This is Glenn

I guess we’ve known each other for about ten years now. I don’t really know much about him, and he could certainly say the same of me. He’s pretty quiet and kind of reminds me of a young, slightly less tortured Matt Dillon. A couple of times a week he comes to my office, and when he does I must suppress the urge to casually bring up my obsession with bikes, and my overwhelming envy of the fact he gets to ride one all day.

Glenn is my bike courier.

His company is Ghostrider Messenger, and they deliver packages for us year round. In over ten years he has never been late, lost or damaged a package, bitched about the weather, or refused to deliver any of the ridiculously unwieldy packages we have laden him with. If I ever had to transport a flock of live chickens halfway across town, I am quite sure Glenn would find a way to stuff them into his well-worn messenger bag.The other day, I called in a pick up and Glenn didn’t come. Someone who was not Glenn came instead. Normally I would not have noticed this detail from the privacy of my office, but I needed to talk to him. I had another package that needed to go to the other end of the city – something I would normally have our “car” courier do – but it was a nice day and I remembered Glenn saying he liked to do long routes sometimes.

But it wasn’t Glenn. As I scurried down the hall to reception, Not Glenn must have seen the puzzled look on my face and said “Glenn was in an accident. He was hit by an SUV.”

I’ve been wanting, somehow, to talk to Glenn for a long time. I’ve never mentioned this blog, or the fact that I have been involved in some discussions lately with the establishment about bike safety. I was worried he’d think I was some crazy old lady trying to be cool. Or even worse, trying to pick him up. I wanted to get his take on the safety of riding these roads. I wanted to talk to him about what a bike courier does to protect themselves everyday from the dangers that keep so many people from making the terrifying leap from car to bike.

But I didn’t.

By all accounts, the woman who hit him came from behind and never even touched the brakes. It sounds likely she was texting or otherwise paying attention to her phone instead of the road. Maybe she was doing something that just couldn’t wait, like checking to see if anyone “liked” or commented on the picture of her cat she posted on Facebook.

She was the only car on the road, except for the witness who managed to catch her after she took off, leaving Glenn, barely conscious on the pavement, 50 feet from his bike. Perhaps she didn’t notice when he hit her front bumper, rolled over her hood, into the windshield, over the roof and off the back end of her SUV. In fact, she drove away so quickly that the only reason the witness was able to catch her is that she got a flat tire. Maybe there is a God after all – and she will fuck you up if you hit a cyclist.

By now you probably think the worst. Good. Because although Glenn did not die that day, lying broken on the road while his killer drove away in her SUV, he very well could have. Glenn is alive and mostly well, and plenty pissed off. He has lots of bad bruises, road rash and a cracked vertebra. He probably won’t be able to work for some time.

He posted this picture and told me I could share it with you.I offered to crop it, for his privacy. His response? “No need. I like my ass.”

Glenn does have a fine ass, no doubt from riding his bike everyday – something he will hopefully be well enough to do again really soon.

Texting, and distracted driving in general, scares the shit out of me. I don’t know what scares me more, the idea of being hit or the idea of hitting someone else. Probably the latter. As a driver, we have all had moments of distraction – your laptop slides off the seat, your kid spills his apple juice, someone rides by you on a sweet looking bike. As a rider, it is one of the few things you cannot really protect yourself from. No bike lane, loud coloured jersey, or use of proper hand signals are going to save you if someone in a car behind you doesn’t have a sweet clue you are there.

Glenn’s accident was a painful reminder (for him especially) of how vulnerable we can be in traffic. If you are a rider – be careful, and try to use designated bike lanes and paths wherever possible. If you are a driver, for God’s sake, put down the phone – as hard as it may be to believe, there was a time not so long ago that you could make it from one place to the another without knowing what your friends are having for lunch.

Hope to see your ass back at work soon Glenn. Cheers.