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.
So well written Andrea – a bit of your wonderful humour and a lot of your compassion and common sense attitude.
I heard about this accident and am glad that you were able to provide us with an update on Glenn. As for the driver of the SUV, I hope she loses her licence and has to walk or take public transit where she isn’t a threat/danger to anyone else.
She should also have to do some type of bicycle public service work so that she learns that there are people in the city that don’t feel the need to drive impaired (texting/talking on the phone is an impairment).
Hey, I am not going to try to cause an arguement here. I agree whole heartedly with you about the dangers of texting and driving and other distractions that may happen. I do sympathize with Glenns situation. However, in my experience with cyclists in general, most DO NOT follow road laws. I have found as many cyclists at fault in accidents as cars. I have seen 2 cyclists rear ending vehicles, a cyclist hit a padestrian because he did not stop at a red light. I see cyclists every day going through reds, stop sights, cross walks, talking on THEIR CELLPHONE. So while I agree with you on texting and driving I also think that you need to not just point the finger at people who drive cars because there are just as many bad cyclists out there. Also… when a cyclist hits my car, where is their insurance to cover MY damage, do they get arrested for leaving the scene… not likely. Bike laws in this city need to be changed and they need to pay insurance if they are on the roads. They need some accountability just like anyone else does. I am sorry for the rant. I am sorry for Glenns accident and I do hope the driver gets what she deserves and learns a lesson. Sorry ahead if my views piss you off.
I can’t believe after reading this that you defend the car/SUV. You are a heartless asshole. A person just almost dies and you start to talk about how cyclist’s are the danger or that damage done to the car is not covered. Even after he is lying on the ground and the SUV had left him there on the side of the road,no compassion for being human or his well being. That is the problem.It doesn’t matter who caused the accident, it is about compassion for the human,man or women you fuck head!
in response to AJC204.
I was cut off by a vehicle 4 years ago that proceeded to slam on its brakes right in front of me leaving me nowhere to go except into and over the back of his car. resulting in a broken elbow on my my part. I went through all the legal and medical channels and after all was said and done MPI went found the accident to be a 50/50 at fault accident. Mostly because the driver of the car gave a false statement to the cops, and my witnesses disappeared because MPI took so long to investigate. MPI then went after me for half the damages to the car. (i could have fought it but it would have been too expensive.)
YOU have insurance for YOUR vehicle, if YOU are not at fault then YOU pay only the deductible. that’s why you have insurance…
As a motorist and an avid cyclist who’s seen the system at work, and having been found partially at fault in an accident involving a vehicle and a bicycle (where I was the cyclist). I know that everyone on the road is liable and responsible for their own actions no matter what vehicle you are operating.
cyclists and motorists need to share the road and be aware of their surroundings. Hang up the phone, pay attention, and everyone out there will be safer as a result.
Please don’t apologize, you make some very valid points. This post was certainly one-sided, and intentionally so given the circumstances. I’ve written several other posts that do show both sides. When a group of seasoned commuters were recently asked what pisses them off most about Winnipeg roads, the answer was (almost unanimously) other cyclists. The ones you mention are the ones that make us look bad and put us all in danger. There is no excuse. I often say some people drive like assholes, regardless of their mode of transportation.
Unfortunately, one main difference is that if a cyclist hits your car, you might get a dent, or damage your paint job. Don’t get me wrong, that sucks. But if you hit a cyclist with your car, they might get dead. That sucks more.
Thanks again for your comments. It is important to see both sides and work together to get the assholes off the road.
I appreciate you actually looking at both sides. A lot of people if I would say that to them, they would respond with snide remarks about how cyclists have just as much right on the road and don’t actually take a second to think about the implications of both sides. So I appreciate you not flipping out on me :). I just want to say that one of the rear endings I saw… The cyclist actually went through the rear window. They driver of the car took his info so that the window would be covered but everyone stopped to make sure he was ok. He was loopy as hell but he was ok. I just want to say one more thing. One of the worst places in the city for drivers weather cyclist or motor vehicle has to be the midtown bridge. you have such a tight space and you have cars cutting each other off there and cyclists weaving in and out there. It is just the worst spot with the worst drivers. Hate it there. Happy I go to Red River College right now and get to avoid downtown traffic. Again thank you cycle chick for giving me a chance to say how I feel and not skewering me for saying it. You are a rare individual and it was nice to have a conversation and not an argument on the topic. I will more drivers(cyclist and motorists) were like you.
