Big thanks to Fox 5 Atlanta reporter Denise Dillon (a triathlete who, like me, is the mother of two daughters) and her photographer Chris for the care and respect with which they treated me last night while doing this story about the hit-and-run I somehow survived while Traveling at the Speed of Bike in the metro Atlanta city of Dunwoody, Georgia, USA three days ago. I didn’t realize this was the very first time a driver was cited with a Vulnerable Road User Ordinance violation as a result of a crash in the metro-Atlanta city of Dunwoody (the only city in the southeastern United States with such an ordinance, which went into effect May 1).
I’d like to give a special shoutout to Denise and Chris for their interest in #BikeNoodle. Even though BikeNoodle will not protect against impairment, distraction or intentional assault, it has been successful for me in providing almost-100% elimination of close passings (which used to happen frequently) and direct hits (like I experienced this week) for almost four years. You can find out about BikeNoodle here and in Chapter 6: Noodle Lady in my book (when I first intended to use it for just a week as a test). (All proceeds from the sale of my book are used to help more girls and women ride bikes.)
As is sometimes recommended after a trauma, I revisited the scene of the crime yesterday. I rode the road where I was hit (which connects parks, places of worship, schools, and a community center) so that I could start to deal with the mental impact of suddenly almost losing my life, as my physical body continues to heal (I am under my doctor’s care and have been advised not to discuss any physical impacts yet).
Folks have asked about that moment in the video after the impact and before I screamed. In my conversation with the witnesses directly after the crime, it was clear to me that something otherworldly happened there. I am a spiritual person, and I don’t discount this possibility.
During that second or two, I felt like I was floating. I believe a decision about my life was made in that moment, and God or my guardian angel decided to hold me up, in a situation where it is virtually impossible to believe I didn’t fall*. Perhaps it was my father-in-law who died of COVID-19 in April and whom I visited in February at a rehab facility via bike for weeks, prior to his coronavirus illness. Or my friend, Bob Lundsten, with whom I had worked on numerous city and other initiatives, saying as-only-Bob-could-say, “Get your ass back to city hall and get changes made, Pattie.”
The irony, of course, is that I was supposed to be in Africa right now, as my date for departure for Peace Corps Uganda** was June 4 (delayed until August 2021 due to COVID-19). Yet, here I am, for some reason. Maybe it was so my experience could help save some other lives, even if it just means this driver’s actions change in the future. Maybe it was to prepare me more fully for the life-and-death experiences girls and women have around the world just fetching water (and a reminder that bikes are a potential solution to so many things).
I am evaluating next steps. Perhaps this local news story, now shared globally, can help connect me to where and how I can be most helpful to municipalities, organizations, and/or companies that are ready for action during a global pandemic and the biggest bike boom since the 1970s (when I rode bikes as a child). Change is too slow where I live with actual rubber-hits-the-road safe access that represents Best Practices and meets NACTO guidelines (the road I’m riding in the video is my only way in and out of my neighborhood) — and time, as was made clear to me yet again this week, is a nonrenewable resource. I don’t have time to waste.
* Contrary to the caption on the news story, I was not clipped. I was definitively hit. That is clearly stated in the actual story.
** If interested, see Leaving Suburbia for the Peace Corps