There’s a fun little event that started on the first Friday of this year. As their site says, “San Francisco Bike Party is a monthly CELEBRATION of biking!” What could be better than a fun ride with hundreds of people on the first Friday night of the month with music playing as we ride a pre-planned and approved route through the streets of San Francisco semi-escorted by San Francisco police? It’s a great idea and a heck of a lot of fun. I rode the first (Birthday event) one in January by myself and had a great time among the hundreds of other riders. For the March ride, my friend and ride buddy Michelle, said she was up for it too.
After work on Friday we loaded up the bikes on my car and took off for San Francisco so we could make it to the AT&T park area before the start at 8:00 pm. The ride with a hundred people or so was essentially an out and back to Candlestick Park via Hunter’s Point. A flat route with just one fairly steep climb and descent …that’s where things got different, really fast.
Michelle is a much better climber than me, and went ahead as the climb kicked up. I passed her near the top when she’d stopped to fix a dropped chain. A few exchanges between us to confirm all was well with the chain and I started down the descent with Michelle somewhere behind me. There were people everywhere so I chose to keep the speed on the descent reigned in. Michelle came from behind me looking completely in control on the other side of the street, but very fast. A few seconds later ..that feeling came over me when you just know something is wrong.
I came around a curve on the descent, 2 riders were down on the road. One was Michelle. The other rider was sitting up with her boyfriend tending to her while Michelle was laying on her back in the road with another rider talking to her. Apparently there’d been a collision between the two of them. Michelle’s helmet, glasses and bike were off to the side ..scattered. A gentleman was already on his cell to 911. The rider with Michelle was trained in CPR (hope she wasn’t too insulted when I confirmed that with her) and kept talking to Michelle as did I. Michelle would open her eyes and respond when I’d call her name or tell her it’s me, but she wasn’t able to keep her eyes open. Thankfully, she was moving both arms and legs so no worries there.
It seemed like forever, but just a few minutes later the ambulance and fire engine arrived. Michelle was slowly able to keep her eyes open more and respond to the EMTs as they tended to her. The EMTs were assessing Michelle, getting her onto the backboard and into the ambulance while I was gathering up her things and talking to the police and firemen. The information I was able to provide to them: phone number, age, where her parents live, her profession. Not really vital information. However, Michelle was wearing her RoadID. That I was able to tell them that her contact information could be found right on her wrist was such a comfort. Her bike and seat bag had been tossed off to the side, her backpack was in my car some 4 miles away.
Thankfully, Michelle was becoming more alert as time passed. By the time I reached her at the hospital, her parents had been called and she was completely alert, waiting to get her head stitched up. She has some healing and therapy to do, but is well on her way back to normal.
A couple of things struck me as we sat in the ER.. We ride together.. Know each others favorite teams ..riders ..So many things, but that vital information? Not really. I saw with my own eyes, that information gets scattered. I thought that since I carry ID in my seat bag, I was covered. Well my seat bag would have been tossed to one side like Michelle’s was. I also ride alone a lot. From what I saw, if your ID or info isn’t with you, it won’t catch up to you until possibly hours later. Please, for the sake of your health and for the sake of the people who ride with you:
1) Wear a good helmet. Always! Michelle’s broke in a few places and saved her life.
2) Wear some sort of ID that stays securely attached to you, your body in particular. The EMTs didn’t need to access Michelle’s RoadID because she had recovered enough to tell them herself, but it could easily have gone the other way.
I was advised when I first started to ride, wear a good helmet. As my boss said when I asked what’s the difference between a $20 helmet and a $220 helmet, “Do you have a $20 head?” I hope anyone reading this doesn’t ever have to experience anything like this, but being honest, this is a dangerous sport. I love that the cycling community shares whatever knowledge and experience we can to help each other, particularly when it comes to safety.
In my research, I found that the RoadID was a better value for me. But I did look at Medic Alert too. Here are links to both sites:
I also ran across this page which had some useful information as well: http://www.bikeforums.net/
Thanks for reading.. Ride safe everyone.