Bicycle Diaries: Rolling on my grave

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Rolling on my grave

chills & (no) thrills

My daily commute is pretty straightforward but is not without its dangers to life and limb. There are times when I'm hyper-aware of potential accidents; while at other times, they never cross my mind. What really scares me, however, are those times when I miss a accident by the narrowest of margins ... without ever having been aware of it.

If that sounds like a contradiction, it isn't. There must be, statistically speaking, a significant number of potential accidents that could've happened but didn't. In a split-second the cager or pedestrian misses me or I miss them. Maybe somebody moves a bit slower or a bit faster. Perhaps one of us merely stops or turns and, blissfully ignorant, we all go on our merry way...

I started thinking about this on my morning commute yesterday. Several times ... at least ... I came very, very close to having an accident with various cagers. The really creepy thing, however, was the shivery feeling I got as if somebody had just stepped on my grave.

This feeling was particularly strong about 2 miles into my commute. A cager began to slowly back into the bike lane. His angle was so tight that his blindspot must've been huge. I slowed way down then passed by in a wide arc to his left. Looking back, I got the distinct impression he never realized I was there. Somebody stepped on my grave...

At the next major intersection, a female cager was crossing when the light turned red. Stuck, she crept along as if she could sneak across without blocking the oncoming traffic to her right. And I was part of that traffic. So again I slowed way down. Then I noticed she was animatedly talking on her phone, minimally aware of me or the approaching cagers. If I hadn't slowed down, she would've hit me. Somebody stepped on my grave...

Then I played hop-scotch with 2 trucks along the rest of my route. Not that trucks on Lincoln Ave are particularly rare; they use it a lot. It's one of the few major streets angling into the Loop from the northwest. It has a ton of bars needing beverage trucks as well. What made this different was the scale: 2 very large, very wide construction vehicles, a dump-truck and a cement mixer, bound for Old Town.

Although Lincoln is either bike-laned or -recommended (stenciled bike & chevrons instead of a dividing line) it gets pretty tight the closer you get to Wells St. The first time both trucks passed me they left about 2 1/2 feet between themselves and the parked cars to my right. The second time, it was a bit more. I got ahead several times but they always overtook me, rumbling and rattling the pavement. Somebody stepped on my grave...

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Blogger Fritz said...

I think it's Lauren Cooper who calls it "dancing with traffic."

My commute is usually uneventful. Yesterday there were more idiots than usual in San Jose, CA. Very high traffic for who-knows-what-event, which means many drivers who don't know traffic patterns in the downtown area. Some guy on a cell phone pulled a right-on-red directly into me without looking. I swooped left to split the lanes and yelled at him through his open window. I banged on his front fender as I passed. I should've grabbed his phone.

A few blocks later, the same exact thing happened -- another guy on a cell phone pulling right on red without looking. I yelled, he woke up and lurched to a stop.

7/9/07 13:52  

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