Thursday, May 7, 2009

Near Miss

I'm as dedicated a transportation cyclist as I think you'll find. But every now and then, something happens that makes me wonder if I should hang it up. Like today.

I was stopped at a red light. 4:15 or so in the afternoon. Sunny day; perfect visibility.

On the other side of the intersection, waiting for the same green light, was a lady in (of all vehicles) the undisputed champion of private motor transportation, a behemoth white Ford Excursion. All by herself, far as I could tell.

The light turned green. I started across.

She started, too... but as it happens, she was turning left. Never a signal of her intentions. Right into my path, just as I was in her path.

I started hollering at the top of my lungs and waving one arm about frantically. Usually people are conscious enough that they'll notice what's directly in front of them. But not this absent-minded broad. Her brain might as well have been at the mall, or that soccer field she was headed for, or whatever.

The main thought I had was that if she hit me, she would roll right over me before being able to stop.

I must have gotten a sudden micro-burst of adrenalin; by some miracle I made it around that huge, hulking grille that was bearing down on me. It was as close as I've ever been to an impact, without it happening.

Frankly, I'm not sure what I was screaming, there toward the end. I believe it included "Stupid Idiot!" Some would say that's redundant. Now that I have more time to think it over, I can come up with at least a half-dozen more adjectives I would like to include.

She appeared to have had a weird slug-like delayed reaction. She looked over her shoulder; perhaps she realized what just about happened. It would be very comforting to know she was aware, and as shaken up as I was. And that she understands how critical it is for her to responsibly manage that 6000-pound lethal missile she controls.

Her husband probably bought her an Excursion so that if she's in an accident, she's less likely to get hurt.

I felt fortunate to ride away. Still a little shaky.


Anonymous said...

Whew. Glad you're still alive and kicking.

Mark said...

Close one. I had one the other morning on warm springs by the M & W. Traffic was backed up by the light at Adams elementary and someone in the eastbound lane wanted to turn left onto one of the side streets. I was in the bike lane minding my own business heading west past the stopped cars when the turning car took advantage of a gap, and tried to turn, all of a sudden I inhabited the space he wanted to drive through, he stopped in time and I yelled some choice words out of fear. I felt bad as I should have been more heads up, but then on the other hand, he should have been aware of the possibility of someone using the bike lane. Any thoughts?

Bikeboy said...

Mark... I agree with both your "shouldas." (You being "heads up" and the driver checking before turning.)

That's one reason bike lanes are a bit dicey... they tend to make us relax more than we should. And drivers seem to honor them only when convenient. (They make nice passing lanes, turn lanes, etc.)

Every once in a GREAT while, I'll be thankful that a motorist was paying attention and compensating for something stupid I do. But for each of those times, I compensate for a boneheaded motorist-move 1000 times! At least once a day. (If you're dead or injured, who was "right" seems less consequential.)

db said...

Glad you're OK. I seem to have one of these moments about twice a year. Not good.

Clancy said...

I had one last night too. Lady was using our parking lot as shortcut and we almost collided. My brakes did not stop as I thought they should, so detoured to Georges for some new pads.

bob t said...

Glad that you weren't hurt or worse......

Sounds like she just didn't see you somehow. A classic left cross. I wonder is she was using a cell phone? That might explain (but certainly not excuse) her lack of awareness.

I have a headlight which I keep on strobe mode during the day. I figure that it can't hurt and it might help prevent incidents like this.

Bikeboy said...

bob t... far as I could tell, no cell phone was involved. (I always try to look for that telltale sign that the driver may be distracted.)

That's what was so scary about this time - I try to look for warnings to be wary, and there were none. I thought she was looking straight at me the whole time... but she was on a direct collision course! Never has a Ford Excursion looked so huge... and they look huge all the time!

bob t said...

Motorcyclists have the same problem so someone came up with this.

With daytime running lights required in some countries it seems that even larger vehicles can be overlooked in certain situations.

Marilynne said...

I'm glad you made it through. I was on an old-fashioned "girl" bike once with my baby Cindy on the seat in back. (I think you know her.) As I approached an intersection a car came from behind me and clearly didn't see me. I was going to be hit - with the baby on the back. Because of the baby I couldn't abandon my bicycle and run for safety. I finally yelled and pounded the hood of her car.

Scared her half to death. Me too.

I'm glad we both made it through.

Bikeboy said...

I love Baby Cindy, Marilynne! I'm glad you and she survived your incident as well.

1EastJeff said...

Good thing they didn't hit you. It could have totalled that Ford Excursion, and that would have been a shame because I don't think they make them anymore.