Yesterday, I got hit by a car. I was fine. My bike was not.

Via on Feb 17, 2009

probably should start wearing a bike helmet

Above: One of my favorite books, when I was a child. Parents: my ma & I recommend it highly.

Please note: despite the below, far more folks get in accidents in cars every day, and get killed. I ride every day, off and on all day, and have for years, and this is the first time that I ever found myself in a situation I couldn’t get out of. Biking? Have good awareness, and it’s a safe mode of transport. I’ve been right back out there riding around: fresh air, a little exercise, no parking costs or time (in fact I get front-door delivery, via bike). No gas, no insurance, hardly any maintenance.

That said…


What’s interesting about getting hit by a car on your bike, and coming out of it fine (physically—mentally, I was seeing elephants) is that you realize that your life is like a balloon, and Life of Death or God just squeezed it for fun, put didn’t pop it. And you shake and quiver and realize how what’s inside and what’s outside is not divided by your body—how you’re basically a big gelatanous floating ghost in the machine of the Universe called life, and—for those who saw Benjamin Button—you gotta remember it’s precious, the sands of time don’t stop running for a second, and the only thing worth doing is living fully, and rightly, and with love, right now—’cause tomorrow may never come.

Yesterday, I was riding down a sidewalk (not downtown, so it was legal) because there was no bike lane in the street. In fact, the street had a bike symbol on it, telling bikes to ride down the middle of the only lane. The street’s on a hill, and I can tell you that few cyclists have ever had the gall, or stupidity, to try and follow the ‘Bikes ride in middle of only lane’ instruction on that hill. I’m full of gall, and stupidity, and have tried it a few times—and cars simply drive around you—into opposing traffic—or honk and ride on your tail (which, since you’re going downhill, means that if anything happens you’re a b-bump pancake). Car drivers don’t notice the bike painted in the middle of the lane—if you asked 100 car drivers what bikes were supposed to do, they’d all say ‘ride in the gutter,’ which is what I often do.

But when I’m feeling conservative, or when I have my dog, Redford with me (also legal, of course), and there’s no pedestrians for a block or so, I ride on the sidewalk. Which, since it’s not downtown, is legal. So I’m riding along and —flash— in my peripheral and time stops…a car has, without decelerating at all, music blasting, cut from well behind me into the alley in front of me (They didn’t see me, bc of the parked cars between us, right where a bike lane should be. Funny society that priorites parked cards over a bike lane—even here in we’re-so-bike-friendly Boulder, Colorado).

I slam on my brakes, and swerve to the left, but I can see I’m gonna get hit…A second later I’m on the ground, a pale girl is saying ‘are you okay,’ all I can feel is my groin on fire (it had at 10 miles per hour run into my suddenly-stopped bike frame), my hand is bleeding a very little, and my bike is on top of me, and the front tire is wrapped around me. I was lucky.

I’m also a week past when I was supposed to pay my mortgage, so I can’t get my bike out of UBikes, where Pale Girl dropped my Masi (without offering to pay, and I was so out of it I didn’t ask for her info) after she dropped me off at my meeting at Two Spoons, downtown (I was in such a daze, or state of shock, that my buddy Tom Hast basically ordered for me).

That’s not an appeal for help, since without my buddies’ shutdown startup/brilliant idea Crowdfunder, community support doesn’t have a way to plug in very well. It’s just where I’m at. I gotta survive two more months, financially-speaking, and at that point the many advertisers who have been jumping on board the elephant web site will have brought me to break-even, which is a sunny-side-up way of saying ‘broke.’ That’ll be a huge relief, the business equivalent of getting let out of prison and looking at the blue sky and breathing the fresh air and starting afresh at life. It’s been a long road to hoe, and when I wake up each morning, I find I’m thinking about ads and mortgages, and I look at my hair in the mirror and wonder that it’s not, Presidentially, getting white. Stress is a bitch.

