Pleas

With my bikes (Magic and Data and Attica*) turned over on the driveway, I fixed a few things and cleaned a few things and thought about how grateful I am to still be Traveling at the Speed of Bike after surviving an assault on my life about a mile away exactly three months ago.

A little girl walking by with her parents asked me what I was doing. I paused a moment and decided not to tell her that I was trying to make the place she calls home safer for her to ride her bike, and that I had been trying for all twelve years of this city’s history and her parents are now needed.

I didn’t tell her that the current 20-year transportation plan does not account for her.

I didn’t tell her that my daughters, who were little like her and are now grown and gone, could never not once get somewhere in this city on their bikes without taking their lives in their hands.

And I didn’t tell her what would be happening in the morning.

My hit-and-run assailant is entering her pleas for the three charges against her in Dunwoody Municipal Court this morning. I was told I am not allowed to attend due to COVID restrictions so I will be traveling at the speed of bike in Atlanta to work on a MARTA mural tour instead.

But, my gosh, how close the word “pleas” is to “please.” How much I want to go and enter my three “please.”

1. Please slow down. 2. Please give us at least three feet when passing. 3. Please don’t kill us when we are simply trying to get home safely (and, yes, you do have to stop when you hit a human being with your 3-ton vehicle**).

I will have more to share with you on this story and its potential impact on Vulnerable Road User ordinances everywhere.

FYI, I took the photo below during the ride in which I was almost killed. In addition to BikeNoodle (which had an almost 4-year record of virtually eliminating illegal passing), both back and front lights were on and I had a bright yellow bag across my back. On July 13, 2020 at 12:30 pm under clear skies on a residential road between a place of worship and a community center in a self-proclaimed family-friendly city, none of that mattered.

Does anything that happens to bike riders ever matter? I would have maybe said no until that little girl stopped to chat, and then I remembered. Yes. That little girl matters. And the little girls who look at me and wave to me and talk to me, and honestly, most of the time just stare at me when I’m riding my bike matter. They are why I don’t give up.

* Everyone who has read my book asks about Mulie. Here’s Mulie’s end-of-life story.

** A 70-year-old man riding his bike lawfully was killed two days ago by a hit-and-run driver

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