It’s sad when someone has to die for them to be publicly honored. It’s even more sad that it takes multiple deaths to bring about infrastructure improvements.

Such was the case for Brad Koehly and the Midway bike path that connects Chico and the town of Durham.

The plaque at the Midway bike trail near Durham honoring Brad Koehly. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

The Chico Enterprise Record wrote, “Before the path was undertaken, the Midway was one of the most dangerous routes for bicyclist because there is little shoulder and traffic is relatively heavy and fast.”

I never knew Koehly. He was a student at Chico State when he was killed Dec. 10, 1982, after a car struck him while he was riding home to Durham.

The 2.5 mile bike path was dedicated in 1994.

It was earlier this year while riding on the paved path that I noticed the marker. A simple plaque mounted onto a rock says, “This bike path is dedicated to the memory of Brad Koehly, October 4, 1994.”

That got me wondering who Koehly was. His girlfriend at the time wrote a blog post on the 30th anniversary of his death. Only wonderful things to say about the young man she had loved so many years ago.

It struck me that he wasn’t that much older than me when he died. But his life ended in his 20s, while mine keeps going well into my 50s. None of us knows our expiration date, so to speak, but we can be more cognizant of who we share the road with.

“Nearly 1,000 bicyclists die and over 130,000 are injured in crashes that occur on roads in the United States every year,” the CDC’s website says. “Bicycle trips make up only 1 percent of all trips in the United States. However, bicyclists account for over 2 percent of people who die in a crash involving a motor vehicle on our nation’s roads.”

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also reports, “The costs of bicycle injuries and deaths from crashes typically exceed $23 billion in the United States each year. These costs include spending on health care and lost work productivity, as well as estimated costs for lost quality of life and lives lost.”

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