Saturday, August 11, 2007

Car/bike contact

Wow, four years of riding pretty much every day, and I finally had my first physical car/bike incident. No damage done (to me), but maybe there's a lesson, or maybe you have time to kill and need something to read.

Going to show that cycling is pretty idiot-proof, quite a few unusual things had to conspire to cause a 1-inch bike/car overlap. I was riding home from a long, hot ride on a new bike. I was riding the bike lane south on Water Street near the Hawthorne Bridge. There was a long string of cars held up trying to get to some event at OMSI. A yellow Hummer (no kidding!) merged from a cross street into the bike lane and stopped, waiting for someone to let him in. I went around him on the right and had to immediately merge back into the bike lane to avoid parked cars ahead. The maneuver put me a little more right in the bike lane than usual. It probably also kept the lady in the second parked car from seeing me before swinging her door open.

I remember thinking (all in a split second): 1) I'm going to hit that door, then 2) LEFT! LEFT!!, then 3) Wow, I think I made it! Then, I felt the most peculiar sensation. The rear end of my bike suddenly lifted up and moved over, as if a giant had just pinched the rear rack and scooted it over a foot. Then, I heard some nasty noises. I stayed upright, no doubt due to my superior bike handling technique of sitting perfectly still and looking dumbfounded, and braked to a stop.

"Are you OK?" the unfortunate door-opener asked. I don't think I answered, just continued to sit on my bike dumbfounded, since this had worked well so far. I finally circled back and found the woman trying in vain to reattach the plastic trim that had been ripped off the door. There was a small dent where the last of it had held on as my bike and I pivoted around on the other end.

"It just pops back on, right?" she asked in good humor, as it fell back to the ground. At this point someone else who must have seen the show asked me if I were all right. I said with much grace and tact, "Looks like the car got the worst of it!" Haha. So, I apologize to whoever it was in the red VW for the door. For once, it really was the Hummer's fault!


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