Kansas City, I need your help, or, An Abject Lesson in Bicycle Safety

Before I seek your help, let me detail why I need it:

Downtown KC and its surrounds were hit with some surprise t-storms late afternoon on 7/7/09. Around 4:30 pm, Sa Rah calls me at work and asks if I want a ride home since I had bicycled in that morning. Typically, riding in the rain isn’t that big of an issue for me so I checked the radar: clear, then checked the sky outside: dark and ominous. “Yes, please,” I told her. I”m no fan of bicycling in a downpour, however brief it may be.

Sa Rah arrived at my office shortly thereafter and we head south on Main. We cross the light at Pershing and get into the right-most lane, climbing the hill next to Liberty Memorial. I’m turned toward my left, away from the passenger-side window, singing and goofing with the kids. I turn back to my right just in time to hear Sa Rah say, “Oh my god!” and see a bicyclist tumbling down the sidewalk (going against traffic) right here:


We pull over and I jump out to see what happened.
A black girl in her late-20s lie on the sidewalk, with badly scratched arms. She’s got her hands over her eyes and she’s moaning. She’s also not wearing a helmet.
“What happened?” I asked, kneeling.
“I was trying to dodge some water and the light pole. Is my head bleeding? I can feel it bleeding.”
I look toward her head upon which a white headband held back her hair. I start to lift it.
“Owww…easy.”
“Sorry. I don’t see any blood there. Your arms are pretty scratched up and bloody.”
“Check it again – here.” (She points.)
I left the headband again and see the white turning to red underneath.
“Yeah, you’re bleeding. Not badly. I’m going to call 911.”
I get up to go back to the car for my phone when I see several others have stopped. A gentlemen comes down and I ask him if he has a cell phone and can call 911. He tells me someone has already. I turn back to the girl.
“Don’t try to move. The paramedics are on their way.”
“What’s your name?”
“I”m Jason.”
“I’m Lauren.”
“You’re gonna be all right. Don’t worry.”
“I know I”m not gonna die or anything.”
“No, you’ll be fine. Just some scratches.” (Though her headband was grower more red by the second.)
“I’m going to get my cell phone.”
“OK, don’t move too much.”
She grabs her cell phone and makes a few calls, explaining what happened to whomever listened on the other end.
“I’ll be right back. I’m going to go talk to my wife real quick.”
“OK.”
So I run up to our car and poke my head in.
“Kids OK? Did that dude call 911? Did you see what she hit her head on?”
“Honey, she hit that rock wall head on.”
“Oh, shit. Well, she’s bleeding from her head. I’m going to go back down there and hang out until the ambulance comes.”
I walk back down. A passenger from another stopped vehicle gets out of her car and says, “The paramedics said not to move her and don’t give her any water.”
“Thanks,” and I keep moving.
“Are you still OK?”
“I’m still conscious and I know who I am. I was just riding to Parkville.”
“I was supposed to ride home too, but the rain stopped me.”
“Wish I hadn’t.”
“You’re gonna be OK.”
“What’s your name again?”
“Jason.”
“Thanks so much for stopping, Jason. Did you see what happened?”
“My wife did.”
“DId my head hit the sidewalk?”
“Well, yes, a couple of times. But you hit the rock wall first.”
“Oh, god, I hit the rock wall?” she said, laughing to herself.
We hear sirens.
“Lauren, the calvary has arrived.”
And with that the paramedics took over. Sa Rah comes down from the car to see if things are OK. I overhear Lauren tell the paramedics she’s 22 years old. Sarah tells me she found the patch of slick sidewalk where Lauren lost control of the bike – she almost fell herself walking on it. A police officer tells us we can roll now. I yell out “Good luck, Lauren,” and hear a faint “Thank you,” in response.
We pack it up and head out.

Now, KC, I need your help in tracking down this girl because I want to make certain she’s OK. Privacy laws don’t allow me to call up and request info from the hospitals. So here’s what I know:
Name: Lauren
Ethnicity: African-American
Age: 22
Distinguishing marks: some left forearm tattoos
Has a commute from DTKCMO to/from Parkville, MO on a green mountain bike with plastic, platform pedals.

If any of you know this person, please let us know how she made out at the hospital. Please post a link to this post to your facebook/twitter/social-network-du-jour. I appreciate it.

And, please, please, please wear your helmet when bicycling!

Kansas City, I need your help, or, An Abject Lesson in Bicycle Safety

No brake…no problem

When commuting to work, I ride a single-speed, single-brake, slick-tired mountain bike named Ginger. She gets me through the West Bottoms with nary a snag. (My road bike, Amelia, can barely make it to the West Bottoms with seeing a flat tire).

