Feeling thankful... and a little wary

Opinion: Columns

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Kerri Thompson

Given this Thanksgiving season, I want to take a moment to express my gratitude and sincere thanks to the Village of Oak Park and comment on the community in which we live and share.

I commuted on my bike to work in the city for about five years. I loved these 10-mile rides and the camaraderie, exercise, and sheer exhilaration it provided me. In May of 2011, I was stopped at the corner of Harvey and Madison, on my bike, waiting for the cars speeding past so I could safely cross and ride the last two blocks home. A car, headed east, turned north onto Harvey and hit me head-on. The impact was unforgettable and, surprisingly, probably thanks to my helmet, I was conscious as I smashed to the ground.

And this is why I write this letter: Not even five seconds later a very kind and quick-acting park district employee came to my side and immediately administered first aid. He took my pulse; he held my hand; he made sure someone called my husband; and he worked with the police, paramedics, and firemen as they arrived to help. He was calm, cool, and collected and made all the difference in the world.

The Oak Park policemen who arrived and the one who followed my husband and me to the hospital took the accident report, got witnesses, and discreetly delivered my bashed-up bike home.

At court, we saw Officer Scott, our beat officer, and shared with him what had happened. He was kind, compassionate, and quick to offer possible solutions to the problematic corner of Harvey and Madison. Additionally, the officer who took the accident report was prepared and available to answer questions when our case got called.

I missed about seven weeks of work but am rehabilitated and healed. However, I would not have had the peace of mind to focus on getting better if it weren't for a number of Oak Park organizations. Our three children have been part of the Oak Park Gymnastics program for many years. The coaches, team members, and families of this organization provided support during this very challenging time for our kids. Two of our kids are at Longfellow Elementary where they felt supported as well. And finally, the West Cook YMCA, a community center in so many ways, provided us with immeasurable assistance. I feel lucky to live in this community and am very grateful for it.

That said, we have biked all over this town, but not as confidently and joyously since the accident. We will again, but we pause and look at people, bikes and cars differently. I see bikers without helmets, not adhering to traffic signs, and I see drivers in their cars on the phone, texting, and not paying attention.

I'll never forget the impact of that car on me. It has changed my life. Everyone needs to be alert and slow down.

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Posted: November 23rd, 2012 9:28 PM

There are too many bikers who do not pay attention to the rules of the road and there are too many drivers who are not paying attention to their surroundings. People need to stop blaming each other just try to be better users of the roads.

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