When I wrote about Edwin Gardner’s accident last Friday, I did so because he was an important figure in my local cycling community. I met him last February when I participated in a bicycle lecture series in downtown Charleston.
My post was not meant to put a negative spin on the dangers of riding a bike. When I wrote the piece, the thought that Edwin might die from his injuries never entered my head.
I knew his injuries where extremely serious, but he had survived two days, I expected him to pull through. It came as a great shock when I learned later on Friday that he had passed on.
My article was somewhat of a rant commenting on a police report that placed the blame on the unfortunate cyclist, when all the facts had not been thoroughly investigated. I also registered my disgust on the negative comments from the local motoring public.
One commenter on my article said he was considering moving to Charleston, but after “Horror stories like this,” he was having second thoughts. I have lived both on the east and west coasts of the US, and I can say that Charleston is the best place I have ever lived.
The negative comments by the locals are no different than those from any city in the US whenever there is a cycling related story published. The State of South Carolina and my local government is trying to become cycling friendly. Many positive changes are taking place.
Pro-cycling change is happening all over the US, and I believe it is partly because of this change that the non cycling public is kicking against it; people don’t like change.
I was in a local bar on Saturday evening listening to music being played by some of my friends. It was a quiet evening with not many patrons; a young black man was sitting at the bar. Later I noticed a young white male came in and took the seat next to him.
The two did not speak at first; it seemed they didn’t know each other. Then the barman gave them both a free shot; the two clinked their glasses together before drinking it down.
I thought, ‘How wonderful is that.’ Here in the South where not too long ago in the 1950s and 1960s, during my lifetime, there was so much hatred and mistrust. A new generation of young people who accept others for who they are, and can ignor their racial differences.
My point is this, you can’t legislate that people love each other. Legislation comes first, people fight it, even violently, but given time they see they cannot go on fighting and give in to the idea.
Change finally comes when there are more accepting the change than fighting against, and it becomes socially unacceptable to even speak out against it. Those hate comments that follow cycling related articles will in time become unacceptable.
We can grieve Edwin Gardner’s passing, and others like him. But let’s not dwell on the negativity of the event, or be afraid to ride our bikes on the road, instead see the whole picture in perspective.
700 cyclists are killed in the US each year; that is less than two a day. Less than two a day out of a population of over 300 million. I’m sure many more die each day in home related accidents. I have not looked up the figures for the UK or other countries, but I’m sure the ratios per population are similar.
Two cyclists will die on US roads on any given day, and on that same day close to a 100 motorists will be killed. There is more chance I will die driving my car than riding my bike.
I like my chances riding my bike better, especially when I consider that my chance of survival will increase if I ride defensively. Many who die are those riding the wrong way, on the sidewalk, at night without lights, etc., etc.
I am sure Edwin Gardner would not have wanted one person to give up riding a bike as a result of his death. I for one, intend to keep riding mine. I will not be bullied, intimidated, or persuaded to do otherwise. And I will continue to encourage others to do the same