Last week, a car crashed into me during my bike commute. This is a terrible situation, but I’m recovering and it could have been far worse. I often write about how our transportation system is dangerous by design, but it’s scary to personally become one of its victims.
The crash happened under innocuous circumstances. I had stopped at an intersection to wait for cross-traffic to clear. A car on the other street made a left turn, veered into the wrong lane, and collided with the front of my bicycle. The next thing I knew, I was over the handlebars, sliding across the car’s hood, and falling face-first onto the pavement.
A lot about this incident doesn’t fit the regular image of crashes. It happened in daylight on a relatively low-speed, low traffic, residential street, just across from a school and a block away from a park. This is one of the neighborhoods in my city where it’s common to see people biking and walking, and I usually ride on these streets because they’re safer and comfortable for cyclists. At least, they’re safe until the sudden, violent moment that they aren’t anymore.
This experience has made one thing crystal clear, which is how a crash can happen to anyone at any place. I could have been much less fortunate if the car had been moving faster, if the driver had left the scene, if a passerby had not stopped to help, and if I didn’t have my support network to help me through it.
Breaking the news to people has been interesting. There’s no graceful way to tell someone “I got hit by a car.” A lot of people here are suspicious of bicycling because they view it as dangerous, and part of me hates to confirm their fears.
But they’re right, it is dangerous. That’s because our streets as a whole are dangerous, as I regularly say on this blog. The most frustrating thing for me is that everyone knows our transportation system is dangerous but few people care about changing it. Even a seemingly-safe street is just one distracted driver away from disaster, which means it’s not really safe at all.
I may have more to write about this in the future, but for now my recovery is still ongoing. I look forward to when I can get back in the saddle.