Yesterday, when I wasn’t getting hit by cars, I met with three advisors about my prospective Council run, and also met with one hooked-up, savvy author about the two books I’m beginning to work on. I’m not rushing into a decision on which way to go on Council—serving on City Council takes a lot of hours each week, there’s very little ego glory (one of the two usual reasons to get into politics), it’s a minimum two-year commitment, it doesn’t pay really, it gives every bored hippie freak a reason to pick on you, and if I did win a campaign I would want to make like Macon Cowles and read a couple hundred pages in prep for each meeting and really serve 100%. If I don’t run, I’ll have more time to focus on getting a green talk show on a platform that could effect some change.

So, last night, after meeting with Mr. Morehouse, I ride home. Ironically I’m riding my backup usually-garaged old funky cruiser that doesn’t even have lights on it, and my brain is still all mush, like that Alec Baldwin commercial that airs over the Super Bowl, and my sweet dad calls, he’s grateful I’m aok and angry the girl didn’t offer to pay for the bike tire, and it’s just about dark when I get home. My friend L. drives by, honks, saying “I heard you got hit on FB” and drives up to my house. I minute later I’m there, and she has dinner for me, which is sweet and remarkable considering that I got zero cash and both my personal and biz accounts, for the first time in 7 years, have bounced and all I got is two cans of Amy’s veggie chili, a staple of mine that I’d already ett two nights in a row. What a glamorous life. She hugs me and, you know, not a big deal, I start crying slightly over her shoulder, but moving on my friend, she offers to help get my bike out, even loan me mortgage dough for a week (I have advertiser checks coming in), and this morning after a night holed up phone off still feeling whacked out in the brain I wake up and she’s texted, re-offering. She actually meant it. You want to know who your friends are, ask ‘em for $2,000 for a week.

So moral of the story, as my friend Rogers would say, is if you’re in a position to help a friend a little bit right now (most have lost jobs in one years since 1945, I just heard), and you trust ‘em, do help them. You’ll feel like a good person, which is priceless. And if you need help, don’t be proud and awkward: ask. Don’t drown ’cause you didn’t ask anybody who loves you for help. If they say no, sorry, that’s fine. But ask.

To end on a bonus note:

Look:

Re: video above:

Bicycle safety is a serious issue. Over 3,000 cyclists are involved in a crash every year – from getting doored to actually crashing with the vehicle. Over two million New Yorkers have bikes, only a small portion bike to work.

Most of these collisions are caused by preventable behaviors of drivers and cyclists: aggression on the streets, not paying attention, taking risks, and disobeying traffic rules. We believe that there are no accidents, and that all collisions are preventable if we just look out for each other.

Its our goal to prevent these collisions by changing the behavior of both drivers and cyclists. To do so, we must educate both cyclists and drivers on the rules of the road. In addition to a huge effort to disseminate helpful information to cyclists and drivers, we are embarking on a media campaign that will infiltrate the City with a simple message to drivers and cyclists:

Look.
http://www.nyc.gov/look

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About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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36 Responses to “Yesterday, I got hit by a car. I was fine. My bike was not.”

  1. Tyler Dewar says:

    Great post and great reflections, Waylon. Thank you.

  2. john joseph says:

    The biggest concern is the groin hit: I’m sure your greater Sangha would like to see you manifest your future family!

  3. Erin says:

    Hi Way~ Thank Goddess you are alright. I lost a very dear friend of mine this Summer in Boulder to this exact same type of accident. Car vs. bicyclist. Car-1 Friend-gone. His name is Matthew Powell and he was an avid bike commuter and Boulder resident for almost 20 years. I am glad you shared this because I am extremely interested in opening communication w/in the community about how we will manage more bikes on the road in the future, as people (hopefully) trade their automobiles for bicycles/scooters/feet, etc.
    The time is now~let’s talk!
    Take it easy and let me know how I can best support you in getting back on your feet and back on your wheels. xoxo

  4. Kim Fuller says:

    Waylon, I’m so glad that you are ok. I have had a few scary moments myself on bikes and otherwise, and it is very humbling. Thanks for yet another reminder to live and love for the moment. Have a better rest of your week -Kim

  5. t says:

    My Many Colored Days; Dr Seuss

  6. Ben Ellingson says:

    I know you know how to ride, so this reminds me that I need to start wearing a helmet when commuting. I always have as a mountain biker, but for some dumb reason I don’t when commuting around Boulder. I keep hearing about accidents like yours. Glad you’re ok. Keep up the good work!

