Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Invisible Bicyclist

I've mentioned before that I love to ride my bicycle, even if my area isn't very encouraging to cyclists and biking. If I have an errand to the credit union, the book store, the craft store, or especially the library, I'll frequently get on my bike and pedal there. Today was an especially good day to bike to the library; not only is the weather beautiful, the road in front of the library is undergoing major construction and is down to one lane in some places. Why bother with the hassle of driving there when I could ride?

Now, I consider myself a fairly cautious rider. I always ride with my helmet and use hand signals. If the speed limit on a road is more than 30 mph, I ride on the sidewalk. I keep my eyes open and slow down when I cross driveways, because people are usually focused on the road, not the sidewalk. When I cross a road, I always wait for the signal, and if it's a major road I get off my bike and walk across. Sometimes people see me, slow down, and wait for me to cross an intersection/driveway before they turn in. Sometimes they blow by without even seeing me, chatting on their phone or staring at the road.

Today was the usual mix; I saw enough people completely ignore me that I had my usual morbid thoughts: geez, what if someone did hit me and I broke a leg? Could I get around? Could I teach class on crutches, or heaven forbid, in a wheelchair? I was feeling annoyed enough that I was thinking of posting on Facebook when I got home: "Diane wishes people would look at the crosswalk before plowing through intersections."

I was riding south on a major road (45 mph) and came to a red light at an intersection with a minor road (25 mph) leading into a sub. I stopped my bike just short of the road, so me and my bright blue bike would be visible to the traffic on the minor road. As their light turned yellow, someone pulled up to the light, right next to me. I waited for my walk light to turn, looked again to make sure the car was stopped, and proceeded into the intersection...

... whereupon the bastard pulled forward and ran me down! Luckily I saw him and jumped away from the bike, but he knocked the bike down and kept going enough to get one of my pedals caught under his bumper. He finally stopped, backed away from my bike (which I had to hold onto so it wasn't dragged by the pedal), and stopped to check on me. I was shocked and he was shocked, but luckily I hadn't been touched by the car. The bike's chain slipped off, but otherwise it was working fine, too. I told the guy no harm, no foul, and we went our separate ways. Among his apologies was "I've never done anything like this before." I nodded, but this was what I felt like saying:

IDIOT! It only takes the FIRST time!

I also felt like saying:

HEY MORON! It's called a CROSSWALK for a reason!

You're supposed to stop at the big fat line, FATHEAD!

Sigh. I've thought some more about it, and what I really wished I could say was something to all the distracted drivers who find me and my bright blue bike invisible: It only takes one time. Hmmmm, I think I feel a letter to the editor coming on....

1 comment:

  1. Yikes! You must have been terrified, later, thinking about it. And you are a much nicer person than I am, because I probably would've gone with the Fathead line.