My New Bike

I did something this week I haven’t done for 4 and-a-half years. I rode a bike.

It was a bike I bought from my neighbor, Robert. It’s a folding bike that he tried to stow in a train-car luggage compartment on Amtrak, which he rides to his job in Irvine. But the wheels were too big and it didn’t fit.

My new bike

So he sold it to me for 80 bucks. Same price he paid for it, used.

If you know me, you know that I haven’t ridden a bike in four years because on April 14, 2007 I was hit by a car while riding my bike to work and I suffered traumatic brain injury.

A lot of people thought I stayed off a bike this long because I was skittish after a serious accident. Actually, I’ve stayed off a bike because the TBI made me suffer chronic nerve pain in places that make you not want to pedal a bicycle.

But I have ridden this bike to the grocery store and I rode it to work today. Both destinations are about a mile away from home. I also have ridden around the neighborhood with my son, a couple times at night, after he finished the homework he finds so difficult. That, alone, has been worth $80.

I don’t know what role bike riding will play in my life. I like getting around on my own power. But I no longer consider biking to be safe. It’s only safe if you assume all car drivers are both responsible and competent.

I remember speaking with a trauma-ward nurse I knew while waiting for a plane at the Buffalo airport (long story). She told me that one doctor is killed each year in San Diego while riding his/her bike.

“You mean one doctor is killed each year?” I asked. “One person in one profession?”

“Yes,” she said.

But biking is faster than walking, and I’m hoping if I stay on the grid of streets that crisscross my quiet neighborhood I’ll be fine. Wish me luck.

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