An open letter to the young cyclist I’ve passed twice this week.
It’s early. Dawn is still 45 minutes away.
You’re riding your bicycle down the street.
You are dressed in dark clothing
You have neither a reflector nor a flashing LED light on your bike.
I’m in the car coming up behind you at somewhere between 30 and 50 mph.
Are my eyes on the road?
…Adjusting my radio?
…Looking down to make sure I get my coffee cup back into the holder without spilling it?
…Reaching behind me to make sure I put my computer in the car before I left home.
…Being distracted by a dozen other things that may not allow me to see you?
Or just not awake yet.
Fortunately, the first time I saw you, I was paying attention. But I was within 50 feet of you when I saw you and had to swerve around you at the last second.
If I hit you. It would be my fault. No doubt about it. Case closed.
But you’d be dead, or at best, seriously injured.
If you were were wearing lighter colored clothing and using a flashing LED which costs you ten bucks at the store, I’d have seen you hundreds of yards sooner. I’d go on alert earlier as I hope other drivers do when I ride my bicycle.
Do you have someone who loves and depends upon you?
How would they feel if you were killed or crippled in an accident?
What if the difference between living and dying came down to light-colored clothing versus dark clothing? Between a ten dollar flashing LED and a darkened bicycle frame?
I’ve ridden in too many rides honoring the memory of too many cyclists killed by automobile drivers. You’re in your twenties or thirties; you’re much too young to die.
Next time you see me, wave me down. I’ll give you the money for the light. I’ll even install it for you if you don’t have the tools. I’m sure you have a light colored t-shirt. Please wear it instead of the dark one I’ve seen you in.
Be careful out there,
PS: Think seriously about wearing a helmet, also.