Before you pedal …
March 26, 2020 § 30 Comments
I have greatly curtailed my riding, although not completely as it’s my sole means of transportation. What follows though is mostly applicable to driving as well as cycling. It’s not meant to admonish or advise, but simply to provide you with a real-world example of what can happen if you decide to ride during the Covid-19 pandemic and get hurt.
This particular cyclist I’m going to tell you about rode professionally for over a decade. He knows how to ride.
He decided to get out and enjoy some of the forced time-off from work, and rode over to the bike path. He’d been riding for a short while and came upon three riders, all side by side, on hybrid-cruiser type bikes.
The rider slowed and moved to the far left of the bike path to pass. At the very moment that he was about to go by, the left-most cyclist made an abrupt left swerve. The rider slammed into her and was thrown ten or fifteen feet, landing on his shoulder.
EMS came after an hour’s delay and took him to a hospital that was not a trauma center. They looked at his shoulder and sent him home. His entire AC joint had been smashed from the impact. The next day he got to his health insurer’s hospital. The surgeon told him that they wouldn’t be able to operate due to Covid-19 directives, which were that the only permitted surgeries were for patients who had internal bleeding or who had a life-threatening condition. His joint had in fact bled, but only slightly and on the day of the collision. By the time he was being examined, the bleeding had stopped and the surgeon couldn’t operate.
He was told that the next chance for surgery would be 3-4 months at the earliest, during which time his shoulder would be permanently frozen. The only thing they could prescribe was physical therapy, which of course is useless for a shattered AC joint. Moreover, he was advised that when surgery was finally done, it would require a total reconstruction and that the damage to his arm by that time would likely be irreversible and lifelong.
A friend reached out to me yesterday asking about whether or not anyone was doing the Thursday Flog ride. I told him I wasn’t riding recreationally during this time, but couldn’t speak for anyone else.
Most of us ride knowing well, and accounting for, the risk that we might fall and get hurt. But that risk is balanced by our need for exercise, our love of riding, and our assumption that if we do get hurt, we’ll have access to some form of medical care. The reality of the Covid-19 pandemic is that no matter how good your insurance, the wrong confluence of events could land you in dire straits.
For some people, that risk won’t be enough to keep them off their bikes. For others, it may be a set of facts they hadn’t yet considered.