  7. Greg Berry says:

    Waylon,

    Glad you’re OK. Been hit twice in my life, and walked away, like you, both time. Good to be lucky.

    Keep moving toward your goal. Eschew the Council. I, for one, feel like you’re making more impact here. The day I have something to advertise…….

  8. Joy says:

    Waylon,
    I am so glad to hear you are alright! What a scare. And, I was thinking the very same thoughts today as I hear about people –families– getting foreclosed on, friends losing their jobs, and feeling the general, communal anxiety that is all around us. I share your spirit of “paying it back” and think you are right on. We must take care of each other right now. Like your friend did for you.
    Love to you from nashville xoxo

  9. Zoe says:

    Yikes! I’m glad you’re OK, too. I’ve never been hit by a car, but I’ve had a few humbling minor accidents on my bike. Also, what happened to Redford? I’m out biking often with kids and my dog(s), so I couldn’t help wondering…

    Erin’s mention of “opening communication w/in the community about how we will manage more bikes on the road in the future, as people (hopefully) trade their automobiles for bicycles/scooters/feet, etc.” makes me wonder if Community Cycles can help in some way. They put together amazing community programs, etc., which I’m sure you’re aware of. If they don’t have something, it would be a good suggestion. I think I’ll do that, and I’ll let you know what happens.

    I also relate on the tough financial times stuff. Big lessons about what is really important these days. Like Greg B., I’d advertise if I could, too.

    Zoe Montalbano

  10. Una Morera says:

    oy! Waylon, the jewish mother in me is terribly worried about you, body and bank. If you need, ask. It’s true! It works! As a fellow cyclist, i want to find that motorist and open my palms for the bills she owes you..that was NOT right. I’m glad you’re ok.

    Virtual and real hugs and kisses,
    your friend always..

  11. Janelle Sorensen says:

    Wow. That’s all I can say. Wow.

  12. Evan Ravitz says:

    Glad you’re OK if shaken. The best way to make it safer for bikes is to reduce traffic. The best way to reduce traffic is to reduce the hidden subsidies to fossil fuels (think: oil depletion allowances, etc.), highways (think: Stimulus bill) and parking (all the underground parking under the New Urbanist (“green”) development along Canyon.

    Not even the all-powerful peeps behind the Boulder curtains can both stimulate and “mitigate” traffic simultaneously, and at the very same time.

  13. Eva-Marie Lind at 7:54pm February 17
    even though this book (alexander …) is also one of my all time favorites, your own journey was quite awful :( ~ I hope you are feeling more recovered & in some brightness! ☼

  14. Todd says:

    Holy s%*t, Waylon… glad you’re okay.

  15. Diane Thomas says:

    your story is so touching, Waylon…so glad you’re okay…hang in there and continue to surround yourself with your amazing friends for support = ).

  16. Kelly LaValley commented on your status:

    “Phew… that was an impactful piece you wrote. Glad you’re ok! *~*~visualize abundance $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$*~*~

    from an ele phan, Kelly”

  17. John Cargile at 9:23pm February 17 via Facebook Mobile
    Sorry to hear about the bike crash. Good thing you have all those elgible bachelor looks to compensate to any bodily harm. And thanks for the YJ hookup.

    Joana Smith at 11:03pm February 17
    Yeah, me too…dunno about ‘it’. Bike crash, shucks, I hope your bike is OK.

    Joana Smith at 11:05pm February 17
    I now see your bike is not ok. sorry…maybe they’ll give you a new one.

