By Mallory Goeke
“Mom, I was hit by a car!”
I will always remember June 4, 1999. I was 11 and riding my bike was my ticket to freedom. My hometown of Cimarron was small enough that I could bike wherever I wanted as long as I was home by dark.
I had been cruising down a large street on my way home from the pool. For a hyper kid like me, coasting downhill at top speed made me feel invincible. I made the decision to skip my normal route home in lieu of continuing my exhilarating ride. As I reached the bottom of the hill, I turned quickly into an empty parking lot, performed a few fun tricks and figure 8’s, then I zipped out to go up the large hill again.
I wasn’t invincible.
The next scene plays out in slow motion: I saw the red car headed for me, but it was too late. I froze. I had been going so fast out of the parking lot that I couldn’t stop in time. Neither could the driver behind the wheel.
I felt the sickening crunch of the fender hitting my bike tire which sent me flying into the air and onto the windshield. I can still see the terrified expressions of the boys who hit me. I wonder if they still remember mine?
I remember rolling off the windshield and landing on my knees. I was in shock. My face hurt and I remember feeling that my two front teeth had been chipped right down the center. My knees were scrapped up and I was shaking like an earthquake. I had just been hit by a car. How did that happen?
I can’t completely blame the driver who hit me, nor can I completely place all the blame on myself. The fact of the matter is anyone who is riding a bike should be doubly aware of their surroundings before zipping out of parking lots, driveways or intersecting streets.
At the same time, drivers need to constantly be on the lookout for bikers and pedestrians, especially children who dart out into the streets without looking. It can happen in an instant and lives can be forever changed or ended due to carelessness and distracted driving. Just because you are seen, doesn’t mean there is enough time to get out of the way or stop.
I was so lucky. I walked away with a scraped knee, a chipped tooth and a fear of driving in traffic that has stayed with me ever since that day, but I was alive. Not everyone lives to tell their story.
Mallory Goeke is a Communication Specialist in KDOT’s Office of Public Affairs