Back in January, while out for a ride on his bicycle, former Dallas Mavericks center Shawn Bradley was hit from behind by a car just a block from his home in St. George, Utah. The 7 foot 6 inch tall NBA star suffered a severe spinal cord injury and was admitted for neck fusion surgery eight weeks ago. He has spent the time since hospitalized and undergoing physical rehabilitation.
48-year-old Bradley is said to be in “good spirits” all things considered, and already has plans to reframe his injuries to bring awareness to bicycle safety. Cycling is not only important for hobby and training reasons, but for transportation as well. We can’t ever hope to reduce our dependence on automobiles or reduce our impact on the environment without two-wheeled transit.
During his professional basketball career, spanning 1993 to 2005, Bradley averaged an impressive 8.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Before his stint at the Mavericks, he played for the Philadelphia 76ers, and the New Jersey Nets. Bradley led the NBA in blocks during the 96-97 season. I don’t know the first thing about Basketball, but I can infer that these things are impressive.
Regardless of how impressive an athlete he was, it is tragic that any human be made to suffer such difficulties at the hands of an inattentive or ill prepared motorist. The disconnect between the ability to drive and the preparation for the consequences of driving poorly is a massive chasm these days, and we don’t spend enough time or money or effort on training people to do the job right, or take it seriously.
Of course, none of that does anyone any good if we’re just going to frame this as the cyclist’s fault, which is what Twitter chose to do with its headline (below). Getting hit from behind is not a bicycle accident, it’s getting hit by a car. Minimizing people who ride bicycles and acting like they don’t belong on “our” roads is absurd, and only makes two-wheeled travel more dangerous.
Please, if you’re out on the road and see someone riding a bicycle, give them space. You might be in a hurry, and they might ‘in your way’, but they’re people, too. You don’t want this on your conscience. Your actions have consequences, especially when you’re in control of a two-and-a-half-ton rolling involuntary manslaughter machine.