  18. Tammy Lynn at 10:09am February 17
    I’m glad to hear that you are okay. I was “doored” in Boulder (in front of the Dairy) by a minivan 6 years ago and as a result had an elaborate wrist surgery and had injury to my neck and back which I manage through my yoga practice (mostly). I was a baker and potter at the time and could not work – thankful for the support of friends! Now I ride my bike 4-5 ft from parked cars – sometimes to the left of bike lane – I know it drives people crazy but I’m not going to stop riding.

    Steven Hoffman at 10:31am February 17
    Way,
    Glad to hear you were not badly hurt. Now that I’m trying to ride my bike to work, I prefer to stay on the bike paths and side streets to avoid main traffic. Fortunately, Boulder is very bike friendly and mindful in this way. However, I did read just this week that bike accidents are up in Boulder County. Just remember–stay alert out there! Best regards, Steve

    Maron Greenleaf at 10:41am February 17
    Hi Way–denny told me about your accident. I’m so glad you are okay. Take care of yourself! m

    Kelly Romero Mikler at 10:59am February 17
    i posted a photo on my wall to you. glad you’re safe. try commuting in orange county, sheesh.

    Zoe Montalbano at 11:53am February 17
    Glad you’re OK, too. Yikes! I’m gonna ask Community Cycles if they offer or will offer advice or free classes on issues like these, like, just in general how we can better deal w/ more bikes on the road, safety, etc. I’m often cycling w/ kids and dog/s in tow, too, so I get scared a lot for all of us.
    Take care. A shock like that can stay w/ you for a bit.

    Evan Ravitz at 4:54pm February 17
    Glad you’re OK if shaken. The best way to make it safer for bikes is to reduce traffic. The best way to reduce traffic is to reduce the hidden subsidies to fossil fuels (think: oil depletion allowances, etc.), highways (think: Stimulus bill) and parking (all the underground parking under the New Urbanist (“green”) development along Canyon.

    Not even the all-powerful peeps behind the Boulder curtains can both stimulate and “mitigate” traffic simultaneously, and at the very same time.

    Waylon Hart Lewis at 5:09pm February 17
    Evan, if you have time write something for ele about your bike safety tips as a long time (and un-killed) daily cyclist, I’ll publish it!

  19. Jigme Daniels wrote at 10:36pm
    Geez Waylon- hope you are alright!

    Liana Pomeroy wrote at 8:49pm
    Are you ok? Wow! That must hurt!

  20. Jessa Bell at 4:29pm February 16
    ahh!! glad you are ok!

    Domo Geshe Rinpoche at 4:30pm February 16
    sorry!

    Sean MacInnes at 4:30pm February 16
    dude! hope you’re ok.

    John Joseph at 4:31pm February 16
    shit! there was just an article about that in today’s Camera. Glad you’re ok, metal is expendable, flesh is not!

    Alan O’Hashi at 4:31pm February 16
    must be something in the water…
    http://tinyurl.com/BikeAccidents

    Natalie Pritchett at 4:32pm February 16
    dude. glad u are ok. this has been getting more prevalent.

    Erika Anderson at 4:34pm February 16
    did this happen right after I saw you or what??

    Kelly Cookson at 4:37pm February 16
    as the others have stated – glad you’re okay – bummer about the bike! Fundraiser time! ;)

    Joktan Rogel at 4:37pm February 16
    Wow – really sorry to hear that, but glad you are doing ok. This business of cars hitting cyclists in Colorado is starting to get ridiculous

    Timmy D’Antonio at 4:37pm February 16
    that was me. i meant to take you out.

    Shari Soroka at 4:39pm February 16
    Ouch! Well be aware if you are not feeling quite yourself over the next few weeks. These sometimes sneak up on you a little later.

    Doreen Hing at 4:39pm February 16
    Can u still touch-type?

    Roberta Baines at 4:41pm February 16
    this kind of thing happens in boulder?!
    speedy recovery… to your wheels… and well, to you.

    Jane Rubinstein at 4:49pm February 16
    Way, hope you are okay. That’s the most important thing. Bike can be replaced; you cannnot.

