Accidents & the risks of cycling

Confession: I’m one of those dreaded left-wing-commie-pinko cyclists that Don Cherry likes to rant on about. Every year when winter ends (this year, ever since the devastatingly frigid SPRING ended) I cycle about 11-13km to work. My commute takes about 35-40 minutes, and for context, the same commute by public transit takes at least 40-60 minutes. While I do arrive at work a bit drippy and need to bring a change of clothes, I’m alert and ready to start the day instead of cranky and sluggish. Financially, it also saves me a pretty penny in public transportation fees! But there is one drawback to cycling – the risks.

cycle-accident

Last month, while on my way to work, due to road construction I was forced to pedal over a parallel set of dreaded streetcar tracks, something I usually avoid. Unfortunately for me, my tire slid into the track and I flew onto the road. Luckily there was no traffic and I just skidded, on my legs, to the asphalt. I was in a dress (and bike shorts!) and while my dress emerged fine, my legs were a hot mess. A few strangers helped me to safety and got me some paper towel and water to sop the blood but ultimately, since I didn’t need to head to the hospital, I was left to fend for myself. I called work to say I wasn’t coming in, locked up my bike and took the streetcar home. That’s right, I rode the enemy that sent me flying in the first place.

To put this in context, the last time I had a crash was six years ago, so this isn’t a regular occurrence, although my previous accident was also due to tracks. I guess you could say I’m lucky, but I try to obey the rules of the road, never ride faster than the speed of my brakes, and during my two falls I’ve been lucky with only minor damage — it helps to WEAR YOUR HELMET. Considering I log at least 1000km a year on my bike, one fall every few years is a pretty good safety record, how many drivers can say as much?

While my legs looked like raw hamburger for awhile, after only two weeks I summoned up the courage to get back on my bike. I still looked pretty rough and those first few days were harrowing, but the relief I felt when I started cycling again was IMMENSE.

I know some people think I cycle just because it’s cheap, but news flash, I spend about $200 on my bike with tune-ups and fixes each summer, it’s not that cheap. But I really do it for the freedom. I’m free to choose my route, I’m free to avoid traffic, I’m free to multi-task and workout while I’m commuting, I’m free from the pent-up aggression from everybody stuck on the TTC every day and I’m free to take the Martin Goodman Trail home. I truly think that the benefits outweigh the danger, and besides. I’ve had more injuries in my life from WALKING than cycling… I’m that clumsy.

Do you cycle to work? Why do you do it?

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