Motorists must share the road

It was a drizzly, cold evening May 21 at the James Street Park and Ride lot in Kent.

  • Tuesday, June 3, 2008 2:07pm
  • Opinion

Bellevue woman a victim

It was a drizzly, cold evening May 21 at the James Street Park and Ride lot in Kent.

But the inclement weather didn’t stop a band of cyclists from the task at hand: riding an 11-mile route to acknowledge the untimely deaths of their comrades.

Every day, people in the Puget Sound area put their lives on the line to do something as simple as riding a bike. For all the health benefits that cycling – or running, or walking – brings, there is a dark cloud on the horizon when we take our healthy habits to the streets.

Of course, it is a two-way street. Cyclists and other non-motorized street users need to be aware of the rules of the road.

But careful as we may be, that caution is for naught when a motorist isn’t paying attention. A 2,000-pound car versus a 20-pound bike is a one-outcome equation.

I know this from experience – I once was hit broadside by a car while on my bike. My body bounced onto the moving vehicle, denting the hood, and I was knocked unconscious when I hit the pavement, in spite of wearing a helmet. The cheekbones on one side of my face, which took the brunt of my fall, were knocked into misalignment, so now there is a permanent gap between the bones.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

This month’s Ride of Silence was partly to memorialize those riders who weren’t so fortunate.

Such as Bellevue dentist and mother Gail Alef, 54, who was struck by a car in September 2005, as she was riding with her cycling club in Redmond. The driver of the car swerved across the road and hit her, then fled the scene, leaving the car on top of her. He’s serving a 20-month prison sentence for her death.

Or Seattle resident Susanne Scaringi, 27, who died in September 2006, after her bike collided with a van that turned in front of her in West Seattle, as she was riding to work.

Three-dimensional lives reduced to one-dimensional statistics.

As the Puget Sound region continues to grow and more cars ply its streets, cyclists and other road users need to be more careful than ever.

To learn more about the Ride of Silence, log onto www.rideofsilence.com.

Laura Pierce is editor of the Kent Reporter. You can reach her at 253-872-6677, ext. 5050, or by e-mail at lpierce@reporternewspapers.com