In today’s news: the story of a devastating bike accident and a moving recovery

An upstate NY physician and hospital CEO sees the medical system from the other side after a paralyzing bike accident in which he diagnosed his own injury and directed the emergency response. And slowly comes back with a new attitude towards life, family and medical care.

On May 30, the lifelong cyclist was finishing a quick, 18-mile ride near his cottage on Canandaigua Lake. He enjoyed the view from a hilltop, looked down and saw nobody else on the road. He likes to go fast, and he leaned into a hairpin turn, like a motorcyclist, at about 23 mph. Suddenly an oncoming car appeared in Berk’s path. “Obviously he’d been parked behind the hill where I couldn’t see him,” he said.

Berk braked. He feared hitting the guard rail and falling down the steep bank. So he tried a mountain bike move on his road bike. He leaned back and intentionally skidded, successfully turning the bike to face uphill, trying to get out of the way of the car. But when he started to pedal, he flew over the handlebars.

His rear tire had blown.

He hit the ground and struck his head, awake.

“Oh, good news, the bicycle helmet worked,” he recalled thinking. “Then I realized I couldn’t feel my legs.”

His left arm didn’t feel like it was part of his body. Then he lost feeling in his right arm.

“Oh no, this is bad,” he thought. He correctly diagnosed a fracture of a vertebra high in his neck.

He was panting, which he identified as trouble breathing caused by the paralysis.

“I was worried I might die right there.”

Lying on the road, he remembered the late actor Christopher Reeve and thought, “If I get out of this not being on a ventilator, I’ll be happy.”

Definitely worth reading the full story.


The Times offers a more detailed report on Chief Beck’s meeting with cyclists, along with an editorial response supporting cyclists — and a comment suggesting we’re the whole problem. Danceralamode learns from a passing motorist that her bike is an instrument of death; no wonder drivers are so afraid of us. Can you recycle a bike helmet? Livable streets don’t mean much without policies that free women to use them. Comparing utility cycling versus recreational riding; personally, I think the best way to defeat whatever progress we’ve made is to pit different types of cyclists against each other. A San Jacinto rider works out by aiming for 1,000 miles a month with an extra 100 pounds on his bike. New Jersey cyclists form their first state-wide biking organization. Talking brewing and bicycling with the sponsor of the Tour de Fat. Creating a bike map in 5-minute increments to eliminate excuses. USA Today examines the most dangerous state in the union for pedestrians and cyclists; surprisingly, it’s not California. . Brit cyclists are urged to press politicians for where they stand on biking issues. A British rider is deliberately struck and killed in Saudi Arabia — or maybe not, depending on your perspective A Toronto mayoral candidate supports bike lanes, except where they’re needed.

Finally, a Birmingham, AL writer complains about rude cyclists in their skintight clothes.

In 1891.

One comment

  1. TheTricksterNZ says:

    That’s a pretty awesome story in quite a number of ways. 😀

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