This is Jen (say hi to Jen).  Jen is my friend and is an athlete I have worked with for three years.  Jen is the mother of four, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a writer, a poet, a reader, a cook, a pretty kick ass triathlete (and lots more things I can’t even begin to describe).

Jen Bike

Jen has spent the last 9 months training for the full at Rev 3 Cedar Point.  On Saturday Jen had her last long ride before Rev 3 Cedar Point.  While riding her bike along the shoulder of the road, the driver of a motor vehicle clipped Jen from behind throwing her off of her bike and head first into the pavement.  Jen then bounced on the pavement and hit her head a second time.

Now why did I use the term “motor vehicle” rather than “car” or “truck”?  Because whoever clipped her didn’t bother to stop.  Rather they left her bleeding and unconscious on the side of the road.  Jen eventually learned that the driver of another car dialed 911 when they saw her after the “accident.”  Jen remained unconscious for over 40 minutes and only awoke while being transported by helicopter to a trauma center.  Thankfully Jen “only” needed 10 staples to her head and was diagnosed with a concussion.  No broken bones or internal bleeding (except her head).  Now, rather than racing Rev 3 Cedar Point, Jen will be dealing with a very tough recovery physically, mentally and emotionally.

What happened to Jen sucks beyond words.  But there are two lesson we can all learn from Jen:

1.  See that thing strapped to Jen’s head in the picture above?  Its a helmet.  It saved Jen’s life.  If you’re biking wear one and while you’re at it make sure it fits and that is fastened correctly.  If you have kids make sure they wear helmets too.  Many traumatic head injuries have nothing to do with the speed of cyclists but rather the angle of impact.  If you or your children are on wheels you should be wearing a helmet.  Period.  No excuses.

2.  If you are driving a motor vehicle, please give cyclists room.  Bicycles are vehicles too and are just as entitled to use the roads as cars, truck and motorcycles (and no, we shouldn’t be off on a “bike path” — those can be even more dangerous than roads).  I know there are motorists out there that are grumbling about cyclists taking up too much space or riding two or three wide or in packs and I get it, that can be annoying but remember if you hit a cyclist, you’re taking their life into your hands.  Is a 30 second delay really worth someone’s life?  And if you do hit a cyclist (or see a cyclist get hit), please stop, call 911 and stay with the cyclist until the police and medical assistance arrive.  Is that too much to ask?

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Kelly Burns Gallagher

mccarter english employment litigator / oiselle team runner / coeur sports triathlete / sonic endurance coach & race director / witsup.com writer / dartmouth '02 / emorylaw '05

2 Comments

Tiina · August 25, 2014 at 11:43 am

So very sorry to hear about your friend getting hit, but glad that she will be okay. We have a big issue in my area with cars not being respectful to bikers. Hopefully posts like this will begin to change that though overall.

John · August 26, 2014 at 8:30 am

Unfortunately, people that grumble about bicyclists and are likely to hit them with their car are not reading this post.

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