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On being a Cyclist's Wife

Original post made by Anonymous, Mountain View, on Oct 4, 2006

Anyone who has ever driven Foothill Expressway or climbed the winding narrow roads of the Los Altos Hills has encountered them ---cyclists donning colorful jerseys and aerodynamic helmets traveling in pairs and packs and given their toned healthy frames, contributing in no way to America's obesity issues. Among them you will find my husband, the love of my life and the father of our two beautiful children.

Being a cyclist's wife can be a trying experience. I find it infuriating that in this post-9/11 world I have a greater fear of losing my spouse to a reckless driver than to a terrorist attack. After what happened to John Peckham, the Alta Velo bicycling club member mowed down on Old Page Mill Road recently, my fear is heightened. I don't understand. Cyclists are not a new phenomenon on our roads around here. In fact, there are so many enthusiasts in the Silicon Valley many of their employers sponsor "Bike to Work" days. So why haven't we learned to share the road with them? John Peckham is not the first rider to meet the fate he did. Distracted and intoxicated drivers have left other cyclists broken in ditches and beside roads in our county. My own husband and several of his friends have also had close calls with speeding cars. Why can't drivers fathom that every cyclist they pass in that 2000-pound weapon that is the automobile has a network of people who want them home for dinner when the ride is done?

Let me tell you what it's like to be part of that network, what it's like to be a cyclist's wife. Each time he leaves on a ride, I'm on edge until he comes home. I manage at times to push these fears aside but then the phone rings and I answer praying it isn't bad news. Then a siren shrills past my house on the way to El Camino Hospital and I pray he's not on a stretcher in the back. Early one morning while my husband was on a ride, a police officer came to our door. Unbeknownst to me one of our kids had accidentally switched on our patio stereo speakers while turning on the TV. I instantly fell apart in the doorway believing the officer was there to tell me my husband had been brought into the emergency room or the morgue. The poor man got a lot more than he bargained for in dealing with a simple noise complaint.

Yet despite the fact that my husband's cycling could give me an ulcer in the coming years, I would never ask him to stop. He is not the one in the wrong. None of those who ride our streets on two wheels are wrong for doing so. It is every driver who takes out their substance abuse issues behind the wheel or searches for their mobile communications device when their eyes should be on the road who is at fault here. I never knew John Peckham but from what I've read, the world was a better place with him in it.

My world and that of my two small children is better with my husband here. He is already passing his love of cycling onto our 5-year-old daughter. I'm certain that soon I will not only be a cyclist's wife but the mother of a cyclist as well. Please be careful out there, one moment of negligence could not only ruin your life forever it could shatter an entire family.

Comments (7)

Posted by get to the chopper
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 24, 2006 at 1:35 pm

Now imagine what it would be like to be the wife of a soldier in Iraq.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 11, 2006 at 3:41 pm

When soldiers sign up for service they do so accepting the risk that comes with it. Any military personnel will tell you that. Military families also say the same thing. I find it unacceptable that I must worry about my husband's safety everytime he goes off on his bike! Are you going to start comparing distracted and inebriated drivers to insurgents now? We are a fortunate community, its too bad that it seems to have dulled us to the fact that our actions have ramifications and life is fleeting.

Posted by GetAGrip
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Dec 12, 2006 at 9:18 am

When a biker strides the bike and gets onto the road - s/he is accepting the risk that comes with driving any vehicle on the road. I can change the post to say - hey, my husband drives this little mini cooper, which can be blown away on a rainy day by a fast 18 wheeler - can the 18 wheeler drivers be more careful?

No one in their sane mind wants to get into traffic accident. People who run over other drivers, bicyclists - don't quite belong on the road and yes, I agree with it.

Don't compare the sacrifices that our soldiers are doing, the risks they are taking, the insurgents they are facing - to your insecurities about your husband going out on a bike ! If you are so damn worried, ask him to give up biking totally.

Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Mountain View
on Dec 12, 2006 at 3:37 pm

Get a Grip,

First of all I didn't compare cyclists to the sacrafices of soldiers in Iraq. What both groups do have in common though are dedication and discipline something that could help you possibly grow some sensitivity to those around you. Do some research and see for yourself how many cyclists (and there are quite a few around here) have fallen victim to careless drivers. Why don't you attack them instead of lambast me for what you perceive to be my "insecurities?" Accidents can happen to any driver, intended or not, one distracted moment reaching for your Blackberry or whatever, is all that it takes to ruin your life and someone else's. I think you are the one who needs to "Get A Grip" or grow some sensitivity.

Posted by Ray
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 21, 2006 at 2:06 pm

Maybe if cyclists would get some common sense and stop riding in the middle of the road just to spite drivers ("it's my right!!!! i'm a vehicle tooo!!!!) then there wouldn't be this problem. I'm sick of cyclists riding in the street and slowing traffic to a crawl just because they're bitter that they don't have a car.

Posted by CenturyRider
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 21, 2006 at 2:42 pm

Cyclist stay at home if you cannot accept the risks that come with sharing the road ...

Posted by Glad I don't live in Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Feb 5, 2007 at 10:58 am

A cyclist friend of mine was hit by car over the weekend when the driver suddenly decided to make an illegal U-turn that took up a significant portion of the bike lane.

There are irresponsible cyclists out there but, there are also irresponsible drivers on the road and you can do so much more damage with a car than a bike. You can also do a lot of damage with words. The woman above has done an eloquent job expressing a very valid concern for her husband's safety. I am astounded by the insensitive and down right mean responses to her moving piece. You should be ashamed of yourselves!

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