2014 was a great year for bicycling. I rode in new places, got a new commute, and did a whole lot of exploring. I blogged less this year than the last few, but that’s because I’ve been writing more in other places, writing gigs I’ve picked up only because I’ve blogged regularly for the past five or six years. Turns out writing gets easier by writing more and regularly. Same goes for biking–it became my primary form of transportation back in 2008, and I am just so terrifically grateful that the bike and I found each other, and that now it is just common sense that if we’re going there, we’re going by bike. What a gift, to see the world from two wheels like that. But biking also comes with its terrible moments. Last week Baltimore’s bicycling community suffered a tremendous loss when Tom Palermo was killed by a driver, rear ended, it seems, while he was riding in the bike lane on Roland Avenue, up near Bellemore. I’ve taken that route a bunch of times–it’s the turn from Lake Avenue, the steepest climb I take on the regular, and I love getting back on Roland, with its bike lane and easy asphalt, at this end, anyway. I would never expect to be killed at that spot, and Tom surely wasn’t expecting that either. It’s just tragic, and though we don’t yet know how the driver could have made such a fatal hit, I have a funny feeling a cell phone or a drink were involved. Such waste, such sadness. As I rode around yesterday, Tom was on my mind, as he will be for the next many rides, I think. I thought about how quickly things can change, and how inattentive drivers put us all at risk–walkers, bicyclists, motorcyclists, other drivers, and all the rest of us. I snapped this picture as I waited for the light to turn at 25th Street on my way back home. I see possibilities of a right hook, a driver not even noticing me on my bike at the corner. There’s the left turner who thinks she can make it before I get there. There’s the driver who pulls through the crosswalk and gets dangerously close. And then there’s the driver of the car in this picture, who drifted between lanes for the two previous blocks. I peeked in on her at the light. Kid and dog in the back seat, looking down at the phone she was showing her passenger. I stayed behind her and let her go ahead at this light, because I didn’t trust her. Maybe she’ll get where she’s going just fine. Maybe she’ll never be in an accident, no matter how many times she drives like this, and if she’s like any of the rest of us, driving like this is as normal for her as riding my bike is for me. But it only takes one split second for lives to be changed irrevocably. I can only control what I can control, so I’m going to keep on riding defensively and assuming nobody can see me because they’re looking everywhere but the road. I’ll keep riding my bike until I can’t ride anymore. I just wish I could still share these streets with Tom. Be safe out there, everybody, and hang up and drive.