THIS is why I don’t bike on the streets

city bikingBefore I get started, I’m going to state something that seems obvious to me:  The more interesting the training area, the more enjoyable the training is.  I get it – you’re going to have a more interesting run in inspiring places.  Same goes for biking.  What could be more peaceful than flying down a local road into a brilliant sunset?

But the problem is when you get on a road, you could be taking your life in your hands.  You can ride in the bike lane, or in the absence of a lane, get as far to the right as possible.  You can arm your bicycle with blinking lights, wear a helmet and all the reflective gear you can find.  You can do all that, and it still won’t stop someone who’s simply not paying attention from killing you.

A triathlete acquaintance posted a story from my home state of Illinois early today, in which two bikers, a husband and wife, were killed from behind by an SUV driven by a 16-year old.  At this time, very few details are available, other than the riders were struck from behind, that the man died at the scene, and that his wife died later after being airlifted.  Both were wearing helmets.

The couple were on a training ride for a charity event to be held next weekend.  They were to participate in the Bike MS: Tour de Farms event in DeKalb, IL this weekend.

The latest reports state the driver was “issued a citation for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident.”  In Illinois, this is a petty offense, punishable with a fine only, with a maximum fine of $1,000.

For the record, I’m not calling for the driver’s head – I have no idea what happened, and no idea of the circumstances surrounding the accident.  That said, let the record state that $1,000 is the cost of taking two bicyclists’ lives in Illinois.

That’s why stories like this really piss me off.  They’re the reason I don’t get out and bike as much as I’d like.  The simple fact that other people aren’t careful could cost you your life.

I’ve always been of the opinion that there need to be stiff laws in place to protect cyclists.  Laws that will force drivers to actually look for bikers and be careful.  I’m sorry – I just don’t think that $1,000 does the trick.

And, before I get the comments, I understand the whole “you take a risk when you walk out the door” thing.  But knowing the area in which I live, and seeing the number of people I see texting while driving, drifting in and out of their lanes with their heads down, that’s just not a level of risk I’m willing to take.  I value my life, and cherish the time I have with my wife, kids and friends too much to add that level of chance to my life.

Maybe that makes me a wimp.  Maybe that makes me a worry-wart.  It likely makes me a touch paranoid about this topic.  I’m OK with that.

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