Yesterday as I rode home I had another close encounter with cars (that's plural). When you commute to work these kind of encounters are unfortunately, inevitable and too frequent. It is possible to minimize these encounters by riding carefully, obeying the law, signaling your intentions and carefully choosing your route. However, as this story will demonstrate, despite your best intentions and your meticulous planning, --it happens.
I was riding slowly (10 mph) through the neighborhoods. It was still light out, but the sun had set and darkness was quickly descending. I was less than a mile from home as I came upon a small intersection and noticed two cars, in succession, were approaching from a side street on my right. With my superior cognitive skills, I immediately ascertained that we would all reach the intersection at the exact same time. I clearly had the right of way, but instinctively began to lightly touch the brakes until I made eye contact with the older gentleman that was driving and was certain he saw me. We never made eye contact and sure enough, he pulled out right in front of me. I hit the brakes to keep from T-boning him and that was when he noticed me, flinched and kept going. I simply turned my palm skyward and shrugged my shoulders as if to say "hello - open your eyes - pay attention". I wasn't angry, because in his defense, it was starting to get dark, the streetlights had just fired up and I should have probably switched on my front light. Recognizing my culpability, I handled the encounter in a cool, calm and collective manner.
It was the second car, immediately behind the first that really caught me off guard. I was still recovering from the aforementioned near miss, when I looked over and made contact with the young lady driving the second car. I expected to receive a knowing and sympathetic glance from her relative to the obtuseness of that first driver and my superior bike handling skills. She smiled kindly and then pulled out right in front of me!!!! I was shocked and appalled. She saw me. She made eye contact. She smiled. She knew she had a stop sign. She knew I had the right of way. She witnessed me almost getting smashed by the first car. YET - despite that plethora of information - SHE PULLED OUT RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME!!!!!!! Needless to say, my reaction to this sweet, young lady was not nearly as innocuous as that of the first encounter.
After swerving to miss the second car, I turned around and watched them both drive away. I turned back towards home, reached down, turned on my lights and rode on.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
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