Well, this morning was another one of those days. Gray, misty, cloudy and damp, with slick roads and low visibility. I was in my normal “riding in darkness” mode. Black jacket with a high-vis vest over it, twin lights on front, blinking spokelights and two blinkies on back. I couldn’t have done much more to make myself as visible as possible. It was just one of those days meant for EVASIVE ACTION!
I saw it coming as plain as day. I had the right of way. The white pickup came roaring up to the intersection in front of me at Dysart and Madison. You could tell he was going to make a rolling stop a best and turn right. That put him on a collision course with me, so I braked hard and pulled to the left to avoid the collision. At the same time, I yelled at the top of my lungs to try to get his attention, and as soon as it was safe to do so, I started waving my arms and making motions to show him I wasn’t pleased as he sped off in front of me. I tried to shake it off and continued on my way.
A couple of blocks later, I rounded a corner and there he sat. He was a middle-aged African-American, and was out of the truck looking at his right front tire. I rolled up and calmly said, “Man, you nearly hit me back there. Didn’t you see me?”. He was very apologetic, but it was clear that he never had seen me. I was pleasant about it, but made it a point to ask him to be more aware of his surroundings and to drive more carefully.
As I rolled off, I thought to myself, ”Well, you could have guessed that might happen. A driver in a hurry, bad weather at dawn, and distracted by something going on with his front tire”. And, the sunglasses he was wearing probably didn’t make it any easier to see.
In all seriousness, I’ve come to accept incidents like this morning as just part of the equation when you ride your bike in all conditions. Drivers just aren’t looking for cyclists, no matter how hard you try to be visible. We are a minority and an anomoly that they’re not used to seeing. It happens. People make mistakes. It’s not a conspiracy, or something deliberate on their part (most of the time). If confronted, most are truly apologetic, like this gentleman was. If I’m taking the risk to ride in conditions like today, I also consider my safety to be my own responsibility and nobody elses. That means I’m gonna slow down, ride legally, take the lane when necessary, take proper precautions with reflective clothing and lights and ride defensively. Hopefully, I’ll always read situations well enough to take the kind of evasive action that kept me from harm this morning.
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