today, I came so close to becoming a "Ghost Bike" ( ghostbikes.org ) on Highway 2 in Montana.
You can read the traumatic details from last year's anniversary blog.
This year I'll write about the quiet carnage taking place on America's highways and byways.
In 2013, there were 743 bicycle fatalities in the U.S. In the same year there were 224 airline crash fatalities. When an aircraft loses its war on gravity, it's a media event. It's big, it's dramatic and there's photos and video to draw in viewers.
Not so with bicycle fatalities. Like a sniper going about his business over a large battlefield, the deaths are random and detached. Plink! Plink! Plink! For example: 141 victims in California, yet only one in Alaska spread out over a calendar year of time.
Outside of a small circle of friends and family, the general population is unaffected by the sudden tragedy. Yet, the death toll continues to mount. Why is that?
The sad truth (I believe) is the prevailing attitude amongst Americans.
Here's the bumper sticker sized thought, "The cyclist had it coming. They were asking for it by riding on the road."
Trust me, NO cyclist ever asks to get struck by a speeding chunk of big medal. It hurts!
Malcolm Stephenson's sedan rear-ended me at 50 MPH. A Montanan State Policeman issued him four felony charges. (Serious stuff). Mr. Stephenson spoke to a lawyer, copped a plea and paid the state of Montana $250 in court fees. That's it. There was no restitution from the perpetrator to me. He never even apologized.
When judges and juries start to levy real penalties and fines against the accused, maybe then the word will trickle down to all motorists. Hit a human on a bicycle = pay the price. Until then, the slaughter will continue.
BTW: I won't say bicyclists are angels who are always guilt free. Oftentimes, riders are their worst enemy. In 2013, 63% of the deceased failed to don a helmet. 21% were riding under the influence of alcohol. Bad bicyclists!
So when you are driving, please pay attention to those folks on two wheels. When you are cycling, please stick a helmet on your noggin.
I'm so happy there wasn't a ghost bike set out on MT Highway 2 because of me.
Be safe out there,