Read More

I was the victim of a hit-and-run today. I am lucky to be alive. UPDATED

August 5, 2020: Hi. Thank you for visiting, and welcome if you are new here as a result of media coverage of the crimes against me while I was Traveling at the Speed of Bike home on July 13, 2020. My body, back rack, and BikeNoodle were all hit by a person operating a 4,500-pound SUV who then did not stop — you can see my body camera video of it below in both real-time and slow-motion. I miraculously did not fall, which saved my life, but the force of the hit-and-run had a diagnosed impact on me with which I am currently dealing, and which I hope does not result in my medical clearance to serve in the Peace Corps* being revoked. My jug-carrying and actual leaps-of-faith are (temporarily, I hope) on hold. The spiritual leaps-of-faith persevere, of course, as I continue to trust the journey.

Note that I have closed comments. I am still healing and am limited in my bandwidth to reply and I didn’t want to keep you hanging. In order to focus on something positive following this life-threatening experience, I am currently publishing a series titled “You Go, Girl” which features 31 women (one each day in August) across the USA who are making it more welcoming to ride bikes. See the series-to-date here. Please contact me if you have someone to recommend. Together we can make things better.

* I was scheduled to leave for Peace Corps Uganda on June 4, 2020 as an agribusiness specialist but was delayed until August 2021 due to COVID-19. (You may enjoy this excerpt from my book-in-progress, Leaving Suburbia for the Peace Corps). My cohort received word that due to the length of the delay, we must go through at least part of the grueling medical clearance process again. The Peace Corps was the start of an encore career for me, which I planned to follow with pursuit of the Paul Coverdell Fellowship (made available only to Returned Peace Corps Volunteers) for an advanced degree at the intersection of public policy, gender equity, international law, sustainability, and storytelling, followed by gainful employment in a global organization serving those in need (as clearly stated in my recent aspiration statement to the Uganda-based staff that was finalizing my assignment there). All of that may have just ended because a person could not wait three seconds to pass me safely. I don’t know yet. 

—–

Dear Mayor and City Council: I want you to know I am lucky to be alive after being the victim of a hit-and-run crime on Tilly Mill Road today while riding my bike home. I was able to call 911 and report it. Response by police and paramedics was swift and respectful, which was appreciated.

City of Dunwoody Officer Forman is trying to identify the owner of the car in order to press appropriate charges, which I expect will include the expanded charges under the Vulnerable Road User ordinance. Here is the footage I captured on my GoPro body camera:

 

I have been asking for safe-access-for-all on this road since this city started (for almost 12 years now), including when I served on the first Comprehensive Land Use Plan steering committee and ensured being bike friendly was baked into the DNA of our city as a value. It has been frustrating (and life-threatening) waiting for that to become a reality, however.

 

Tilly Mill Road includes a community center and several places of worship and is the route to numerous schools, senior homes, and our city’s biggest park. The unprotected bike lane you are planning for part of it does not meet NACTO guidelines for speed and volume of motor vehicles, does not provide safe-access-for-all, and does not address the totality of the danger of this road. Immediate pop-up tactical urbanism solutions, based on best practices from elsewhere and tailored for our local needs, should be considered. Lives are at stake. Mine was today.
Thank you for all you do. It matters. You matter.
Trust the journey,

Pattie Baker
TravelingAtTheSpeedOfBike.com

UPDATES: 

1. Because of my video, the police were able to identify the driver and serve her with three charges: leaving the scene of an accident (shout-out to the City of Dunwoody Police Blotter folks — let’s start using the word “crash”, please, as that has become industry standard when reporting about these incidents); a lane violation failure to provide 3-feet-clearance when passing, as is state law; and a Vulnerable Road User violation (my suburb-city is the only city in the southeastern USA with such an ordinance, which went into effect May 1).

2. In less than 24 hours, I received more than 45 comments and 40 shares on Facebook (mostly to cycling groups throughout Georgia) and more than 2600 views of this blog post. I want to thank everyone for such supportive comments and kind shares. This makes me feel like good may come from it and perhaps change will happen where lives will be saved. I had to sleep on these next comments so bear with me a moment.

Ok . . . You may join me in finding it interesting, however, that it took less than 24 hours as well for me to get emails telling me what an unsafe, bad bike rider I am because I was not “taking the lane” in this particular incident, and that I was not “visible” (despite a 3-foot yellow pool noodle, which sticks out 2.5 feet to the left off the back of my bike; front and back lights on strobe during the middle of the afternoon on a clear day; and a neon yellow bag across my back).

Some of them include how they have taken a perfunctory look at my website and have decided that I want government to solve all my problems (which, of course, means they’ve barely glanced at my body of hands-on, mostly pro-bono work since 9/11 — if interested, see here and here). None recognize:

    • I am a League of American Bicyclists Cycling Instructor;
    • I clearly have the skills they are trying to explain to me (as evidenced in my hundreds of videos, etc., a sample of which you can easily see by clicking my Bonus Resources);
    • The fact that I shockingly didn’t fall when I was hit by an SUV (although I’m attributing that one to God and/or a guardian angel — see the slow-mo of the point-of-impact here, and below);
  • I have made informed decisions that have been successful for me for years in the unwelcoming conditions of my suburb-city (where the mayor and city council made it legal two nights ago for anyone of any age to ride bikes on the sidewalks just so people would not be subject to tickets for this act of self-preservation).

There is also no recognition that I am advocating for others of all ages and abilities who may not have these skills and deserve safe access.

I point it out because (1) it often occurs to women when we are an expert and/or a clear victim, and (2) it is unwelcome. So, please, let’s not do that. Let’s focus on the fact that: