Donna-Marie Tarver can’t emphasize the message to drivers and cyclists enough: slow down and wear a helmet.
The White Rock woman is certain the latter is what saved her when she was struck by a car while riding in South Surrey Nov. 30. And she’s confident if the driver who hit her hadn’t been in a hurry, the collision would never have occurred.
“If he’d paid attention just to the road laws… I’d still be OK,” Tarver said Monday.
Tarver, 48, was hit by a Jeep Cherokee around 4:30 p.m., seconds after turning off of 16 Avenue to head north on Martin Drive en route to the South Surrey Bike Park.
The last thing the mother of four remembers is looking over her left shoulder to check for traffic. The next thing she knew, she was lying on the pavement and could hear the voice of a White Rock firefighter.
“That was the first thing that got me to snap out of my concussion,” Tarver said, recalling the firefighter telling her he recognized her from when she participated in the last leg of the crews’ Shore2Shore cross-Canada charity ride.
He said, “I know you. I rode with you from Hope,” Tarver said.
But it wasn’t until hours later, after being airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital, that she was able to keep her eyes open long enough to learn what had happened to her that Friday night; that she’d been hit by a driver who had turned left across a double-yellow line. In addition to injuring her, the impact destroyed her key mode of transportation.
It was a couple of days after that before the first emotion hit her. It came when someone told her that by choosing to ride her bike, she assumes the risk that comes with it.
“I am infuriated,” Tarver said, noting that while she understands the risk, she is just as entitled to a safe journey as anyone who relies on four wheels.
Looking back, Tarver said she did everything in her power to ensure she was safe on the road that night. An avid cyclist – she belongs to the Surrey Off Road Cycling Enthusiasts, volunteers for Tour de White Rock and helped with the effort that led to bike racks being installed around the Peninsula last spring – she had reflective clothing on, a flashing light on her bike and her helmet strapped securely on.
Even with a helmet, Tarver suffered a severe concussion in the crash. She was airlifted from Centennial Park.
“Our Peninsula is changing,” she said. “People are rushing around. For the two seconds extra it takes you… you’ll have gotten there safer.”
A 51-year-old South Surrey man has been charged with turning left across a double-solid line.