Auto Manifesto

May 22, 2008

Wrecked’em? Damn Near Killed'em!

Riding home from work yesterday, it started raining. It’s two miles. I only have to ride about two blocks on neighborhood streets. The rest of the way it’s a bike path. I’ve ridden it literally hundreds of times.

On a downhill stretch half a mile from home I’m going about 25 to 30 mph. Head and tail light on. My rain coat is in my backpack. A pick up truck is headed the other way when he begins to turn left, directly in front of my intended path. There’s no intersection there, just a driveway to a utility access area.

I can’t stop in time and I have nowhere to swerve. On one side there is curbing and trees. The other side is oncoming traffic. Proverbial rock and a hard place. I scrub off as much speed as I can while yelling at the driver, and low side the bike. I continue sliding toward the side of the pick up on my side and back with the bike still between my legs until it abruptly stops when it hits just ahead of the truck’s rear tire.

The driver is still unaware of me and proceeds to drive over the intertwined mass of my bike’s back wheel and my legs, while I struggle to avoid getting run over. It happens so fast I cannot even tell for sure if my legs were run over.

I stand up for a moment to check if I’m ok, hope adrenaline isn’t giving me false hopes, and then decide I’d better sit back down. Then I roll over and crawl to the curb while the driver comes out and checks on me. He pulls my bike to the curb, tells me that he didn’t see me coming. I believe him. No one would do something like that on purpose. And actually stop.

I lay there for a minute trying to be sure I’m all right and deciding what to do. In the end, I get up and he gives me a ride home. Just a guy going to the park with his two little kids who didn't see a bike coming.

This morning I brought the bike to the shop and handed it over “as wrecked”. It’ll be ready June 3rd. Before I began to protest that it’s entirely too long, I realized I might not be ready to ride by then.

Afterward I went to visit my doctor. He examined me and found nothing more than superficial injuries. I got away with a slightly strained rotator cuff in my left shoulder, a mildly sprained finger, and some road rash. I should be as good as new in about 3 weeks. It could’ve been a lot worse. Reminds me of Chris Farley in the movie “Black Sheep” when he says “Wrecked’em? Damn near killed’em!” (say it aloud).

How does this relate to the blog? As more modes of transportation are used, especially in densely populated areas, compatibility issues are inevitably going to arise. The interaction between different types of vehicles is increasingly important.

There is a huge inequity in some of these interactions. If you are a bicyclist (or pedestrian or motorcyclist) around a car driver, and THEY make a mistake YOU still pay. That’s a bad bet and I’m just damn lucky I didn’t lose much this time.

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1 Comments:

  • Drivers get so conditioned to look for other cars that sometimes motorcycles simply don't register. They seem to disappear and the driver will perform maneuvers that conflict with the motorcycle. This phenomenon also happens with the lowly bicycle riders as well.

    That's why the head lights are on all the time on a motorcycle to improve their visibility. Motorcyclists and bicyclists should always ride as though they are invisible and assume the car driver didn't see them.

    By Blogger Randy C., At May 23, 2008 at 12:27 AM  

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