At the end of the day. It really just boils down to car driver & cyclist both respecting the laws and having some consideration for each other. Seems we are all a little guilty of being too self indulged.
Thanks Andrea. As both a cycle commuter and a motorist, I am guilty of all charges. This is a good reminder for me to improve my safety ethic on both fronts.
Thanks for this Andrea. I have known Glenn for a long time and I think what you say about him rings true. Instead of entering into polemics over motor-vehicle/bicycle accountability , I would like to comment on the societal malaise of living virtually. A substantial facet of society (this includes cyclists, motorists and beyond) has become lulled into some technologically inspired stupor, with its constant compulsion to share minutiae, transmit the inconsequential or receive some artificial sense of approval — all of which is very distracting, and potentially dangerous. The virtual has the ability to obliterate the present — at the moment of impact that driver surely had no awareness of time or place. Glenn was saved that day by some crack in time or some forgiving angle in the impact or fall. If circumstance had been slightly different, this piece could have had a whole other tone. I think we could all benefit by recognizing “multi-tasking” as a societal pathology rather than an excuse for efficiency. Thanks!
Excellent post, Andrea.
When did this happen? I would hope a hit-and-run would at least make the local news!
I hope Glenn is feeling better, and recovers quickly. Thanks for the post.
P.S. I was one of the people to recognize your celebrity status at Darkcross.
Great you have a chance to recover. good that you are in the land of health care. I hope the lady has offered some kind of sincere apology and has here day in court!
I agree with some of the comments above about cyclist not obeying laws along with motorists. Here in Oregon that is a big topic. Yet almost every major accident between the two is caused by a motorist not f..ing paying attention, Not by cyclist breaking some road law.
Thanks for sharing this Andrea
Thank-you Andrea for this ride carefully with caution message very important to both rider and car driver
Every morning that I ride and return to my gate I thank whoever is watching over the road cyclist that day that I made it home from the ride without injury .
A speedy recovery Glenn and I hope that the person who caused your injury see’s the error of their ways .
Thanks for writing this brilliant homage to what it means to be Glenn, a bike courier & a cyclist. As a fellow veteran Winnipeg bike courier your words really ring true with our passion for what we do everyday.
Get well soon Glenn.
I was hit by an SUV on Friday, and a friend of mine was hit by an SUV on Monday. The driver hit her and drove off, and when I was hit the driver assured me she was “an ER nurse and I looked OK” before driving off (I had fallen right in front of her vehicle and she would have had to roll over me and my bike to keep going, but I didn’t have time to take her plate).
Both my friend and I were hit by a burnt-orange SUV and are trying to find the person responsible. Could this possibly be the same person?
I’m so sorry to hear about your and your friend’s accidents. It certainly sounds like an odd coincidence. I hope you both reported the collisions to the police, even if you didn’t have the license plate. It sound like you have a good description of both the vehicle and driver that would be of great use.
It’s also important for police to have an accurate record of the number of car/bike collisions. Those records help make the case for improving infrastructure, education, and stiffer penalties for those who are a danger to others.
I don’t know the colour of SUV that hit Glenn, or what penalties the driver has been given. But I sure would like to know.
I hate reading stories like this, especially when they are about the roads I grew up riding myself. Having recently travelled to the Netherlands, I can say they, by far, have the right attitude towards cyclists. Not only are the drivers courteous, but the municipal laws, so I was told by my host Hayley, are heavily in favour of those who travel by bike. Surely other cities should be taking a page out the Dutch Book of Cycling Safety. The roads in the Limburg Province were an absolute dream (compared to the roads in Great Britain).
Best wishes to Glenn for a speedy recovery.
Motorists can be wrong:
Cyclists can be wrong:
In the battle, the cyclist will lose, no matter who is to blame.
You may be able to afford the best prosthesis or wheelchair as a result, but………..
I ride my bike and my motorcycle with the attitude “They are out to kill me”
Yup, even YOU.
PS: The only reason it is DOD and not Dead Old Dad, is that a cheapo styro helmet minimized the brain scramble when a dog knocked me off my bicycle.
Keep the shiny side up, hope Glenn is OK.
Great post Andrea. Back in the 90’s I was an “Effective Cycling” instructor. The program was replaced by Can-Bike. I taught kids and adults how to cycle safe, obey rules of road etc. At the time the research on car-bike collisions showed the vast majority of fault was with motorists.
