March 20 my husband was hit on his bicycle by a teen driving a truck. These 34 weeks have been tough. Even as I celebrate the gains he has made, I will never forget the events of that day and of the months since then.
My Jim was incredibly lucky – he's alive and continues to make an excellent recovery! It's been a stressful journey – Air evacuated to a neighboring city for a qualified neurosurgeon to repair his broken back... Major spinal surgery... 13 days in the hospital... A grueling week and a half at home... 17 days in rehab hospital... An emergency procedure in the middle of the night... Months of physical therapy... Numerous emergency room visits and additional procedures... Loss of strength and energy that accompany such an assault to his body... And there's been stress, of course, lots of stress! Sadly, paired with his amazing progress are a number of on-going issues which he may need to deal with for the rest of his life...
My wounds are internal, unseen. I have many painful questions. Why didn't the young driver receive a citation? Why was an accident report simply accepted as written, even though Jim's injuries and the condition of his bike tell a different story? Was my husband seen as of such little value that any follow-up investigation was deemed unnecessary? I can't help but wonder if the driver or police officer ever gives what happened that day another thought.
This weekend, all around the world, people are pausing to remember road traffic victims. Many are holding candlelight vigils. I will reflect on the traumas we've experienced these last many months and grieve what was lost. I'll recognize, and try to accept, the things that might never return to “normal” for us. I'll commemorate March 20, 2020 with thankfulness, as well. After all, my guy is one of the lucky ones!
However, my heart breaks for other victims and their families. Those who are now tied to wheelchairs...... Head injury victims who suffer in countless ways...... Families who have been deprived of a husband, father, child... Victims and families who have experienced the disgraceful inequality that is too often demonstrated toward vulnerable road users... Failure to see justice done... Heart ache of seeing that no one is being held accountable... Recognizing that, in spite of their own great personal loss, things are simply not improving in terms of the rights and safety of pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and other vulnerable road users...
This, largely overlooked group is remembered, sadly, by very few. Ever more loved ones become statistics. Drivers continue to act like roadways are designated exclusively for cars, trucks, and SUVs. Legislators fail to recognize the role they should be playing in representing vulnerable road users. Life goes on, little changes, vulnerable people continue to be killed or to suffer life-changing injury.
I will not just sit here and make observations. I'm lighting candles this weekend. I've become intentional about speaking up. I will affirm, whenever and wherever possible, my commitment to supporting VRUs and their rights. I will find ways to use my voice on their behalf, take whatever action I can, and encourage others to do the same. I will keep victims' memories alive by speaking their names.
Vulnerable Road Users deserve the respect they are not getting. But that isn't going to happen in any significant ways until the outcry is simply too loud to ignore. A single voice can become a hundred, then a thousand! When the insistence on equitable treatment becomes a booming cry for justice, law-makers and others will have to respond. Will you join me in lifting your voice? Surely there is some small way in which you can begin to vocalize your concern. Won't you get the dialogue started and let me know about it?
Because their lives matter(ed),