Essay: On the Loss of a Cyclist- One Year On
(2016) Almost exactly a year ago I took it upon myself to record the inner thoughts of a cyclist always in harm’s way. The thoughts became more acute and lucid after the loss of a family man, motocross rider, mountain biker, and road cyclist, Dan Wilson. It unsuspectingly turned out to be one of my most read articles. One year ago today is when Dan Wilson sadly lost his life pedaling home. This is what has happened in the previous twelve months since that tragic evening.
Focusing on the Wilson family, a fundraiser was held on September 12, 2015 at the Delaware Valley Volunteer Fire Company to celebrate Dan’s life as well as raise money for his family. Items auctioned off included many impressive pro-level motocross items, local business gift certificates, sports tickets, and a couple of bikes. Close friends of Dan and his family contributed to the organization and food sales.
As for the motorist who struck Dan Wilson, despite a stern talking-to, Wendy Hawkes was sentenced to 4 ½ – thirteen years in state prison after pleading guilty. This was handed down despite emotional letters from many people close to Dan Wilson, including his school-aged children who stated, “It is not fair that I do not have my Dad anymore.” I think many cyclists in the community, in the country, as well as abroad would agree this is a recurring theme: driver kills cyclist. Driver gets a confusing and minor consequence.
On the roads in the past year I can count at least three cyclists who have been hit by cars, one as recently as in the past three weeks. Each rider survived the encounter, though the cycling community will agree that these incidents are one too many. Further sentiment can be felt during any rider using Ervin Road near its intersection at Randtz Mill Road, where Dan was struck. Each time I’ve ridden with others, the ride quiets down and passes the makeshift memorial to him.
I am doubtful if Dan Wilson had some label on him saying he was a family man the outcome would have been different. As I stated in the reactionary article to his loss, wouldn’t it be nice if motorists took a moment to consider the things they have in common with cyclists before attempting a dangerous overtaking or even yelling at them. As in Dan’s case, we’d like to think that any cyclist who has lost his/her life on the road has merely lost the way home, and that the rider would come through the front door days later to say that all is well. It was just a big scare. Unfortunately, that’s never the case. Tomorrow friends, relatives, and fellow cyclists will take over for Dan and complete his unfinished ride. Perhaps the passing motorists will take notice.
A remembrance ride is scheduled for Sunday, July 10th at 1:00pm to leave from the High Rocks Vista parking lot. The fourteen-mile route will pass by the memorial on Ervin Road. It is not a sanctioned ride so cyclists are responsible for their riding acumen.
A verified gofundme.com page is available for donations to the Wilson family.