| Published: 20 October 2012
| Created: 26 November 2014
| Hits: 4424
I'm frustrated. I am really getting tired of landing on the pavement, smashing helmets, and nursing wounds. I like riding bikes, but man, it's dangerous. The worst part, most of the issues with landing on the pavement are not my fault. They are someone elses. Tonight, that was no different. This time it was a a$$hole driver.
To understand my frustation, understand that I choose to commute to work and back, some 15 km one way, by bike largely because it's faster than the TTC and cheaper than driving. I built a special carbon commuter bike for the purpose with cheap parts that are easily replaced. On the commute, I routinely almost get run off the road. Usually, I get almost run down by a SUV, a minivan, and a pickup truck. All these drivers are a$$holes in my book. Occationally, it's a truck and one time, it was a TTC bus. I always love drivers that need to buzz by me to get to the red light a block away. Generally speaking, drivers have no idea how to ride around a cyclist. Which is why, I actually like cycling through the inner city. I find, the closer one gets to the downtown core, the more normal drivers become. Why? More cyclists, small lanes, more traffic, slower speeds, and generally more patience. As one gets away from the core, the roads widen, the speeds pick up, and drivers get stupid. Everyone is in a hurry to get to the next red light. I also ride knowing that I will, at some point, get knocked off my bike. I've been lucky this year - my crashes have happened in bike races, and not in traffic. I've trashed a bike frame, and trashed something like 3 helmets this year, and nursed numerous patches of road rash. This is why I'm getting frustrated. I'm getting tired of crashing. It seems to happen to me far too much. Tonight, just added to my frustation.
On my commute, I ride up Leslie St. northbound. Coming up to York Mills is always a challenge during rush hour, because traffic is usually stopped. I work my way carefully through traffic. On this occation, the Leslie bus was waiting in the bus stall on a red light at York Mills Rd and the lane was clear beside the bus. I proceeded. The next thing I knew, a driver overtook me and he ended up bashing me with the side of his car knocking me to the ground. I was only doing 10km/h at the time, so I just ended up landing in the middle of the lane. I got up and went back to the intersection to see if the guy waited. I expected him to take off. A limo driver was kind enough to stop and asked over and over again if I was alright and if I needed an ambulance. I hate these situations, because adeniline flowing, one is never thinking clearly. I checked the bike and only scratched up the bar tape. I wasn't injuryed - other than perhaps the re-opening of the wound on my elbow from a crash on the track two weeks ago. I can only guess that the limo drive left.
The guys stopped, and without hesitation went right into blaming me for the crash. Huh? I overtook me on a heading up to a red light? He suggested I cut him off. Huh? You overtake a cyclist that has the lane, and I cut him off? Then he had the balls to claim he was a cyclist and rides 100km's a year. (100's? wow. Impressive). When I am driving, I am extra cautious around cyclists because I know how dangerous it is from my experience. He was happy to call the police to have them deal with the problem. Since the limo driver was gone by now, I had no witness - it was his word against mine. I took a look at my handlebars - no f**king bell, and decided since I wasn't hurt and nothing was damaged, that the likelihood that the only thing that would happen is I get charged for not riding with a bell after spending a hour waiting for the police to show up. F**k. I let it go. I unfortunately have read too many stories of police taking issue with cyclists over a driver's stupidy to want to deal with it. There are too many stories of cyclist getting injured, drivers getting off, and cyclistes getting blamed. Was it the right thing to do? I have no idea. I always said I would stick it to any driver that knocks me off my bike....and I didn't do it.
In hidesight, I wish I did the following:
- got the guys info - Name, Address, plate number, etc. in case something that I didn't notice happened - like the busted helmet I found after the fact or an injury I didn't noticed when I got home. Luckily, there wasn't any such injuries.
- wished I asked him with what bike climb he rides - I know pretty much everyone in the area (vendictive thoughts are fun, if unproductive)
- talked to the limo driver to thank him for stopping and to ask him what he saw. Situations like this require witnesses. With a witness, I could have had the guy charged.
So, I got home and immediately went to the bike shop to replace my $120 helmet and spent $12 on a bell. The bell is now permanently attached to the bars of the bike. I don't care if I get laughed at on the Donut Ride or otherwise. We are to always have a bell on our bikes regardless of the situation.
I wish drivers would:
- slow the f**k down and stop rushing. It's rush hour. You aren't going anywhere fast.
- give all cyclists 1m of clearance when passing and preferably change lanes
- remember: I had lycra to protect me - you have steal.
- remember that cyclists are entitled to the road as much as you are. That includes taking the lane when the situation warrents it.
I think I'm going to buy that Crash Test Dummy cycling kit I found on Amazon.com and wear it everywhere. Apparently, I have a reputation - I might as well look the part.
Question: What would you have done?