Bike vs. SUV

John_surly_02.jpgEarly last week my good friend John was riding his bike home from a friend’s house. As he was crossing through an intersection with the right of way, a large black SUV accelerated directly into his path, smashing into him. He was thrown into the intersection, where cars had to skid to avoid running him over. As John lay in the street, his bike broken and mangled, the neighbors and residents of the Bed-Stuy community he lives in came to his aid.

Several people pulled the driver from his SUV so that he would not be tempted to drive away. This man had nearly killed him for goodness sake! There was no way these people were going to allow that to happen without repercussions. When the police arrived and asked John if anyone knew where the driver who hit him was, one of the locals said “Don’t worry, we got him right here, he ain’t goin’ anywhere.” An elderly woman in her 80s told John she would hold onto his broken bike while he was at the hospital for him, and gave him her phone number. His leg was broken and part of his forehead was showing a bit more red than it should. Nothing 5 or 6 stitches couldn’t cure.

The positive community reaction John encountered made him proud to be a resident of Bed-Stuy. In fact, he was surprised at how helpful and genuine everyone was. Bed-Stuy has a reputation for being a tough neighborhood. I lived there for 2 years and heard my fair share of yelling, little kids playing in the street after dark, and more than occasional gun fire. Not that I had a negative experience while I lived in Brooklyn, but this kind of neighborhood protection and loyalty is something that I love about NYC. It made John love his fellow Brooklyn-ites even more. John_surly_01.JPG

John’s story is rather like a country song as he had lost his job the week prior to being thrown into an intersection by a giant SUV. So as a good friend does, I helped him out. My significant other and I bought him a new bike. John’s injuries won’t allow him to ride it for some time, but it made him smile, and that is what we all needed.

I am a very strong bicycle advocate. Alternative forms of transportation are good friends of mine. Bicycle safety is also very important. John was not wearing a helmet – he was lucky. He could have easily been killed. I urge everyone who puts their own body right up next to those SUVs and yellow cabs to use the proper safety gear, helmets, lights, everything. If you aren’t aware, Time’s Up!, an environmental advocacy group, has been putting “Ghost Bikes” at the locations of those who have been killed while riding in our city. So next time you see one of these bikes chained to a street sign, painted entirely white, think of your fellow fallen cyclists. Fortunately my friend John will live to ride again.

2 Comments so far

  1. Ben K. (unregistered) on August 27th, 2007 @ 12:51 am

    I’m glad your friend was relatively unhurt. He’s pretty stupid though for not wearing a helmet. Is he that concerned that it’s unfashionable or does he just think that he’s too good for a helmet? I hope he learned that lesson.

  2. Kathleen (unregistered) on August 27th, 2007 @ 1:08 pm

    Wow, that’s… pretty judgmental. And even if he had been wearing a helmet, he would still have a broken tibia and the facial injury might not have been prevented. I mean… “too good” for a helmet? WTF?

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