OPINION

Are the days of safe bicycle-riding around Pratt gone for good?

Brandon Case
Pratt Tribune
Pratt-area outdoors enthusiast and freelance columnist Brandon Case takes a picture of his shadow while cycling in Kansas recently. He has noticed an increase in dangerous meetings of cars vs. bicycles on local roads.

Can a vehicle be used as a lethal weapon? When you’re riding a bicycle, the answer to that is: Yes. 100%.

On Wednesday, December 9, my wife, I, and our friend, Mike Tibbetts were headed south on the one mile of paved county road that comprises NE 10th Ave, just northeast of Iuka.

We were minding our own business, staying close to the shoulder on our side of the road, riding single file. Of course, we had our headlights and various other flashing lights on to make us highly visible. Suddenly, about a half mile ahead of us, a car shot around the corner where NE 60th Street feeds into NE 10th Avenue. This vehicle veered toward us and then kept coming. As the vehicle aimed for the cycling trio it finally passed within what must have been less than a foot. My wife said she could have   touched the vehicle as it whooshed by.

I don’t know if the driver of the small, red, compact truck was drunk, high on drugs, messing with his radio or cell phone, watching a movie, has poor vision, or simply hates cyclists, but I would emphatically state that his vehicle became a lethal weapon at the point he used it that way.

Anyway, I flagged down the next vehicle coming toward us from the north, but he was not helpful at all. When I asked him if he knew who was in the truck that had just passed him, going north, he said he didn’t. Then, he threatened to call the police because I was walking toward him with a bright light on the county road (I apologized for the brightness and also told him to go ahead and call law enforcement; he didn’t). He also said we shouldn’t be riding our bicycles after dark.

So much for goodwill as the Christmas season was approaching.

It was just a sad night that reminded me that you’re pretty much on your own these days when it comes to an incident like this.

I remember past days when I had some kind of mechanical or other problem on my bicycle (even at night) out on the prairie here in Pratt County and some helpful person would stop and ask if everything was okay. I have had numerous persons do this over the years.

I sure hope those days aren’t gone for good.

Next time something like this happens (hopefully it won’t) I will be better prepared to mark the vehicle in some way so that Pratt County law enforcement or the Kansas Highway Patrol can better identify it and have a word or two with the driver, after I call 911 on my cell phone.