Our perception of danger is not always very accurate. Most people, my irrational self included, fully aware of the danger of cars and the relative safety of air travel, will jump in fright in turbulence but hardly notice going over a bump in the road. There are plenty of things I am scared of that are not likely to happen, and plenty of things I put out of my mind and do anyway because I have to or want to. But when it comes to riding my bicycle to work, I will admit that I am always surprised by how dangerous others perceive this activity. I would understand if I were commuting on busy streets, but I am not (most is on trails).
Is bicycling dangerous? Absolutely. So is walking across the street and driving…especially driving, and especially on Kelly Drive. In the years that I’ve commuted to work by bicycle I have seen only one or two bicycle accidents on the trail, and the cyclists were always able to ride away with barely a scrape. But in these same few years, I have seen the remnants of four fatal or near fatal car crashes, all along Kelly Dr. The last one was yesterday. A car went into the river, and the driver is still missing. Read more here. My heart aches for her and her family.
On my commute home around 5pm, I passed the spot she went over the wall and into the river. There was a crowd of reporters, rescue workers and observers:
Sadly, the rescue workers were still there this morning on my way in. (Edited to add: As of 6:10pm tonight when I rode by on my way home, they still had not found the body.)
So, while I don’t know what the chances are of being hit on the trail by one of these out of control cars headed for the river, I feel safer on a bicycle along a trail than I do in a car. If you’ve heard about a fatal bicycle crash, you’re likely about to scream at me, “But I know this…” Yes, I know of people who have died or been terribly injured riding their bicycle. I know it is dangerous. But no mode of transportation is 100% safe, and whether it is an accurate perception or not, I feel safest and, perhaps even more importantly, happiest on the trail.
As a parting note, please cycle and drive safely.