Pooling all the research including the most recent shows a near 50/ 50 split for fault, with a 5ish % advantage going to motorists causing more collisions.
The stats agree really well with your sentiment that drivers can suck whether they drive a car or ride a bike.
That’s my take as well. Take away the bike or car and we’re left with people.
I do have a caveat though. Which seems to be a popular point of contention. I’m stealing your words again.. When cyclist hits car chances are it won’t be terribly bad for the car. Doesn’t work too well playing role reversal.
When I’m driving my car an encounter a cyclist, whether they’re riding nice (what I see mostly) or a like a freak on acid (I’ve seen this rarely), I take extra caution. I’ve got air bags and tones of steel. The cyclist has SFA for protection, except a helmut.. hopefully. Since I’m the one that can cause the most harm and am the least vulnerable it seems to me I should consider this.
I’m not saying it’s the car drivers responsibility to act on behalf of the cyclist or that cyclists are released from culpability in accidents they cause, but it does seem obvious to me to give the cyclists more room, rather than side swipe them.
BTW, I was nearly killed by a driver in ’91. I was T-boned while riding straight by a left turning driver who peeled out trying beat me but ended up tying me. Although it was a tie, I lost. 7 days in hospital. Broken arm, crushed muscles.
I guess the driver lost too. Lost his license and was criminally charged with reckless driving.
It’s not a contest that anyone can win so maybe, as has been mentioned before, if there is simply more respect for people’s humanity and vulnerability we’d be better off.
It’s not about painted lines, it’s about common decency.
I am not a cyclist. For many reasons, I choose not to cycle, one of which is that I do not feel like I would be safe to cycle in the city.
As a driver, I feel uncomfortable when I approach a cyclist on the road. I question if they know and/or abide to the traffic laws. I realize that I should be questioning other drivers as well, but the fact that they (should) have a license to drive means they at least should know the rules, and anyone can buy and learn to ride a bike, without any ‘training.’ I do not know if there are traffic rules and regulations when it comes to cycling. For example, it seems that each cyclist that I encounter at a 4 way stop act in different ways. What is the correct and courteous way for both parties to act?
Is there a resource to explain how the relationship between a cyclist and a driver on the road?? I do not want to fear cyclists on the road. I want to find a common ground where I feel safe and they do too.
If you’re in Manitoba, MPI has a PDF available which gives guidelines to both cyclists and motorists. That said, it does indicate that many of these guidelines have vague definitions and that it’s up to everyone on the road to be as alert and watchful (and courteous) as possible.
This is the link to the file: http://www.mpi.mb.ca/english/rd_safety/BikeSafe/BikeSafePDF.pdf
And my own two cents–my pet peeve is cyclists on the sidewalk! I realize that many don’t feel safe on the road and I don’t blame them with stories like these, but until more cyclists demand road space by simply riding on the road, there won’t be any major changes to the laws or behaviours of the city planners and motorists.
What about the pedestrian? The people with no car or bike. The people who get around on foot. When I’m walking on the street, I’m tempted to carry rocks in my hand to be ready to throw it at drivers or cyclists. There are too many incidents that I was able to cross a 4 way stop sign and somehow cyclist thinks they don’t need to stop and when I put one foot on the road, they speed up and yelled at me as a gesture that “I’m not stopping so back off.” I’m a human being too. Based on my own walking, crossing 4 way stop sign experience, most cars stop but not cyclist.
Please don’t carry rocks. Some people are jerks regardless of what they ride or drive. The rules of the road need to be obeyed by all, but more importantly we all have to show courtesy and respect for each other and we learn to share the road – drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
This post has legs!
Teresa.. everyone who has the blessing of still being able to walk is a pedestrian. We are not what we drive or ride we are people. These contrived tribes are divisive. Think about it. You have to walk to get to a bus, to get to a car, to get to a bike. What if ride my bike to a bus station, do a park and ride to work, then later the same day drive my car to the grocery store, then go for a walk after dinner? What am I? Who am I supposed to be angry with? Who am I supposed to throw rocks at?
This is totally about respect for others. Demonizing and stereotyping others to justify hate and bigotry makes everyone feel like crap. Who likes to be hated and how does it feel emotionally when we express hatred and fear of others?
It sucks.. That’s how it feels.
