Peterson is a photographer based in Tampa, Fla. She is a 2013 Savannah College of Art and Design cum laude graduate with a bachelor of fine arts degree in photography and a minor in creative writing. Peterson is a traumatic brain injury survivor.
FELIX IS my knight of transportation, my knight in shiny, black glory. My valiant, two-wheeled steed hailing from the kingdom of the Bicycle Link.
Felix is a mighty Earl Trek bicycle, an “affordable get-around bike built for street style.” Before introducing Felix into my world, I had relied solely upon bummed rides and SCAD transportation, which was usually anything but reliable.
My steed and I had a spotless relationship; he was so reliable, kind to the wallet, quick moving and easy to park (those of you with motor vehicles know the difficulty that comes with parking in Savannah).
I would carry my steed, resting on my shoulder, down our porch steps and off we would go.
Would I wear a helmet? No, of course not. You are being absurd! What use would I have for the fuddy-duddy’s buddy, the helmet?
I had mastered the art of biking. I was so at ease atop my bike, he had become like another appendage.
Felix and I would never arrive late, never be penniless and I did not need something as pesky as a helmet! Where would I put it when I went to class?
I loved the feel of my hair whipping back, off my face by the breeze; arriving at my destination looking lovely, with freshly wind-blown tresses. Besides, I would look like a total noob around all the uber cool kids who gather outside the Sentient Bean!
No one wore a helmet. If you were a hip kid my age, you would ride with hands off the bars, holding your phone texting or down at your sides.
Thirty minutes before March 9, 2012 began, Felix, driven by an inebriated Joy collided with a vehicle at the intersection of 34th and Drayton streets. I slammed into the side of the car, landed on the hood, my head denting where the window and roof met.
I ended up on the grassy knoll at the corner, sustaining yet another crack on my head. During that thrill ride, I sustained a hairline fracture to my right leg. At Memorial University Medical Center, tests showed that I had a “diffuse axonal injury, subrachnoid hemorrhage.”
Looking back on it now, I consider myself to have been an utter fool. I wonder if all the Sentient Bean patrons would still consider me a super cool chick sitting in my wheelchair, staring blankly at the wall.
I am one of the lucky ones. I survived a traumatic brain injury due to failure of abiding by basic traffic regulations.
For example; no helmet, no bike light and failure to stop at a stop sign. Because I thought I was too cool and biked too well to wear a helmet, I came close to having to wear a soft helmet at all times, to protect my head as I thrashed about in a wheelchair. If I am ever able to ride Felix again, you can bet I will be wearing a helmet (hopefully one with a unicorn horn).
Now that you have read this, I will take offense if you are inebriated at the helm of any form of transportation, if you do not wear a bicycle helmet, if you do not use a bike light, if you fail to act as vehicles do on the road.
I almost died. You do not have to.