Thursday, March 30, 2017

No More Bloodletting In Florida; It's Back To Las Vegas And The West

It's time to spill the beans.

I'm returning to Las Vegas, southern Nevada and The West.

The Grim Reaper of Florida, better known as The Motorist, came a calling on March 7 while I was cycling in St. Lucie County. Claiming he never saw me, the driver plowed into me from behind, leaving me with C2 and L1 fractures in my spine, concussed and so much battering of my right leg that blood still is collecting in my knee to this day nearly four weeks later.

Prior to this inattentive driver by the name of Dennis Brophy, 65, of Fort Pierce smashing into me, things have not clicked as well as I had hoped for in Florida.

The fact that Brophy slammed his 2016 Chevy Cruze into me without even receiving a ticket from the St. Lucie County Sheriff's Office was a strong message.

It's time to leave Florida. It's an outrage that a careless, inattentive motorist can slam into a bicyclist without any legal culpability and citation.

My specific plans will become evident in about a week.

What is crystal clear is that I could not be on the road to recovery without so many generous people who sent cards, prayers, donations, food, positive vibes, healing mojo and their love. I know who you are and I will always be grateful.

It hasn't been easy.

Last week, my doctor was done with the giant syringe and needle after filling a plastic cup with my blood.

He extracted the red liquid from my bloated knee because so much blood had collected there that it looked like a water balloon compared to my good left leg.

The hematomas and bruises in my quad and thigh muscles had leaked so much blood to my knee that the collected blood formed a blanket of liquid enveloping the knee joint.

It inhibited the knee from bending.

So, the blood just had to go.

My doc squirted my blood from the syringe into the cup. And soon after, flexibility to the knee joint returned.

Plus, I was happy for another reason.

The crash, indeed, fractured my C2 and L1. And this is where a higher power intervened. The fractures faced in toward my skeletal frame and away from my spinal canal.

That meant my nervous system was unharmed.

No tingly feelings. No paralysis.

So, tomorrow, which the marks the fourth week after the crash, I will be able to remove a cervical neck collar brace I have been wearing 24 7 since the moment I showed up in the Lawnwood Medical Center ICU.

My real estate agent has planted the "For Sale" signs in the yard and I hope to be returning to The West by mid-May.

And my intention is to be pedaling in Red Rock Canyon once again.

*     *     *

My former Denver Post pal -- Steve Lipsher -- wrote a Sunday column on how the police and justice system treat bicyclists as collateral damage at the hands of careless drivers.

And Glenn Henderson, my former Palm Beach Post editor, was angered over the fact the driver who smashed his car into me walked away scot-free without one iota of legal culpability or a citation. Glenn wrote this powerful Facebook post Sunday that puts everything into perspective:

A nationally known bicycle safety advocate is riding his bike through St. Lucie County and is struck from behind by a motorist who admits he was distracted. The bicyclist survives but suffers a broken bone in his neck and other injuries -- saved only by a helmet that was crushed between his skull and windshield but provided sufficient protection to prevent a devastating, or possibly fatal, brain injury. And yet, authorities decide this is not worthy of ticketing the motorist, as if momentary inattention somehow does not equate evidence of negligence.
This saddens me on so many counts:
-- First, the bicyclist is Alan Snel (see his blog item attached), a longtime friend and former co-worker, who has now decided to move back West, where motorists show at least a semblance of concern for those using two wheels to get around.
-- It provides further evidence that St. Lucie County is a very dangerous place for cyclists and pedestrians, who have limited options but to share roadways with those who see two-wheelers as an inconvenience to get around.
-- Florida law enforcement views bicyclists as contributors to accidents in which they are victims, something that will only change if legislators decide this is an issue that demands action.
-- And finally, despite the fact that this ironic and cautionary tale has occurred in our own backyard, no local media has covered the story, though the news has appeared in the Tampa Times and Denver Post, where bicycling is obviously more of a community concern.
This past Christmas, my wife and I considered buying bikes again, primarily for health reasons. But I held off over concerns that our health might actually suffer -- at the hands of "inattentive" motorists. It appears I was right. Sadly, nothing will change until laws are passed that, we hope, will force feed a new perception to those behind the wheel of a potential killing machine that everyone between the yellow lines deserves respect and attention.


Trudy said...

In my opinion it is a death wish to ride on Gulf Blvd for instance , I would never bicycle rental and ride there on the beach roads with the tourist traffic !! not your case I know but just a forewarning some areas are definitely at higher risk than others. Enjoy Las Vegas healing prayers and please stay safe. Yes there is room for improvement here in Florida but I have bicycled here 50 years and not been injured. Pinellas Trails has zero motorized vehicles on it and bicycle trails at parks are shady and wonderfully scenic change of pace from Pinellas Trail.

Jacqueline Middleton said...

Dear Alan, agree with Trudy, above: "Go West, young man!" But not west to Las Vegas, rather back here to West Coast Florida. As you know, we're making huge headway in implementing the "City of St. Petersburg Bicycle and Pedestrians" Master Plan, and we could sure use your energy, savvy, and momentum to help us carry on. That is, after you heal. Know that you are loved. Whatever you decide, please heal well. That's what matters most.