When we see a “pedestrian”, “cyclist”, or “motorist” do something dumb, does that really mean everyone in that contrived group is like that? Really? I mean.. really? Didn’t we (people) do a bunch of protest stuff a few decades ago speaking out against discrimination, stereotyping and such?
Aren’t we supposed to be capable of being beyond this?
I really don’t like it when a motorist purposefully tries to run me off the road when I’m on my bike, but I don’t think that all motorists are like that. I feel really unsettled when a pedestrian darts out across the middle of the road with no warning when I’m driving my car or riding my bike, but hey, that’s not all “pedestrians”.
Do you see how this works? It’s like Andrea is saying, its individual people, not the thing they are on or in.
Following rules of the road is important for us all to get around predictably and safe in a city where we people have to share space respectfully with each-other. Regardless of rules though, respect and courteousness goes a long way. I’m not saying be nice to drunk drivers and let them drive it off because they’re people too, We don’t need to be that naive.. I’m saying that for the most part, most of the time, if we give each other some space.. let that car in with the turn signal on, let the bus get through, wait for the pedestrian or the cyclist.. if we do this out of common respect we get it back too as others respect us.
No, I’m not imagining an unobtainable rose coloured utopia. We’re human. Not everyone is going play along, but overall we’re doing not too bad.. it’s just that we could do a little bit better with a little more self respect and respect for others.
Doesn’t it feel good when someone takes consideration for you? How good does it make you feel when you do a nice thing for someone else? That’s where it’s at.
Pretty simple but we complicate it with hate, fear, prejudice, and stereotyping. When we go down that path it snowballs; we feel like we have to vindicate our hate, we become closed minded and retrete into our like minded groups and then everyone is pissed off at everyone else.
We don’t need a superficial love-in, but we don’t need an embellished hate-in either.
Here’s CBC’s story relating to Glenn’s accident.
I’m a long time cycle commuter, and I love this discussion. I’m thrilled with the slow change in attitude towards cycling our city is experiencing, and all the folks out there trying out a healthy, clean, and fun activity – maybe for the first time. Welcome aboard. We’ve got a long way to go, but attitudes are changing, mostly in the right direction.
My message is mostly for fellow cyclists. The better we can ride, the safer we’ll be, and the better motorists will like us. Some tips:
1. Don’t run red lights. It just pisses everyone off so much.
2. You have a right to a lane, but don’t be a jerk about it. If you don’t need to turn left or establish your position, keep right, and ride straight and predictably.
3. Don’t make a motorist pass you twice. Many cars will move over or even change lanes to get around you, but don’t abuse that courtesy by passing them on the left at the next light. The next time they pass you, they’re going to be mad at you.
4. Stay off the sidewalk. You think it’s safer, but one of the few times (15 plus years of commuting) I’ve nearly been hit by a car are on the sidewalk. There are situations where driving on the sidewalk can be surprisingly dangerous. You are fast moving vehicle, and neither pedestrians nor cars expect those on the sidewalk.
5. Choose your route carefully. If you’re making a lifestyle change, you may end up riding your bike thousands of times over the next few years. Statistically, you are more likely to be hurt on some roads than others, so choose a safer route, even if its a bit longer.
6. FOCUS. You are a vehicle in traffic. Don’t listen to headphones or screw around with your phone, or show everyone how you can ride with no hands. Pay attention, and ride assuming that the motorist will make a mistake.
All excellent and constructive tips Andrew – thanks for sharing the fruits of your years of experience! Cheers!
I commute by bike daily and I can’t even count the amount of times I have nearly been hit because of the carelessness or spitefulness of drivers. On many days I narrowly avoid being hit MULTIPLE times on my way to work. This incident could have easily happened to me, or any of my friends, and that is pretty scary.
Drivers routinely roar past me with barely enough clearance, their side view mirrors coming with in an inch of my elbow, even though they could have moved over by a few feet into the empty lane next to them in order to pass me safely. It is for this reason that I now ride in the center of the lane whenever there are no bike-only paths available. Evidently my life is not safe in your hands. Sorry, I guess.
Drivers turn out from perpendicular streets, barely slowing down, much less stopping (at the stop sign). Drivers picking their nose, checking their make-up, making phone calls, texting using both hands, engaged in conversations (SO interesting, apparently, that they can’t drive in a straight line). Though a lot of it is ignorance and carelessness, it often feels like some motorists are intentionally trying to bully me off the road (or just plain kill me).
