17 April 2009

Glad To Be Alive

I'm really glad I'm alive today. I had a near miss this week (my first 'true' near miss of 2009) when I was on my way home from work. Having bike commuted over 60 times this year, I suppose that's not too bad, and maybe not even as many close calls as I used to have driving to Lynnwood and back every day in my big, boxy cars.

Beacon Ave. S. runs north-south. Single lane each way with on-street parking and sharrows. Major bus line and the only major arterial on Beacon Hill. From Columbia Way to south of Cloverdale (4 mile stretch) there is a greenway down the middle of the street with a multi-use path, and good sidewalks on both sides of the street.

(photo-October, 2008)

Typically, I stay on the street until I cross through the intersection at Myrtle (.9 miles from home) and then I take the MUP for about 6 blocks before turning left at the most convenient (as dictated by traffic flow of the moment) side street and then go down the one block to 37th S, which takes me into my garage. The 'game' is to beat both the 4:33 "32" and the 4:40 "36" to Beacon & Myrtle when I'm coming home over the hill like this.

On this particular day, I'd beat both of them. I was relaxed and pulled up onto the MUP, and was cruising merrily along. The 32 passed me, driver waved at me (I know most of them and with the exception of one guy who insists on honking - like I can't hear there's a bus behind me - they're all really really friendly and careful of me) and then had to make a stop at Holden. Cars were behind him. The stop is in such a place by Aloha Market that the tail end of the bus is sticking out into traffic and cars can't get around. There's a white SUV behind him. I am approaching the intersection. I'm doing about 15 or so. I check the SUV. No turn signal. I slow a little, but not much since the bus is stopped, the SUV is not turning and no oncoming traffic. At the last moment, the SUV changes his mind and decides to turn left, never seeing me or thinking I'm going to stop. He pulls a way too fast left turn and I had to lock up the brakes, enter a controlled skid spinning my bike almost 180 degrees as I turned to the left, barely averting T-boning the left front fender of this bozo. Without allowing enough room for him to go around me either left or right, I turn completely to where I'm facing him, and confronted him. He was at first apologetic, knowing he had screwed up. I was prepared to accept that, then he said, "I thought 'you guys' were supposed to be on the street, not on the sidewalk". At that point, I was less than generous in my response to him.

If we're on the MUP which goes thru, we're supposed to be on the street. If we're on the sidewalk, we're supposed to be on the street or the bike path. If we're on the street, we're supposed to be on the sidewalk or the bike path. No matter where we are, we're not where we're supposed to be when they almost kill us.

And then they wonder why we're angry.

I'm glad today because I'm sitting up and taking nourishment for another day.

Ride Safely and Stay Alert
Have Fun
Get To The Finish Line With a SMILE.


Swerdna said...

Wow. I'm glad to hear you made it out without any damage... or a heart attack. I think I would have just opted for the heart attack and rolled over right then and there.

It's an unhappy coincidence that I also just had my first close call of the year. I was riding a loaner bike with an inadequate headlight when an oncoming car made a left and narrowly missed me.

Good times, man. Keep on keeping it real!

jobob said...

Hee hee, you've got it right. And most drivers ARE pretty smart, it's those one or two out there that are out to get 'ya that are the problem -- according to them, we're never where we're supposed to be, or we happen to have our cloaking device on in their midst. :D

So glad you're OK, RD! Hugs, - Jo.