though I’m a careful rider – I write an annual column on cycling safety – I believe that sooner or later most cyclists crash. You just hope it’s a soft landing. Mine wasn’t.
Each of my road biking buddies has crashed, including me. We’ve had broken pelvises, concussions, broken wrists, broken thumbs, broken noses, and road rash. We’ve hit potholes, rocks, cracks, ice, sand, curbs, and other bikers. We’ve smashed faces into guard rails, flipped over handlebars, crashed into trees, hit roadway markers. And that was just last week.
Sorry. I had to relieve the grim litany. You get the picture. Even if you ride safely, even if you wear a helmet, cycling is dangerous. As one friend said this morning “of course it’s dangerous to ride a something whose default position is lying on its side.”