Another heated conversation with Brent over lunch this week highlighted more of the concerns about selling the van. Brent is afraid, and I think most people would be. In his words, which he emailed to me later in the day trying reconcile the disagreement:
I’m afraid of a crippling injury or death because of the many drug-addled or phone-distracted drivers that infest our streets. When Avery was in the hospital in Columbus, two doors down was a young man with a terrible head injury. He was clearly brain damaged (one of several brothers who were in a car accident). When I say that I fear we might be inhibiting their [the children’s] potential, that’s the image in my mind. I love their personalities, their intelligence and the promise they hold for themselves and the world. Perhaps my fears are irrational, but to me they are visceral and terrifying. Reflectors might help. And yes, I know that they are in danger in cars, but being surrounded by airbags in our well-tested van sounds and feels safer to me. Death and pain are facts of life that I cannot reconcile at present. As you know, I’ve been trying. I’ll ride where you point. I’ll go wherever you want me to go, but I will not put my kids in an unnecessarily risky situation for our own experimentation and financial comfort.
My take on the fear was to see it as a challenge that needed to be rifled through for a solution. I don’t feel that we are taking unnecessary risks, we are just going from point a to b using a different method.
This is also another reason I feel he needs to contribute to this blog. Perhaps he could explain himself more thoroughly and some of you could offer advice or solace. I have been terrible about sympathizing. I am more anxious about missing a bus where the outcome would be having to go home. My methods of reassuring Brent have never worked, he just feels I am trying to dismiss him and persuade him to my “side.” Perhaps I am.
If the routes we take are unsafe for biking, let’s find new ones that feel more comfortable and have less car traffic. If we feel the children won’t be seen from behind, let’s get better reflecting material, higher flags, put them in the front of the caravan or to our right, install horns and bells. We could go out on errands with them less often or not take the children that are not a part of the activity we are attending. Let us ask the local bike shops for a bike safety course for families and children. Let us educate ourselves and the community.
Brent has been treated very poorly by drivers. He has been yelled at, pushed off the road by cars and been flipped off. I don’t want to put our children in a position to be accosted by people like this either. I have yet to have any terrible experiences on our bikes. I don’t believe that cars are trying to hurt us, they don’t want to deal with that insurance claim or traffic ticket either, they are not vindictive. Yet, as Brent’s experiences prove, some people are rude, inconsiderate and dangerous to be around.
When we are riding in dense automobile areas, we try to stay on the side walk. Another option would be to take a longer route that is less crowded and to arm our children and family with an appropriate retort. We ought to give everyone the tools to handle a negative situation. We can’t prepare for them all, but we should discuss the ones that have already occurred with Brent and perhaps the children could suggest some solutions.
Here are some sources I found, there are many many more opinions, resources and statistics out there:
- Bicycle Safety: How to Not Get Hit by Cars
- Family on Bikes: Life Doesn’t Come with a Money-back Guarantee
- Ken Kiefer’s Bike Pages: Is Cycling Dangerous?
- KidsHealth: Bike Safety
- Gothamist: Nancy Gruskin, Pedestrian and Cycling Safety Advocate
- Cycle-Safety: Cycling Advocacy Information (Specific to Ohio)