02

Blog

Personalizing the Consequences of Bicycle Crashes – the Gerald Apple Story

I always wonder what it will take to get the attention of motorists. How can we drive it into people that they shouldn’t take risks when operating a two ton hunk of metal at high speed? Maybe stricter traffic laws – lower speed limits, prohibiting cell phone use – would help; or increasing punishments for those who break the laws, especially when doing so causes injury or death.

Certainly those measures should be considered. But we can also continue to share stories. All of us involved in cycling, whether we interact with other cyclists while riding, or on the advocacy side, or in the legal world, have lots of stories to tell. These stories personalize the consequences of taking unnecessary risks when driving. And to anyone with a conscience, they should be a daily wake-up call.

Gerald Apple

Today my thoughts are with the family of Gerald Apple, especially his wife, Debbie Apple. Gerald worked for 37 years serving his community as a firefighter. He had recently retired from his job at the Guildford County Fire Marshall’s office (although still working part time) and took up cycling to improve his health.

One afternoon last fall, Gerald was finishing up his ride and turning left into his driveway. Debbie wasn’t home at the time but expected to come home that night to a normal, quiet evening with her husband. Instead, she came home to a nightmare.

A driver coming up behind Gerald crossed the double yellow line to pass Gerald on the left, even though Gerald was already in the left lane, hit him and threw into the air until he landed in a ditch.

Gerald suffered serious brain damage from the crash and never recovered. He was moved from facility to facility as his wife fought with health insurance to pay for his care. Gerald passed away in February of this year. His wife, who is disabled, is left with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses that health insurance wouldn’t cover. But worse than that, she is left without her life partner. Gerald Apple spent his life and career helping others and his life ended too suddenly and tragically.

There is a fund to help the Apple family: Donations can be sent to: 237 E. Main St., Gibsonville, N.C. 27249, or taken to the Fidelity Bank branch; a walk/run fundraiser is also planned this weekend in Gibsonville. If you live in the area, it’s a way to repay Gerald Apple for his long service to the community.

As part of the bike community, think about what you can do to help prevent the next tragedy. If you have a compelling story to share, tell us. Be a missionary to your friends, family, co-workers about safe and cautious driving. Spread the message that the person on a bicycle is someone’s husband, wife, father, mother and/or child. Our actions affect the community as a whole – I know you know that; now let’s make sure everyone else does.

Comments

SELMA BIKE RIDE
Danny Feldman Jul 24, 2020

This year, before COVID, over 600 bike riders from over 25 states retraced the steps of the Civil Rights Marchers from Selma to Montgomery. The event was about much more than just riding a bike, as participants toured historic sights and were led by civil rights leaders and historians.  The annual ride is an example […]

Read More
BLM Strava
Lauri Boxer-Macomber Jul 22, 2020

Hundreds of athletes are currently in the midst of participating in what may very well be the most significant Strava art project ever – the spelling out of Black Lives Matter from NY to ME in “virtual letters” large enough to be read from outer space.  This BLM Strava art challenge initially began as a […]

Read More
Minnesota Cycling Advocate
Daniel Brazil Jul 01, 2020

I recently had the great opportunity to interview fellow cycling advocate, Dave Sanderson, the chair of Pedal Fergus Falls, a Minnesota bike advocacy group. What began as a simple conversation about advocacy turned into an inspiring deep dive into the work Pedal Fergus Falls has done and continues to do for our cycling community. Pedal […]

Read More
Bike Safety
Daniel Brazil Jun 05, 2020

As a cyclist (and bike crash attorney), I often worry that I’m placing my life in the hands of motorists each time I hop on my bike. And stories like this one about bike safety recently shared on Outside Online heighten my fears, as cyclist deaths continue to rise across the U.S. even in a […]

Read More
Biking After COVID 5
Ann Groninger May 28, 2020

What will biking after COVID be like? Before COVID, it seemed like there was a handful of people in my city who rode bikes to get places, and we all knew each other. We’ve always had a robust recreational road riding community of people who gather after work and on weekends to head out to […]

Read More
Bike Advocate
Bruce Hagen May 26, 2020

If you’ve ridden a bike anywhere in Atlanta, chances are you’ve met Atlanta bike advocate Angel Poventud.  If you’ve stopped for a post-ride beer, been to an important advocacy event, or to any major Atlanta gathering, chances are you have met Angel Poventud.   It may only seem that Angel is everywhere, but when you […]

Read More
Load More