Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Danger Monday

Newton's First Law of Motion: Unless acted upon by an outside force, a body at rest tends to stay at rest, and a body in motion tends to stay in motion.

I biked in yesterday. It was a nice morning: warm day, not too windy.

Passing Lakepoint Towers, one comes to an access road to Navy Pier. Usually there's no traffic, so bikers can sail across. This morning, though, a truck was turning, so I stopped at the curb. Immediately, a guy on a bike rear-ended me. He must have been right on my butt, because he slammed into me the moment I hit my brakes.

"Oh, uh - I'm sorry," he stammered, as he extricated his front wheel from my rear wheel. "I think we're OK."
I looked at my bike and saw it was undamaged, checked that I was OK, and wordlessly turned forward. I was so peeved I didn't trust myself to be civil.

Since Jackson Bridge (my usual departure point from the trail to The Loop) was closed for construction, I had to go through a park and walk my bike down some stairs. Back on the bike and heading for Michigan Ave, I saw that I had the walk light, with about 8 seconds left, counting down. Plenty of time to cross a street on a bike, but I powered on the pedals to make sure.

Just as I got to the curb I realized that a feeder road to my left also had a go light (??!!??), and that I was about to launch into oncoming traffic. I jammed my brakes on with all of my strength; the bike stopped, but I kept going. Over the bars, to the right. I landed in Michigan Avenue on my right side, my elbow and butt taking most of it, but also scraping my knee. I rolled toward the curb, grabbing my bike out of the way.

In a conversation with SP about it, he described having the same thing happen to him in front of the Art Institute:

"It's happening, and you know that all you can do is wait to hit the ground."

That pretty much describes it, although I had the added thrill of the potential of being hit by a line of rush-hour traffic.

So I took a breath, waited until I had clear passage, and continued up Van Buren, which is itself a cyclist's nightmare: you're under the El with tons of taxis and buses, and pedestrians jaywalking like mad. There are times when I find myself at a red light, a bus three feet in front of me, a taxi to my left, and a delivery truck live-parked to my right. I pray all of them are paying attention.

So now I have a swollen, scraped (but mercifully unbroken) elbow, a scraped knee, and a bruise on my ass the size of my fist. But yesterday a cyclist was hospitalized in critical condition with head injuries after an idiot opened their car door without looking, causing him to fly over the door and into traffic, where he was hit. So I guess I was lucky.


SP said...

It was the Harold Washington library, not the Art Institute. There's a HUGE pothole on State Street right in front. They probably still haven't fixed it. I'll go check it out when I'm there.

JC said...

I pass by the library when I run the Death Gauntlet up Van buren. I'll check it out.

JennyG said...

I'm glad you're OK. As long as you've got your acerbity, I know you're all right.

JC said...

Thanks, babes. My acerbity is the closest thing I have to a Super Power. That, and the decimating sarcasm.