I saw something terrifying this week. I wasn’t sure if I should write about it here, because my blog is dedicated to supporting the uplifting stories in life. But often there is darkness before light.
On a warm spring Tuesday evening, I was driving into downtown Decatur, GA. It is a smaller town, next door to Atlanta. Decatur is home to the CDC and Emory University. Decatur prides itself on being a “bike friendly community.” In fact, I noticed such a sign on West Ponce de Leon, but also observed that cars were parked in the bike lanes.
Minutes later, I heard a crash, slowed my car and unbelievably saw a young woman being hurled 30 feet threw the air toward my car, her bike falling midway. When her head hit the road, her helmet snapped off. I and other motorists immediately called 911, while her twisted bleeding body lay on the pavement. The paramedics arrived about five minutes after we called 911. Police said she was struck from behind by an 87-year-old driver in a Cadillac. The elderly motorist has been cited with driving too close.
Miraculously, the 26-year-old woman is alive and stable. Witnessing this episode reinforces the fragility of life, and how quickly one’s life can change. Much therapy and hard work will be her road to recovery. Her father predicts she will make a full recovery.
More people are biking to work and school. There’s a 60 per cent increase this year in urban bike commuters. The good news is that science and technology are developing innovations that could lead to fewer head injuries and head trauma. In Sweden, two industrial design graduate students have invented an inflatable helmet known as the “invisible helmet. It mimics the airbags in our cars.
Perhaps everyone will be wearing the invisible helmets, as we all have airbags in ours. Regardless, urban biking needs to be safer. Biking should be the clean transportation of the future, especially in mild climates like metro Atlanta.
More cities need to follow Amsterdam’s model, where bikers and motorists respect each other’s vehicles. Biking is clean, efficient and terrific exercise. Rarely do you see an overweight biker. Of course, the best plan of all is creating separate bike paths. The bike routes are cheaper to build than rail systems or roads and expressways. I am certain our hot cities could be cooled a few degrees in the summer if more people biked, instead of using their heat producing cars.
We need to work harder to be able to exercise using clean, cheap , healthy transportation, without risking horrible head trauma. It can be done.