My youngest daughter, 39 years old, is an Austin graduate. She is an associate professor at the University of Colorado. She is an avid outdoors person, competing in high-altitude marathons. Prior to May 2019, she was a dedicated bicycle commuter, traveling 10 miles to and from work.
Her life changed April 24. While riding legally in a Boulder bike lane, she was the victim of high-speed impact by an underinsured motorist that turned left illegally in front of her. She sustained injuries that included a badly fractured upper jaw, severe concussion, fractured eye sockets, and numerous other broken bones (facial, wrist, ankle). We estimated her speed at 15 to 20 mph at impact.
Her bike helmet and titanium bike were split in half. She is on the mend and we are blessed to have her still with us. Some dental work remains, after having already undergone seven root canals. She has not resumed riding a bicycle.
My reason for writing is not to ask for sympathy, but to share some observations from driving around Decatur. I see adults biking in my neighborhood without a helmet (I, too, was guilty of this). I see young people driving ATVs without seat belts or helmets on city streets. I observe many young children along Modaus Road between Danville Road and the Beltline pedaling to Austin Middle School, un-helmeted and weaving in and out of the bike lane. The bike lanes are poorly marked, with yard debris from most lots causing bikers to swerve into the traffic lanes.
The emergency physicians were very clear that my daughter's helmet, tightened and secured, saved her life.
The skull is a fragile structure that protects our brain. Don’t blame children for failing to use helmets, for we as adults are responsible. My hope is that this letter will inspire our community as well as school systems to take corrective action.