instant gramming

May 16, 2008

David V. Goliath

Yesterday I was unfortunately involved in my first bike/car accident. I can't say I was hit by a car, rather I was cut-off by a car and I hit it. I was approaching a large intersection when the traffic light turned yellow--I decided that to continue through the intersection would be the safer choice. A mid-sized SUV that was behind me until this point, assumed I was going to stop, pulled alongside then ahead of me and cut right as if to turn right-on-red--right in my path. Since I had decided to pull through the yellow light, I had begun to pick up speed. Since she was planning on stopping, the driver had fortunately slowed down. In the moment she cut into my path, I tried to swerve right also, but slammed right into her passenger side door, side-swiped it, at which point my arm (holding on to the handlebars) wrapped around her side-view mirror. Although I ended up ripping the damned thing off with my elbow (imagine that!), my body was ripped around and over so that I came tumbling forward (not thrown) in front of the car which was stopped. My toe clips accounted for the fact that my bike, too, came along for the flip and my front wheel was rammed into something--the car? the road?--and readily bent into a funny shape. Strange enough, a firetruck full of firemen witnessed the incident and responded quickly to stop traffic and check me for injury. I declined their proposals to take me to the hospital--as far as I could (and can) tell, I only suffered a wicked bruise on my inner left elbow where I connected with the mirror, and a few gnarly scrapes on my right elbow that contacted the ground during my brilliant ninja-roll to safety. Today my head is aching, and most of my upper body is sore as if I just played a competitive game of tackle football without pads.

I'm not mad at the driver--she was pretty freaked out and very apologetic. She is even planning on compensating me for any bike repairs I need. I feel bad that a police officer was called who issued her a ticket for improper passing. I can't help but wonder if I could've done anything to prevent the accident--it happened so quickly. Each time I ride in the road I face a new, questionable situation that leaves me unsure how to respond, surrounded completely by cars whose drivers believe that only automobiles belong on the streets. I have felt that biking on the road (as opposed to the bike path) is exciting but also an important display of bicycle visibility--showing motorists that bikes have rights on the roads and are a good alternative transportation. In the case of my accident I am certain that I should not have been cut off in any way, since I was in front of her up to the intersection. Unfortunately, up to this point, I've not been protected by a bike helmet. That will be a purchase I make this weekend.

In other news, Alden has decided to take up painting as a hobby. My three pieces for the Bike+Art=Show tomorrow are complete and will be dropped off tonight!