Bike to Work Week is meant to encourage more people to commute by bicycle, but participating left Mayor Henry Braun with cuts and bruises – and a new appreciation for cyclists.
While taking part in the week, which ran May 25 to 29, Braun was in an accident while biking home.
As he rode away from city hall, on a street with a lot of traffic, Braun said he sensed a vehicle getting too close behind him.
“I thought ‘boy, I need to move closer to the sidewalk, because I think this guy is going to hit me’.”
He felt he had to go onto the sidewalk or be hit, but when he tried to go up the curb, he was sent crashing into the sidewalk.
Braun said part of the incident was his fault, as he had moved closer to the curb, thinking it would leave room for the driver to pass.
In retrospect, he should have moved further into the lane, “because people say you have to own the lane and make the drivers go around.
“I never really understood that until this happened.”
Braun, who was wearing a helmet, said he “got a pretty good whack on the head,” and was bleeding from his head and his hand, along with some bruises.
“I was not a big fan of helmets on bicycles either – I am now converted.”
He said he wasn’t sure if the driver of the car knew what happened, but a vehicle in next lane stopped to see if he was okay.
The bike had bent handlebars and the chain came off, he said.
“I was in 10th gear; I wasn’t going slowly.”
Now that he’s almost healed, Braun said he’s taken the incident as a learning experience.
“I learned a lot about what people who bicycle encounter,” citing broken glass, pebbles and grates as some of the dangers cyclists come across.
He said he learned why cyclists choose to drive into the middle of the lane – it’s for their own safety.
“I will never again get so close to the curb and try to be courteous to the car … I’m going to own the lane.”
It’s also something he’s thinking about at a city level, saying he has talked to the city manager about the need to look at the city’s bicycle lanes and their connectivity, “because if we really want to encourage people to cycle, we are going to have to connect the dots.”
He was also amazed at how many people are actually cycling, adding some city employees bike every day.
Braun added that he still plans to try and bike to work about twice a week.
“I have a new appreciation … for cyclists.”