A Very Close Call
Photo found here.
I have a scary story to relate and am still a little shaken by it. But first I have to say that the above photo is not the person I mention in the story. I don't know who the person was in real life nor do I know who the person is in the photo; it just fit the story.
The story is that I came very close tonight to being hit by a car, and the irony is that I was riding on the sidewalk (pavement), not in the street. I was on the sidewalk because I was riding down Delaware Avenue which has absolutely no shoulder and cars fly past way faster than they should, otherwise I would normally be riding in the street.
Anyhow, there I was pedaling down my familiar route to the gym for a quick steam and swim. And as any bicylist knows who rides a regular route, I was aware of every crack in the road, blind spots around parked cars and buildings, and other problematic areas. So as I approached the parking lot of an apartment building that is surrounded by a 4-foot brick wall I did what I usually do...stand up on my pedals so I can see over the wall to see if a car is about to exit. I didn't see anyone so I sat back down and pedaled.
Just as my front tire entered the driveway a car came swinging out and the driver was looking in the opposite direction, attempting to plunge herself into the rush-hour traffic. This entire event happened in maybe a second or two but it seemed like longer.
Normally if I see a driver coming when our paths will cross I make eye contact...both for my sake and so that they see that I see them. This wasn't going to happen, at least not for a second or two...which was almost a second too late.
It's interesting how you never know how you are going to act in certain situations, or what you will say. It would be different if it were a planned situation but they never are. Anyhow, all I could do was yell Whoa! Hey! She still was looking the other way and I truly felt she was ready to step on the gas pedal and gun it out into the street. At this point I was directly in front of the car, only a few feet away and it was heading directly for me. In that split second, the moment when I really thought I was going to get hit, the only thing that came to mind was: This is going to hurt. I was maybe two feet directly in front of this moving car.
Then, in an instant she turned and slammed on the breaks...screeching to a halt. My right pedal clipped the bumper of the car. I almost fell off the bike.
At this point our eyes finally met and she looked horrified (I'm sure I did as well) and she said something, probably apologizing though I couldn't hear her through the glass. Under "normal circumstances" I would be more sympathizing to her. But in this case the first words that came out of my mouth were: What the f**K is wrong with you? Keep your eyes on the f**king road.
As I pedaled on I visibly shook. And as I pedaled I also thanked God that I was not hit and I prayed for the women who almost hit me...both of our lives would have been changed forever. When I arrived at the gym I sat in the steam room until I was as shriveled as an old pickle. The heat felt good; it felt good to sweat...it felt good to feel.
I guess the moral of this story, fellow bicyclists, is that even on the sidewalk you are not safe from the over-population of often numb and non-aware drivers. Ride, but ride safely.