So Friday after work, I’m cycling home, heading north on Delaware, right after it splits from Main, just over I-70, coming down the hill into City Market when my right trigger finger gets into position to brake for the stoplight at Independence Avenue. One gentle squeeze, I’m ready for a yellow light. Another gentle squeeze, to keep my speed down – SNAP! – my brake line is gone though my trigger finger instinctively squeezes again and again to confirm pure breakage.

Act. My right foot down on the ground, hard plastic-shoe sole eaten alive by pavement. Lift. My left foot down. I’m not going to be able to stop for the intersection – come what colored light may. Quick right down, left down, can I jump off the bike if need be? Is there anyone behind me? What’s coming westbound on Independence Avenue? Anything? Can’t see…fuck it…yellow light!

And I’m through. Off the bike and onto the sidewalk. On the phone to the wife: “Sarah, my brake broke and not in the way you want your brake to break. I’m in City Market. Come in the back way. There’s a show going on tonight.”

Are there really that many people that still listen to Taking Back Sunday, The Used, or The Offspring? I’m glad none of them happened to blow through that intersection about 4:45 Friday PM.

No brake…no problem

Unbereevabul

For the first time since I’ve been taking this route (over a year now), I had a companion bike commuter to follow into downtown. Not only that, but the mofo was outpacing me! On a hybrid! I closed the gap on the hill up into the City Market, but dang, why you gotta crank so hard first thing in the morning, new commuter?
(Then I got to work and realized I hadn’t quite fixed my rear tire’s slow leak – and didn’t feel too terrible about getting schooled by a hybrid.)
I see so many more cyclists these days. It costs us almost 45 bones to fill the Corolla, so no wonder.

Unbereevabul

So I’m a bit behind in mentioning this

Probably because most every day is a car-free challenge in Preutopia as we have only one car and can barely afford the gas for that mug.
Nevertheless, it is KC Bike Week and one of many, many events making up KC Bike Week is the Car-Free Challenge. I haven’t logged in too many miles simply because I have a short commute to work (6.1 mi one way) and if I go anywhere else the wife and kids are with. But the point isn’t to log as many miles as you can. The point is to try to avoid using a car when and where you can. And you can avoid using the car more often than you think, I guarantee. For me, cycling isn’t about being “green”, though it’s nice. It’s not about staying fit, though that’s a big part of it – regulating the diabetes. When it’s all said and done, cycling allows me to breathe fresh air, sometimes get rained on, sometimes get dirty – cycle provides this body some very visceral moments – which can be few and far between working in a cube farm and living in a comfortable home.
So, yesterday when the Star asked me about Funkhouser’s speech about making KC more bike friendly, I smiled and said I was hopeful and encouraged but quite honestly, for all I love cycling, I don’t see bike/ped/lightrail as a very pressing issue for the metro. Not to say I’m not behind making things easier for us bike commuters…but it did leave a sour taste in my mouth to hear the Mayor say something about a $50 million dollar multi-modal bridge. There are other problems in our community that we should probably spend our money and time on first, no?
UPDATE
Bit of video coverage from yesterday.

So I’m a bit behind in mentioning this

What a great morning to bicycle to work

The temperature was perfect, slighty overcast, with crisp, clean air – even through the Bottoms. Legs cranking with ease, enjoying working the creaks out from a relaxing weekend…deep breathes in, out…it’s such a change for a Monday morn to be so pleasant and refreshing and downright enjoy-SPLASH! a car flies by, sending up a wave of water as high as my head – and which subsequently curls and crashes all over me. Nothing like being force-fed West Bottoms standing water to wake one from a dream that Monday mornings can be OK.

This weekend, we discovered the utter awesomeness of digital over-the-air television broadcasting. We had sitting in our breakfast nook a 13″ television hooked up to a pair of rabbit ears. Fine for watching the news in the AM, and some PBS over supper. Every channel required an antennae adjustment. Even then, fuzzy reception all around. So, on a whim, we decided to replace that TV with a HDTV. Crikey! We had no idea what we were missing. Not only are all our over-the-air channels now completely crisp and clear with no adjustments necessary…we have 4 different options for programming on Channel 19! Saturday night, 19-1 was showing some British brouhaha – so I flipped over to 19-2 and watched The Decemberists on Austin City Limits. Don’t know how we slept on this technology for so long – probably because we really don’t give much thought to TV. But, damn, what a difference.

So, KC Beer Fest this Saturday. Who’s with us?

What a great morning to bicycle to work