    Joey Johannsen at 4:49pm February 16
    hope you can simply be at home and let your body rest from the trauma it just experienced. peace-

    Sara J Taylor at 4:53pm February 16
    arnica-homeopathic or the flower essence….couple peeps just got hit this week in moab too-its in the air-glad you are ok sj

    Pearl Hansen at 4:53pm February 16 via Facebook Mobile
    Glad to hear you are ok!!

    Rebecca Carlson at 5:01pm February 16
    yowzah. yeah just let the tensing-up, which your CNS does automatically for protection, relax and unfurl over the next week from deep inside those muscles right next to the spine. Assist w/a natural muscle/tendon/joint gel by Peaceful Mountain here in Boulder @ Wholefoods. You may need to ‘remind’ them it’s okay to relax w/a Network chiro session (touch only, not manipulation) or a gentle-deep tissue cranio-sacral session. U can clear residual tension w/tinctures like Rescue Remedy by Bach Essences @ wholefoods. Focus your mind on your deathless being and keep a vision of your enduring health too. All these work wonders. keep doing stuff you enjoy. XOXO

    Christopher Spiewak at 5:08pm February 16
    Damn hybrids, they just don’t have the torque to kill a man.

    Sophie Lheritier at 5:08pm February 16
    I’m so sorry to hear, but so glad you’re ok. Take of easy… Give yourself the rest you need to ensure speedy recovery.

    David Lewis at 5:12pm February 16
    I tried calling but I hope you’re resting instead of answering the phone. But please do call or write when you can, love, Dad

    Hunter Quarterman at 5:23pm February 16
    oh man…that must have happened before I almost ran over you on foot crossing canyon at 9th!!! Mindfulness comes through again..

    Liz Joseph at 5:54pm February 16
    I’m glad you’re fine my little/big nephew.

    Clint Bodine at 6:21pm February 16
    I’m glad you are OK. Bikes grow on trees. Waylons don’t.

    Hollie Laudal at 6:31pm February 16 via Facebook Mobile
    Holy shit. Look at all the support you got! Mind-boggling. Even if your bike is trashed at least you know how ridiculously loved you are!!!

    Debra Liebowitz Caplin at 6:52pm February 16
    You seemed so calm after….what was the damage?

    William Brake at 8:19pm February 16
    GLAD YOU ARE OKAY…have been hit twice while bicycle commuting!!! most recent event was very traumatizing so understandably RELIEVED FOR YOU!!!

    Linda Sparrowe at 8:40pm February 16
    oh waylon, i’m so sorry to hear that. hope you’ll be ok.

    Luke Iwabuchi at 9:13pm February 16
    woh !

    Clarke Fountain at 9:33pm February 16
    I had one of those kinds of accidents when I was 11, ruined the bike, seriously damaged the car, got a bit of road rash on myself. I hope you’re okay and “rash” free!

    Tara Stiles at 9:50pm February 16
    wow waylon! glad you are ok. a world without you is not ok with me! i’m grateful for you on this planet!

    Walter Logue at 4:35am February 17
    Sure, I feel sorry for ya Waylon but LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO MY MERCEDES!!! be well bro

    Liza Buckley at 7:52am February 17
    I heard about this. So sorry. Hope you and Red are okay!!!

    Waylon Hart Lewis at 9:58am February 17
    Thanks all (except Timmy). Esp Dad and Rebecca (great advice, you should write an article on how to deal with shock). To make a long story short, I’m totally fine. For the long story: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/02/yesterday-bike-safety-hit-by-car/

  21. [...] by Spencer Sherman at Naropa University the other week. Since it was right after I’d been hit by a car on my bike, I was still a bit of a walking zombie…and only stayed for half the talk. Still, it was a [...]

  22. [...] been hit on my bike by a car a few weeks ago, and having failed to get the driver’s info, and finding myself still in daily pain though I [...]

  23. [...] Dear Waylon, Hi! I am glad you didn’t get killed when Pale Girl hit you.  I hope you (and your groin area) are okay. I have a consideration for elephant journal: I [...]