There is no question that in Winnipeg many drivers feel entitled to the ENTIRE road, and the presence of any cyclists (even those abiding by traffic rules) incite a strange, violent and often lethal rage.
The city appears to be making gradual changes to the infrastructure in order to be more accommodating to cyclists, and public attitudes are gradually shifting, but the fact remains that in a lot of areas there is a daily struggle between cyclists and motorists. It is a frustrating and inconvenient situation for both parties, but it is only typically lethal for one.
I can’t afford the bus pass, much less a car. My bike is the only means I have to commute in an efficient manner. I cross my fingers every day that a situation like this doesn’t happen to me, because that is all I can do. There is nothing you can do if you are struck from behind. Cars don’t seem like a big deal because they are such an integral part of most people’s lives. It is easy to forget that every time you drive you are harnessing a lethal amount of power.
My heart goes out to Glenn. I hope he is able to recover quickly, and I hope that both motorists and cyclists are more vigilant in the future. Thank you for posting this article, I hope it helps people to wake up. Though it looks like Glenn was pretty badly injured, this is probably the best case scenario for a cyclist involved in a collision with a vehicle. Many others each year aren’t lucky enough to survive. Please think about that when you receive a text or call while driving.
“Cyclist” wrote: “I can’t afford the bus pass, much less a car. My bike is the only means I have to commute in an efficient manner.”
This is an excellent observation, IMO. We’ve missed the income gradient that exists in transportation, and that at a minimum wage job, cycling is the most efficient alternative. However, usually the low-income areas where cycling can do the most good, the structures, communications and planning are the most under-developed. Hence, when (I should say “if” since I’ve never seen any entity do this work in Wpg) the accidents and fatalities are mapped over a long period of time, it’s obvious that they are most frequent in low-income neighbourhoods or pathways that lead to and from them, especially to worksites that pay minimum wage.
As a motorist (and long time motorcyclist) who has lived in many parts of Canada over the last 40 years it seems Wpg has more than its share of inconsiderate, dangerous both motorists and bike riders. I just spent two weeks driving in Ottawa last month and if that city is an example it is the closest I have seen to harmony between vehicles and bikes sharing the road. Bikes there, at least in my observation, generally obeyed traffic laws, wore something bright, had lights, signalled when turning etc….. Not so here. There’s definitely room for improvement on both sides. To sum up due to lack of obeying traffic laws, not signalling, lane splitting bikes concern me and when in my car or on my motorcycle I stay the hell away because of their unpredictability. One thing that bothers me is when there is an vehicle/bike accident the vehicle driver is assumed to be guilty when anyone with half a brain knows this is not always the case. As far as coming out second best when you go strap on your bike and go drive in traffic well that is the price of admission to riding where cars etc are – the same risk I am exposed to on my motorcycle……the message here is wear appropriate protective gear and equip your bike with the tools to help you – I.E. a mirror to begin with at the very least. Nobody wants an accident but we all are responsible to some degree for our own safety. The streets in Ottawa are in a lot of places not as wide as here in Wpg but somehow the cars and bikes seem to get along almost like there is a mutual respect for each others rights. I hope it eventually happens here. I’d love to ride a bike here but more than a few car drivers scare me too. The city’s new bike lanes will help.
Piloting any mode of transportation already involves multiple-tasking. When your vehicle is on the road your undivided attention should be there as well.
[…] When I sat down to write Glenn’s story, I certainly did not expect it to make the evening news. More importantly, when Glenn agreed to let […]
Great article, I remember reading about this in the newspaper. I got caught up in reading some of the many passionate responses you had to your blog post. I have been cycling for many years and have had two accidents where I was hit by a vehicle, one driven by a man in his 80s, and many near misses. Education is needed for both drivers and cyclists. The roads are getting better/safer I think as more and more cyclists take to the roads.
Not much has changed in the last year. Bikes are still for the most part ignoring traffic laws here in Winnipeg…. Stop signs, red lights, signalling etc are for others its seems. If we had enough cops on the road that would charge bikes as they do cars maybe things would improve and common sense would prevail. But, for all the tens of millions the city of Winnipeg pays for the police force cops on the road seem to be a rarity.
Once again I was just in Ottawa for a couple of weeks and driving there and interacting with bikes on the road by comparison is great. Not so here. And, one has to ask Why? I think the answer is attitude.
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