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I had my first negative cycling experience this morning. There's a bicycle bottleneck on my route to work, where all downtown-bound bike traffic in a certain radius has to converge on a bridge ramp.

There's a steepish downhill approach with a switchback in it, and a bit of a turn at the end of the ramp. So I'm going along pretty slowly, trying to stay out of the way of more intrepid cyclists who can take the switchback faster than I can.

I got to the bridge itself, where the bottleneck gets really narrow, and a guy behind me, trying to get around me on my right, misjudged the distance and wiped out.

I stopped, of course. He was okay (thank you helmet), but his bike probably wasn't. I think it was pretty clear to both of us that the error of judgment was his, and I also think it was pretty clear to both of us that he would have LOVED to be angry at me for being slow, or unfit, or otherwise annoying and in his way and "causing" his mistake.

It was very uncomfortable. Knowing you're right doesn't always pencil out to "feeling fine." I got to the office and had all kinds of trouble getting Clyde into the rack and locked up--it wasn't that my hands were shaking, but I was shaken, you know?

It's a case of "get back in the saddle and ride" (literally!), I guess, because I'm not giving up cycling, no matter what my stupid nerves say.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 15th, 2009 09:46 pm (UTC)
Yikes, that was distressing!! So sorry to hear about it. Glad everyone was okay, but still, I can completely understand the jangled nerves.

In fact last night, got a call around 9:30 to pick up Sal; he'd gotten off the Broadway Bridge and there was a lot of traffic from a concert letting out at the Rose Quarter and in trying to navigate across the street, some guy in a truck accidentally(!) drove over his front wheel. I'm still not clear on the physics of how that whole thing happened, but anyway. Sal's okay, and the guy wasn't going fast, just crept forward more than he realized, but entirely too close to comfort as far as I'm concerned. Between this and the wipeout at the beginning of summer, I'm a little less gung-ho with his whole "bike commuting yay!" thing than I used to be.

But, you know, getting back in the saddle seems to be the best answer, regardless.
Sep. 15th, 2009 10:14 pm (UTC)
Oh man, I'm sorry to hear about another incident for S. That concert looked insane, whatever it was--people were arriving for it when I went by yesterday.

The only way I can contemplate a continued cycle commute is by avoiding every possible traffic bottleneck. So far, there isn't enough boldness in me to make me choose to ride through the Rose Quarter transit center, but in Sal's case, it's hard to visualize an alternate route home. I'm a complete wuss, and my commute is much, much shorter than Sal's, so I can afford to make wussy choices.

Which, you may be sure, I'm going to continue to do. Hope the bike damage was reparable.

Sep. 15th, 2009 11:18 pm (UTC)
Eek. Glad you're okay, sorry he laid his silent asshattery on you even though it was silent.
Sep. 15th, 2009 11:29 pm (UTC)
Thanks. It's quite possible that I was imagining the asshattery, drumming it up out of my own insecurity, which is considerable.

We'll see how it goes on the ride home, which should commence in about an hour.
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:58 am (UTC)
Ooof, how uncomfortable. How'd the commute back home go?
Sep. 16th, 2009 02:22 am (UTC)
Actually? Fantastic! Smooth sailing. So I think I'm "back in the saddle". \o/
Sep. 16th, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
Yay!! This is great to read! (Plus, I love your bike icon!)
Sep. 16th, 2009 05:12 am (UTC)
Wow. My hands would have been shaking, too! I had one drive into work that left me like that, and at the time I was only about 3 miles away. But it was as though every person around me had taken crazy pills. I'd never seen such disturbing and dangerous driving, all right in front of me! My hands were definitely tremulous and I'd sweated through my shirt. It was awful.

I commend you for cycling! There does seem to be quite its own set of rules that are different/in addition to driving ones.

Oh, and you know, we really should meet up. :P I believe that my schedule is pretty solid work-wise and I won't be moving for at least another couple of months and we'll see. So this is about as stable as I get and I'd love to talk writing and knitting!

(and I know this icon features a motorcycle, not a bicycle, but it's as close as I have. *g*)
Sep. 16th, 2009 05:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, the rules are different and in addition to--that's a good description. I took a class before I started.

Yes, let's keep sight of that plan to get together for tea and knitting, or coffee and writing talk, or whatever you prefer.
Sep. 16th, 2009 05:27 am (UTC)
Eep! *big hugs*
Sep. 16th, 2009 05:30 am (UTC)
Thanks! I don't think any lasting harm was done, except to the guys front wheel. And I rode home with no problems, so yay.
(Deleted comment)
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:25 am (UTC)
I agree that pre-planning is a good idea. Bicycle accidents are not uncommon, and part of the reason for that is that cyclists don't observe the rules of the road as consistently as drivers do.

Here, because of the health care coverage we don't have, insisting on waiting for an ambulance when you are, in fact, ambulatory, isn't always an option. For me personally, if I were down I probably couldn't get up anyway! And I do have health insurance, so I take note of this advice.
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Sep. 17th, 2009 03:42 pm (UTC)
A significant portion of the little bike-commuting class I went to was devoted to cyclist PR. She talked about the importance of helping all cyclists and the cycling way of life by being courteous, being hyper-aware of cars, giving a friendly wave of thanks when a driver yields--all that sort of thing.

It must be working, because, at least in the central city area of Portland where I live and work, it's extremely rare to encounter a driver who isn't very courteous to cyclists.

It probably doesn't hurt that most drivers around here at least know a cyclist, if they aren't cyclists themselves.
Sep. 16th, 2009 10:11 pm (UTC)
Late to the commenting but glad you're back in the saddle. :) Good for you.
Sep. 17th, 2009 04:27 am (UTC)
Thanks. Yup, I'd be very remiss if I let this incident stop me. But it's true that as we get older and more generally battered by life, we don't get tougher, we get sensitized. So I'm being careful.
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )



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