And he was not wearing a helmet.
Marilyn’s response was that I should write a column about bicycle safety, especially the need to wear a helmet, as she reminded me about my two bicycle accidents that landed me in the hospital emergency room.
“You can take a photo of your wrecked bike (which still hangs in our garage),” she said.
I don’t like to be reminded of my accidents because they could have been avoided if I had been more careful.
My latest visit to the emergency room occurred in October 2011 as I was heading east on the shoulder of Leonard Road. I don’t remember much about the accident except for people gathering around me as I lay on the ground in pain.
I hit my head on the pavement, bruised my shoulder and ribs, badly scraped up my knee, and fractured an upper bone in my vertebrate column.
I spent several hours in the emergency room before medical personnel gave my wife the OK to drive me home. It was a very uncomfortable night.
Several days later, I was examined by a neurosurgeon. He shook his head after I finished describing to him what had happened. I had told him that I was wearing a bicycle helmet and that it had cracked.
The doctor told me that the helmet probably prevented me from being paralyzed or even killed.
My first accident took place a couple of years earlier when I hit a bump on a bicycle path. That time I broke my shoulder blade and fractured some ribs.
As the weather is finally turning warmer, more people will be out riding their bicycles. Riding a bike is a great form of exercise. I had to turn to bike riding after I could no longer run because of a cranky knee. My doctor suggested that I give up running and take up bicycling.
It is important to follow the rules of the road and practice bicycle safely. I now have a rearview mirror on my bike and I always wear a helmet.
Unfortunately, I see too many people without helmets riding bikes. You might think that you won’t get injured because you’re not going very fast. However, it doesn’t take much to fall off your bike and hit your head — possibly suffering a concussion.
National statistics bear out the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the chance of death by 85 percent. The agency also reported that, in 2011, 67 percent of bicyclists killed were not wearing helmets.
The agency writes: “Helmets are important for riders of all ages, not just young bicyclists. Eighty-four percent of bicycle deaths are persons 20 and older.”
So please, if you’re not wearing a helmet, start wearing one. Adults can set a good example for their children by wearing helmets.
It is also very important to know the rules of the road. The Tribune, in its latest Mailbag column, recently printed portions of the Michigan Vehicle Code dealing with bicycle riding.
According to the code, bicyclists are required to obey the same traffic laws as motorists. This means that if you are traveling on a road used by vehicles, you must ride in the same direction as the vehicles. Bicyclists must also obey stop signs and stop lights.
While many bicyclists take advantage of our wonderful system of bike paths, including me, some prefer to ride on roads. It is important for motorists and bicycle riders to be aware of each other and to respect each other’s rights. While it is legal for bikers to ride two abreast, it would be wiser to ride single file when a vehicle approaches.
Spring and summer are great times to get out on your bike and to enjoy our beautiful area. But it is also a time to be extra careful and safe.
I know that I am going to do my best to follow the rules and to wear my bicycle helmet. I hope you do, too.