One Hit Wonder

I was riding my bike to work this morning, happy as could be. I had just enjoyed morning coffee and brownies with Cody and we had a caffeine fueled spider web of a conversation regarding the Laylah Ali lecture we had attended the night before and the

implications of her art on junior bicycle racing in america. Or something like that.

I left for work and two blocks from the sorority I got hit by a car. Now I ride my bike a lot and I consider myself to be a good rider who is very knowledgeable about how to safely ride in traffic. I have never been hit before. I was following all the rules and guidelines on a residential street with a 25 mph speed limit and was approaching a traffic island at an intersection where the lane narrowed. There was a car behind me so I “took the lane”

because there is not enough room to make a pass when next to a traffic island. The engine did not slow down and I thought maybe they were just going to turn left behind me (many cars disregard the proper way to use a traffic island and just short cut it) or maybe even pass me on the other side of the traffic island (which happens with some regularity at this particular island) but then I could still here the loud engine and it was right on top of me and bam! the passenger side mirror hit me on the inside of my arm and the break away mirror did just that and broke away. It scared the shit out of me it happened so fast and I did not crash and in my frantic state I did not even think I was hurt but still! The van stopped and I rolled up to it and it was a woman driving with her kids and she said how sorry she was and I yelled at her that she had just hit me with her car and she said again how sorry she was and I told her that was not good enough and she needed to never never ever pass a cyclist so close or next to a traffic island and she said she had stopped to see if I was okay and I told her that no I was not okay (and I was shaking for effect) that she had hit me with her car and that if she had just driven properly in the first place she would not have had to stop to see if I was okay. I was very direct and firm (and angry, yeah) with her and did not swear once. She asked me what I wanted her to do and I told her I wanted her to get out of there and to drive safely. She left.

I rode to work and was shaking very badly then, wondering what I should have done. Should I have called the police so she could get her failure to yield ticket? I think I handled myself well and am not sure a ticket would have made any difference but I will never know. This shook me up, no doubt about it. Its dangerous out there no matter how you choose to travel and something like this, which could happen anytime anyone goes for a ride, well it makes me pretty upset that cyclists rights are so small. Even if she had run me over and killed me she still would have been facing the same punishment, a failure to yield ticket. Thats crap. How do we ever expect motorists behavior to change if we don’t present them with consequences for their actions? Thats capitalism, right? I get so very angry about this, my old friends that have been killed while riding, all my friends that are out riding every day and how vulnerable they are. What can I do? Or you?

I will keep at it. Keep riding, volunteering at the Bike Library, working with the IBC and Bike to Work Week, setting a good example of a car free lifestyle.

Cody came down to work and gave me a hug, that was nice.

Kent Peterson had a nice and important post the other day. Check it out.

And travel safely, whatever your mode


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Jay said,

    Damn, Pickle! That’s a real bastard of a way to start your Friday. Glad you were not hurt. I’ve come pretty close a few times recently, but the luck has held out. Let me guess, corner of Summit and College, right?

    I would have been tempted to report her to the cops, if for no other reason than it goes on the record. It’s hard to say if it would really make a difference though. How did she pass you if you took the lane anyway? Did she hit you before you got to the traffic island? Damn, I would have been pissed. There’s no way I could have made it out of there without giving her and her kids an crash course in expletives. Good on you for that. Anyway, glad you’re okay. Best of luck out there and see you around.

  2. 2

    jaghouse said,

    First off I am glad you are ok. Secondly you are so right about cyclists rights. If you were in a car and she side swiped you then there would be definite penalties handed down. People need to calm the hell down on the road and view cyclists as part of traffic, not some nuisance that induces aggressive avoidance maneuvers. Your fight is not going unnoticed gpick.

  3. 3

    Brian said,

    Robin and I are glad to here you are ok. We will be shaking our fists in anger at any mirrorless vans we might see on the roads. If the nerves are not too shaken, would you be up for a ride tomorrow? I’m thinking maybe a fifth of a century. That’s my distance now-a-days. Maybe a fourth of a century if the legs are feeling good. Anyways, thought it would make for a good post-illness distance too.

  4. 4

    dude!!!! what the fuck? i am glad that your catlike reflexes saved you from falling or getting hurt. why can’t people be aware of the space that they take up in the world? there is something really wrong with a system where they hand down the same penalty for running over a cyclist as running a stop sign. all i can say is don’t stop riding, ever! i won’t.

  5. 5

    bikeiowa said,

    Thanks for kind words, life is back to normal. As I rode home last night I passed the spot for the first time (Wash & Summit, but College & Summit is the same situation) and saw that what happened was the woman driving went over into the other lane and then swerved at me to make her crappy pass. This pisses me off more as she knew there was not room but went for it anyway. There was not room, she hit me – and aggressively at that. I spoke with Ira on the phone today and a friend of his was killed yesterday riding in Portland, details at Will it ever get better? It has to!

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