Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hit and Run Bicyclist

A local pedestrian was killed by a hit-and-run bicyclist. The story is that the bicyclist swerved to avoid being hit by a car, and accidentally hit a pedestrian. The story continues that the bicyclist stopped briefly, spoke with the pedestrian, and then continued on his way. The pedestrian was taken to a hospital and placed into a coma to slow a brain hemorrhage. The pedestrian died in the coma.

The story does not say if the pedestrian was paying attention to traffic in the street (both car and bike). Or if the car-driver suddenly accelerated. Or if the bicyclist was swerving irresponsibly.

All we know is that the pedestrian is dead and a hit-and-run bicyclist killed him.

I go to my gym for yoga and Pilates and swimming as part of my own rehab from being hit by a car, while riding my bike. I-am-on-the-mend. But suddenly, people see me as a potential scary attacker.

A fellow Pilates student asked me, “Why would a bicyclist keep going after hitting a pedestrian? I thought biking was part of getting away from that car-driver mentality.”

Where could I start? Most car-drivers are not hit-and-run drivers. But I didn’t sense that this was the main thrust of the man’s question.

Was he asking if I could be a hit-and-run bicyclist? Perhaps THE hit-and-run bicyclist?

I know I am often torn between time obligations and kindness impulses. I often choose to get off the phone or refuse to chat with a neighbor in order to keep an appointment. Suppose I hit somebody on the way to an appointment? I would feel torn. Do I put all my attention on the person I hit? Or do I look for an opportunity to call my client and tell him or her that I’ve got to reschedule?

I often feel conflicts about priorities.

I can remember arguments with my children in which I pulled rank. “No we don’t have time for you to change your blouse. You’ll be late to school, and I’ll be late to work.”

We do what we value. Often we have to choose between things that we value. I want my daughter to feel happy with what she’s wearing. I want her to be on time to school, more. And I want to be at work on time myself, more.

So what was going through the mind of that hit-and-run bicyclist?

I told the man in the elevator, “There are no sane reasons to leave the scene of the accident. But there are plenty of insane reasons.”

Clearly my answer did not satisfy him. But he didn’t know how to ask what was still puzzling him. I think the unspoken question was, “Why are people on this planet crazy?”

If he had asked, I have no answer.

1 comment:

  1. The bicyclist *did* stop. The pedestrian probably said he was fine. There's the saddest movie called "Short Cuts" where a woman hits a little boy with her car by accident, jumps out to help him. He assures her he is fine, he won't let her take him to the hosp because he isn't supposed to ride with strangers, and he walks home--she watches him walk away--and dies a few hours later. The woman isn't from there and she doesn't ever even know. Remember Natasha Richardson, dying after a little bump on the head skiing? She told people she was fine. Accidents are accidents. We do the best we can with what we know.

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