As a cyclist turning the cranks in North Carolina, September was an absolutely beautiful month to be out on a bicycle. It was sunny and warm during the day, cool at night, with a seemingly endless offering of exquisite sunsets. Until just this week, it had not rained for as long as I could remember. The rain is welcomed though, perfect for some fall food planting.

This morning my wife announced that the NC DOT reports that September is the deadliest month to be on a bicycle in North Carolina. Phew, I thought, I’m happy to have made it through alive! But, how depressing that such a beautiful month of weather is tarnished by that very stark reality. It makes one bitter and sad that choosing alternate transportation and using a bicycle for freedom and exercise is deadly. Why should that be the case?

As Tina Haver Currin writes in her article for the Independent, “According to the most recent N.C. Department of Transportation study, September is the deadliest month to be a cyclist in this state. Although bikes account for less than 1 percent of all travel in the United States, cyclists constitute 2 percent of all traffic fatalities, and an additional 2 percent of traffic-related injuries each year. Twice I’ve been hit by a car, breaking an elbow the first time, a wrist the second. Twice the driver has left the scene.”

Ms. Currin has been hit twice by drivers and both times they left the scene? How can this be? How can a human possibly kill, or at least seriously maim another human and be so callous as to flee? Should I consider myself lucky that in the two situations when I’ve been hit by drivers, one of they didn’t flee?

Sharing the roads is a tricky thing, but the extremely low volume of bicycle traffic dictates that drivers slow down, save a life, pass safely, and exhibit a higher degree of respect for the life of another human.

On Tuesday as I commuted by bicycle to my job as a teacher I was nearly hit by an aggressive driver. The ironical part is that I was actually in a school zone, as parents were dropping off children I might teach on another day because I also work at that school. Killing a teacher in a school zone due to impatience, now that would make quite the headline!

Yesterday morning I approached a driver who repeatedly speeds through my neighborhood as he rushes to drop off his young child at school. His reaction: he refused to talk to me, refused to look at me, and told me he was only driving 28 mph in a 25 mph zone. So much for suggested speed limits and the fact that he passes through a clearly designated crosswalk in front of a beautiful neighborhood park, one used by families near and far for its children’s playground. The irony of the encounter, and defense of his actions, by Mr. Silver Saab Driver was that he was rushing to drop his child at a Catholic School! What a Christian thing of him to do, only break the speed limit by a measly three miles per hour. So much for that whole do unto others nonsense! Screw that guy, I gotta get to work and I left late, his children and pets be damned!

Here is a link to Ms. Currin’s article:

Please, Ms. Currin, keep up the good fight! Get back on that bike. Aggressive drivers scare me as well, and I’ve been hit twice. I use two methods to cope and keep my spirits up when drivers buzz me. First, I think of my brother, who is a surfer. He doesn’t have to worry about drivers, but he does have to think about sharks. Angry drivers are like blood thirsty sharks: they don’t think, they don’t feel, they don’t reconsider, they just act. Secondly, I think that along with unraveling the horrors of the agriculture-industrial food system, alternate transportation and a diminished reliance on fossil fuels is one of the crucial issues facing humanity right now. As a cyclist and activist for alternate transportation methods, I see myself as a Civil Rights crusader of the 1960s. I might get bloodied, I might get screamed at, I might even have to fight and stand my ground. But, I will not be deterred. This is a battle that must be waged.