Monday, May 7, 2007

Head-on collision averted

I had another close encounter with an against-traffic cyclist.

I was eastbound, just starting up the Emerald Street overpass ramp. If you're not familiar... it's a 2-lane roadway bridge, going over the Interstate "connector," that's generally quite busy. The overpass is too narrow for full-width bike lanes; they're maybe 2 feet wide. I ride Emerald Street quite regularly; it's actually one of the more bike-friendly connector crossings.

That is, unless some bonehead is coming straight at you in your lane, on a collision course.

He looked to be a young Hispanic fella (¡cabeza de hueso!) - early 20s - definitely old enough to know better. He was coasting down the ramp (illegally against traffic on my side of the road). There was a steady stream of motor vehicles in both directions. He slowed down; they usually realize they're in the wrong, but it's too late to do much about it in such a limited space.

I hollered "Wrong Side!" at him as we passed, missing each other by inches. Jackass.

I went home and called the "Mayor's Hotline" as I've done in the past. I described my near miss. I also said the city's ongoing pattern of non-enforcement was noted, and if I were ever in a collision caused by an against-traffic cyclist, I'd make sure my legal counsel knew I had complained about it on numerous occasions.

Our mayor is an attorney. Maybe that'll get his attention. He also claims to be a regular bike commuter; I wonder if he rides with traffic, or against it.


Apertome said...

I'm glad you filed a complaint, although honestly I'd be surprised if anything changed because of it. That would require a politician to do some degree of listening, which I'm pretty sure would be a first.

Now that most of the students have left town, I'm hoping to see less of this kind of thing. I'm curious to see whether it happens that way or not.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that you hazard that stretch of road. I've ridden it a couple of times, and it's in my short list of nightmare stretches. I'm glad you survived! That bridge is particularly nightmarish, and, contrary to your experience, have found the drivers in that area rather uncooperative. I had a driver actually swerve to pretend-swipe me on the east side of the bridge.

Bikeboy said...

Comments appreciated - thanks!

Apertome... when you call the hotline voice-mail thing, they emphasize that the comments you leave are a matter of "public record." I intend to start leaving those "public records" every time I have a close call, emphasizing that they are subject to review, should I claim that my complaints have been ignored.

Danielo... I've been riding over the Emerald for 20+ years. For a long time there were no striped lanes. I try to maintain a steady pace (typically 12-14mph on the uphill part), and I've never had a problem, other than the occasional against-traffic cyclist. I'm at a loss as to why my perception would be so different from yours. (As you are aware, the places to cross the "connector" are very limited. There's Orchard, Curtis, Emerald, Franklin... that's about it.)

One rather unusual memory... I was riding up that same exact spot on a hot summer day many years ago. There were 3 or 4 teenage kids on the roof of one of those condos just north of the road. I heard a girl yelling, "Hey, mister!" I looked over... she was standing on the roof and had pulled her T-shirt up to shoulder level, exposing "da goods." Hmmm. They all laughed uproariously. Now WHY would I remember something like that after all these years?!!?

db said...

Oh man, that Emerald bridge over the connector sucks. Pure and simple. The cars will not give you any room, and even worse, I had several people honk on my tail while crossing.

The type of scenery that Bikeboy mentioned never made itself known to me, of course...

Bikeboy said...

The Emerald overpass sucks for bicycling? Yeah, maybe. (For you out-of-towners, sorry, we're getting a little provincial here...)

But... except for the overpass, Emerald Street is pretty nice, all the way from Orchard to Cloverdale. It's one of my preferred east-west corridors. And IMO the overpass isn't that painful.

And as previously stated... the alternatives to cross the Connector are Orchard, Curtis and Franklin. (Franklin is an underpass, rather than overpass.) Is one of them better? (I cross all 4 somewhat regularly. None are particularly bike-friendly. BUT... my concern is that somebody might argue, "No point in trying to make 'em bike-friendly since no bicyclists use 'em anyway." I like to think I represent the entire bicycling community when I use those corridors.)