  24. [...] other stunning reversals, elephant journal dot com editor Waylon Lewis has hit a car with his bike, injuring the driver and failing to leave his name and insurance info. Perhaps he got a bump on his [...]

  25. [...] day—then attended my first yoga class, at Richard Freeman’s Yoga Workshop, since getting hit by a car on my bike. Now back to selling ads so this little elephant can keep [...]

  26. [...] admin A few months ago, I was hit by a car. I wore a helmet for a few weeks after, then started forgetting (as I rolled down the Hill upon [...]

  27. [...] I wasn’t hurt, glad I was wearing a helmet (Do you hear me Boulder?  I’m shouting.  Wear your helmets), glad I’m not too tottery so I can still go to the Trek Demo at Palos tomorrow.  Glad I can [...]

  28. [...] A few months ago, I was hit by a car. I wore a helmet for a few weeks, after, then started forgetting (as I rolled down the Hill upon which I live, inevitably about a minute into the ride I’d intone a silent dammit!)…then just gave up. It messes up your hair. It spoils that feeling of the wind and open sky, the convertible-top-down feeling that is bike riding. It’s hot, stuffy, it makes little noises around your ears, the very ears upon which I’m dependent to hear cars sneaking up behind me. It’s ugly, turning me from Waylon into a Legoman. [...]

  29. Gay Singles says:

    I am very pleased to see that you are putting so much of effort for encouraging the visitors with valueable posts like this, I have sent this post to my twitter.

  30. cac says:

    Waylon, I'm so glad you are ok.When I think about us losing your physical presence here on this crazy planet right now, it makes my heart hurt. I am in a financial crisis myself or I would help you out more in that area. These really are difficult times for so many, and like you, I urge those who are not suffering financially, to help their friends. We really need to keep body and soul together. And we can only do that… together.

    <<And like john joseph wrote above I also hope that your future children will be ok too.>> :)

    But srsly, one of my spiritual teachers told me that when we are in an accident, it kind of like JARS us into new spiritual space or something like that. Kind of like being knocked off of one train track onto another. If we survive it and don't go to that big 'ol train station in the sky, it's like a restart or a reboot to the system. At least I think that's what my teacher meant lol

    Well, take care. Much Much Love for you here. xo Carol (@carolann3888 on twtr)

  31. Nancy A says:

    so glad you are safe! what a bummer about your bike but it sure make a great post!

  32. Emily says:

    I fail to understand how the girl was at fault? You said you were riding on the sidewalk & she couldn't see you because of parked cars, right? She went to make a turn into an alleyway & you apparently rode off the sidewalk to cross the alley without looking & she hit you. When I make a turn, I'm not expecting a cyclist to be speeding down the sidewalk either so I wouldn't expect them to suddenly pop into my path either. You need to be in the street where cars can see you. If a street isn't safe, take another or do what you can to change it so the street becomes safe. But it sounds like you were riding irresponsibly. Where I live, you absolutely can NOT ride on the sidewalk.

  33. [...] Yes: if I’m spaced out or hit a pothole or, say, an antelope charges me, a helmet can help. But I don’t fall. I ride every day in all conditions and haven’t fallen for 7 years, once. I have a good grip. What does happen is I get hit by vehicles. I was hit two weeks ago. I was hit a year ago. I was hit two years before that. [...]

  34. Palesa says:

    I got hit by a car on monday. i'm fine just brused my arm and pulled a muscle in my other arm so nothing but it shocked me alot!!. i cryed all the way to schoo and i felt such high adrenaline that i felt sickish at school.. i just did't se ethis guy at all and its a place i go to everyday :/l. but something good kind of came out of it though, i had had anxiety problems for the last 5 yars and i haven't been on a bus in 3 years and this experience made me think i have to live now. so i went on one stop ( was really scary )so yeah..a crazy day :). but i hope people don't have to be hit by a car to notce they should live for now..

  35. Thanks a ton for posting this, I found it extremely informative, and it answered most on the concerns I had.

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