Traffic poses deadly risks for cyclists

By JENNY BRYAN/Montana State News

Hannah Guidry, a Montana State University student, was hit by a truck while riding her bike home from work last July. Following the incident, she took a cab to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital. While most of her physical injuries weren’t lasting, her knee showed serious signs of trauma.

After five months of physical therapy, Guidry said, she found out she would need surgery for her knee to truly begin to heal.

According to Guidry, “[The surgery] involved an excision of the medial plica. Then the surgeon did a synovial repair on the meniscus, as the meniscus was being pinched every time I bent my leg. The Meniscus issue was discovered and corrected during the procedure.”

Not all of the injuries were easily seen, however. “For about 3-4 months I was not okay. Ridiculous things scared or startled me, such as automatic doors, grocery carts, and anything mechanical that might have moved toward me. I avoided walking anywhere that required crossing or nearing traffic. To this day, I brace for impact every time I walk into an intersection,” Guidry said.

This is not an uncommon story in Bozeman. According to a September 2015 article in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the city police respond to approximately 1,500 to 1,700 crashes annually.

According to the article, in 2014, 21 collisions involved cyclists and motorists, and there had been seven in 2015 at the time it had been published. Although, it said, many were unreported.

The article also states, that in many cases the accidents are due to the fact that both cyclists and motorists are unaware of the Bozeman traffic laws.

According to the city of Bozeman Police Department website, bicycles should be treated as motor vehicles and follow traffic laws. No one over the age of 15 is allowed on the sidewalks, and never in downtown.

Guidry had been riding on the sidewalk, and was crossing the street at the time of the incident. “I still got in trouble for riding on the sidewalk, but I understand what I did wrong.”

Unable to ride her bike or walk for long periods, Guidry has had to rely on the city’s cab service and busses for transportation since she does not own a car.

Guidry has recently returned to Bozeman and advises the residents of Bozeman to be aware of the laws surrounding bicycle safety.

“Ultimately the effects of a relatively small collision impacted me significantly, and somewhat outrageously. My perception of the world has changed and I am not much of a risk-taker anymore. Once you feel your skin and body collide with metal, you get a feel for how fragile people are, and it impacts how you perceive everyday things as safe or dangerous.”

– Edited by Annie Wassan

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