Dear Mr. Berke,
I am pleased to have this opportunity to write an open letter to you today, as I was nearly killed by a less than honorable citizen this morning as I once again attempted to bicycle across our so called safe bicycling city.
Being retired allows me a bit more freedom to bicycle around the city either for leisure, fitness or for traveling to my part-time job. One problem: safety. There is no way to safely bike out of Hixson (the Big Ridge area) or to get across town to the East Brainerd area. The River Park is wonderful, once we haul our bikes to one of the parking areas near the paved path. However, the Riverwalk takes pedestrian and bike traffic only toward town. I used to ride Highway 153 to East Brainerd, but was pulled over thrice in two weeks a couple of years ago. So, I lost that 12-foot shoulder and the boys in blue routed me to the 2-foot shoulder on Bonnie Oaks (smart.) So today, in an effort to comply with traffic suggestions and requirements, I parked at the Chickamauga Dam and headed toward S. Access Road. Just before I turned off Amnicola...BLAM...I was hard hit by a pearl white Impala, which I understand stopped for a moment then sped off. The driver of that car is missing part of his/her passenger rear-view mirror which the police have in possession. Two angelic young ladies stopped to assist, and they are both entitled to an extra gold star in their crowns! Thank you Jessica and Katie!
Three police cars arrived as well as one ambulance and a fire engine. All of the men were super-professional and caring. We determined that there were no apparent serious injuries. I was taken back to the parking area of the dam along with my bike, and I drove home.
My helmet was demolished and fairly extensive, yet undetermined damage to my bike was incurred. I was certainly rattled by the hard-hit, and was pretty scraped up on the pavement side of my crash.
I continue to hear about what a wonderful city Chattanooga is, and what wonderful tourist attractions we have, and what a safe bicycling city it is. We love Chattanooga, but to the safe bicycling aspect I must say that safe areas are very limited and certainly do not serve the entire city. Any boasting to our Bicycling Friendly status is mere bull droppings, and inaccurate lip service. Our city streets are in terrible condition with probably 10,000 patches on Lake Resort Road alone. In general our transportation grid is lousy. But, that's how Democratic led cities generally go.
If the South Chickamauga Creek path were complete, it would certainly help. I don't know what is holding up that project.
Well, there you have it. I am glad to be alive. In trying to stay healthy and physically fit, it nearly killed me today. Perhaps leadership in Chattanooga can get serious about bicycling in the area.
Dr. Tom Hammett