The message was straightforward,
“Colleen – I will be down in Guilford this weekend, and hope to place a ghost bike in your honor at the spot where you were hit, with your approval, of course. Please let me know what you think. Perhaps we can get Julia to join us. Please let me know what you think.
I love to read your stories. Keep it up”.
The beauty of Facebook is the connections it allows. Two of the organizers for Ghost Bikes, CT friended me on Facebook after the accident. Ghost Bikes is an international program, Im not going to elaborate on it to much- however you can check out the website here: www.ghostbikes.org
I thought for a while about the reason behind the movement, and the impact it has had thus far in CT alone. I also thought about the strong conviction the two men that organize Ghost bikes in CT have for safe roadways, and decreasing fatalities. Those reasons compiled with my strong desire to make sure what happened to me NEVER happens to anyone else budged me towards the “Yes, I will do it”. Further contemplation provoked a myriad of emotions.. “I’m not dead”, “Will this be an insult to those that are dead?”, “How will the community react?”, “Will this move us forward or backward?”, and then I came towards the resolve that I am angry. I am not angry because I have massive injuries, I am not angry because I have massive pain, I’m not even angry because I can’t race anymore or do century rides.. No, I’m angry because this could have been avoided. I am angry because when we look at our human society REALLY well.. we can start to establish trends.. common threads if you will. Dead cyclists? Cause of death? Man made. Dead soldier? cause of death? man-made. Dead driver in-car, child, mother, father? Man made.
When I was at the Achilles event in Central Park a few weeks ago I had the honor of walking among hundreds of other “athletes” those who had undergone extreme circumstance.. some with missing legs, arms, brain injuries, severe traumas, major disease.. They all fought hard and completed the five-mile endurance walk.. why? because they could. At the finish, I met Trisha Mueller who is the Central Park Jogger.. an incredible woman who back in the 80s was savagely beaten, raped, and left for dead. She was an athlete, and when she awoke from her coma she fought HARD, and now she ran with a reconstructed eye and some residual brain damage issues. I was honored to hug her.. adored the strength and courage of so many there, but I was also angry. Most of these people did not have to go through what they went through.
As a society we are becoming more and more dead to reality. We don’t want to face it. If its uncomfortable we turn it off.. unless it’s a movie or television show where we know its acting and we can disassociate. How can we change the future if we can’t change the past? Well, we can’t.
History repeats itself, and gets uglier every time we turn our backs and ride the hypothetical road of life.
So, I come back in my pedal rotation to the Ghost bike. Sunday my heart sank as this spray painted white bike was unloaded from the car. I stood there with affliction and drive. Most people are removed from this earth when the ghost bikes are placed.. I felt I had the opportunity to be a voice for them.. and I did. Cyclists have a lot of responsibility on the road.. they are not just “victims to the roads”, they should be empowered and take ownership just like anyone else on the road ways.. they need to take responsibility. As I stood there reading, sharing, and thanking others.. countless cyclists passed by.. many not even looking as they pulled out onto Route One. Some riding far too fast and doubled up on Route one. A few cyclists were not even wearing helmets. This infuriates me. Cyclists can give others cyclists a bad name as much as drivers can.. the “woman drivers are the worst” comment frustrates the hell out of me. The woman ambulance driver who drove me to Yale in record time was a rock star.
SO, the bike is there. It isn’t chained, its held on with plastic straps.. May it be an awareness piece for everyone.. for drivers to slow down and stop and stop signs.. and for cyclists to be aware, responsible, and educated. Cyclists have rights on our roadways. Cars have rights on our roadways AND none are without the need for accountability, and respect.
With perseverance and hope,