Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Friday, March 20, 2009

"I didn't see you."

A phrase heard all too often by cyclists, and I heard it about a dozen times in a row this Tuesday. I’d be concerned that I wasn’t visible enough, but it was all from the same lady, and, yes, I had lights. Several.

It was a dark and rainy early morning, sure. I'll even go so far as to add "really rainy," but, still, paying attention would probably be a good thing.
Unlike the last lady that hit me with a car, this one stopped, and was ridiculously apologetic. On another positive note, nothing got seriously smashed up, though yours truly has a few bruises.

This is a big plus, because also unlike the other lady, this one does not have insurance – at least, that’s what I have to infer from “Um, well, um, I don’t have it with me.” You don’t know the name of your carrier. “Um, no, it’s not here.”

The route from home to work has one section where the all three road choices are
just terrible. I get out of Tacoma via the Puyallup River bridge, where you learn why the phrase “Tacoma Aroma” has become so stereotypical, and head east following the river. Then, I need to continue east. I can either continue on fast, poorly lit Pacific Highway (US 99) – this is a bad choice, gravel shoulders, casinos, and all. Or, I could go all the way to Levee road along the river, which is prettier and has no driveways on the south side but has a shoulder for a drop off. Bad call in the conditions.

This leaves heading along industrial, shoulderless 20th ave E, which at least has wide lines and a sidewalk, but semis and delivery vans turning onto and off of it along with spotty lighting make parts of it dicey.
Now, some people question whether it’s a great idea to be riding along roads like Schuster Parkway, which becomes 2 different highways and is a 4-lane split-level road with a 40-mph speed limit, but I’ve never had any trouble with drivers from behind me.

For me, 20th is the scariest part of the commute. The more driveways there are on a road, the worse it gets. I’d rather ride on an interstate than through some terribly sprawling suburban business districts. These are the places where I feel like a fly on a windshield, and silently fume about things like accessibility.
Tuesday was just like that.

Left-hook’d! (Ow, my sense of security!)

Middle-aged lady in a fairly clean Eagle Talon slows for the stop sign, turns left, and carries on straight into Yours Truly. Wham! Thankfully, she wasn’t going very fast, and punched the stop pedal instead of the go pedal in her panic.

In the impending instant before, I had two choices: either accelerate and go straight, hoping she’d miss, or slow and turn sharply left, along with the direction of her travel. I did the latter, figuring a likely lowspeed collision beat a possible higher speed one. It worked out okay, I guess, I slammed my right side against her left front fender, and emerged mostly unscathed. My knee banged my own top tube pretty well, and I’ve got a few bruises, but that’s pretty minor. Bike’s okay, too.

I was able to continue my ride to work just fine. The driver was pretty shaken up – I think a fair bit more than yours truly. “I’m sorry, honey,” she said, “I didn’t see you, I’m so sorry.” She had to freak out a bit more and hug me before she drove off.

Of course, perhaps she was shaken up by the possible consequences of her actions to me. Then again, perhaps it was that insurance information “Well, um, I don’t have it WITH me.”

No, I’ll bet you don’t.

It’s been a busy week. I ought to post this before I get out the door, even if I want to add more detail.


  • At 4:35 PM , Blogger Eben said...

    Be careful out there, long hauler. I need to get a real ride in with you sometime this summer. I should be landing in PDX around June 15th, I'll look you up. Just stay in one piece until then!

  • At 4:48 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I'd have hugged you too. :)

  • At 8:16 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Hey....did not read this post until today, Tuesday. Whew.....that was bad and could have easily been worse. Glad you and your bike are relatively ok. Another grey hair on your old man's head. See you soon....just not sure when.

  • At 8:07 PM , Anonymous cruzer2424 said...

    I wonder if they said they didn't have their insurance with me because they didn't want something like a "pesky cyclist" marring up their driving record...


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