Two Wheels - Six Strings

Random news and thoughts about various two-wheeled projects and music, especially my band, Skull Full Of Blues.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

100th Commuting Day, and I Finally Get Hit By a Car

One hundred commuting days, 1717 miles (according to my commuter log on the CDOT intraweb) and one impact from a car.

I was about 3/4 of the way home, on my least favorite stretch of the afternoon ride. This part of the ride requires that I get on South Holly Street in order to cross Cherry Creek. Due to the construction of a new bridge over the creek, traffic backs up at times, and it's always a little sketchy through that section even if the traffic is flowing smoothly.

I approached Holly on Tennessee, and was passed by a Scion xB. It's the little station wagon/SUV-type Scion. It had stuff like "Senior 08" written all over it in white shoe polish, so it was obviously a high school kid driving. I didn't pay much attention to the fact that he brushed by pretty closely because:

a. lots of people in Denver brush by bikes a little too closely and I've grown blase' about it, and
b. it was a high school kid and I figured he probably just wasn't paying attention.

I pulled up behind the Scion at the Stop sign, and positioned myself a little to the right of the car. I rarely get right behind a car in that situation because you never know when someone is going to pull up from behind and not see you until they've mashed you into the lead car's rear bumper.

Traffic on Holly was a mess, if you wanted to turn left (which the Scion and I were both doing). Cars were backed up from the new bridge, to our left, to as far as you could see down the street to the right. I was debating whether or not to pass the Scion and duck between the cars, to get on the far edge of Holly, when apparently the kid in the Scion got tired of waiting. I saw his reverse lights come one, and heard the engine rev. I put my hand out, reflexively, and the car hit my arm, knocking me off the bike.

I didn't fall to the ground, but I had to kind of stagger back a couple of steps to keep the bike from levering me to the pavement. The kid stopped, and just looked at me. I gave him the arms-out, two-palms-up international "What the hell?" sign, and he continued to just look at me with this weird half-grin on his face.

Maybe my jacket blinded him.

So, I did what any good Buddhist would and flipped him the bird. At that, he apparently floor-boarded the car (from the sound of it) and whipped most of a u-turn before smashing the plastic bumper of his car onto the concrete curb, which happens to be about a foot high there.

I flipped him off again, and he took off in the opposite direction down Tennessee. So, I just pulled out into Holly, as I had been thinking of doing.

"You should get his plate number!" a lady in a Chevy Blazer said to me as I rode between her car and the one in front of her.

"489 PUI," I called back to her.

"Good," she said.

I rode up the right hand side of Holly, bypassing all of the snarled traffic and got across the bridge before the light changed. I was home about ten minutes later. Ten minutes after that, I was on the phone with the police.

Officer Jimenez showed up at my door within a half hour and took my statement. Since there was no injury or property damage (except to the Scion's bumper when he hit the curb), it legally wasn't an accident, and I had thought that was the case. But, as I told the police officer, I'd just like someone in authority to speak to this kid about paying attention to what he's doing.

We were in a school zone when all this occurred. If an 8 year-old kid had been crossing the street when the Scion backed up, it could have been a lot more tragic, and much less entertaining than it was.

So, Officer Jimenez said that he would get in contact with the high school and see if they could locate a student with that car then "have a word with him" about his driving. The plate number I gave him didn't come up (I actually told the police 482 PUI, but I think the "2" is wrong and should be a "9"). So, hopefully some good will come from it. Other than a convenient blog post subject, that is.



At 7:57 AM , Blogger Apertome said...

Oh man! First of all, I'm glad you're OK.

Second, it seems weird that someone has to get hurt, or their property damaged for it to be considered an accident. To me, this should qualify as a hit & run ... even if it was a mild one.

Also, I use the international sign for "What the hell?" all the time. I usually try to use that instead of the finger, although admittedly I'm not always successful in that endeavor.

I hope that kid gets a good talking-to. Sheesh.

At 8:40 PM , Blogger Jon said...

I'm really just hoping that the school will actually figure out who it is and talk to him, just so he gets the idea that being in a car doesn't make you invincible and totally incognito in such situations.

I've often said that people in cars (and I've found myself in this mindset) tend to see the world beyond their windshields as a giant video game, and other people on the road as avatars. Once you stop thinking of those around you as actual people, it tends to make it easier to act inappropriately toward them.

That's why I tend to pull up next to cars who have brushed by me on the way to a red light and introduce myself, then ask if they meant to almost kill me, or if they're just stupid.

It seems to confuse them that the object on the bike was actually a fellow human being. I get a chuckle out of it, though.

At 5:06 PM , Blogger katina said...

when I'm driving downtown, there are usually bikers on two of the east/west roads...and I always stay behind them until the lane next to us is clear so I can give a half lane of clearance...and you should hear all the horns I get for you know, actually sharing the road...

At 6:33 PM , Blogger Jon said...

Share the road?! What are you, some kinda commie!?


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