September 26, 2016

How Accidents Happen

When I bike to and from a commuter shuttle, the most direct route is on a busy thoroughfare with three lanes in each direction.

In the morning, there is little traffic and the biggest threat is from the drivers who run red lights. Every day. During the evening rush hour, biking the same route is a death wish: vehicles dart in and out of parking lots, change lanes, speed, and run red lights. Every day.

In the evening, I go out of my way to travel on low-traffic, residential streets. I do pass a couple of back-parking-lot driveways, always with care.

I saw the woman in the giant white SUV and slowed down. I saw her looking only to her right as she turned left out of the Whole Foods parking lot.

There has been a long thread recently on a cycling mailing list at work about engaging with drivers who do stupid things. The prevailing sentiment is: Let it go. Say nothing.

The woman in the giant white SUV spoke first. “I'm sorry. I didn't see you.”

“Please look,” I replied in a firm, but even, tone of voice.

“I'm sorry,” she said again.

“Please look,” I replied.

“I apologized twice, you don't have to be a bitch about it!”

Now, that's rich.

If she had mowed me down, they'd call it an accident. She probably wouldn't even get a traffic ticket, much less be charged with so much as involuntary manslaughter. And then she'd get on with the rest of her life.

I, on the other hand, would not get on with the rest of my life.

So please look. In both directions.

That's what I learned in Driver's Ed, albeit in the last century.

No comments:

Post a Comment